Don Searle highlights weak areas within the industry at FM World

Don Searle highlights weak areas within the industry at FM World

Don Searle from specialist FM Recruiter Catch 22, highlights the importance of establishing stronger relationships between FM professionals and senior business leaders in achieving operational targets and the role service providers play in supporting the sector’s evolution.

Listening to a panel debate recently, it was interesting to note a senior FM consultant commenting that facilities management had not moved on significantly in 20 years.

He was referring to what some see as the holy grail for FMs – a place at the top table. If boardroom representation is the ultimate accolade, FM has had to be content with an occasional place on the podium or just being a plucky loser. But isn’t it the job of FM to just make sure that the organisation is provided with the optimum conditions in which to prosper?

Attitudes vary according to which aspect of the service delivery spectrum you represent, but the thing that unites all FMs is the need for collaboration and open communication with the top people in the organisation. These are the visionaries; the ones who map a way forward and need FM to understand what is needed to achieve that vision.

At the same debate a service provider observed that without open dialogue, relationships are doomed; FM becomes a victim, tortured on the altar of SLAs or beaten with the KPI stick until beyond caring. Without an understanding of an organisation’s goals, FM becomes a dispiriting chore as opposed to an uplifting experience.

HR practitioners, by and large, appear to have bought into the need to fully comprehend and support organisational goals and thus have earned the right to be involved at a high level. Organisational development has become a critical contributor to goal achievement while FM, a major budget holder, has been dogged by self-doubt about its status.

Success for FM will come through empowering teams that can support the organisation’s goals and by establishing a reputation for nurturing and rewarding talent. It will come through devolving responsibility to those who are in a position to affect the lives and well-being of customers.

So how can service providers to the FM industry contribute to that success? The same understanding of organisational goals is critical to suppliers if they are to provide a service that works. The same open dialogue sets the tone and allows the supplier to perform with the agility to meet the demands for a seamless FM operation.


As needs develop, a fully involved supplier can be a source of ideas that add value. As a resourcer and supplier of the people who deliver great service, Catch 22 believes in developing a dialogue with clients. It enables us to fully appreciate what the client needs, helps us to provide guidance and value and translate that into talent.

Catch 22 recently teamed up with gap personnel, a top 10 high street agency, which gives us a nationwide coverage. This will enable us to bring the Catch 22 difference to a far wider FM audience and provide Gap with opportunities for onsite supply to large FM servicing operations. As a result, we are in a stronger position to ensure the FM sector is able to contribute to the evolving challenges of those directing industry from the boardroom.



how to answer interview questions

How to answer the trickiest interview questions

Whether you are looking to enter the Facilities Management industry as a graduate, or you are making a move from a different company, you should prepare yourself for answering those horrible interview questions which are bound to come up. Here are some of the trickiest interview questions, why hirers love to use them and how best to go about answering them.

Why do you think you will succeed in this role?

It should be noted that interviewing panels do not ask these types of questions to hear you talk about why you are so fantastic. Confidence is something they want to see but, above all, they want you to show that you can apply your skills and attributes to the job in question. So, rather than simply taking the question as "Why do you think you will succeed", you should be hearing "Why do you think you will find success in this role, as opposed to any other?". This will help you to tick off those qualities, interests and qualifications that match you to this particular FM role.

Do you feel that you have any weaknesses?

This is a confusing question, as it’s difficult to know whether they mean personal or professional weaknesses? Is it a trick question? Your instinct is to defend yourself in an interview environment and to only focus on the positives, so the only way to answer this question successfully is to be honest about your shortcomings, but to put a positive spin on it. A great example is to say that you are a good team player but don't cope very well with conflict. Your positive spin could be that you recently completed an assertiveness training course, to enable you to react better in these types of circumstances.

What motivates you?

The Facilities Management sector isn't necessarily a fast-moving environment, but you should nevertheless show your determination for success when answering this question. Hirers ask this question because they like to hear about what you enjoy doing and what you feel you are good at doing. What recruiters appreciate hearing is individuals drawing on past experiences, displaying motivation for the job in question, and also showing a passion for the industry as a whole. Motivation can stem from a wide range of factors, depending on the individual, but if you show that you are keen to keep expanding your knowledge in Facilities Management, then you should succeed in impressing the interviewing panel.

