Resourcing – Why Chop Logs with a Teaspoon?

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This weekend I spent loads of time in my garden. About 4 hours on Saturday and about 3 on Sunday. It was time well spent.

I had a list of things I wanted to get done, the sun was shining, it was warm and dry, perfect weather for some hard work.

In the spring of 2010 we had six very large Ash trees felled in various parts of the grounds.  Two of the trees were easily 30 meters tall and were felled inside the garden with no way to get them up the very high steep bank through the woods and out of the garden.  I managed to get some of them cleared last year but had left the rest in piles to season where they fell.  Time to move some more; cut, split and stack them in the stables, (we don’t have horses, it’s just a giant storage shed), ready for winter use.

I’d put this particular job off for most of the summer hoping for a long hot spell to really dry the wood out.  That and the fact it was going to a long hard job and I didn’t really fancy it at all, but with cut and split logs costing in the region of £100 a tonne if purchased it made sense to use what was already ours. So to work.

With my in-ear headphones and the iPod on shuffle I just got on with it. A chainsaw and a bow saw on Saturday, an axe and hatchet on Sunday.  I was having fun, all the time the number of tree trunks and branches from around the place were being reduced to the size we could use in the house.  Whilst I was doing this I was thinking, amongst other things, about my next blog post.  Each time I latched onto a theme I just couldn’t make it work.

Then on Sunday it occurred to me.

I just spent hours reducing trees to 20cm logs to burn in an open fire.  Whilst it was most certainly hard work it had not been difficult at all, in fact it was easy.  I was methodical.  I paced myself.  It occurred to me was that I was enjoying what I was doing, I had the enthusiasm and energy to get the job done and I had the correct tools for the job.

Of course my mind linked it instantly to Resourcing and how organisations big and small don’t generally give it the priority it needs, don’t have the appetite, energy or the right tools to do it right.  To do anything right, there has to be an appetite, enthusiasm and energy to do it well and the right equipment to do it effectively and efficiently for the right results have to be available.  I could have created the same amount of fire logs with a bow saw and a regular saw and just an axe but it would have taken me so much longer and with much more effort and lots of pain.  This is a task I have done for year and love it! I know what I am doing and have the right approach, tools and technique.  Yes anyone can do it but you have to know what you are doing.  I’ve seen the damage done by poor attention to the detail and poor technique; it’s not pretty

When it comes to Resourcing the appetite comes from the leader of the organisation.  Many executives say it is a priority but few give it anything other than lip service and it tends to get marginalised because outdated attitudes to sourcing and attraction are cemented firmly in days gone by, i.e. pick the phone up and call and agency or search firm. (A bit like using a rust old and blunt hand saw).  This last sentence assumes it is recognised as an essential and specialist business function in the first place. I doubt very much that it is in the majority.  There are many companies that are happy for the hiring managers to leverage personal networks, place job adverts and engage with agencies; and for many this works well.  Whilst it doesn’t actually add any real value to the business it puts bums on seats.  Sadly for the majority of hiring managers and HR practitioners that’s all it’s about.

Equipping a Resourcing function properly is key to its success and essential to it adding far more value to the business than most people think it can.  It doesn’t start with simply giving someone the responsibility to recruit for your company.  It starts with a commitment to do it properly and to recognise that it is something that you need to invest in to allow the proper policies and procedures to be put in place and then constantly refined, retuned and modified to keep pace with a constantly changing landscape.

It also takes time to get it right for your company.  There is no overnight fix, but there can be a dramatic and identifiable improvement within a reasonably short space of time.  I’m talking within the current accounting period.

The one big mistake that many hiring managers, HRDs, HR Managers and company executives make when it comes to Resourcing is thinking it is easy and that anyone can do it.

Last year I asked an audience made up of about 100 HR management types “How many of you have personally been responsible for Rescouring someone in the last year?”

All but a few put their hands up.

Then I asked them “How many of you did that without using agencies or search firms?”  Only three hands stayed up.

I’m not sure what they thought they were doing but it wasn’t Resourcing, but it was easy.  I told them that the only thing they had proven to me was that they knew how to use a phone.  Only one or two of them had actually done the resourcing, all of the others had offloaded it to 3rd parties.    Now this is not a fault at all but simply an indication of what many think Resourcing is all about.

Recruitment, Talent Acquisition, Resourcing, Staffing – call it what you will, is not a one dimensional function and it does not follow a simple linear process that has a clear beginning and an end. To be sure that your business doesn’t suffer because of the bad hires you have made or the bad impression you have made in the market it must be given specialist continued focus and attention.  It is a front line customer and consumer facing function.  Treating it as anything else could be neglecting your responsibilities.

