8 Ways to Improve Hiring and Retention

Almost every piece of research covering the priorities of business leaders and senior HR professionals will conclude that recruiting and retaining the people they need is the top priority and main challenge. Research covering aspirations of employees and jobseekers will usually find opportunities for personal growth and professional development as the main drivers behind the decisions on whether to join a company and if to stay.

Over the last two years – whilst researching the book Exceptional Talent, and collaborating with HR and recruitment technology businesses and suppliers on a range of qualitative and quantitative research projects – myself and co-collaborator Matt Alder have seen how many of the traditional ways we approach hiring, development and retention are being overhauled.

Not by every business, obviously. The lived work and job hunting experiences of most employees can still leave a lot to be desired. However with more jobseekers now basing their application and joining decisions on what they perceive a company is like to work for, how they are treated during the hiring process, and what opportunities they have for growth, it will become increasingly important for every business to look at the way they approach hiring and development.

There are 8 areas that we particularly need to transform:

Workforce planning and skills forecasting

Businesses must know the skills and capabilities they will need. HR and recruitment teams should think like curators of skills, not just acquirers and developers of skills, and to do that they must understand what skills are likely to be needed and when. This calls for a more integrated approach to forecasting and planning with each area of the business encouraged to look at what they will need over future business periods. Without this it will be hard to break away from a reactive, transactional approach to hiring. This will involve looking at potential contingent solutions too — a common observation we hear from procurement and strategic workforce professionals is that HR show little or no interest in this area.

Define what you mean by talent

What makes for a successful person within the business? Forget job descriptions that are no more than lists of skills and duties that someone thought necessary years ago. Find the answers to questions like, what is the job? What will someone do? What support will they have? Is there another way for the role to be covered within the organisation? What is the growth potential?

And then look at what ‘potential’ means within the organisation. Attraction and assessment approaches need to reflect the type of business you are, and be able to identify the people who can grow within the business.

Be a place where people want to work

One thing that recent research has shown us is that over 90% jobseekers look for some form online validation of what you are like to work for. This mainly comes from looking at what employees have said on sites like Glassdoor or more general searching through Google and Facebook. Over half said the main factor in deciding if to apply for role is how the business treats its staff, which ranked higher than any other factor.

This means looking at your employee experience. Are you a place where people want to be? This is more important than engagement initiatives and having an active social scene, it’s how people feel about working for you. Do they feel supported and valued? No employee demographic is hardwired to change jobs on a regular basis. Increasingly though they do want be in organisations that are good companies to work for, and that treat them well.

Improve your recruitment process

Whether the design of your application and interview process was based on the Labours of Hercules or a less violent version of Game of Thrones, it should be a way of identifying potential rather than finding the last person standing.

Lack of feedback, too many steps, and under-prepared or disinterested interviewers all registered highly in recent research on jobseekers’ biggest frustrations. As did a feeling of being undervalued and not having their experience recognised. Three quarters drop out of application processes either because of the way they are treated, or it is too long. How a business hires is the first key component in its approach to employee experience, so design an approach that really reflects the values and culture that the business does.

Integrate effectively

Probably the most important part of the employee cycle is the on-boarding phase. Some find the expression clunky, but whatever you call it, the journey from interested applicant to successful and productive employee is one that businesses are increasingly investing in.

The main reasons why people leave jobs within first 6 to 12 months can all be traced back to how they are on-boarded or integrated. Some of it is quite simple, and again should be the outcome of treating people well rather than trying to test them. Start early, make sure that everyone has all the information they need so they don’t feel either overwhelmed or uninformed when they start, give them clear goals and milestones in their first few months, and make sure managers spend time talking to them and talking through how they are settling in.

The period between accepting a role and starting is often the time when a new hire feels they get the least information, yet it’s also the time when they need most reassurance.

