Giving Back… Today I Returned to High School!

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Some of you may not know, but I grew up in Northland.  Born in the Hokianga, I did my early schooling in Rawene, then moved to Kaikohe and attended Northland College.  I then completed my degree at NorthTec in Whangarei before heading off to the big smoke of Auckland.

Today I had the absolute privilege of returning to my old high school – Northland College.  Decile 1, it’s a regional school with its (well documented in the media) challenges.  However, the staff there are fantastic.  Some of my old teachers are still there and it was great to catch up with them all – these are some of the people who have helped shape me and my career.  To my teachers – thank you.

Today I spoke to 300 odd students at morning assembly and then I did a workshop about careers, job seeking and education after high school with the Year 13 students afterwards.  I really enjoyed it, and hope the students got some insight out of it too.

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At the end of my presentation I wanted to leave the students with three big things to remember.  I wanted to share with my blog readers too.  They are:

1. Respect.  

Respect your leaders and your teachers.  They are there to grow and support you. And you never know when you might need a reference for your first job either! Respect your peers.  Life after high school in a small community means you never know who might be your boss in future.  New Zealand is actually really small and very well networked!  Treat others as you want to be treated. And finally, respect yourself.

2. Want something?  You have to work for it!

Good things don’t come to those who wait; they come to those that work their ass off to get it.  You have to be proactive – knock doors, do work experience, get life skills and take opportunities given to you and run with them.

3. If you think you can’t – you’re right.

People will expect you to fail, or give up.  You need to back yourself and chase what you want.  Believe you are good enough, believe you can do it and you more than likely will!

While these 3 principles were for school leavers, they are also three very important principles for any part of our working lives.  Take note, and grow your career!

Sometimes “no” is just a not right now…

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Recently I attended RHUB in Auckland (organised by the awesome Phil Tusing).  What a great event over two days.  If you missed out you really should make sure you are there next year.  I’ll take away a LOT from the workshops (particularly around Boolean image searching thanks to Laura Stoker) and the speakers, as always, were fantastic.  A special shout out to Bridget Cooksley of the Department of Corrections – top presenter of the day in my books.

Another great presenter on the day, Gemma Gracewood, talked about the word no.  In her words “a no isn’t always a no, it’s a not yet”.  It’s something that stuck out for me on the day.  How relevant is this for us in recruitment?  Many a time we are told “no” by candidates, but most of the time I would suspect this is a not yet.

As recruiters we spend a lot of our time searching for talent.  For a range of roles and skill sets.  When we are reaching out to talent we search contact details, suitability to role etc and we take time to speak with people about opportunities.  What do we do with those details if the candidate isn’t successful or isn’t interested?  Most of the time, nothing.  What a waste of that time, effort and potential future talent.

“But talent pooling is so hard” I hear you say.  I hear this so often when chatting to people in our industry.  Is it really?  It takes a large amount of investment (time being one of the more expensive investments in recruitment) to identify talent and then we throw it away when we get a “no”.  What if you thought of that no as a not right now?  What if you kept in touch with / kept details of those candidates who say no and used them again in future?  Keeping your brand top of mind for both recruitment and everyday life?  Auckland is a very small place in the big scheme of things (just look at our #nzrec industry for starters!) – your “no” candidate might just know someone who would give you a “yes”!

You may not have the budget or flash ATS – but you can talent pool in many ways.  Through LinkedIn, through your ATS or even more basic with an excel spreadsheet!

This is also the case for agency recruiters with potential clients too – you might get a no today, but you might get a yes in the future if you persevere.  So many times I get approached from agency, but I very rarely get a follow up call if it’s a no first off.  While that client might have nothing for you today, it’s a very dynamic Auckland job market meaning things are always changing.

I would love to hear in the comments below how you talent pool for the future in your business.

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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!

Where does “Real Me” and “Work Me” cross over? Are they even separate anymore?

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Recently Maurice Williamson (MP for Pakuranga in Auckland) got himself into a bit of hot water over some comments he made while MC’ing an event.  I’m sure you’ve seen it in the news, however if you haven’t you can check it out here: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11506926.  In his defense he has said that he wasn’t acting in his capacity as an MP or representing his party, he was acting as himself.  In another news article a female childcare worker has been stood down (pending an investigation) from her job based in the UK after she posted on her private Facebook page about being bitten, hit and a wide range of other things by children in her care (albeit very negatively with a few swear words throw in…..).  These examples raise a really good question – where does “Real Me” and “Work Me” cross over? And, are they even separate anymore?

