There’s growing research that suggests that sitting down all day is bad for you so in a bid to live longer and see my sons growing up I’ve started using a standup desk at work. A few others here at NewVoiceMedia are also using standing desks.

A vari desk standing desk

A vari desk standing desk

I also thought I’d have a go at building a standing desk at home. I was amazed at how cheap and simple it was to build.

What follows is how to build a standing desk for £16. The following standing desk though, does assume that you already have a normal desk in place. Read on for more.

How a standing desk has helped me

Since using standing desks at work I’ve seen most of my back pain disappear. I tend to sit slouched with my back sloping in places it probably shouldn’t which causes me back pain, sometimes crippling. Since using a standing desk I’ve seen none of my usual back pains.

Standing all day though comes with it’s own set of aches and pains, so I’ve tried to seek a balance. My legs and feet tend to ache after a couple of hours but thankfully the Varidesks we use mean I can switch between standing and sitting.

How to build a standing desk using a coffee table!

I created this standing desk by simply buying a coffee table from Ikea and standing it on my current desk. Sounds too good to be true right? But it worked for me and it actually looks OK.

I got the inspiration for a standing desk from this blog about using an Ikea coffee table. Their solution is a little bit fancier than mine though.

I used the Lack Coffee Table from Ikea.

The desk the coffee table is stood on is a length of kitchen worktop that I re-used when I stripped out our kitchen a few years back.

I simply built the flat-packed coffee table following the useful IKEA instructions and then stood it on my desk. Hey presto – a standing desk.

Standing Desk Coffee Table

Standing Desk Coffee Table

Getting the right height

The right height for me has my hands just below my elbows when typing. This means my hands aren’t pointing up as I type – a sure fire way to get pins and needles.

As it happened the coffee table on the desk was pretty much perfect out of the box. If it’s not for you then either cut some length off the coffee table legs, or add some extra length to it with surplus wood. Remember though – measure twice and cut once.

Your desk means you can’t sit down though….as you are aren’t using a laptop

The keen eyed amongst you will notice that on my standing desk I have a MacMini and that the desk is permanent (i.e. not adjustable).

This does indeed mean that I cannot sit down to work at home using the MacMini without a lot of hassle. Thankfully I also have a laptop from work and cloud computing makes it easy to share between the MacMini and my Macbook using Dropbox, Confluence and Evernote so it’s not really an issue.

In the future I may take the plunge and invest in a Varidesk (Amazon affiliate link) which is what I use at work.

It’s expensive but it means I can adjust between sitting and standing simply.

If you don’t have much of a budget and want to experiment with a standing desk then a coffee table from IKEA might just solve your standing desk problems.

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS MATTER poster

At some point during your recruitment drive you’ll likely use recruiters. The problem is that some recruiters are creating a bad first impression of your company.

Your recruiters are often the first point of contact a potential hire has with your company.

Here are some ideas on how to help your recruiters create a great first impression.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS MATTER poster

FIRST IMPRESSIONS MATTER

 

I like to use recruiters to help me to find the right people. They are invaluable and a good one is worth their weight in gold.

Some recruiters though don’t think twice about focusing on short term wins at the expense of a long term relationship.

This leads to many problems but the one I’ll focus on in this post is that it often creates a poor first impression about your company in the mind of a candidate.

The reality is that your job advert and the initial call to, or from, the recruiter is often the first time someone has a connection with your company. You need to make sure it’s a positive experience and not one soured with lies, miscommunication and frustration.

I have dealt with recruiters from both sides of the recruitment process and I can tell you that first impressions really do matter.

One recruiter I was working with lied to me and sent me to an interview for a developer role. The job spec and the detailed discussions all suggested this was a tester role. He changed my CV without telling me nor the hiring manager and both sides were left utterly disappointed. I have never used that recruiter again.

Many times I’ve had recruiters who don’t even know what testing is. Many others who have lied about the salary. And of course, a great deal more who never get back to you. If you want a laugh check out The Problems With Testing (PDF Direct Download) – there is a chapter in there about recruitment.

In my experience for every great recruiter out there, there are several unprofessional ones. And these people create bad experiences for your potential employees.

