Why Taking A REAL Job Brief Is Important…


In recruitment we wear a number of different hats. We don’t just “fill roles” and it is my personal pet peeve when people mention to me that they are “just a recruiter”. However, filling roles is an important part of what we do, and something that we need to get right! This week as I was taking my normal walk to work I took note of a sign outside my local coffee shop. It simply read: “Something”.

Manager: Go out and write something on the board.
Employee: What do you want me to write?
Manager: I don’t know, no idea what’s on – go talk to the Chef.

Employee: The Manager wants me to write something on the board – what should I write?
Chef: There’s heaps on – loads of specials – just go out and write something on the board, I’m too busy preparing for the day.

Result: Something.


I had a chuckle to myself thinking how that might have come about and how it was quite amusing as I finished my walk in to the office. Of course, that made me reflect on recruitment. As recruiters it is actually really hard to recruit a role if you base your knowledge on assumptions or what you have recruited for them before or you base your search on the “something” answers. If you push on with your “something” answers you will more than likely end up with “nothing’.


A good job briefing is one where you get not only a good view of the role and who your hiring manager is looking for. The difference between that and a great job briefing is where you ask more questions! As recruiters we need to understand and remember that a job briefing is not an order taking exercise and play an active role in it too. This can mean you may challenge or troubleshoot the current role, make observations or put forward potential solutions to issues/challenges that you can foresee or provide market insight or labour market analysis. It’s at this point that you can test the real wants and needs of your Hiring Manager and truly outline what falls into a want and what falls into a need to make sure that you aren’t searching for a purple unicorn in Waikikamukau (Australian reference: Back of Bourke) for $45k.
A great job brief isn’t a standard list of questions you ask your Hiring Manager (or worse – email). A great job brief is the true basics you need as closed questions (salary grade/band/amount, location, hours etc), and the rest as open questions to get your stakeholders to tell you more. It’s at this point you can ask the why and where and how questions to build out your brief and truly understand the role, the team and if you’re an agency recruiter – the wider business and their strategy. If you don’t think a good job brief is required, you need to think again.
While getting all of the information up front is great for you in identifying the right people, it’s also key to keeping them engaged in the process as you screen and interview. You’ll be able to answer questions, you’ll know how to prepare your candidates and you’ll become a trusted advisor to your talent as well as your Hiring Manager. Remember that when they get a counter offer……


While I could rattle off a list of questions to ask in your brief, it’s very different for each industry, sector and level of role – you’ll need to hone in on your niche and what you need to recruit. It’s over time that you will build out your briefs. There is no one size fits all approach to taking a brief and you will find if you move to a more open question model you will find a groove that works for each of your managers or clients. Those open questions can sometimes lead to real gems of information – potentially other roles that are being/to be recruited or new information you didn’t know.
In closing, my advice with job briefs is take the time to get the right information up front. It will save you time, resources and possibly heartache later down the track. Because otherwise you might just end up with what my local café did….


Tapping Placed Candidates – Agency Recruiters What’s Your Policy?




Recently I was reading an article by James Witcombe from SMAART Recruitment around his approach to client and candidate care on the agency side of recruitment (you can read it here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/candidates-clients-cant-both-same-company-james-witcombe?trk=hp-feed-article-title-like). It really struck a chord with me. The article centred on the fact that SMAART don’t represent or place any candidates employed by any of their clients – whether they placed them or not. It’s an interesting take on candidate and client care, particularly for an industry that gets labelled as unethical and under handed a lot. Ah, how the few spoil it for the majority.


