Posts Tagged ‘ applicants ’

Do You Really Need to Ask About Salary?

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In the last two weeks one thing has stood out for me, leaving me feeling slightly uneasy because I am unsure whether I am right or not, strangely despite how I feel about it.

I’ve had a view on a particular matter as a recruiter and recruitment manager over the last few years and then much more so as a candidate last year during #myjobhunt and more recently.

What do you think when you are asked “What is your current salary or package?”

Do you answer? Why do you answer?

What purpose does it serve to ask the question? What purpose will it serve to answer the question? Surely this is an irrelevant question and on one’s business but mine?

In organisations where a rigid grade or compensation policy doesn’t exist, I can understand knowing what someone is currently earning helps construct an offer and package to fit the candidate and helps to avoid over paying someone. Yet is it still relevant? Shouldn’t you know how much you want to and can pay and still achieve worth to your business? Are you not asking for a multitude of problems and challenges by making yourselves open to negotiation.

In the larger more complex organisations the compensation packages are mapped directly to the Job Families and the Grades. New vacancies are generally submitted and approved based on the budget available, grade and salary banding (the guidance received from either the Recruiting or the Compensation & Benefits departments). Offers are made accordingly to qualified candidates.

Last year it seemed that only agencies or search firms had an interest in what I was earning in my previous job. None could provide me with a good enough reason for me to give them the info. I can only assume that they preferred to take short cuts to categorise me by a job title and salary to ensure an easy deal closure, rather than my personality, achievements, competencies and potential. Whereas the expert recruiters and interviewers at prospective employers didn’t need to ask. I was assessed and judged properly.

This year is no different. In the last two weeks I have refused to give an answer to that question to three different companies. They come up with all sorts of reasons why they needed to know, one even stating that their client, an HRD in an FTSE 100 organisation, had asked for availability and salary information to be put on a cover sheet. Expectations maybe, but I cannot imagine anyone asking for current info. Why would anyone need to know this?

All the time I was looking to move on from my last job and when I finally took the plunge, I was constantly asking myself, agencies and search companies –

“Why should the limitations and salary restrictions of my current/previous employer have any bearing or influence on what a future employer might consider I am worth to them?”

Please think about it – I’d be interested to hear the thoughts of others on this.


Why would I want to work for your company?

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“Why would I want to work for your company?” and “What is in it for me?” are two questions, we as recruiters very rarely hear from candidates and yet both of them are top of the list of questions that candidates need to ask, should ask and probably subconsciously consider when job hunting.

We ALL do it without exception when we are looking for a job and must remember to consider these same questions as a prospective employer and ask ourselves “why would someone want to work for us” and “what would they get out of it?”

A professional recruiter is tasked with promoting their employer, its values and the career opportunities it has the potential to provide to people, yet so many recruiters, HR Directors and Managers as well as hiring managers and shamefully executives too, take it for granted that if a brand or company is big enough in its space (whether that is locally, nationally or globally) it will be a magnet for candidates. Seriously though it is a common mistake that so many people (companies) make, and it can be fatal as far as candidate engagement goes. If you are a recruiter or if you are a hiring manager and fail to provide a candidate with a compelling reason to join your company they just won’t!

A good indicator about how well you are “selling” the company or giving candidates the right level of information and incentive is to look at the number of rejected offers you get and the number of people who leave your organisation voluntarily within their first year of employment. Statistics will vary dept. by dept. and company to company, but if is higher than 10% I suggest that you need to look at how well you are selling yourself and your company.

There could be any number of points that candidates might find compelling and they’re likely to be different from candidate to candidate. Earnings Potential, Team, Challenge, Office Environment, Career Stability, Career Progression……..the list goes on. They are all very personal to the candidate and each will play a part in his or her decision process. Add to them the corporate employer brand, your place in the market and you have a big big story to create.

