The Future Can Wait………….. Get Recruitment Basics Right Now

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I’ve not blogged much over the last few months and not put down anything of substance since before Christmas. Some of this as a lack of inspiration, but the majority of it was to do with the fact that I was consumed by job-hunting activities before Christmas and then focused on the start of a new job in January and since then. Stressed yes!

I know in 2010 when I was job hunting I was able to find inspiration to blog pretty much each day. So why the difference? Well to be honest it was the lack of difference that was the cause.

In 2010 I wrote about my adventures and frustrations as a job hunter, outlining many of the failings and inadequacies I was encountering from agencies, so called exec search firms and in-house recruiters as well as outlining my own successes, shortcomings and failures, offering titbits of advice to others in the same situation. So the difference this time around was the lack of difference, i.e. nothing had really changed and if I was to repeat the same process I could have just reposted many of the posts from 2010. This year however I was exposed and engaged far more by search firms than contingent agencies. My thoughts on these types of organisations and their over inflated sense of worth may well be a post in a few weeks.

One thing that was clear to me, as those who will have read the few posts I wrote in the last 3 months of 2011 will have seen was my frustration over the lack of attention to the basics and the poor execution of what should be a relatively straight forward and simple process.

In November I was asked if I would like to contribute to a Christmas Blog Calendar by Ed Scrivener, owner of Scrivener Recruitment. Ed is someone I have never met, other than on Twitter, nor is his company one that I have done business with. But we had “spoken” on Twitter about various subjects non-work related so didn’t hesitate to agree. Obviously as a job hunter any exposure to a wider audience is a good thing.

What follows is the post that Ed ran on his blog on 5th December – thanks Ed.

Not a week goes by when I don’t read something about the Future of Recruiting. I admit I do read much of it because Recruiting or Resourcing is what I do and what I have a passion for. I am also hungry to learn. Some of what is written, such as Recruitment 3.0 & Recruitment 4.0 by Matt Jeffrey is clever thinking and some of it may even become reality, however there is much written elsewhere that is poorly thought out and fails or will fail on many levels.

Whatever the quality of the thinking or the writing they are all overlooking one thing: the Now of Recruiting.

It is all well and good to speculate on the future however I believe our time will be best spent making sure that we all address the fundamentals today. In the vast majority of companies the basic processes, capabilities or attitudes for successful Rescouring just don’t exist, and this is the same whether you are a large or small organisation; whether you have in-house Resourcing teams or not. Very few organisations have the sophistication to apply the proper respect.

Yet when it comes down to it the way we will recruit in 20 or 200 years is unlikely to be any different to how it’s been done for the last 5000 years.

Let me explain

For centuries recruitment was typically done by the fighting forces; they found out about or impressed (attract) a warrior, courted him (engage) and bought his services (hire). Then in the world of commerce of the last 300 years the same principals have applied, but instead of armies and warriors the world has had commercial organisations and workers, but the same simple steps apply.

Absolutely nothing has changed, nor do I suspect will it. What has changed are the means by which we can attract and the facilities that allow us to engage on a one-to-many basis; today we use a vast variety of other communication channels, many of them are so new that they appear to be different, but strip away all of the hype and the technology and we are back to the basics. Today we have all of these wonderful new platforms and channels that give us a wider audience to broadcast to yet Rescouring remains a high-touch activity, where all of the principals of the past remain constant. We have to speak with people and do so with respect.

Today people expect a certain degree of sophistication during their quest for work. They have far more choices than any other time in history; choice of employer, location and job type. They also have a choice of platforms through which to seek out suitable jobs; old and new. Information about employers is available from so many different sources and the new facilities available to Resourcers allow a greater flow or information, targeted and general.

We still have to review a person’s background one way or another. It doesn’t matter if the CV is dead or not – what a stupid conversation that is, what matters is that the Resourcers have the information to review. What matters is how an interview is conducted, what is said and what happens in them. They are what matter. What matters is how you treat the applicants during the courtship (engagement) and acquisition (hiring) phases. What matters is the impression a new employee has on his or her first day and in the first 3 months – it has a significant impact on their performance for the rest of their time with your company. What matters is how capable the Resourcers are and how much they respect and understand the value they bring to the business. What matters is how you and your company are perceived by the world’s employable. What matters is what they say about you when you are not listening.