While I think that the ethics and heart are the right place (which is fantastic) with this approach – how much do you think having this strategy would impact your agency business? Being client side now, that approach gives me two major outcomes:
1. You aren’t going to poach any of my staff (good to me), or help any of them get a job elsewhere – even if there are no opportunities for them to grow in my organisation (neutral to me really).
2. You aren’t going to hunt potential people for roles I have with you from any other client of yours, thus reducing my candidate pool (not so great for me).
When I was in agency, I operated on a no tap policy to placed candidates. I think this is the way to go – if I as a client pay you to place someone, I don’t expect you to pull them out – ever!
If a candidate approaches you for an advertised role then that’s a different story. If a candidate approaches you for a career chat then that’s a slightly grey area and you need to tread carefully. I think it’s always important as an agency recruiter when dealing with people you have placed, or candidates who work for your clients, that you act with integrity. It also pays to get them to talk to their manager before you represent them. Transparency is refreshing for all parties.
Many an agency recruiter has been called a cowboy (or girl) and only after the moo-lah (so many cow jokes here!). However, in 2016 those who operate on a “stick and flick” model or act inappropriately seem to run out of clients to piss off very quickly – you’d be surprised how connected the internal recruitment network is.
Agency recruiters – what’s your policy? Love to have you share it.

LinkedIn – The Follow Up!


Recently there has been plenty of discussion around online engagement and social media. @HRManNZ and @KylieTelford have both posted about it, as have I. Engagement on LinkedIn was my main focus – how LinkedIn was becoming a generic platform, trying to be many things to many people but only being OK (at best) and not being truly great at any of them.  I had some great feedback (both constructive and positive) to my blog, excellent tips suggested and I also felt like my blog got people thinking about their own ROI on LinkedIn. Funnily enough I have a meeting with our company’s LinkedIn account manager next Friday…. But I digress.

In the words of Jake the Dog from Adventure Time “sucking at something is the first step to becoming sorta good at something”. Pretty awesome way of looking at things right?


To be awesome with a digital platform you need to be innovative, push the boundaries and stay current. You also need to have a core focus for your platform and keep your users happy and engaged with that core focus. The added extras on top of that are just a bonus. It’s a tricky balance to keep, and getting it right every time is very rare! I feel that LinkedIn has so many focuses with so many product offerings. Great in theory, but the implementation and management of this is a tougher ask.

So LinkedIn, let’s see how connected you are with your market. I’d like to start an advisory group for you, maybe even create a Beta user team perhaps? Give you realtime feedback on your product, updates and how you could improve/develop these. Realtime feedback from people who use LinkedIn everyday as a recruitment and networking tool. Many people in our industry would be keen to get on board – I know because they’ve contacted me after my blog!

So, what do you say LinkedIn? Let’s do this?


p.s. As an update from my last blog, I have now reached 11 “great post” generic direct messages through LinkedIn Publisher. Down on normal volume, but hilariously ironic given the content of the post!



LinkedIn – why I’m tuning out..


I love a good blog. I particularly love it when people aren’t afraid to put their opinions in them either. A real bonus is when blogs aren’t just rehashing things that have already been said or trying to play both sides of an argument as not to piss anyone off. Richard Westney (AKA @HRManNZ on Twitter) is a blogger known for not shying away from a little debate.  I remind you of the famous “Why HR Hate Recruiters” presentation done at the MeetUp groups in Auckland and Wellington late last year as some recent proof.

Richard’s recent post about the death of good conversation on social networks – more people, but more spam and less decent conversation – really struck a chord with me this week. Check it out here if you wish: https://hrmannz.wordpress.com/2016/01/21/shout-above-the-noise/. This post made me reflect and got me musing over my LinkedIn account and the activities and time I’ve been investing in my network recently.

I am a total convert to LinkedIn, in my recruitment career, I’ve been a vocal advocate even! However, I’d never even heard of it until I joined the world of recruitment a number of years ago. My GM at the time told me she almost didn’t hire me because I didn’t have a profile! Since then I’ve grown my network to over 7000 connections, I publish posts with LinkedIn Publisher and I source many candidates from my wider network for the roles both myself and others are recruiting for. I realised I spend quite a bit of time on this network, and invest that time on sourcing, branding and professional development – reading on current trends, challenges and innovation in the wider recruitment and HR world.

However, there is a but. A big but. Recently in their quest to engage a wider audience LinkedIn has put in multiple updates to make it more “social”. I think they’ve done the complete opposite.