Unless the time and effort is invested to make the candidate feel important by finding out what is important to them you won’t be able to help them make the right choice. If you have found the right person, one you and others in the hiring process know will add value, you have an obligation to give them all of the information they want, as well as information you think they should know so that they can choose you.

There is no point in just assuming because you have a job to offer and a decent salary it will be enough to get a decision in your favour. Similarly, just because you have a great product or service doesn’t mean that you have a reputation of any kind, good or bad as an employer. You have to sell the benefit and value and what it could mean to each person. Do not take anything for granted.

Why can’t you fill my vacancies?

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We all hear about the politicians, The REC, the CBI and other commentators that have opinions talk about The Skills Shortage, as if it is a living thing, in generalised terms, yet does anyone actually know what this Skills Shortage is that they talk about? In the real world employers do not generally tend to have too much trouble finding staff to fill their vacancies, certainly not where I have worked. However there are times when filling a vacancy does prove difficult.

I think every recruiter whether working for an agency or doing it for real in-house, as well as most HR practitioners will have come up against a specific real world skills shortage every now and then. This is typical when there is a huge demand for skills required as a result of legislative or processing change. Examples of this might be the major changes in how programs were developed in the 80’s and 90’s from linear coding to OOD (what we take as pretty standard and has moved on to how programs are written today). Computer Operating Systems changed drastically in the 90’s from mainframe and centralised computing to distributed Windows and UNIX platforms. Then you have the business applications that required major process overhauls or innovation; changes to Pensions administration in the 80’s, Y2K (this was when the dates changed from 1999 to 2000 in case you didn’t notice), SOX and more recently Solvency II amongst a shed full of others. Technical skills (not necessarily IT skills) needed to address these business processes or requirements are varied but at the time tend to be either in high demand or non-existent in the job market. But is there ever really any need for it to be this way.

One thing that has been common over the last three decades and remains unchanged today is there always seems to be a lack of planning by business to accommodate these changes. Typically changes to legislation that affect business processes come with plenty of notice to allow businesses to prepare, train and deliver. Its common sense to realise that whenever significant changes need to be implemented there is always a drastic demand for specialist skills. Yet if every company in your market space wants the same limited resources, or the specific combination of requirements that just never existed before, what are you supposed to do, as recruiters and as businesses?

I suspect that many recruiters continue to try and find that elusive candidate or two to acquiesce a hiring manager that has a wish list of demands.

I also suspect that hiring managers hold out for the perfect candidate that can perform and deliver from day one.

Recruiters – Just saying we can’t find what you are looking for is not good enough.

Hiring Managers – Just asking for experience that is not available in the market and leaving a vacancy open for longer than 60 days or more is not good enough either.

Neither attitude helps though does it? It doesn’t get the job done!

Yet despite the fact that so many companies are chasing the limited resources, how many are thinking longer term and looking at ways to actually get the job done?

I can’t understand this. Consider the cost of an empty seat for 3 months, offering zero productivity and a zero prognosis on when it will be filled as well as the impact that empty seat has on other members of the team. Then consider taking a ‘not quite perfect’ candidate and training them over the same period. Not only have you got someone who is taking some of the work now, you will have someone who will fill the seat in 3 months. Surely it’s better to train someone to be productive in three months, than it is to wait for three months then still have no one to do the job.

Very simple logic.

Whilst the hiring managers own the process of business process delivery the recruiters are responsible to ensure that the right skills are acquired for the job. Typically recruiters will have a good feel for the market; if they are doing their job properly they will do anyway. They should have the information, confidence and the trust of their customer community to advise, consult and provide the information to the hiring managers. Be brave say it as it is. If a hiring manager can’t have what they want because of non-availability of and competition for skills or money or any other influencing factor then you need to tell them. It won’t be good enough to just say it, you will have to outline the potential implications along with the options available and how you would propose to ensure that their business plans stay on track.