Enable people to grow and develop

Increasingly becoming the most important part of employee experience, 70% of employees say that learning opportunities are essential when choosing where to work and 98% that they’re key in deciding if to stay. Many also say they need more learning to help them do their jobs. And a third don’t think they skills they already have are being utilised properly!  Business leaders are regularly worried about the skills base and knowledge in their organisation, in fact two-thirds say learning is key for business performance, so it stands to reason that supporting employee growth should be a major priority.

One way to help people develop is through internal mobility. The best new hire that one of your teams may make is likely to be someone already in the business. Help the people you already have to find new roles within the business. Futurestep found 87% of companies believing that having a strong internal mobility programme helps with attraction and retention, and OC Tanner’s research showed 3 out of 4 employees who work on special projects, outside their core role and teams, feel they grow in ways that their day to day jobs cannot offer.

Create a learning culture

A learning culture is essential. Employees expect to be able to access information and knowledge as and when they need it, to help them do their jobs well, and reach performance expectations. Make learning available across platforms and at all times – only 1 in 6 favour face to face learning with a tutor. 60% want to learn in company time, at their own direction, and 24% in their own time. Different approaches to performance management are well documented, though its apparent that outside of the case studies, conference presentations and business magazine articles, many organisations still struggle to do this effectively, leaving employees feeling that their employers don’t value employee development. 25% of employees see no value in performance reviews in the format their employers conduct them.

Rethink retention

There are several reasons why retaining relationships with ex-employees makes good sense for the business, but none of them will happen unless we get better at exiting people from the business. If it’s a performance issue then address performance and don’t make it about the person. If we don’t want to lose them then we need to leave the door open rather than sour the relationship.

Ex-employees are validators and ambassadors of the employee experience, advocates for the business itself and part of our extended knowledge network. Alumni networks play a key role in sharing product information and company news, referring and recommending prospective employees and future customers, and may well return to work for us in some capacity again.

Many companies now look to formalise these relationships through what is increasingly known as off-boarding* with tech solutions to support managing the relationship and sharing information.

More than three quarters of employees say the reputation of the company where they work impacts their job satisfaction, and 85% that how they were treated during the application and interview process determines if they decide to accept an offer.

The way you attract, hire and develop people will go a long way to determining if you retain them. Workers believe they need more learning to help them perform their jobs better. This boost to performance will help improve rewards, satisfaction and engagement. Which means they are more likely to stay, and their managers better placed to achieve successful commercial results

(Our two most recent research projects, which provided many of the statistics quoted, were with Kelly Services – involving 14,100 job seekers across 10 European countries – and with Bridge, with whom we researched a population of both HR and Learning & Development professionals, and employees)

*(and yes, I know, if you don’t like the term on-boarding you won’t like this one either)


3 Ways to Begin Better Hiring

The way we recruit and onboard has to change. A run through of some recent research* tells us that:

  • 85% of HR decision makers admitting that their business had hired someone who proved to be a bad fit for the job
  • 1 in 5 of HR decision makers say that they don’t know how much a bad hire has cost them
  • Up to 25% of new starters leave within their first six months
  • 90% use their first 6 months experience to determine longer term commitment
  • Only 19% see a strong alignment between what their employer says about itself and their actual experience working there
  • 55% would consider changing jobs this year – 74% of them would stay for interesting work, 69% for recognition
  • 70% of unsuccessful senior hires give a poor grasp of how an organisation works as the main reason for their failure
  • Nearly half of experienced hires admit they failed to fully grasp the business model they were joining

Meanwhile qualitative research tells us that new hires are more likely to leave early if they don’t like the job or find that it wasn’t what they expected from the recruitment process. One senior manager from a large hospitality and leisure sector employer recently told me that almost half of their new trainee intake for this year had already left because the job wasn’t what they expected – not in terms of the actual duties but in the hours, dedication and working structures.