Long gone are the days when I got great unique messages from connections, saw interesting and relevant posts in my newsfeed and received multiple comments on my posts of real value. Today, I can break my LinkedIn into the following (in order of most prevalent):

  1. Generic direct messages. Mostly asking for my cooperation to get the messager a job at the company I work for – any job – with no skill/job target and very little value. This includes generic messages from the “new and improved” mobile app (see below for more…).
  2. Scams and spam.
  3. Propositions of the highly innapropriate kind.
  4. Content that actually belongs on Facebook.
  5. Content I actually want to read and engage with.
  6. Connections and messages with people there is actually value to engage with.

That’s scary reading.

I must confess that I very much dislike the new feature of LinkedIn on the mobile app that prompts to either “say congrats” to a job change or work anniversary in my network or to say “great post” to a published post from someone in my network. Sounds nice in theory right? I’m sure whoever deployed the update thinks so. It’s terrible.

Recently I moved positions in my career, moving from New Zealand to Australia. In the week following my role update I received  over 250 generic direct messages simply saying “congratulations on the new role. I hope you’re doing well”. The first few were nice, the next bunch made me feel like people weren’t sincere, and the last few were a chore to reply to – so I simply messaged “thank you” in return.

On top of that, every time I post a new update in LinkedIn publisher I get multiple generic “great post” direct messages. Thanks for the message – but I’d much rather someone engage with my post content or have an opinion on it. Maybe even read it? Heck, I already know my post is great! (Note: sarcasm here).

After my reflection, I came to ask myself – with the time I am investing in LinkedIn am I actually getting ROI? The result – not enough. I’ve even noticed that when I am using it, I’m tuning out.

So where to from here? I can’t walk away from the biggest professional network as I do get results from it! To not lose my mind online and get the most out of a reduced quality network, I’ve resolved to do the following:

  • Continue to answer all my direct messages, but to respond to the generic ones with a generic response cut and pasted.
  • Never send a generic message through the mobile app (note: I’ve never sent one to this day!)
  • Continue to block all the spam and inappropriate accounts.
  • Increase my investment of time with LinkedIn on sourcing, engaging with valuable connections and interesting content and decrease my investment of time with the rest.

Do I think LinkedIn still has a place social sourcing? Heck yes. I won’t be deleting my profile anytime soon or turning that social channel off. But, I do think that to last on LinkedIn you need to review what you want from it, and what activities are best to get those results.

What do you think?

p.s. Even I agree that cat pics aren’t for LinkedIn (although I did manage to sneak one in at December about letting “the cat out of the bag!”)




New Year, New Beginings


It’s a new year and by now I hope you are over the hangover, you’ve finished off the ham in the fridge (does it ever end?!) and you’re more than likely back at work. Recruiters are out in force as many of us think about another year in our current jobs and if its what we really want to do.

For me, I love what I do. I seriously enjoy recruitment and the challenges and rewards recruitment gives me as a career. Recently I have been working in the banking industry as a recruitment business partner. I thoroughly enjoyed it and got exposure to a global corporate – very different from the start up environment I was used to! However, to start 2016 I made a big jump. A jump across the ditch to Australia. It’s been a bit of a culture shock in some ways – I actually need a translator (who knew what a milkbar was?!)  – but so far, so good.  I’ve moved back into a management position, leading a medium sized team within financial services.

I’ve got a couple of blogs on the go for 2016 including one on my candidate experience coming to Australia, one about bias in recruitment and the last one about my New Years resolution – to give up alcohol for a whole year. Yes, a recruiter without wine. Talk to me in 6 months and I might be feeling different, but for now, I’m feeling great.

So, cheers to 2016! With a glass of Appletizer for me of course…


When Flattery Becomes Plagiarism…


Recently I was scrolling through my LinkedIn feed and a very familiar looking blog popped up.  Now, the reason it was so familiar to me was because I wrote it.  Yes, my own words.  However, the post about it wasn’t a link to my blog. Or even me. Someone had taken my blog, changed a few words around and claimed it as their own.  Sections of their post were identical, and they hadn’t even bothered to change the title.  There was no reference to me or my blog. It was an imposter!