And just engaging with more agencies won’t work either. If the skills don’t exists how are they going to find them?
The solution however lies in the advanced notice and planning, being aware of changes and the impact to resources both in-house and in the job market that these changes will demand. In the HR community we call this Talent Demand Planning. It should be taken seriously by the business leaders and planner, by the HRBP and by the Recruiters, planning potentially up to 18-24 months in advance, yet I suspect it is not.

Why not?

Who knows? Complacency, laziness, nativity, arrogance or worse ignorance of the job market and available talent pools. A combination of the above I suspect comes close.

There is no such thing as The Skills Shortage just poor planning and limited vision.

An old post: Will I Win? or I Will Win!

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Originally posted 23 September 2009

I read a very good article this morning, one that made me think hard about behaviour, rationale and the power and control of my own mind

In the article by Peter Bregman in the Harvard Business Blog showed how simple mind games can have a very adverse affect on our personality and our lives. It is a great article and really struck home how much control we give to our imagination and creating fantasies that can all to easily become reality.

In describing the two scenarios; his own personal anxieties after being stung by a number of hornets and the behaviour and actions of his friend in the work place I am sure Peter has outlined situations that we can all see ourselves doing in our daily lives. I certainly can – it is only human nature surely.

Will I Win? or I Will Win! Exactly the same number of letters, the same number words. All that is different is the order they are in. The first has doubt and insecurity running all through it, whereas coming at the same words from a different perspective and using them slight differently they become full of certainty and confidence.

So by taking control of your imagination and reeling in the fantasy before you start living it you’ll have better options. Positive Mental Attitude is what it’s all about. And we can control that! I’m neither an evangelist nor an expert on the issues at all and don’t intend to preach but I read this article and it reminded me that by taking the positive “I Will Win!” stance is actually more enjoyable and relaxing than asking the question.

How much visibility do you want / need when Job Hunting? – Day 32 #myjobhunt

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Since Day 1 I have been blogging frequently about my quest for a new job. When I started I did it purely to reflect on the day past. Within 2 days this had changed. The response I got from people gave me confidence and made me realize that this blog could be a fundamental tool in my job hunting activities. By the end of the first week I couldn’t believe the response and support I had received from so many people, some of whom I had already met, many I had not. It was however Week 2 that things really took off and by the end of Week 3 I had secured my first offer (Day 16). I think I have already written about how I got to Week 3 previously and will no doubt do so again in more detail, once #myjobhunt comes to a conclusion, if in fact it does before I lose interest in writing about it.

Since Week 3 and that offer I have come to realize something and it has been on my mind since. I have made my job hunting activities so open and visible to people, what will happen and what will people think of me if I don’t secure a job? Of course it is inevitable that people will start to wonder why people don’t want me. What will happen if I get a job and then it doesn’t work out? What if I can’t cope? What if …..? What if…..? So many what ifs? I have asked myself if writing this blog was the sensible thing to do in the first place and how can I stop without any negative impact.

Then I looked at the positives of the blog. The blog almost became my CV, the opportunities it created for me, not only actual jobs, but further discussions to take my career in a different direction have been constant throughout the last six and a bit weeks. Some are not for me, others have been too much for me i.e. I didn’t think I was ready or not likely to meet the expectations of role. Some have been great but the salary or rate and location hasn’t worked well. Others still haven’t mature yet and may or may not at all.

The blog has given me so many new perspectives on things; it has taught me some huge lessons about the market and the ability (or lack of) of the many practitioners in it; good and bad. It has made me think and be more reflective about what I want and what I can do. The good thing is that all of the lessons learned will be taken into my next job and built upon and shared with my colleagues, hopefully adding value at each step. This whole journey has taught me so much and no matter what, I expect I will still continue to blog in such a manner going forward.

This quest, this journey so far has been very emotional; worrying, stressful, annoying, humbling, inspiring, enjoyable, amusing. I have to this point, every step of the way enjoyed it immensely and I have made some terrific new friends.

Music of Day 32 – Daydream Believer by The Monkees – very loud and singing on the train!!! Oh yes I did! And others joined in!