We need to get better at how we attract, hire and develop people. This all points towards the need for different approaches to the way that work is organised, employees are managed or directed, how retention is viewed and how we go about hiring. I can think of three ways we can immediately start changing. There are plenty more but these will do for a start…

Firstly, how we market jobs. I use the word market because I think we can accept that recruiters need to think like marketers. Rather than advertise for a perfect fit, or list a series of notional achievements and duties that we want someone to have already achieved, lets start talking to people who might be interested in our company and the type of role we are looking to fill. This requires an understanding of what the role is, the skills and knowledge that would help the role to be performed effectively, and the way that a new hire can grow and develop with us. And some proper market knowledge of how and where to connect potential candidates and of the kind of conversations we should be having with them and the content we should share.

Secondly, how we select the best person. Find out about the real person, what their strengths are, their character, durability and agility. Approaches to learning and development and how they tackle challenges and situations that might be new. This won’t be found by series of Q&A interviews, peppered with set-piece situational questions, trick questions or asking them to run through their CV for the umpteenth time. They all point to a lack of preparation from the hiring manager which can indicate a real lack of commitment to finding the best fit person or understanding of the role and how it can develop.

Thirdly, how we bring someone in to the business. Start the induction early, make them feel part of the organisation with clear objectives and timelines around roles and responsibilities. Make it a social experience, new hires who establish early social connections with their colleagues are more likely to settle quickly and feel part of a team. No one should start doing a new role and be unclear about what the job is, what it will take to be successful, who has input to the role and the formal and informal internal networks that will help support them in getting their work done.

There’s plenty more we can do to make hiring better but these will make a good start.

(* Findings taken from recent research published by REC, Korn Ferry, Egon Zehnder, IBM, Achievers, Weber Shandwick)

Exceptional Talent – the book I co-wrote with Matt Alder – is available now, published by Kogan Page. In it we look at the New Talent Journey and offer examples and case studies of how, and why, businesses are evolving the way they attract, hire, retain and develop the people they need. You can hear me talking about it on this podcast 

4 Things Recruiters Should Do Differently

Recruitment is changing. The way that organisations attract, hire, onboard, engage, and retain the people they need may be a significant differentiator but increasingly also defines their ability to grow and succeed as a business. To facilitate this Talent Management is no longer purely about developing a group of early-identified potentials, but instead represents the route to developing and honing the range of skills and capabilities that will be needed to meet evolving commercial challenges.

However the role of HR develops, the need to acquire, develop and curate skills and knowledge will continue to be a key part. This acquisition and deployment will come through a mix of permanent, interim, freelance and collaborative employment models.

The issues facing hiring teams are well documented. Allegedly they keep CEOs and HRDs awake at night, and top the list of concerns on most business surveys. Moaning and worrying won’t solve the talent puzzle though. We need to look at how the wider recruitment ecosystem is shifting and maximise potential opportunities. Expecting to solve your own skills shortfall by hoping to grab someone else’s is no longer a viable option.

Here are four opportunities for smart recruiters to start doing things differently in 2016…

Turn Shortages into Opportunities

We know there’s a skills shortage. Everyone is struggling to find the specific skills they need. Or are they? No recruiter ever got fired because there was a skills shortage…but maybe this means that individual reasons for shortages don’t get scrutinised. Are recruiters and hiring managers being lazy and waiting for a fully formed candidate who ticks a dozen boxes? If your business capacity is really impaired by a lack of skills then it must be time to find another way to satisfy demand. Redefine the problem. What exactly are we short of? Maybe invest in training or apprenticeships. Look for someone with knowledge and capability close to what you need and invest in bridging that gap. Look at more collaborative ways to bring capability into the organisation whether through flexible workforce approaches or partnering with third parties. Start drilling down with hiring managers on their wish lists and filter out the absolute necessities from the nice-to-haves. Break down the unfillable roles into smaller parts and see if there is a way they can be done differently, using other employees or by hiring someone with a complementary skill set.

The opportunity is for recruiters to add real value and help solve their organisation’s problems, not to offer the same excuses and apportion blame elsewhere.