Providing your company with the right tools means applying the right priority to the function, finding the right people, paying them what they are worth, the right training, giving them the appropriate budget to use the appropriate technologies and platforms and give them the corporate support to ensure they are not marginalised by HR, Sales, Marketing or any other function.  Think about it!  An effective Resourcing team might speak to more people every week, selling your company to a wider audience than any other department in your organisation.  Do you really want them to be doing a bad job of it?   You get the right people with the right attitude and attributes and give them respect they will both save you money and add to your company’s bottom line.

With the right tools for the job you get a job well done, you get added benefit in terms of corporate reputation, the delivery of the right skills at the right time for the business and is done efficiently.  The best talent in the market will give you more respect and as such could well put you at the top of their list of places to work when they are ready.  And as with anything done right you will get value for your money.

I am looking for work at the moment and know from first-hand experience how bad the Resourcing/Recruitment processes are in companies if left to the HRBPs, HRDs or generalists. It’s not the individuals’ fault all of the time; it’s probably the priority given to it.  There is a simple answer – Hire me I’ll sort it out for you.  I can be contacted here

Let me just add this; if it was easy to do, why do so many of you get it so wrong all of the time?

Music of the Day – In Loving Memory by Alter Bridge

Thanks for reading

Things That Job Hunters Hate – #myjobhunt

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Last week was my first week of availability; I’d forgotten how exciting job hunting can be. Yet, despite really enjoying meeting new people, the conversations that result and the relationships that evolve, job hunting is not easy. I find it both fun and fascinating and very hard work all at the same time. That’s when it’s going okay. In fact even when it is going okay it saps the energy, both physically and mentally. The concentration required is very taxing to say the least. I know I am not alone in admitting it can be very stressful and intimidating at times. But let’s face it unless you want to give everything up, you have to keep going. But can you imagine what it must be like for those who have been out of work for so long that they can’t say it’s going okay?. How stressful and confidence sapping must that be?

I had three months’ notice that my contract was definitely coming to an end and therefore I had plenty of time to get the #myjobhunt process started. I thought I had the time, but in reality when still getting stuff done in the day-job, job hunting was very very difficult, almost impossible to do aggressively yet the pace did pick up in the last two weeks. The number of contacts, referrals and interviews I had lined up was a real surprise to me. In the last week, my first week of availability I’ve had a couple of days where there were two interviews each day, each with companies new to me and in markets alien to me. All with the same challenges but with their own unique requirements to be met. I will I hope have done a good job in all, but likely as not I won’t be the preferred candidate in all of them. But I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunities to sell myself. The refreshing and mature aspect of these companies is that their HRDs are not misguided into believing that market or industry sector experience is crucial at this level. It frustrates the hell out of me when I get told “sorry you don’t have retail (or similar) experience” or “you haven’t been an HR Generalist” or as one person said to me this week “we may decide to take someone from a general HR background because they have better communication skills”. I’ll let you judge and feel free to comment.

I suspect there are many job hunters out there in the same position and not having a good time of it at the moment and it certainly doesn’t help when short-sighted hiring managers ask for irrelevancies or focus too much on what someone has done in the past, rather than looking harder at the knowledge and attributes they can bring and what they are able to do. Sadly this is all too common, the vast majority of interviewers and hiring managers simply do not know how to interview and assess someone properly. They lack the skills themselves to explore candidates’ abilities and potential. They therefore let themselves down by missing out on good people for the future development of their department and company and they let the candidate down too. And we all know the impact a bad interviewer or bad interview experience can have. Getting a consistent approach to interviews, questions and evaluations should be a top priority for every Resourcing leader and business leader – it’s not that hard to do either and depending on the size of your organisation can be rolled out very quickly too.

Ok so questionable job requirements, over ambitious wish lists and crap interviewers are some of the frustrations that we can all relate to, but there is one that I think we would all agree just isn’t acceptable yet still happens all too often. Post-interview feedback. Or the lack of feedback to be precise.

During the last three months of my contract I was pursuing a position with one particular company. A job I really liked the sound of and was very excited about. I had 5 interviews with this particular company; one with their most senior global resourcing person and another with their most senior HRD in EMEA. They were very pleasant and professional and gave me a good sense of what their plans were and what many of their company and personal business values were. Sadly I was to be disappointed on two fronts with this company. Firstly I didn’t get the job but knowing the chap that did helped me accept it with a smile. Secondly and what I was more disappointed about was the lack of feedback. I received none whatsoever. All I got was that they chose someone else. In my case I gave over 8 hours of my time (inc. travel) to attend these interviews.