As a recruiter and being from Gen Y – I am on social media, I network and I get out and about.  I also, funnily enough, am in paid employment.  For me, I represent my employer’s brand everywhere I go and everything I do.  Whether I am in work hours or not.  Now, before you jump up and down – when making my coffee in my PJs in the morning in the privacy of my own home I’m probably not representing the brand – but I’m sure you get my drift.

I truly believe that anything that is public – social media accounts, your interactions with people and your actions both inside and outside of work hours can reflect on your employer.  In 2015 the crossover of your “Real Me” and “Work Me” is growing.  If you are in a high profile role this crossover has really morphed into your “Work Me” and “Real Me” becoming one.  The higher your profile the larger the crossover is. And in politics I think there isn’t any difference between the two!

Apart from representing your employer’s brand, just keep in mind that once something is on the internet it’s quite difficult to get rid of it.  Also quite difficult to get rid of is personal brand damage.  There is a lot of talk about your employer’s brand, but have you thought of your own?  How your actions might be remembered and impact your job seeking, sales opportunities or personal friendships in the future?

My advice?  If it’s public think twice before you press the send button or make comments.  Because the HR training in me says that a conversation around “bringing the brand into disrepute” will be far more uncomfortable than you think!

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I’d like to connect to you on LinkedIn – Accept or Decline?

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LinkedIn has grown in popularity globally and in New Zealand in recent years.  According to LinkedIn over 25% of NZs population are members of LinkedIn.  It’s with this in mind that I write today’s blog around accepting and declining invites on LinkedIn.  I was online yesterday and I had a very random and unknown friend request on Facebook.  I immediately declined and deleted it. It got me thinking – if this happens on LinkedIn my approach is totally different.

 

Against all that my Mum taught me about not talking to strangers I accept every request on LinkedIn.  Yes, that’s right – all of them.  Why?  Well….

  • My profile is public – a connection isn’t going to get any further information about me from linking in with me.
  • Another connection grows my online network meaning I am further connected to other members (and meaning I can see lots more profiles with my free account).
  • If it is a scam account or similar they tend to immediately engage with you. I then delete and block them. Be mindful that if someone is messaging you about something that sounds too good to be true – it probably is.  Never give out your personal information or financial details online.
  • And, you just never know what that connection might bring you! Some great business and networking opportunities have come from LinkedIn for me.

 

While this approach won’t work for everyone, as a recruiter it’s my job to be exploring new connections and people online – uncovering talent and new skill sets for our business.

If you are going to adopt this approach just remember – never put anything on your profile that you wouldn’t want the world to know!

So, you want to work in recruitment?

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Recruitment. We all have an idea in our head of what it might be like to work on the other side of the desk – in the HR team. That idea can vary from one extreme to the other.  Just check out Google’s definition above……….!  I get approached by lots of people who want to get into the industry to see how they can join the recruitment world. Many people have an idea of what the role might be like, however it’s not always the reality.  I wish sometimes that my days did look like that though (see this great gem here from Robert Half: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YF8V41v4noY)!

 

Being a recruiter has many different jobs, including (and don’t forget, not limited to):

  1. Sorcerer.  You will become the master of sourcing and meeting people.  The only way as a recruiter you will do well is if you are always finding new people to recruit and new people to talk to.  Using the age old reactive model of posting job adverts will not work long term when used alone.
  2. Networker. From the sorcery above you’ll also become a great networker – attending #nzrec events and finding more ways to meet people.  If I can tell you one piece of advice – never be a straggler at #ricepowwow.
  3. Social Media Junkie.  Your LinkedIn will blossom. You will tweet. Instagram worthy.  Hashtag inspirational. TTRTTPT.
  4. Cupid.  You’re matching great people with jobs they will love.  And hiring managers and clients / jobs with people that are a good fit (see hostage negotiator below).
  5. Private Detective.  Many a time a candidate will say the gap in their CV is travelling.  Or that they were at a place of work for XYZ time.  The other great one is the reference that is only available on mobile.  Your mission is to find out is it the truth.  In your time as a recruiter you will become a great tracker of people through SoMe, calling HR teams and finding people’s direct lines when they seem so unobtainable.
  6. Salesperson extraordinaire. You are selling candidates to hiring managers / clients, and jobs to people. Don’t think I am being negative with this one – please.  But, you are definitely doing your best to sell each side to each other.
  7. Mega Memory Challenger.  You will get to know the people who apply for every job, by name.  Sometimes by face when they drop by to the office to see you.  Once this happened and the candidate bought me lunch from seeing a Tweet I’d posted about wanting sushi that day…………………..
  8. Hostage Negotiator.  Sometimes with great candidates you need to stretch your hiring managers or clients thinking (or budget), or you might need to negotiate with your candidates to consider roles they normally might not – sometimes it might just be the job title (regardless of the fact the job is exactly what they have described they are looking for!).
  9. Skilled Juggler.  You will need to be able to manage multiple jobs and people at once.  Don’t drop one…………………..
  10. Teleportation. You need to be everywhere. Always.  You have as many hours in the day as Beyonce, but not her team of people.  Guard your calendar and use your time wisely!
  11. Giving Great Phone.  As a recruiter you need to give amazing phone, and have your phone voice on point.  Always act interested and be professional.  Even though when you take that headset off (and make sure the call is ended) you might want to yell or cry.
  12. Executive Assistant.  You need to be highly organised, organising your stakeholders AND your candidates.  And the paperwork.
  13. Fire fighter. From time to time you are going to need to put out fires. No fire alarm activation, you need to problem solve and move forward. Quick smart.