Why should we hire you?

Finally, the question that most recruiters leave until last. Though tempting, especially if you really want the job, you should refrain from grovelling for the job as this could make you come across as desperate. Instead, you could respond in a way that sums up the facts: that you are confident that you fit the criteria and therefore you cannot see a reason for them not to hire you. Thankfully, not many interviewers actually ask a question as bold as this, but the aim, if they do, is to clarify why you should be chosen and not the other applicants.

World FM Day

World FM Day 2017

World FM Day

World FM Day celebrates the importance of the Facilities Management profession. It aims to raise the profile of FM around the globe, promoting facilities management’s ideals, not only within the profession and industry but also among governments and the general business community.

This year World FM Day will be celebrated on 17 May 2017. The theme is 'Enabling Positive Experiences.' This theme aims to highlight how facilities management plays an integral role in positive customer, client and employee experience in all sectors, whether it is residential, sport, workplace, healthcare or any other.

As the leading professional body for facilities management in the UK, the BIFM will be supporting this worldwide celebration of the FM profession with a programme of events from 15 - 19 May. A broad range of events, both nationally and internationally, can be seen at BIFM.

You can celebrate the work you do on by posting your events, stories and photos to hashtag #WorldFMDay and connecting with @WorldFMDay on Twitter. It is an opportunity for global knowledge sharing, to discuss and share experiences both good and challenging, to promote our profession and celebrate our successes.

11th Charity Challenge – Guernsey-C22-2017

Recap: Catch 22’s 11th Charity Challenge – Guernsey – 28th April to 1st May 2017

20 experienced and not so experienced walkers descended on sunny Guernsey (well it was on Friday 28th) to take part in the 11th Charity Challenge to walk the entire Guernsey coastline over the first May Bank Holiday weekend

9 intrepid souls decided to actually knock off 6 miles on Friday afternoon in the sunshine., Vince, Clive & Susan, Kevin & Helen, Rudi, Sue, John and Nick Moore all walked from Portelet Harbour to Crabby Jacks, Vazon Bay. With the tide out, this included quite a lot of beach walking, meaning it was pretty difficult to get lost!

Most walkers stayed in the Havelet Hotel St Peter Port, a Best Western Hotel, which did us really proud. Everything was very good, particularly the service and food. Rudi and Guy, staying elsewhere, were not so impressed, their hotels had showers rather than large luxurious baths AND they had to walk up a significant hill to join us each evening.

On Saturday, the advanced party of Kevin (again), Bill, Cathy, Justin, Sean, George, Ang, and Guy started from Portelet Harbour, whilst Monica, Ella (aged 11), Mum Helena and Linda joined the 8 from the first day to walk from Crabby Jacks round to St Peter Port.

C22 Guernsey charity event

The tide had made an appearance so very little walking along beaches but those that we could walk along were lovely; the Moores even managed to pick up their dinner. It was an exhausting day which nearly finished Guy off before we even started. In glorious weather, Sean lead the way for the 22-mile crew and took the whole of the sun on behalf of his team! A tough day all round but the beautiful scenery of this pretty island kept people going. Guernsey is battle-scarred, to say the least, with evidence of defences going back thousands of years up to the occupation by the Germans in the 2nd World War.

Young walker of the day was definitely Ella, who did the whole 16 miles; no doubt a Challenge Star in the making. She will be warming up to do the whole thing in 2 years time!

Mention too for Guy who did the whole 22, somehow or other; his sponsorship was going up every minute, thanks to his mastery of social media. The more pain, the more gain!

Day 3, Sunday, and as predicted the downpour started during breakfast and stayed that way, if not all day, certainly for the first and last couple of hours. We walked along the southern coast, very much the up and downside of the island. It’s said that the beaches, cliffs and views are beautiful, but it was impossible to see them! ”Just like the Lake District” was a fair and oft used comment.

Anyway, it persisted down; we were soaked, exhausted and relieved when we go back. Some didn’t even make as far as the Bar.

The walk itself was very well marked for about half the distance; at other times it was a lottery, not unlike a maze, and not really possible to take shortcuts. Generally speaking, if you took a wrong turn, you ended up either cutting back on yourself or simply walking even further!