How much visibility do you want / need when Job Hunting?

On Day 30 I got the call I was waiting for (and dreading!).

Today I accepted a job. I start 1st October 2010.


What does the Recruitment Industry Compete on?

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In a departure from #myjobhunt blog series

Recently I was asked “What do you think are the key factors that the recruitment industry competes on?”

My Answer:

You have to think about what you are competing for. Are agencies and search firms competing for the potential candidates or are they competing for the actual deal with the customer? They should have both in mind always.

Of course if competing for the candidates you have to be able to present yourself as credible and effective. An agency has to present itself as knowing the market as well as the ins and outs of the customer they are representing to the candidate, without the hard sell. They have to know all there is to know to ensure that the candidate has sufficient information to determine if the job and company is suitable. Also armed with the customer knowledge the agency recruiter will be able to determine accurately if a candidate can be turned into a credible applicant in front of the customer.

Competing at the customer level we look for agencies or suppliers that will be able to represent our brand, our company and the position we are recruiting for as if they work for us; much like a sales channel does for products. If a search firm or agency can show they have the ability to understand our business, our processes and our culture then they will be equipped to sell our proposition to each candidate and be of greater service and thus value to all parties.

To compete we all have to be in the position to represent ourselves to each other and meet the expectations of all involved. If as a customer I respect the agency or search firm – and more importantly the person I am dealing with – I will invest the time to educate them and equip them to better represent me. In doing so the agency or search firm will be armed to earn the trust of the candidate. The candidate will have confidence that they will be represented to the customer and the customer will have the confidence that their brand is in safe hands. The customer will appreciate that candidates from that particular source will be thoroughly vetted and closest to the mark.

So answer to the question; the industry competes on knowledge and credibility……………oh yeah, for the poorly managed in-house PSL structures its all about price and not quality of service and the poorly equipped agencies all compete on speed of service rather than quality.

I welcome thoughts and comments on this one please

Job Hunting is About Making Right Choices for the Right Reasons – Day 27 #myjobhunt

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This is Wednesday and Day 27. I’ve been unemployed for 2 whole weeks now. Gone in a flash! Feels like the first push has come to a head now. For the last week this was always going to be a big day for #myjobhunt with two final, or at least that was how they had been billed, interviews.

So before I get into the events and thoughts of today, let’s have a quick look at yesterday. As you have read in this and other blogs a few friends had a camping expedition in Devon over the weekend. It was one of the most relaxing and fun filled weekends I have had in a long time, maybe because there was very little pressure and the only expectations that had to be realized, were we would laugh, have a lot to drink, get very wet surfing and not have nearly enough sleep. The big point of this for me was the laughter and the relaxation with friends that have cared and have supported me throughout #myjobhunt. Talk of work was avoided and only touched upon in general or lighthearted banter. With sixteen very noisy, confident and extrovert people in a reasonably close environment you would have thought that I wouldn’t have had time for serious reflection, yet this is exactly what I was able to do, albeit briefly.

On Monday of this week I had a long conversation with Mrs F about the progress of #myjobhunt. No concerns apart from making the right choice. It doesn’t necessarily come down to choice and in this particular case – I’ll get there in a moment – it wasn’t about choice.

Since Day 1 I have been pursuing a job with an American technology company and have had a number of interviews, all of which have been blogged about here. I had a supposed final interview last week which resulted in another final interview to be had this week, today in fact. At this point I didn’t have a choice. As I mentioned very early on in Day 1 or Day 2 a candidate needs to get an offer to make a choice. Well that is not entirely true. I had the choice to withdraw my application altogether, didn’t I?

And that is what I did; I withdrew my application after 6 interviews. Didn’t see that one coming did you?