Yet few leaders of companies, HR departments, Resourcing departments (if they exist at all), and hiring managers take it seriously enough to invest the necessary time, money and above all the commitment to the task; to doing it right. That is what matters

Yes we have all of these new and wonderful shiny platforms that allow us to reach and engage with more people, but without the basics they are useless.

These are the basics. These are what you need to get better at today. Get the basics right and you will then be able to start thinking about the future of recruitment.

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My Top 10 Predictions for 2012

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There have been a lot of predictions about the future of recruitment, about 2012 and about the economy so why not add to them I thought

Here are my top ten predictions for this year.

1. You will still have vacancies to fill
2. You will still get cold calls from people
3. Many of those People and others will continue to be stupid beyond words
4. Road Fund License (Car Tax) will need renewing at the end of …..(pick a month)
5. Christmas Day will be on 25th December 2012
6. It will rain in July………………somewhere
7. There will be more crap blogs than good blogs to read
8. Your Klout Score will remain completely irrelevant and useless to anyone but you
9. Social Media on the mobile will rule time and space
10. All of these will come true

There you go. That all you need to know for 2012.

Have a good one

LinkedIn – Blank Invites to Connect …………why?

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I must get between 10 and 20 invitations to connect with people I don’t know each week on LinkedIn. Many of them come from recruitment agencies. I am okay with this; after all it is what LinkedIn is for.

What I don’t understand however is why nearly all of them have no message in them. They offer no reason or qualification why the connection is relevant to me or to them for that matter. I can make assumptions but………………..

It doesn’t take more than a few seconds to write a quick note. LinkedIn even makes it straight forward by limiting the number of words for those literarily challenged.

Is there a logical reason for this? Am I missing something? Lazy, rude and spam?

Are Your Interviewers Good Enough?

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When you interview people for a job you are asked to make a judgment call on whether the people you interview are good enough and suitable for your company, but what makes you think you are good enough to do the interview and represent your company? Are you suitably trained to conduct a proper interview and make that decision yourself? I suspect not.

The vast majority of hiring managers whether they work in HR or not have never been trained how to interview people; the psychology, the questions to ask, what not to ask, how to decide who is good enough or what good enough looks like.  Many will have the information needed to sell the company and the job to each candidate, but fail disastrously by simply asking the wrong questions, focusing on the wrong competencies in a person’s background appropriate to the role, not listening to the answers given and not exploring each answer or further.

I know some companies train and certify every manager before they are able to open a Requisition, before they are able to hold an interview.  Why don’t more do it?

What is often forgotten in the recruitment process is the candidate.  There are plenty of articles and blogs written about how poor the candidate experience is in the majority of companies, yet little attention is given to the quality of interviews.

Do you realise you could be missing out on very good talent for your organisation because your interview processes or the people doing the interviewing is substandard, boring and in some cases illegal.

In an interview a good candidate will be interviewing you and your company. Or they would be if given the chance to.  They too have to make a very important choice.  To a greater extent the decision the candidate has to make is far more important and crucial than the decision you have to make.  If they get the decision wrong it could screw up their life; if you get it wrong you rectify and move on.   Candidates therefore must be given the opportunity to represent themselves and as most interviews follow a typical Q&A format the right questions need to be asked to elicit the appropriate answers or at least stimulate the appropriate level of discussion.

I will give you an example from recent personal experience.  I was being interviewed for Director, Global Recruitment by an HRD.  The role was very senior and of a strategic leadership nature, yet a ridiculous amout of time was spent going into detail on a project I worked on in early 2008, that was purely transactional and not at all relevant to the role I was being interviewed for.

Where were the questions about the ATS they are about to acquire and deploy, my thoughts related to the announcements from LinkedIn made just that week, to the use of social media, candidate experience, employer brand, the impact of the AWR or many others more relevant to the most senior resourcing role in the organisation.  I think you get the point.