We all got down for Dinner at 20.00 though, where we were joined by the 21st and 22nd members of our party, who opted to walk no distance at all, but enjoyed the craic whatever. We welcomed Alan and Carol, but next time these two will be doing the whole lot!

C22 team

A highlight of the weekend was young Nick Moore completing his 100 miles in a month (2.5 marathons and this coastline walk taking him to just over 100) all for the Lords Taverners. He’s off for a scan on his knee and has promised not to go through the front door for at least a fortnight. Massive congratulations to him.

Memories from the charity challenge walk

  • Lovely company, lots of lovely, different people!
  • Varied weather; no point in walking in nice weather when you can suffer extremes like Sunday
  • Clive’s navigational skills, including friendly banter with the locals
  • More sad news about Leeds United on a walk!
  • Wet feet
  • Dramatic tide changes
  • Blisters
  • Youngest walker Ella (11) and oldest John at 68
  • We have been doing this for 20 years!
  • Guy’s shriek (he had actually cracked a rib) and his sense of humour
  • Nick’s knee (he did his 100 miles in a month)
  • George and Kevin’s banter about who walks furthest
  • Vince finally nearly grasped what George does for a living
  • Helen and Kevin AND George and Linda’s Anniversaries (17 and 33 years respectively)
  • Friendliness of the people of Guernsey

Quotes from the charity walk:

Bill Heath, Managing Director, Mace Macro International: "Really enjoyable time the whole weekend but the best moment was taking my wet socks and boots off on Sunday. Back in the warmth of Dubai 39 degs today."

Monica said: "Hi Everyone, I think everything's been said. It really has been a great weekend. Only my second outing with you all, and once again I was filled with self doubt and trepidation!But in the end, I managed the entire walk!

Kevin, you are great!! thanks for supporting me on all those hills on Saturday - best back marker ever. Even the wind and driving rain on Sunday didn't put me off and I'm looking forward to seeing you all again in 2 years time."

Justin Penn, Principal Consultant, Asset & Facilities Management: "A truly fantastic weekend!!

As the newbie, I couldn’t have asked for better company to share two days of walking the beautiful Guernsey coastline. I would like to thank George for his ’marvellous medicine’.  I’m not entirely sure what the pills were, but they certainly did the job! Thanks to those who organised the trip, and I look forward to the next."

Rudi commented:"Sooo many thank you’s! Thanks Vince for organising everything yet again, it was a truly wonderful experience. Thanks to everyone for their company at various times in the rain, sun, rain, wind, (did I mention rain?), bar and dinner table. Thanks to Clive for your company around Sark, and to John and Sue for your company around Herm.

As the ONLY person to actually do all 3 islands this clearly leaves me as the undisputed king of Guernsey!  Once life has returned to normal a bit I’ll get around to uploading the photo’s and share them.

Distance wise - final GPS count (corrected since getting a proper internet connection) is: 43.53 miles around Guernsey. And for the proper hardcore ones amongst us 6.35 around Sark and 5.37 around Herm for a total of 55.25. This, however, does not include that bastard hill up to the hotel several times a day!  

It was lovely seeing you all, I look forward to the next one. Kiss you on both cheeks!"

 Kevin Wideman, Divisional Director – Property and Asset Management: "Morning All, It’s all been said – but again – great venue, great people, great walk – thank you all!

Thinking caps on for 2019…………..Kevin & Helen.

Guy said: "Just to say a huge thank you to everyone for getting me through the walk - Kevin in particular!  

It was a memorable weekend in so many ways - loved a lot of the walking (including detours), did not enjoy the steps built for giants on the cliff walk (particularly going up hill!).  Loved meeting everyone, either for the first time in ages or for the first time ever - the company was great on the walks and at the dinners. I never thought I would say this, but Vince's speeches could have been longer - he must have been tired......

Depending on how vertiginous the next walk is, I hope to see everyone in two years time...Vince, how about the North Norfolk Coast in 2019? Vince, happy to send any pictures and if anyone's a facebooker, I have videos and pics up on my page - so get in touch. I should hit the £1000 mark on sponsorship this week, so the pain's worth it...Much love to all,

PS The blisters are on the mend, but the cracked rib from a late fall is a bit less fun.  Didn't realise I had done it at the time - oh the joys of adrenalin."

