Posts Tagged ‘ Recruiter ’

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?

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Recruiters – What are your 3 Burning Questions?

[tweetmeme source=”GaryFranklin”]

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.

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

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.

Different Approaches for a Different Year – #myjobhunt Week 1

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Well that was an interesting week.

Having decided to take the week off to recharge my batteries I found myself thinking that I should spend some of the time looking for the my next job. The weather however was conspiring against me. Who wants to be stuck on the phone or at a PC when the sun is shining? A rare occasion in this year’s British summer.

On Weds I woke early (by holiday standards) having been stupid enough to book a PT session for 0800. When I left the house at 0745 for the walk through the woods and across the fields (that sounds very Larkrise to Candleford doesn’t it?) to the gym it was already very hot. By the time I got there I was already warmed up and then after 15 mins on the bike, up and down virtual hills I was dripping! Not nice for the next 2 hours. Like any good Personal Trainer Chris was not going to let me falter, slow down or give up regardless I cried and screamed like a baby.

It was therefore about 1100 that I finally booted up the laptop, tuned into Planet Rock and went about finding another suitable position.

Those that read the blog posts I wrote during #myjobhunt 2010 will know that I don’t tend to use typical approaches of job boards and agencies when proactively looking, or at least I didn’t then. On Wednesday I started out thinking that this year was not likely to be any different. I would continue to engage with as many people as I could and generate interest and referrals from my Facebook Friends, Twitter Followers and LinkedIn Connections. Or at least try.

Whilst this approach was and is working very well, it became clear that this year is significantly different to last year. This time last year I was happy to take a job that would enhance my career, either doing a job that had exciting content and development opportunity or one that would give me the opportunity to progress in the future. I spoke to everyone, I met as many people as I could, and chased down every lead I could. In having this approach I was lucky enough to have quite a few positions to chase and consider. This year I still need to do the same.

Yet it dawned on me that having been fortunate enough to land a job managing and leading change in the function in a complex organisation as we go through a sizable corporate and HR Transformation, the kind of job that will now float my boat has changed. Jobs like these tend to be quite senior and as such there is a tendency to give the vacancies to Search firms. In doing so it sort of eliminates the chances of referrals. I have already experienced it once in this year’s quest for a new job. A friend got in contact to say that they were looking for a person to run the European Recruitment function. I sent my CV knowing they had already given the role to a very expensive Search firm, a firm I have experience with and know how and what they charge. It was little surprise to get feedback a week or so later that they were really interested in my experience however, were quite advanced with another candidate presented by the Search firm. Of course the potential employer had probably paid in the region of £60,000 to the search firm already and wanted to think they were going to justify that expense, so a referral no matter how relevant would be a bit embarrassing wouldn’t it?

Despite the fact that in-house recruiting professionals of all grades are extremely well networked and connected to each other in the UK and elsewhere, thanks to The FIRM and other networks, I find it disappointing that Search seems to be the first port of call when hiring at this level. I may be disappointed but not surprised. In fact one position I am very keen on at the moment is as a result of a Search firm contacting me. So I am not complaining just making an observation.

One other problem with finding out about jobs and then being referred to the Search company, supposedly managing them, is that when you track down the Search firm and the so called “consultant” no one is ever available and you have to leave a message. You can never reach them nor will they bother to call you back? A Search firm called JD Haspel didn’t seem to be interested in being disturbed and haven’t called me back despite messages I left at the beginning of the week. Anyone use them?

Rant over.

By Wednesday evening I started to think that maybe I needed to contact as many search firms as I could that specialised in HR positions – are there any? That is the trouble. Where would I start? I recognised I probably needed to get in contact with a few, maybe those that I knew already would be more respectful and speak with me. Makes sense doesn’t it? So while I am mulling these thoughts over and trying to get motivated to speak with people that for the last year I have been targeting in my efforts to reduce costs (typical isn’t it? But I won’t corrupt myself by doing it any other way), I start surfing, reading blogs, and posting comments. Always a good way to get noticed in the right forums.

I then started trying to organise my LinkedIn Connections and exploring positions posted on The FIRMs job listing. I looked at one particular position posted in The FIRM that had also been posted to the wider LinkedIn platform, which then led me to a couple of positions that looked good. I sent an inMail to one of my connections for help on one, applied for another and saved a couple for later follow up. I also started noticing the differences in how companies and recruiters posted their jobs on LinkedIn. It was interesting that some jobs would have plenty of enticing detail whilst others would have lots about the company but little about the job itself. It is poor how some people think that they don’t have to sell and attract. Come on! You have to make a job look exciting otherwise why on earth would anyone apply, at this level? We want to know more, we want to hear it all, we like a challenge.

Also I noticed for the first time the links at the foot of the job ad. These are LinkedIn generate links called “People Who Viewed This Job Also Viewed”. Bingo! One job led to another and two more applications were made as a result. It was strange though and I am sure I was doing something wrong, some of the jobs I was finding by following these links didn’t come up in searches I ran on LinkedIn. I’ll figure that one out.

Wednesday had not finished there either. Whilst I was reading through LinkedIn I was also active on Twitter and monitoring a couple of lists. Two people who I have got to know over the last couple of years, one of whom I have never met, suggested two leads for me, both with full contact info and full introductions and both of which could very well lead somewhere. One a contract and the other a permanent job. Thank you to both, Ken and Mat for your generous assistance with both of these, pie and pint on me when we meet up.

Thursday was a day out. I was hoping for sunshine but the rain was torrential for the morning. I was out and about in Somerset, a part of the country that was a communications dead zone! It made me a bit nervous not only being without a cell phone signal but without email as well. I start to sweat and twitch when that happens for 10 mins on the train, but I was 6 hours off-grid this time.

Once I did get back to civilisation and my email downloaded I was pleased to see that one of the leads from the previous day had started to move quite nicely and needed some follow up when I got home. This was duly addressed.

Friday was dominated by two interviews in the City. These were effectively 3rd and 4th interviews in follow up to the 2nd interview I had on Day 1 (Monday). I was very excited and very nervous about these. I don’t tend to get nervous about much but as I have said previously the stakes are higher this year and the good opportunities are not likely to be as prolific as they were last year. Besides, everything I had found out and heard about this company has been positive and appealing. The job itself is a perfect opportunity for me to do again much of what I have done in the last year – but differently.

On the way into London I had so many good wishes sent my way by online and offline friends. I cannot begin to tell you just how much they all meant to me, made me smile and relaxed me. On my way home last night I received a few texts, DMs, WhatsApps and emails asking me how I had got on and how the interviews went. My initial reaction and thoughts were very positive. I enjoyed meeting both of the people today and felt that the interviews went well. But then I got to thinking. Replaying both of them in my mind through the evening the doubts started to creep in. Questions like “did I give a good performance?”, “was my answer the best I could have given?”, “should I have volunteered more?”, “did I talk too much?”, “did I listen enough?”, “why didn’t they ask me about some of the compliance issues?” and so on.

These sorts of thoughts are inevitable despite being unhealthy. I can only help I have done enough to maintain their interest and if haven’t I have to make sure I use the lessons learned to improve myself for next time.

Fingers crossed eh?