It was over a month from the last interview to being told I didn’t get it, so I wasn’t surprised but given the values and the conversations I’d had I was surprised when the search firm still wasn’t able to get me any feedback. We all know this happens; it’s talked about and complained about by candidates all over the world. I would suspect that this it is the biggest complaint that candidates have.

Now I don’t write this to have a pop at that particular company. As many of you know if I was that bothered personally I’d not hesitate in naming them would I? But really you/we should all do better than this. It is not only lazy, wrong and rude it damages your personal reputation and that of your company.

In my position as recruiter looking to be recruited I am probably more relaxed about this most candidates. From a Resourcing Manager’s perspective I am appalled.

As a candidate I do have in insiders understanding of the processes involved, the expectations and the acceptance that things aren’t perfect and therefore don’t take it too personally. I could bitch and moan and complain how unfair it all is, actually I do that quite a bit, but I knew what it would be like at the outset. Job hunting is all about motivation, not getting too disappointed and being tenacious. Much of the motivation comes from being able to identify where you went wrong and be encouraged that you can improve. Not that many people are self-aware enough to know where they screwed up, so they really on the feedback of others. Receiving post-interview feedback really does help and it should matter too. From a candidates point of view it is required for learning purposes or just plain closure. From the company’s perspective it is essential to give a real and valid reason to ensure that you live up to the promises and value you spoke about in the interview.

From the other side of the fence, the Resourcing Managers’, don’t you realise the damage you are doing to you own personal reputation let alone the feelings a candidate might have towards your company as a result of not taking 15 mins to provide feedback to someone? If you don’t I am sure your CEO would like to have a word. If you don’t then I’d gladly spend time explaining why and help you improve your approach and processes.

In the last month or so countless people have ask me how my quest has been going. On every occasion I reply “it’s going okay”. Never good, never great and never poorly, just okay. And it will always be just okay until I sign on the dotted line; then it will be great. There could come a time when I want to describe it as poor, maybe if I’ve been turned down or had bad feedback. But until any of those times actually happen, it will be okay. This is good.

So, job hunters, but strong and keep going, think about how you can improve as you go through the experience.
Employers be honest and fair and respect the candidates – you have to be better because as with last year many of you are not as good at hiring as you think you are.

thanks for reading

Music of the Day; As I Am by Dream Theater

DON’T READ THIS!!

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What? Can you not read? but feel free to post an irrelevant comment











Include or Engage – Dont They Mean the Same Thing?

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Last Friday there were a lot of Tweets using the #HFCHAT – this stands for HireFriday Chat and takes place online surprisingly on Fridays. I confess I’ve not paid too much attention to it so cannot offer any thoughts, however on Friday last week there were a number or tweets using the hashtag that seemed to follow a theme.

One in particular from Steve Levy @levyrecruits caught my eye

@levyrecruits Companies and Recruiters: I know you’re reading this… STOP RECRUITING TO EXCLUDE PEOPLE; find ways to include them #hfchat

This got me thinking.

Was this referring to the linear CV sifting process or was it talking about community and engagement? Could apply to both.

Let quickly look at the former first.

The problem that many in-house teams or HR generalists face is the lack time and the lack of engagement. The teams either don’t have the resources to afford the time or they are not afforded the time by the hiring managers to fully understand what it is they need. Very few in-house recruiters are given the opportunity to actively partner and engage at a business level with their hiring managers. There could be many reasons for this; managers not respecting what recruiting function could do if engaged properly, recruiters not having the commercial awareness to be anything other than transactional, HR Managers and BP’s marginalising the recruiting function and operating in a culture of elitism, where only they have access to the hiring manager community. There are I suspect a few more valid reasons. None acceptable to me, but valid nonetheless. All of these are common and familiar. None of them help the company or its ability to identify good talent from amongst the dozens, maybe hundreds of applications received for each position. And none of them help the candidate community get to know about the company.

Companies can be spoiled by the volume of applications received per vacancy, the vast majority of which are irrelevant. Irrelevant applications are received all of the time; because of wishful thinking or belief that they can genuinely do the job, stupidity or because of a lack of information provided by the company. Whatever the reason for the application, relevant or otherwise the overburdened recruiter will typically follow a linear process. At this stage they are looking to exclude people in order to identify those they want to include. Even once they have spent the time to create a decent long list they have their minds focused on finding perfect fits or best fits and therefore look to include only those that fit the predefined criteria and to exclude those that clearly don’t. It’s a process of elimination until they arrive a suitable shortlist of candidates that are worthy of further time, consideration and interview. It happens this way, it has always happened this way and it will always continue to happen this way.

