Importance of qualifications in the recruitment process
In the current economic cycle with more job-seekers than ever, being able to differentiate yourself as a Facilities Management professional has never been more expedient. With an average of 100 applications per vacancy, your CV and background must stand out to ensure you are short-listed for interview. In this climate, qualifications can make the difference and are becoming increasingly valuable in making the short-list. You will only gain the opportunity to demonstrate your suitability for the post with all your relevant experience and achievements if you get invited for interview in the first place.
With many recruitment campaigns in large organisations/service providers now being managed via HR departments and in-house resourcing teams (often but not always from a non-FM background) they will be matching to an exact/defined specification and will not make allowances for being ‘time served’ or additional experience if one does not possess the required qualifications.
A large service provider seeking an Account Manager for a public sector critical engineering portfolio will inevitably seek Chartered status as their client and decision maker on future contract awards will also be Chartered. The service provider will want their Account Manager to be viewed as an equal business partner. This is truest within the public sector, especially with higher education institutions and the NHS where their internal stakeholders place more emphasis on academic qualifications as recognition of core competence and excellence.
So what next?
There is a wide range of qualifications and courses that FM professionals can pursue and I have highlighted some case studies regarding the best place to start….
One very passionate advocate of recognised BIFM qualifications is Samantha Bowman, Chair of the BIFM Rising FM SIG (Special Interest Group). In addition to completing a suite of NEBOSH qualifications in Health and Safety, Fire Safety and Environmental Management over the past 5 years in 2010 she became the final person to be awarded Fellowship of BIFM via the professional competency route and the second youngest female in history. She is encouraging aspiring FM’s in the industry through Rising FMs CPD events which are developed around the BIFM core competencies.
She extols the benefits of demonstrating CPD and believes that showing a commitment to recognised qualifications will significantly enhance your career prospects. ‘Only through a recognised qualification will professionals be able to demonstrate the knowledge required to be deemed the competent person within a property and facilities environment’. She recommends the BIFM Level 4 as the ideal grounding following a NEBOSH qualification. ‘The BIFM Level 4 is an ideal course with tailored modules to ensure the students develop a wide breadth of experience’.
There are also a plethora of advanced qualifications for more established Facilities Managers including an HND in Facilities Management, BA Honours Degree in FM or MSc in Facilities Management (Standard National Qualification Level 7). A process which can lead to becoming a Chartered FM through RICS.
Samantha would endorse networking and CPD events as a useful way for FM professionals to discuss with their peers the various options if they are unsure about their chosen route. ‘Networking events are the ideal opportunity to ask for advice as delegates are all passionate about developing the industry and are keen to discuss their experiences and learning outcomes’. The Rising FM committee ran the recent BIFM Careers Day which included presentations from leading FM practitioners such as Lionel Prodgers who discussed the history of FM. This was in conjunction with specialist FM recruitment companies who delivered seminars on CV presentation, competency interview skills and qualification routes.
An FM professional currently studying their BIFM Level 4 is Sajna Rahman, Deputy Contract Manager with integrated solutions provider G4S FM. Sajna is also Secretary of the BIFM Rising FM SIG and has just commenced the BIFM Level 4 course last November. In addition to the technical and legislative knowledge gained through the course, Sajna has found speaking with fellow FM professionals has proved invaluable in increasing her confidence in both requesting and sharing innovations which will benefit both her company and clients they partner with.
Sajna also backs mentoring as a way to facilitate learning ‘Mentoring is the ideal way to increase your knowledge within the sector which can range from presentation and tender skills through to coaching, leadership and team building competencies’. She believes that the FM profession is becoming increasingly diverse and this professionalism will call on all FM’s to continually develop through recognised qualifications. Supply side service providers are being asked to deliver a wider range of workplace solutions and her experience on the BIFM Level 4 course will aid her future development in delivering cost effective solutions. Sajna believes her career will greatly benefit from formal qualifications:
‘I have found the classroom style presentations and learning incredibly inspiring and they have provided me with the confidence to share and gain new ideas and working practices’.
In a climate where change management, business transformation and delivering efficiencies is becoming paramount – qualifications will not only give an FM professional the best chance to secure their dream job but will also provide the foundation for them to develop their career within their chosen field/sector.
There has been much debate recently regarding the merits of Chartered status for the BIFM and impact on existing bodies such as RICS. This debate should be encouraged and will benefit the industry for the long-term. What is undeniable for today is that qualifications not only benefit the individual but also the entire industry as FM seeks to gain further recognition as a specialist profession. It seems fitting that the final word should go to one of the leading exponents of training within Facilities Management, Liz Kentish who commented that:
‘Gaining recognised qualifications certainly helps to advance not just your own career, but the profession as a whole. Through my training and coaching I see more and more clients seeking qualified FM professionals – and the fact that the assignments are work-based is also valuable to the employer. BIFM Level 4 is a great start point for many FMs, and you’re never on your own as you’ll have a tutor to guide and support you throughout.’