Secretarial: Dairy of a Secretary - The selection that takes the biscuit

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The Independent Culture
ALL THOSE job-searching secretaries who wonder if there will ever be a foolproof method of candidate selection, need fear no longer. Biscuits are apparently the answer. According to the latest research from Jaffa Cakes, you can tell a great deal by the choice of biscuit the candidate makes from the selection put in front of them. Not surprisingly, the makers of the biscuit with the renowned orangey bit found that anyone who chooses their product has the most favourable qualities - eccentricity, intelligence and a good sense of fun. But Personnel Today suggests some further ideas: for communication skills, clearly munchers of Hob Nobs are your people; for anyone who can handle the pace of his or her job through a merger, a Garibaldi-eater is your best bet; and anyone who chooses a Jammie Dodger is probably best rejected.

NO JOKES please, we're British. That's the message from a survey of UK workplaces carried out by the spoken communication consultants the Aziz Corporation. UK directors were found to take a remarkably conservative viewpoint on office communications, with the use of jokes, mild swear words and informal language or slang being largely frowned upon. Definitely no lavatorial - or otherwise - jokes in meetings, please. Only 1 per cent consider it tolerable behaviour. In fact, a staggering 39 per cent believe they should never be allowed - even during a natter with your work mates, and 70 per cent of directors considered swear words unacceptable at any time. You won't be accepting that invitation to your boss's dinner party after all, then. Hardly a laugh a minute.

IT'S THAT time of year again when baring arms, legs - even feet - is your only option in an office that either has no air conditioning or - surprise, surprise - a system that's broken down again. Or so you thought. But the image consultancy Color Me Beautiful warns wholeheartedly against revealing any skin at any time. Mary Spillane, who runs the company, insists that summer brings out the worst interpretations of the latest corporate image. "When the sun comes out, British brains seem to get fried. Women are particularly vulnerable because out come the armpits and white-as- snow legs and even toes hanging out of shoes - which break down all professionalism. There's really no excuse, with such wide availability of linen and other lightweight suits, and long dresses that look smart with tailored jackets. The more skin you show, the less authority you have." Your only decision, then, is fry your brain or your body. The choice is yours.

KEEP TYPING - the days of fixed retirement ages may be numbered. "Rather than going over a cliff edge straight into retirement, we need a more gradual approach," claims the employment minister, Andrew Smith. "Older workers bring a whole range of skills, and their experience can make an enormous difference to the success of an enterprise. More enlightened employers already recognise this." People older than 50, for instance, are often more reliable and productive than younger employees.

There's only one problem here - there's no law against ageism in the UK. And can you see bosses nationwide going for the likes of Thora Hird over the likes of Emma Noble when it comes to recruiting? Legislation must come first.

BORED BY the thought of yet another presentation? Imagine livening it up a bit by chopping off your MD's head in front of your colleagues. Dynamic FX can help you do just that. Companies such as Peugeot, BMW and British Airways are all adding a little magic to a corporate image in this way. Apparently, it breaks the ice, it surprises clients and it's entertaining. Just one suggestion - if you want to introduce it into your company, be careful how you choose your words.

The Temp is on holiday