But what happens if the shortlist doesn’t contain that many people or that they don’t have the “perfect fit” attributes required as briefed? How many companies and their leaders and their recruiters have the time, maturity and sense, as well as the understanding of the business function they are recruiting for, to look at what transferable skills the candidates might have and how they can be applied to the role being recruited for? Very few I would suspect. Could this be the point that Steve was making in his tweet?

If we replace the use of the word “include”, in Steve’s Tweet with “engage” we address the latter thought above and move closer to where both candidates and companies will gain greatest value and benefit.

Recruiting teams must be allowed to partner with the business if they want to become anything other than administrators. In order to add value to the business they need to understand it. Understanding the business and the functions of the individual business unit therein is the first step in transitioning a recruiting team away from being an administrative support function to one that is a valuable extension to it. It will give the individual recruiters the knowledge and confidence to engage properly with a target candidate community/group/pool and proactively identify suitable people. It will give them the opportunity to sell through conversation and inclusion and be able to speak with authority and knowledge. Not possible when kept at arms-length

I agree whole heartedly with Steve in respect that we shouldn’t be sitting back waiting for the applications to arrive in our inbox or ATS and then select through a process of elimination based on buzz word matching or like-for-like experience matching we need to look at all attributes, if that is what he meant.

By including and fully engaging with recruiter the hiring managers equip them to properly represent their department, function and job to the world. It also enables them to confidently engage with targeted or open communities, whether they are online or offline. In doing so employers and potential employees have the opportunity to come together to explore each other without commitment or obligation. I would suspect that good people will be identified or at least stand out much easier and at the same time many of the irrelevant applications will be eliminated.

There are two things then we need to get better at – well there are many but in the context of this post – we need to be better equipped and willing to identify transferable skills and think about what we can teach and what we can learn from a hire. We also need to be more open and transparent and fully engage with our internal customer community to enable us to engage with their potential candidate communities.

The discussions that can result in transparency and engagement could lead anywhere. Why miss that opportunity?

Will You (We) Ever Change? – #myjobhunt week 3

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I’ve not had the opportunity to write too much about #myjobhunt over the last couple of weeks – to be honest I haven’t had much inclination.

Last year I was on gardening leave and not required to get up a prescribed time. Nor did I have anything other than job hunting to do each day. I did seem to get a ridiculous number of chores that seemed to spring up from nowhere. The sun was even shining then. This year I have a job to do, a job that I enjoy so my priority is to that job. I also have to admit part of me has been in denial over the last month, hoping and to a certain extent certain I would get a reprieve and get a last minute extension to my contract. Alas this was a bit foolish on my part. The reality of the situation is that my boss on the first day had told me that it was unlikely to last more than a year. I knew the parameters and in September 2010 I was prepared for that.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the scope and scale of the job ahead of me and how much needed to be done. Nor was I prepared for the team in which I would work. I was soon thinking of myself in terms of a long term employee and lost sight of the end point. Wishfully thinking that I would be made a permanent employee.

So when informed at the end of June that it was almost certainly coming to an end I was more than a little disappointed; even that’s an understatement. Yet the day came when we had to tell everyone. It made it very real at that point.

In the last post regarding #myjobhunt 2011 I mentioned that I had already started interviewing and at that time I was quite advanced with one company. There were a few other opportunities that I had started but only the one that had moved. This one job is very interesting to me on so many fronts. It ticks many boxes for me. You can therefore imagine how I felt with a limited pipeline of opportunities and a job I was excited about after 4 interviews, to be told that they were not going to be making a decision for another couple of weeks because they had two other people to interview.

Or maybe you can’t.

I had to admit that since the last interview on the previous Friday I’d felt that I didn’t perform well in the interviews, there were plenty of gaps or things I should done better or differently, maybe. As such my initial reaction was one of rejection. I clearly hadn’t done enough to give them a reason not to interview others. But thinking about it over the weekend and putting myself in the position of Hiring Manager I had to admit that interviewing all of the potentially suitable candidates makes perfect sense. So whilst still disappointed I started this last week not feeling rejected.

However this delay, as well as the fact that everyone now knows I will be leaving at the end of Sept spurred me into action.

I had a few calls with agencies and search companies with very predictable results. “oh sorry that job has gone” or “we’ll call you back” or “you don’t have enough experience” – One or two of which WILL be mentioned in a blog post once I have secured a job, so if you work for an agency and I have spoken with you this last 2 weeks and you think you may have been a touch misleading or up your own arse, you have a little while to make amends before I name and shame you.