 

I honestly love recruitment.  While the list isn’t exhausting, you need to be aware that recruitment can be a challenging job.  Most people who want to get into recruitment tend to like challenges though!  If you do decide to work in recruitment, be prepared for:

  1. Meeting awesome people.
  2. Huge satisfaction of a job well done – such an empowering feeling.  Filling a job gives you such a “buzz”.
  3. Seeing people grow in a new job and/or new company.
  4. Building strong relationships with internal and external customers and candidates.
  5. Having a great team of other recruiters to work with.  Most recruiters are a heck of a lot of fun (side note: usually drink wine too).
  6. Laughing – A LOT!
  7. Variety of job (see above…!).
  8. Recruiters form an integral part of any business.  You become a big part of strategy and planning.  This role let’s you experience a lot from a business perspective – embrace it.

 

Anything you think you’d like to add #nzrec?

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Does a PSA really work or just make agencies complacent?

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If you’ve read the heading of this article, I’m sure I’ve already got your back up, particularly if you are an agency recruiter.  If you read my blog semi-regularly I’m sure it’s possibly not the first time and I can almost guarantee you it won’t be the last. As a blogger I want to ignite discussion, I want to make you think and I want to challenge some things in our industry.  If I was here each blog waffling on about how great everything is I would be failing as a blogger (and possibly a bit of a fibber!).

If you’ve read my last post, you will know I’ve shifted jobs.  And I’ve moved into an organisation that does use agencies to recruit when required and has a wide ranging PSA across the business.  This is a new way of working for me – and something that I have had to adjust to.  My background is in agency recruitment and in my most recent prior in-house role I had zero budget for agency – zip, nada, zilch. How my world has changed. But, of my current employer’s PSA, only ONE agency reached out to me when I started.  Kudos to them, they’ve built what seems to be the start of a good relationship and they’re getting some business.

However, I wonder if this is an industry issue or just our PSA issue.  In my last role I would speak to on average a recruiter a day chasing my business, even though I couldn’t do much, if anything, in that space.  On the flip side now I work for someone who has confirmed approved agencies….  the phone line is quiet. Maybe the word hasn’t spread out how it should, but there is also a recruitment team here and they haven’t had anything either! How does that work?

I know “back in my day” of agency I would be on the phone talking through vacancies, meeting my stakeholders, getting jobs to recruit and floating candidates that fitted culture, values and skills that my PSA clients looked for. It is one thing to be on a PSA but if you don’t continue to work at it you won’t be there for long!  I will concede that it is a two way street – information needs to go both ways.  It is also a delicate balance of not annoying your recruitment team/hiring managers or bombarding them with contact calls, coffees and information – but have we gone too far the other way? Scared to call in case we get push back? Worried about upsetting the apple cart of the PSA so we wait for instruction?

Now before you go blowing up my inbox with hate mail…. wait. I’ve been in agency before and I can appreciate the challenges of agency recruitment.  I know that agency and client relationships need to go both ways.  I’ll be doing my darndest to make sure that our PSA panel work with us, not for or against us. I’ve got things in the mix coming up to try to get everyone on the same page and work through our PSA to get results for all. However, it seems some just aren’t interested at the moment?  Is agency going through some form of boom I am unaware of?

In-house AND Agency recruiters I would love your input – what do you think? Is it time to scrap the PSA and open up the marketplace or is time to man (or woman) up and make our PSAs actually work BOTH ways?