Collaboration Within the Ecosystem

Modern recruitment is an ecosystem and we are all part of the solution. Our networks grow continuously. For a business this includes employees, alumni, collaborators, suppliers, contractors, clients, customers, digital connections and influencers. Recruiters can use these networks, and their own. Everyday contacts – barista, uber driver, conference attendees, everyone in your yoga or pilates class, fellow commuters, social friends – can lead to even more contacts. There are third party staffing agencies and a plethora of labour providers. Manage these connections. Take care of how you exit employees, reject applicants, and engage and pay freelancers. Communicate and share the wider vision and the hiring needs.

The future for recruiters is also in third party collaboration. Working closely with agencies and other labour providers as partners and not purely as suppliers. Make the partnership part of the internal offering; bring their insights and wider knowledge of trends and availability in your sectors and disciplines into the business. Choose collaborators carefully though as there must be trust, on both sides. That crucial next hire could well judge you as much by how you find them as by the strength of the opportunity you offer.

Win The Ratings Battle

We’re in an experience economy. And a ratings economy. The people we are trying to find put faith in what other people think about us, and judge us on the type of experience they get. Personal trust and peer capital are crucial, and the best recruiters will know that every part of the hiring process has to be functioning just right. Delayed decisions, endless hoops, poor information, disinterested interviewers and a lack of communication and feedback should play no part in a 2016 hiring function, particularly one that is competing with other organisations for skills that are in short supply and high demand. But they still do. Despite the growth of review sites, and the transparency that social media affords for exposing lazy practice, many organisations are still offering job seekers a poor experience.

Smart recruiters should know that jobseekers increasingly judge companies by how they go about hiring their new people, and make sure that if an offer should be rejected, it won’t be because of the recruitment process.

Understand What Candidates Look For

Candidates aren’t just looking for an offer. They want to join an organisation that will invest in them and help enhance their skills, capabilities, knowledge and experiences. Across sectors, disciplines and borders. The offer is no longer just about a salary and a job title, but now also about future opportunities and HR processes. How will they be managed, the level of support, how will performance be assessed, how transparent are goals and feedback, what is the range of rewards, how good is the onboarding, and what is the potential for development? The chances are, if your business is falling down in those areas it may well be obvious from publicly available information.

Good recruiters know that candidates value honesty. They showcase what is good about the business, offer information about future potential and don’t try to cover over shortcomings.

There’s no need for excuses or to hide behind lazy assumptions. Recruitment may be changing but it is also exciting. There are new opportunities offering plenty of scope for the best to differentiate themselves, positively represent their organisations and add real value.


Form is Temporary, Class is Permanent…so what about Performance and Ability?

In a week when sport punditry seems to be the subject of every front page as well as back, it seemed appropriate that this old gem came to mind whilst reflecting on a couple of recent interviews. 

There’s been a thread running through some of my recent blogs around performance and attitude, probably not surprising considering that I’m job hunting and currently interviewing. I posted Hire for Attitude, Train for Skills a few weeks ago and it was well received. I posted it on RecruitingBlogs to a predominantly US audience and it received quite a lot of comment and sparked some fiery debate!

The follow up Past Performance is Relative was a rumination on how achievements and deliverables have to be looked at in the context of the structures, processes, environment and expectations of the business in which they are achieved.

Up until now I’ve been thinking of situations where you are hired because of previous performance but what about getting hired despite previous performance.

Hence ‘Form is Temporary, Class is Permanent’.

We’ve heard the saying many times, always in the context of top sportsmen/sportswomen who have lost form, they’re having a bad patch, not quite firing on all cylinders. It’s never doubted that a top performer who’s having a bad time will get their mojo back and be a top performer again.

I’m wondering if this sports truism translates to business. Particularly to sales businesses, most of whom are very fond of sports analogies.

Can a top performer who is currently not hitting their usual high standards return to peak performance? Do they need a new team, a new environment?

In business could we say that ‘Performance is Temporary, Ability is Permanent’

So I’ll use myself as an example.