It’s your job as a hiring manager to make sure, where possible, that the first contact a candidate has with your recruitment agent is a positive one.

Your recruiter is an advert for your company and for you. It can be hard to recover a candidate from a poor initial experience.

As you cannot control people it will be impossible for you to guarantee your recruiter creates a positive first experience, but what follows are some ideas to help improve the chance of a positive first experience.

Pick your recruiter with care

If you have a choice then you need to choose your recruiter with care. Choose one who also cares about first impressions. I’ve written about working with recruiters before and the advice remains the same – find someone you trust. I’d suggest you read that post as it outlines more about this in further detail.

Find out how they recruit and work with them to fine tune this process

The search and contact process that your recruiter has in place is an important factor in creating a good first impression. Don’t be afraid to ask your recruiter what their process is.

If they want to work with you and build a relationship then transparency (where practical) is essential. The better you know their process the better placed you will be to help them to improve it when working with you.

It’s important that you feel comfortable with the recruitment process they have in place. If you have any doubts ask for clarity. If they refuse to change the way they work, or are hesitant to even share their process then consider walking away if it’s not right for you. I’m not suggesting you get involved with any of their internal business processes – but if they approach candidates and manage them through their system in a way that is not congruent with your values – then have that discussion with them.

There are lots of recruiters out there and if you’re not comfortable with any one of them then consider switching.

Listen to their feedback about your process

Just as the recruiters process won’t be perfect, neither will yours. So listen to their feedback and action it where practical. Don’t be defensive and assume you have it nailed – you probably don’t.

The process of contacting a candidate and that candidate making their way through to an offer/rejection should be as seamless as possible. So it’s important that both parties work on improving together.

Invite them to see your company and understand your team culture

A recruiter who knows you, your company process and your company culture will be much better placed to create a good impression.

Be wary of recruiters who don’t want to find out more. Why would they not want to?

Get feedback from candidates about your recruiter

  • Ask every single person who comes through from your recruiter for feedback.
  • How smooth was the process?
  • How accurate was the information?
  • What was the first impression like?
  • Would you feel happy applying for another job through this recruiter again?

Give feedback to your recruiter and drop them if they don’t shape up

Take the above candidate feedback and use it to improve the process. Provide constructive feedback for your recruiters so that they can fine tune their process.

A good recruiter will welcome feedback and an opportunity to improve.

If the recruiter dismisses the feedback and is defensive then consider how effective your on-going relationship with them can be.

Be cautious though about taking all feedback as an immediate problem. Some candidates are conditioned to look for problems and struggle to spot positives. It is easy to point out problems, it’s much harder to acknowledge and give praise. But you’ll know whether you’re starting to see a pattern in the feedback.

Give your recruiters a media pack

Providing your recruiters with a media pack makes it easier for them to communicate a consistent message. A media pack should contain links, data, information and contact details. Some recruiters won’t need this but in the early days it can be helpful in setting expectations.

It may also be worth providing the recruiter with a series of questions to ask the candidate. These questions (technical, culture, career goals etc) can help to create consistency in the process.

The above are some ideas on how to help your recruitment team create a great first impression. I would also like to outline something you should never do.

Don’t do this

Never pretend to be a candidate and apply for one of your own jobs to assess your recruiter. I’ve known lots of people try this and it has one massive downside. It undermines the trust you should have in your recruiter. Trust is important. Trust that they will do their job and that you will do yours. If you don’t trust them why are you working with them to find great talent?

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It’s your job as a hiring manager to put in place processes and activities that ensure you’re not turning people away at the first hurdle. Working with your recruiter to create a great first impression is a good starting point.

How do you try to ensure a positive first impression when working with recruiters?

Have you had a bad experience with a recruiter – please leave your thoughts in the comments.

This is part of a series exploring how to hire good testers – the reverse “how to get a freaking awesome job” is covered in my book Remaining Relevant – a book for testers who want to take control of their careers. It’s full of advice on how to find good jobs, perform well in an interview and take control of your own self learning.

You can follow more posts in the series using this category link – http://thesocialtester.co.uk/category/hiring-testers/ or by subscribing to my RSS feed