This is not a rant nor is it a specific observation on that one incident – there have been others in the last 7 weeks – this post is purely an observation about the lack of attention and lack of priority given to one of the most important jobs/functions in a company; that of an interviewer.

So before you judge a candidate be sure you judge your interviewers’ ability,  otherwise you will be failing your candidates and losing out on the good people you set out to acquire.

How many companies train and certify their managers before they let them near an interview room?

Do you?

Recruiters – What are your 3 Burning Questions?

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A month or so ago Emma and I were invited to present at the End of Year Recruitment Conference held this last week and organised by The Recruiter Network. This would be the first time we had stood up as The FIRM in a public environment and wanted to do something that was in keeping with our core values – we chose “sharing knowledge”.

There are many ways in which standards can be raised for hiring managers, recruiting practitioners working in-house and for sales people working at agencies; arguably the biggest of these is by gaining an understanding of how we all work. It is probably fair to say that very few agency staff know what it is like to work in house or what the roles and responsibilities of recruitment or HR practitioners are and the challenges they have.  There are guesses; some right, some wrong, but rarely known

With this in mind we felt a little information sharing could go a long way. If the in-house function is performing well, has the sophistication, resources, competencies and desire then the use of agencies will be eliminated in that organisation. However, I doubt very much that this model is widely adopted and that the vast majority of companies will chose to use the services of agencies for one reason or another. Let us remember though that the vast majority of companies do not have a dedicated competent in-house Rescouring teams and as such companies choose to use agencies. Hiring managers who manage their own process typically won’t have a clue how to resource properly, despite what they themselves will think and as such will tend to use an agency or worse, multiple agencies for expedience. Nothing wrong with that if it works well for all parties.

So to our presentation. The idea was to ask agencies what their Burning Questions are and discuss some of the reasons the questions needed to be asked and hopefully provide answers and insights.

1. What are the 3 Burning Questions you, as a recruitment consultant, would like to ask your customers (hiring managers)?

2. What are the 3 Burning Questions you, as a recruitment consultant, would like to ask HR or Resourcing teams at your customers or prospects?

3. What are the 3 biggest issues or frustrations you have when dealing with HR or Resourcing functions?

The questions were posted on Surveymonkey. Using Twitter and the UK Recruiter newsletter we invited agencies to ask away.

We were given a 50 minute speaking slot at the start of the conference and as such unfortunately we couldn’t discuss every question asked. Some were just too stupid anyway.  These are the ones we addressed or at least we tried to on the day. Thanks to the discussion in the room amongst the delegates we sort of ran out of time.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Question 1. What are the 3 Burning Questions you, as the recruitment consultant, would like to ask your customers (hiring managers)?

  • What is more important, cutting costs or finding the right candidate?
  • What would be your ideal Agency/Customer relationship?

Question 2. What are the 3 Burning Questions you, as the recruitment consultant, would like to ask HR or Resourcing teams at your customers or prospects?

  • Do you have favourite agencies/recruiters and why?
  • Why do you block access to hiring managers, even when we are a recognised and trusted partner?

Question 3. What are the 3 biggest issues or frustrations you have when dealing with HR or Resourcing functions?

  • Feedback …………or a lack of it
  • Poor job descriptions or briefings on the positions
  • Not responding to telephone calls (messages) or emails

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

From many of the questions it is clear that some agencies really do want to learn in order to help their customers. It was also clear from some of the reactions in the room to the answers we were giving that agencies simply do not know nor can they comprehend the scale of some of the challenges in-house people have – there were gasps after Emma gave one example of what her teams are dealing with on a daily basis. It is also clear that many companies would do better by engaging more with their suppliers and teaching each other how to work together.  Better results for all I suspect will be realised.

I welcome further questions

I welcome further answers

If you would like to discuss any of these questions or any others that you have please let me know. My contact details can be found here.

Do You Want to Hire the Best Talent?

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At the beginning of 2010 I wrote a blog post called “Why would I want to work for your company?” and published it here. It must have struck a chord because I was asked to remove it because someone thought I was having a pop at them; would I do that? Being new to blogging, I duly complied. I then reposted it here in April 2011. Today it is my most visited (and I hope read) post. It is also the one that is searched for and found the most often using the words in it title. Obviously there are many that are asking the same questions.

