Why Taking A REAL Job Brief Is Important…

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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.

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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?

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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 – why I’m tuning out..

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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!”)

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New Year, New Beginings

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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…

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

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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.

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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?)!

Why taking a pay cut could be the best thing for your career….

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“WHAT?” I hear your brain scream.  “It’s not meant to be like that – I’m meant to go UP in the pay scale and the world.  What is this crazy internal recruiter banging on about now……..”.  Well, what I am banging on about is potentially one of the best steps you might take in your career – to take a pay cut.

Having come from a property background some time ago, I am very familiar with the phrase “your home is NOT worth what you need to buy your next house”.  Meaning – just because you want to live in a different suburb/have an extra garage/get into a school zone it doesn’t increase the value of your current home.  The same goes with jobs – just because you want a certain type of experience or position it doesn’t mean your value increases! I’m not saying you’re not valuable – but what I am saying is just because you want a certain type of experience it doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to get a pay increase!

A good career path has logical steps, diversification of role and normally a number of industries or business functions.  For the leaders of today (or tomorrow) in my business I’m looking for someone who has a wide variety of skills and experiences – someone who is well rounded in their career.  To get all of that experience under your belt you need to make smart career moves.  Sometimes those career moves can have short term pain, for substantial long term gain especially in the salary stakes.

Personally, I think you should look at taking a pay cut if:

  1. You want to switch careers / industries / get experience in something you have limited exposure to. This can be the short term pain model – the pay off is that in time you will have a much more diverse working background and expand your skill set.  You might have to start lower down the ladder to work yourself back up again.  Work hard, rewards will come.
  2. If you are going to start your own business.  It’s tough out there.  Expect to not make any money for a while (and if you do – that’s a great achievement).  Have a robust business plan in place, get mentors and work hard.  Also, try to have some savings put away before you branch out!
  3. When you’re following your dreams (or your heart).  Sometimes following your dream career path can be the most rewarding.  You might have always wanted to get into photography, early childcare education or dog walking.  Whatever it is, sometimes following your true passion can have far better benefits than continuing on in a job you hate.
  4. To go part time.  Across your career you may want to go part time, have shortened hours or gain further balance in your week due to other commitments.  In some roles you might be able to make this work without taking a pay cut!  However if you won’t be delivering the same outputs or another person is needed to job share with you, consider taking a pay cut to make it happen – it might just be the best thing for your health/family/life etc.

On a personal note, when I got into recruitment I took one heck of a pay cut.  I went from a great account management job with one of the world’s biggest FMCG companies (including a company car, great benefits, bonus and great base etc) to an agency recruitment job……. I’ll leave it at that and you can fill in the gaps!  I will say that I got to work with one of the best (and most inspiring) managers I’ve ever had, earned my recruitment stripes and by taking that pay cut it led me to the career path I’ve always wanted to do – recruitment.

Now, I’m not advocating that you go out tomorrow looking for an lower paying job!  It has to be aligned with your goals, your lifestyle (yes…. it does pay off to check if you can actually afford it first) and your family.

However, if I can leave you with one thought from this blog post, it’s this:

If you’re too hung up on holding onto a salary figure, a job grading or a title – then you’re going to be missing out and more than likely impacting your future career options.

I’d love to know your pay cut stories in the comments if you have one!

Customer Service Recruitment – Easy Right?!

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I know, it’s been a while since I’ve posted…. I’ve put myself on the naughty step and reminded myself that my to do list will never be clear – so I can’t wait for that magical moment before I start blogging!

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However, I thought for my first blog post of 2015 (just squeaking it into March!) I would focus on customer service recruitment – it’s easy right?!

I know this might sound like a no brainer, even a little silly, but when recruiting for customer service people you need to attract and recruit candidates who actually enjoy dealing with people. Perhaps candidates who even care about customers – shock! horror!

I am sure we all have experiences of dealing with an employee of a company who wasn’t so customer focused – and I’m sure you told plenty people about that no so great experience!  As a recruiter and someone who is immensely proud of our brand I want people to join our business and have the same passion for people and customers I do.

In my role a lot of our recruitment focus goes towards identifying those candidates who do enjoy the service element of their job.  Customer service isn’t crucial to a single industry or just the industry I work in, it’s crucial across a spectrum of industries and across all levels of an organisation!  Just because you don’t have customer service in your job title doesn’t mean you don’t have to live and breathe it.  Even recruitment is customer focused – my customers are just a little different….

So, how do you identify a great customer service professional or even identify a customer service focus in candidates?

  1.  Great candidates with a strong customer focus will treat you like a customer – how do they deal with YOU as a recruiter?  Do they return your calls when they say they would, submit forms and other documents as you need them?
  2.  Have they got other credentials in their CV you might overlook (oh not you?) normally?  Perhaps they might have been a sports coach for a junior team? Volunteered locally? Maybe even speak in their interview about helping friends or family?
  3. Do they engage with you – make you as a recruiter feel like you have their full attention and time on the phone and in interviews? Because if they don’t… imagine what your customers might think…….
  4. Don’t rule out a great customer focused candidate by a job title – customer service runs throughout many different positions – which might not have customer service in the title.
  5. Don’t forget – great customer service people know great customer service, and they are also ALWAYS in demand.  Make sure you are practicing what you preach and giving them a great candidate experience.

Well, I’ve typed the words customer service so many times they have almost lost meaning….. so I’m off to check my applications and go and hire some more customer service rock stars!

And yes – I promise to blog more often. Thanks for the emails reminding me it’s been a while from those who read my blog….. I promise I’ll avoid the naughty step next time!