Clive said: "A Great trip with people I actually really like. Lots of smiles and lots of memories. Rudi and I will take some time to dry out from Sark mind. Love to all."

 Cathy: "My personal highlight was the rather random café owner who put us with us draping our cold and wet selves and eating our own food in his rather odd establishment (lawn mower anyone?) but serving the best carrot cake I’ve ever had. Especially welcome after the snooty café who preferred us to sit outside/ or by the loos! Oh, and the deep fried brie on the first night. What a great hotel.

Thanks also to Ang particularly for the Nepal trekking advice. See you all in two years."

 Helena, Sean and Ella commented: "What a really lovely weekend Vince. Thank you so much for organising. Just loved the 'being abroad' even if the weather was typical Catch 22 Walk: sun, rain, everything! It was also fun enjoying the different atmosphere of a much smaller walk, got to know people I haven't really had the chance to chat with before. 

Hope you got back safely and are eventually reunited with your car. Looking forward to the next one already!"

And 2019?

The South Downs Way for our 12th Charity Challenge - Spring Bank Holiday 2019!





how to write a cover letter

How to Write a Great Covering Letter

A covering letter is as important than your job application and resume, if not more so. Yet, so many people underestimate the power of the covering note. Here are some tips on how to write a great covering letter for the facilities management sector, to ensure that your application gets the attention it deserves from the offset.

Planning your cover letter

Each covering letter should be customised to the particular facilities job that you are applying for. Regardless of whether a covering letter has been requested, you should take this opportunity to convey why you feel that you are suited to the post, rather than simply introducing yourself and the other parts of your application. Remember that your CV is basically a list of facts, so regardless of the years of experience you've gained within the industry, a covering letter gives you the chance to build on the information in your resume and display more of your personality. It should also highlight in what ways you match the personal requirements of the role because this isn't always obvious to the panel. Finally, your covering note should support the remainder of your application, acknowledging that you have read and understood the job advertisement, and so it should not be a template or come across as a generic message.

Formatting and proofreading your cover letter

As important as it is to capture the essence of your personality and spirit in your covering letter, it is just as important to display your attention to detail and professionalism. Making your covering note look and sound right is what could set you above the rest of the candidates. Think of your letter as a business communication and ensure that the font style and size is consistent throughout and that it doesn't exceed one A4 page. Be sure to leave a space between paragraphs to make the text easier to read and, most importantly, read and re-read the letter to avoid any silly typos.

Final checks

Once you're confident that your covering letter is error-free, there are a few final checks that you should run before sending off the application. First of all, if sending electronically, make sure that you have attached the documents requested, as there's nothing more embarrassing than having to re-send your message with the missing attachments. Secondly, triple check that you have spelt the name of the person you are writing to correctly, including using the correct title. If the advertisement didn't specify a contact, it might be worth researching the company and finding out through your own initiative which individual your application should be addressed to.

Finally, since your covering letter is the first chance you get to wow the panel, ask yourself one last time whether you really have put across your interest in the role and your passion for the work that employees in the facilities management sector do. There is a fine line between being confident and over-confident, but there is a big difference between a strong and a weak application.

catch 22 charity

The 11th Catch 22 Charity Challenge

The first May Bank Holiday weekend saw 20 hardy souls gather on Guernsey to undertake the 11th Catch 22 Charity Challenge – namely walking the entire 39 miles of the island’s coastline. The Challenges date back to 1997 when we firstly tackled the 3 Peaks and has taken in Hadrian’s Wall, the Welsh 3000s, the Glencoe Round and the Cornish coastline, to name but a few.

The C22 charity team

Managing Director, Vince Parker had this to say afterwards:

“Well, we did it!  39 miles around Guernsey, 22 miles one day along the northern flat part in glorious sunshine but the final day, 17 miles of serious ups and downs, was completed in l rain!

There were twenty exhausted souls at the end; some couldn’t even make the bar! On the twentieth anniversary of the Charity Challenge, I’m delighted to say that over £5000 has currently been raised, and that figure is still rising, for The Lord’s Taverners, Cancer Research and Mesothelioma UK.”

If you’d like to support the Challenge, you can still do so by visiting

Alternatively, you can buy a souvenir T-Shirt for just £10 – all proceeds to the charities – by emailing Vince.