This post is to take the subject of that post a bit further.

In that post I talked about poor employer brand and the lack of attention many companies give to promoting that brand to potential candidates, naïvely in favour of their hallowed corporate and consumer brands (which might suck by the way). Today it is all about engagement – at least some people are getting it. I’ve been banging on about networks, communities and candidate engagement since July 2006; the date I came into HR Resourcing. They didn’t really listen then, but back then I didn’t have such a loud voice.

Now it’s louder and I’m not alone either. People are listening and asking questions, hungry to learn. I go to seminars, conferences and have conversations with plenty of people who do a similar job to me and have many of the same challenges. The subject of Candidate Engagement, what it means, how important it is, the dynamics, psychology and methods of approach are all part of the discussions.

Now I don’t have all of the answers, none of us do, but it seems to me that there are some simple concepts to grasp.

  • Everyone is a potential employee if you get the proposition right for them
  • Not everyone is a potential applicant – some just won’t fit or have the skills you need but they are interested in what you have to say and will have opinions others will listen to
  • Everyone could be a consumer – piss a candidate off and it will cost you money
  • Talking costs nothing – tell them what THEY want to know, not what you think they do or just what you feel comfortable telling them.
  • Every employee you have has a story to tell, make sure the majority have a good one

That last point is a huge subject that covers a wide range of HR aspirations and failures. But I’m not going there today.

So how do we engage with the world and give people the information they need. In the more mature and up to date companies you’ll need to join forces with Marketing, Branding and Communications to create an environment that can be used to let everyone know what your organisation is all about. It products, its people, its ambition, its opportunities, events, initiatives, CR projects, the good news and the bad news. Get people interested in you and your company and they will be more interested. Some will even want to work for you. It takes time and effort and therefore money, but can you really afford not to? There are companies that you compete with in the quest for top talent that are doing this already.

Most Resourcing Departments don’t have someone with the title Social Engagement Manager or Candidate Engagement Specialist or similar. Why not? Mostly it’s because I’ve just thought of it myself! – far too many options available for answers on that one.

It’s a new concept; no one has any experience of it. It therefore scares those who are supposed to be in control because they can’t be and don’t have the skills and knowledge to work with it. It’s a new concept only in so far as people now see Social Media and new technology as enabler to get the job done. The concept is not new it’s been around since Man learned to speak. But with Social Technology we all see a route for a quick fix.

But don’t be fooled into believing the technology will be the complete answer; you will need to invest in the people who have the aptitude and attitude, who can use the platforms and then use them to engage.

There are platforms that are now emerging, some established like TribePad, that will actually help you with your engagement plan. They are all so new that when I thought about this blog post I searched the web using a host of different terms and search strings and all I was finding was job boards, aggregators or ATS providers. None of which seemed to offer you a platform to engage with the world and anyone who wants to engage with you properly yourselves – apart from TribePad. There are others, I know there are. I have yet to meet or find them. I welcome comments on this blog from those who offer a similar option I’d be interested. However you don’t have to use advanced platform to make a start; you can use Facebook, your own company website, Twitter, blogs as well as face-to-face events. There is so much that can be done.

Ok I’ve digressed. In my previous blog I was stating that we have to give the public more reason to want to join our companies. We need to engage with people in person, face-to-face or online we need to give them what they want with targeted or subscribed distribution of information. We have to be available, ready and willing to answer the tough questions now. It’s no longer acceptable that just because you are one of the biggest companies in the world, with one of the best brands that people will want to work for you. Why would they when you don’t engage at all or give them an idea of what it’s like, what our culture is like, what opportunities exist for them to help their careers?

Engagement is not about just giving a candidate a good experience during the interview process or the lifecycle of a job, it’s about fully embracing the concept and looking at everyone as a potential employee. They are no longer candidates, they are followers or interested parties who need to be given a reason to keep coming back to your site or platform or community. They have to want to be there, they want to experience what you are, they want to be informed and if you get it right they may also apply for the job.