Two weeks ago I’d received a referral from a friend in The FIRM which I followed up immediately. I further followed it up this week and have been rewarded with an interview soon. I also applied directly for another role last week, followed it up this and also now have an interview. Both of these interviews are with the companies directly, which is pleasing. Progress.

One disappointment however is a role applied for two weeks ago via a company’s career site. The job was posted by a member of The FIRM and therefore I expected a bit of either professionalism or courtesy. Sadly no response has been received to date. This week I also connected with her on LinkedIn and sent her a direct email. Still no response. Again I will be blogging about it and them once I have a job.

You (We) must do better. Recruiters or agency staff are constantly getting criticised for poor responses and lack of engagement which they all seem to want to defend. Yet my experience tells me that you (we ) don’t have a leg to stand on. WE have got to do better. One thing that it seems I need to scream loudly is that if I apply to you for a job don’t ignore me. Not only am I applying for a job that if successful could see me as your boss, but it is rude. I am not a serial applicant and every job I apply for is relevant and appropriate to me and my experience and competencies.

Rant over. I feel more positive now because I am making a real effort. I have clearly stated that I am interested in one particular job, however a delay, as any, gives me the opportunity to have my head turned by others. I am ignoring the doubts, or at least trying to and getting on with giving myself that “choice” I wrote about last year. If fortune favours me and the other candidates don’t impress or fall short and they want me, then I will have to decide at that time. Right now however I don’t have a choice and need to surge forward.

Tomorrow is another day, thankfully the last day of the week before a weekend and a recharge.

As with last year I have received the most amazing amount of support and help from my friends online and offline, some of whom are in the same position as me and possibly looking at the same jobs – I am still happy to share with them too, unless of course I am in an advanced situation with a prospective employer. Good luck to everyone and please let me know if I can be of help.

Having Multiple Versions of your CV – the discussion continues

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Last weekend I asked a simple question on Twitter, it got an immediate reaction from many which inspired me to post the same question on the blog. “Do CVs Contain the Truth?”

Of course we all hope they do, we know that not all of them do.

There have been some great comments and discussions on- and offline. When I created the post I was thinking as both a candidate, which is what I am and as a hiring recruitment manager, which is also what I am.

From the candidates perspective I only have one linear history of experience and in my CV I always highlight what I have done and what I have achieved, all of it, over the last 10 years. I am only going to apply for jobs that are relevant to that experience, to do anything else I would be deceiving myself that I could be something that I am not.

This is a change for me. In previous years when I was selling hardware and software, based on advice from a so called recruiting and career expert, I had a number of CVs; one highlighting my direct sales experience, a second highlighting my channel sales experience, and other highlighting my management experience, all created in order to justify the application to a particular job, a job that I was probably not suitable for. None of them actually suitable for me either. I learned my lesson. As a candidate I had to know what I am good at, what I want to do and what I bring to the next job. One of the key things I look for when considering a new role is what that job or company can do for me; how will it help me develop.

I am looking for a new job now and can see how two CVs might help find a job, especially if I haven’t find THE job; one to highlight my ability to fill Reqs and the other more strategic and management focused. But for now I only have one CV. The CV. The history.

From a Recruitment Managers perspective I don’t actually care. I only see a CV, I don’t know if it is one of one or one of many. I don’t care. It is what it is and I have to make a judgement and decision on it. What I do care about is being able to read a CV and believe it is a true representation of a candidate’s experience. If I start to have doubts then I won’t be inclined to proceed with the candidate.

I was interested in the comments from my fellow in-house recruiters and recruitment managers who said that they would rather read a CV that has points specific and relevant to the position applied for highlighted, to them I ask “how would you know that what you are reading has been created for you?” “How do you know they have read and understood the job description?” There is no way of knowing at all.

If we encourage candidates to alter CVs to highlight skills and experience simply touched upon, are we not asking for all CVs to be documents of aspiration? In doing so, are we then not diminishing the value of a CV as well as our ability to rely on them as a testament to skills, experience and knowledge genuinely earned and learned?

There is no right or wrong to this practice. It is simply a personal preference.

But it is worth thinking about it’s worth, rather than just accepting it as a good idea.

Do CVs contain the truth?

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Is tailoring a CV to fit a job or a company dishonest? Is it deception?

Do we as Recruiting Professionals or hiring managers not want to know that what we are reading is the absolute truth and not just a version of it?

As a job hunter I only have one stream of experience that might be relevent to the roles I am applying for so don’t see the benefit, but ……………………….

Discuss.