During my interviews with recruitment businesses we will inevitably talk figures. There’s no real problem with my track record up until 2010, in fact I’ve been told by many that my figures for 2009 (a pretty poor year for the industry) are comparatively good. Don’t get me wrong, 2010 wasn’t a disastrous year by any stretch, just not a particularly good one. The figures were OK, but in context of previous years a bit ordinary. There were many reasons and contributing factors, which I don’t intend to bore you with here, but suffice to say that the year ending with the business being closed down is indicative.

As I would advise any candidate going for interview, I am honest and open about this. I’m asked about the positives, the negatives, why I thought it happened and what I would have done differently, and normally have a fairly frank conversation about it.

Back to the sports analogy.

I would describe myself as a good Premiership striker -certainly not a Rooney or Drogba…maybe a Kevin Davies – who regularly delivers 15 goals a season. I’m reliable, consistent, flexible and able to adapt to different systems and styles of play. I’ve just been through an unsuccessful season that’s ended with my team being relegated. I only scored 10 goals, and am being hard on myself. I’m out of contract and looking for a new club.

Any takers?

In football it would be a no-brainer. You can hear the pundits…proven goalscorer…role model for younger players…gives his all for the team…provide maturity and leadership…never gives up…consistent performer

So how does that translate to business?

If you are interviewing someone whose current form has dipped, do you back them to sparkle again?

What do you look for in these situations, and how do you assess whether their performance dip is temporary or permanent?

I would love to hear your thoughts….





Help! Save Me From ‘Loose Women’!

I need a new job. I need a new opportunity.                                                                    

I’ve been at home for a few days now and after experiencing daytime TV I can tell you that that need is even greater!

Regular readers will know that I’m a recruiter with over 20 years experience, all gained within the agency or 3rd party sector. I’ve recruited across many skillsets from finance to sales and the recruitment industry itself. Recent years have seen me focus on recruiting HR professionals, and they certainly comprise the largest part of my network, the part that I engage with on a daily basis.

I am happy to work agency, in-house, RPO or as an interim. I firmly believe that it’s not where you work but how you work that counts in this industry. The search is only just starting so I am really happy to talk to anyone about any ideas or opportunities.

So what do I do?

I find great people for clients.

I help candidates find great jobs.

I am consultative; I work with clients to identify what the ‘perfect candidate’ looks like and how best to get them.

I help candidates navigate the job market, enabling them to use social media and networking to help find roles themselves…they are potential future clients after all.

I build relationships with candidates and clients based on trust and mutual respect. This helps me gain referrals and repeat business.

I am an ambassador for whichever business employs me and for the clients who brief me.

Oh, and I write a blog that’s been judged one of the top 5 UK Recruitment Blogs!

If you read this blog, you’ll know that I believe in relationships, reputation, respect and realism. And that I also believe the future’s social.

What am I like? Well, I’m honest, agile, passionate and collaborative (in my very humble opinion)…but don’t just take my written word for it. You’ll soon be able to see for yourself.

I was interviewed by Dee Allen from Redmos at TruLondon earlier this year, talking about the ups and downs, highs and lows of my time in recruitment, and will have those interviews here on the blog for you to watch next week.

If you want a sneak preview, then click Redmos and launch the homepage video.

Connect with me on LinkedIn

Connect with me on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Or just call me.

Let’s engage. Let’s talk.

The World is Your Recruiter

We used to offer jobseekers one pair of eyes…sometimes a few pairs of eyes…but now the whole world has their eyes open.

Two meetings this afternoon have really energised me and got me thinking, yet shown me how network and community are increasingly doing the job of 3rd party recruiters.

Is this the dawn of Community Recruiting? It’s free for the hirer. It’s part of the ‘Big Society’

Firstly, I had a great catch up with Marianne Cantwell today. Twitter followers will know her as Free Range Humans, career change coach and corporate life escapologist. Soon she’ll be Free Ranging in the USA!

She was very excited; she had found a business card on a bus which was part of a Facebook campaign by a Graphic Designer called Mark Winter to find a new job. He was offering 10% of his first month’s salary to whoever helped him:

Marianne had photographed the card and tweeted it out. Within minutes it was being retweeted by her network. She showed it to me and I started tweeting it out…and then decided to blog about it.