Why? You may ask. There were number of reasons if I was being really picky and critical, however the key deciding factor was that I did not have a good feeling about it. I didn’t have a bad feeling either. This means I had no emotion attached to it and to pursue a job that, if I got it, would have meant a 130-mile round trip, which I was poorly motivated by would have been wrong; not only for me, but to them too. Also after 6 individual interviews for the same role I was pursing it, they were not pursing me. I don’t want that to sound arrogant but they hadn’t once called me after an interview to ask me for my feedback, nor had they given me any feedback or a compelling reason to want to work for them. It won’t therefore surprise you; it didn’t me, to know that all they said when I called to tell them was “thanks for letting us know”! (WTF???) I think that response justifies and verifies that I had made the right decision to pull out.

I know! I know! They may have had that response because I was not the person they wanted anyway. But please???!! They and we have to give a candidate a better experience than that. It wasn’t a bad one and it won’t change my views on their products, but it wasn’t good enough for my requirements as a candidate, or by my standards as a Recruitment Manager.

Dusted down and moving on.

I was also contacted directly by a couple of members of The FIRM who proposed ideas to me or wanted to explore my interest or availability. Another couple of online contacts had put resourcers at other companies in touch with me and these need to be followed up.

So whilst the pipeline is not as long as it was previously it is still there. But it needs me persecute it and not let the opportunities slip me by. It is important that I follow all of these up to be sure I am not overlooked, nor show anyone any disrespect. If I have done this to you already I apologise.

Onwards and Upwards – Day 27: I travelled into London with my usual tunes on my iPod – yup you guessed it Genesis, Suppers Ready – for an interview in the City. I love the City, as I do most of Central London, but the City is special and was looking forward to this one having had a great call with both the recruiter and the hiring manager last week.

(SIDE NOTE -Trouble was the Tube strike hangover today. Now do they think us stupid? “signal failures” crippling the network the day after a strike. Says much about the intelligence somewhere in that mix! The irony is that they are striking over the possibility of maybe 800 jobs being cut and yet their laziness and not going to work today was delaying me for an interview. Lazy work-shy b#@*&$+s)

Where was I? – oh yeah stuck at Baker Street. I got to the City in the end in plenty of time – my usual 30 minutes safety window intact. The interview seemed to go well, but I think they are always difficult to read. That is all I will say. I am very keen on this one and don’t want to tempt fate. True to their nature the recruiter called within 2 hours to ask me for my feedback; however that call turned into another interview of sorts. This recruiter is awesome and asked me questions about the questions I was asked in the interview proper. What a way to make sure I had been focused, paying attention to the key points and taking it all in. So now I have the wait to hear. This is the worst bit. I am tight with anticipation on this one.

Music of Day 26 – Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd
Music of Day 27 – Gimme Shelter by The Rolling Stones

The one big downer of the last few days is the news that Connaught, the housing facilities maintenance company has gone into administration. There are a few of their recruiters in The FIRM that are likely to be affected or at least left worrying in uncertain times. I mention it because it means that potentially a large number of people – 4500 reported – could be in the same boat as me soon. It is not nice and I wish them all success in finding replacement opportunities soon, should they need to. One of their number, a recruiter and a member of The FIRM contacted my directly on Twitter yesterday, thanking me for this blog! He has taken something from it and reported to me today that he has already arranged two interviews on his Day 1– so I have competition in #myjobhunt eh? Seriously this is great news and of course I am glad I help in a small way – who would be?

What was also interesting is that he has been able to do this using his network of contacts and not relaying on the traditional and “so last year” approach of calling the agencies.

So if anyone reading this is looking for a technical recruiter in the Thames Valley, Surrey, Hants or London please give Jon Harrison aka @jonnieboyh a Tweet. Let’s see if we can take this social media networking thing to the next level shall we?

I want a job and that is till my #1 priority but if I can help others find jobs and if I can help companies find candidates by Paying it Forward, then I will.

And NO NO NO I am not starting my own agency again!

It’s called Social Recruiting

Just in case you are wondering what my background is my LinkedIn profile is a click away

or at

in the About Me page above. My contact details can be found in the Contact Me page and am open to any type of conversation that will help me or help you.

Thanks for reading