At first I was annoyed, then I was intrigued.  What makes someone want to copy you and pass off as their own?  I debated about naming and shaming them, putting both blogs on my Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and outing them to over 10,000 people, but thought better of it.  I emailed the “author”.  It does however raise a good point – when does the flattery of being imitated become plagiarism?

I don’t think that many of us can say we have never looked at another company’s job adverts, social media, recruitment campaigns and the like to generate ideas from them, to gain an understanding of what our competitors are doing in the marketplace.  Can you?  I know I can’t.  As a young recruiter learning the ropes in agency land I know I looked at other job adverts to gain ideas and potential structures.  And once I moved to the big world of internal and started setting up the employer brand for Youi in NZ there was SO much out in the marketplace to learn from.

If you are using someone else’s work word for word (or almost) a quick email to them to ask permission to use it with credit to them is normally enough.  Had this “author” cited me in their post I would have been absolutely happy for her to use it on her website.  However, if you’re straight copying a job advert or marketing campaign I’m not sure that the author is going to be so giving – I’d encourage you to take the idea and improve it or customise it to your brand, business and values.  If you don’t you could be in a little hot water, and also missing out on an opportunity to take to best practice ideas and grow your own from them – sometimes this can produce the best results for you!

We don’t have to re-invent the wheel every time we work on something as a profession, but if you plan on copying what everyone else is doing you are going to get left behind.  Innovation is key to recruitment and staying one step ahead.  We all know how important it is to stay relevant and be leading the way in digital, recruitment strategy and employer brand awareness.

The final update on the blog plagiarism?  Three days after my email was sent the blog post was down.  I’m still yet to receive a reply to my email – and I don’t think I will get one. But I’m happy with the outcome.  Next time however, I may not be so cool about it.


“You’ve been unsuccessful” – how to handle rejection when job seeking!


Job seeking is tough for most people. The applications, the interviews, the emails, the phone calls, the references…. and the rejection.  In the line of work I do, I reject a candidates on a regular basis.  It’s a recruitment funnel – there will always be more applications than there will be jobs to offer (oh, how I wish it was different some days).  Check out the usual recruitment funnel below.


We all suffer rejection at some time – the role might be too senior (or too junior), you might have flunked the interview or you might just not be quite right for the role.  Rejection is a tough pill to swallow – particularly if you really want a certain position or to work for a specific company.  Rejection can affect us all differently and people take rejection from me as a recruiter well, and not so well. They can either take it incredibly personally, bounce back really well or somewhere in the middle.

Unlike in England recently, where a woman staged a sit in for 90 minutes at an employer who rejected her application (and had to be removed by the Police), there are much more tactful ways to handle rejection!  I’d encourage you to:

  1. Remain professional and polite.

It’s a small world out there, and a lot of people in industries are connected (especially in recruitment!). Remember what Mum taught you about treating others how you want to be treated? This is still the case when dealing with rejection from a job application.  If you are rude upon rejection – do you think you might be the first person they call if they get a similar or better suited to you vacancy? No.  You just cement the reason for rejection.

  1. Don’t take it personally.

It’s not always all about you. As a job seeker you usually have no idea who you are up against in the running, if there is an internal candidate, any specific quirks or requirements with the role etc. There may have just been a better suited candidate.

  1. Ask for feedback.

If you have been unsuccessful, it’s OK to ask for feedback.  I would even encourage you to do so – it’s only going to give you insight as to where you could improve and it might help you on your job hunt for future roles.  I give all unsuccessful candidates I decline feedback – it’s part of running good recruitment practice!

  1. Keep in contact.

If you are unsuccessful, and the company is one you still want to work for, then sign up to their job alerts from their careers page, add the hiring managers you met with on LinkedIn, follow their company pages on social media and engage with them ongoing. I’d also encourage you to send a thank you note to your interviewers (if you had a face to face meeting).  You never know what role might be coming up in their business that you could be perfect for – so keep the lines of communication open!

Overall, I would encourage you to not be discouraged by rejection, it’s a part of job seeking. It’s just not possible to get every job we apply for (although it would be nice wouldn’t it?)!