Within 5 minutes the reach of his campaign was growing fast. Who knows how many other people have seen this campaign and communicated it…from his modest number of followers many thousands are being exposed to his work.

Thousands of pairs of eyes.

After meeting with Marianne I caught up with an old candidate who was coming to the end of a long contract with a major global brand. It’s been really good for her, especially as it came following a redundancy and prolonged period of job searching. She knows a lot of recruiters. Did any of us find her this lucrative contract, which has given her a great development opportunity and a brilliant name on her CV? No. It was through a friend who has nothing to do with recruitment or HR, but who knows someone, who knows someone, who…you get the picture. Now I appreciate that this kind of referral recruitment has long been around, but it has now been given added impetus and strength by connectivity, network and a real sense of wanting to help.

Time was that people would job search in private. Certainly using friends, friends of friends and family to spread the message is something more recent.

Friends and family, network and community.

Then I fire up the laptop this morning and start by reading Day 13 of the #MyJobHunt daily blog series from Gary Franklin. I don’t know if you’re following this series, but you should. All 3rd party and inhouse recruiters, and anyone involved in the hiring process should.

He talks about a role that was passed to him. He mentions the company name and the role. It’s  not a role for him, but in his capacity as founder of the Forum for Inhouse Recruitment Managers he is able to inform relevant candidates, passive and active, of this role.

So it looks like we’re all recruiters now!

I’ve been thinking about where recruitment goes next. Whilst some niches, sectors and locations may find its business as usual I think that there are clearly many challenges ahead for the majority. Social recruiting and direct sourcing are just two, but not the only two.

So it could be time for a change on this blog. I feel myself in more philosophical or reflective mood, keen to blog and debate about some of the key challenges that I see and to get your input.

It’s time for the dinosaur to evolve and move on! T Recs may well remain in some form…but I think this may be time for a more agile and forward looking image!

Watch this space…and as always, let me know what you think…

Can Social Connecting Help Us Find a Head of HR?

It’s time for my first guest blogger.

The company I work for – Courtenay HR – are recruiting a Head of HR for a really great client and we thought that this may be a good opportunity to put the strength of our social connections to the test! Our leader is Gareth Jones – who some of you may now on Twitter as @garelaos – and he has blogged about it on his excellent site Inside My Head…that blog is reproduced here:

Help me prove the concept…

Anyone who knows me, reads my blog or follows me on twitter will know that I am somewhat of a social media evangelist and right now it’s a hotly debated subject in the field of recruitment.  I believe, as some others do, that social ‘connecting’ will have a significant impact on recruitment and will be a significant enabler of people moving in and out of organisations in the future.  But right now I appear to be in the minority.

So, rather than wait for the market to produce an example where a key role has been filled through social connecting, we have decided to test the concept and create our own.  And that’s where we need your help!  We have a great role to fill, and I want to see the impact that resourcing through my social connections can have.  So without further ado:
The role is a c£80k Head of HR for a financial services (non banking) company.  They are a multi award winning organisation for both customer service and employee engagement and are in the top segment of the UK’s high performing organisations (officially measured).  I personally know the HR Director extremely well – we placed them a number of years ago.  They are one of the most credible, commercial and professional individuals I have met in HR so needless to say this is a great opportunity.

The details of the role can be found here but a top line of the kind of person we are looking for in terms of experience:

  • A solid background in generalist HR and Management
  • Strong compensation and benefits experience
  • Experience of managing centralised employee services environments
  • High levels of numeracy and attention to detail

How can you help?
Spread the word!  Some things that you can do to push the role out beyond the traditional recruitment channels would be:

  • Enter the link to this blog in your LinkedIn status message
  • Send a message with a link to this post to your connections on linked in
  • Tweet this post on twitter
  • Refer to this post in your own blog if you have one or:
  • Guest post me – put my post up as a guest post on your blog
  • Send a message out via facebook if you are comfortable with that

Getting in touch
The role is being handled by my good colleague Louise Curtis but if you have any questions you can contact either of us as follows:

Louise: Twitter: @lou_kiwi_curtis or LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/louisecurtis

Gareth: Twitter: @garelaos or LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/garethmjones

I’m not sure how we are going to measure the results as yet, but we are hopeful that the momentum we can generate together will demonstrate the power and speed of social connections made through social media.