#myjobhunt – Being Inspired & Being Confident is Crucial

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Today I was inspired.

It happens more to me than many people I know. It comes from the people I count as my friends and the people I meet or chat to by phone.

I had 6 major discussions today; 3 in person and 3 by phone. Each one was different and each left me with things to think about and reflect upon.

As many people know I’m looking for work at the moment and I’m sure it won’t surprise you to hear that it is not easy and at times my head is all over the place. I know I am not alone. Yet it is days like today and the conversations I had, that bring the focus back. I’m not going to go into the detail, but the inspiration each of them gave me was huge.

I don’t mind admitting that I got up this morning feel quite down and frustrated with #myjobhunt 2011, you may have got that from my last post. Yet I got the station and onto the train. One of the things that only a few know about me is that I love listening music to the point that I can get very lost in it and generally take my in-ear headphones everywhere with me. I tend to like it loud and I tend to like it very heavy, for much of what I listen to anyway. This morning was no different and yes it was loud. As a result by the time I’d got to London my mood was on the upside

The first meeting was a chat with Doug Shaw, someone I’ve got to know through Twitter, ConnectingHR and at SocRecCamp. A top bloke. Genuine and supportive. It was a simple coffee to share ideas and explore a few thoughts, no agenda, just chatter. Time flew past and I had to leave to make my way to my next appointment, scheduled as an interview. I was buzzing, not from the coffee but from the conversation I’d just had.

I don’t get nervous about much but this interview was different, not because of what is at stake in my life but because of whom I was interviewing with. But I was up for it. Over the next hour I had another conversation with someone who shares my passion for what we do and who gets how to engage with people. We shared our thoughts and he probed to find out what I thought on certain issues and practices around Resourcing and Talent. It was a good introductory conversation which had to come to a halt after 80 mins, both of us acknowledging that we could have spent all day on the various subjects and issues we face in our daily jobs. Now if I get this particular position this is the chap I would report to. It’s pretty good to know that your potential boss gets it too.

I had a spring in my step as I strolled across the West End of London to my next meeting.

This one was with a lady from APSCo who I’d met and shared ideas and thoughts with previously over the last two or three years. We talked about the complaints or moans members of The FIRM have about agencies, along with issues that the agencies have when dealing with their customers, whether HR, Resourcers or hiring manager. Typical and expected chatter. It wasn’t an entirely pleasing subject to chat about given there is unlikely to be a simple answer to the issues we all have, nor is there ever likely to be a remedy to them. All we can do is discuss them and try our best to improve how we do things. What was clear for me however as I walked to the Tube was that if we all focus completely on doing the best we can, in the right and appropriate way, as expected by everyone then it can only be better. Anyway that’s another subject for another day…..maybe.

What was good about this meeting was that it I was given the inspiration to possibly make a difference and it was in my power as an individual to do something about it. Which I will be doing over the next week or so, if I can find the time

Whilst I’ve been looking for work I got to know of a number of others that are in the same situation; three of whom I had met for the first time this year. I am pleased to say that these three people, all in HR have in the last 4 working days secured new jobs. One of whom announced her success today adding to my good feeling. I won’t out them just yet as I am not sure how public they have made their news, but brilliant news and many congratulations to you all; G, S and J.

I suppose what I am saying with this post is that it is okay to be a little down and a little frustrated and a little confused when job hunting. It’s a serious business. But be true, stay focused and believe in yourself and know that you are good at what you do and you’ll have days like this too and soon those days will turn into the kind of days my three friends have had in this last week. Be inspired.

I started this post by saying I was inspired today. I was. I’d started the day feeling pretty grim about things but then as the day wore on I got back on the balls of my feet and started to feel good, and by the time I got home I was buzzing. It was a day when I got focus and confidence back. And it’s not just today either. The support and encouragement and great friendship I have received this year is amazing. Last year blew me away but this year is amazing. Thank you all.

My name is Gary, I’m looking for a new job and I am good at what I do.

Music of the Day: BU2B by Rush (also inpsired by Doug, a Rush fan too)

thanks for reading