Thanking you all in advance for your help and support.  Over to you!

Clarity, Communication, Closure – 3 Keys to getting Recruitment Right

(This post was originally written for HR Zone and published as part of their series on recruitment)

Recruiting, hiring, talent attraction, talent acquisition…whatever words you use you can’t escape the fact that sourcing and hiring new people for your business is far harder to get right than it is wrong, with new research showing that a negative experience can damage your bottom line.

Its long been said that you can tell a lot about a company by the way it goes about recruiting its people, and never was this truer than now, with technology and social media helping to create immediate and transparent contact between jobseekers and a hiring company, whether sourced directly or through a third party recruiter.

The process of hiring now brings your business into contact with a range of people…successful applicants, unsuccessful candidates, third parties, RPOs to name a few. And the rules of candidate attraction mean that your business will be visible through website, digital advertising, Facebook page, Linked In profile and very possibly a Twitter feed.

Getting the right person is now not the only key outcome… using the right approach is vital as those who are involved in that process now have channels through which they can vent their frustrations.

The best recruitment processes should contain the 3 Cs – Clarity, Communication and Closure – and should always manage expectations. Key questions to ask yourself are:

Why do you need to hire?

Every recruitment process starts with a need to hire, and whether you are looking for one person or a number of people it pays to know exactly why you are hiring, what role(s) you are trying to fill. Hiring managers need to put time into into scoping out exactly why they need someone, what they need that someone to do, and what deliverables will be expected…and the key question:

Do we already have someone here who can do this role, or do our people know someone who can do this role?

Many jobseekers talk of their frustrations at finding roles for which they have been interviewing eventually filled by internal transfer or promotion, or recommendation. There is nothing wrong with this, but it pays to be transparent from the start. Very often the approach is to see who is available and then compare with what you have internally, whereas the most successful pieces of hiring will often start with looking at the people in whom you have already invested time and training.

Assuming you don’t have an internal resource then a clearly defined role profile is essential before you go to market. It’s not enough to assume that the position is the same as it was three years ago, or send out the message ‘we just need a good person who can do x and y’; you need to know exactly what the new person has to achieve, what their key internal relationships are, and what scope there is for personal and professional development within the role.

In other words…clarity.

How will you find them?

As a 3rd party recruiter it won’t surprise you to find out that I still think that we are the best route! There are plenty of values based, knowledgeable recruiters out there who have a sound grasp of their markets and have built a community of some of the best talent within them. The way to approach this is not to brief a number of suppliers, with a low fee attached, and assume that this competition will deliver quality candidates. It won’t! The best recruiters rarely enter into these kinds of CV chases and you are more than likely to end up with a number of poorly matched, inadequately briefed candidates.

You should work with one or two recruiters who you have not only met, but also have taken a reference on from previous clients as to how successful they have been and how they work. It’s always useful to also go to their offices, find out a little about how they project themselves, how they are targeted, and how they deal with people who apply for roles.

Remember that the experience that your chosen recruiter gives to candidates who apply for a role with your company will reflect on you and not always the recruiter.

Should you go to market directly then a clear message will always be the key. From a well written ad, to the way that you contact all candidates, and the information that you pass on at every stage of the interview process…all of this says something about your business. Transparency is vital – everyone needs to know where they stand in the process, what is the next stage, are they moving forward (if not, why not) and when will they know more?

Clear and transparent Communication

How will you bring them in?

You’ve found the person that you want and they want to join you…what next? Well, from my experience of 20 years as a recruiter I would say that the majority of problems that lead to unsuccessful hires can be traced back to either before the candidate joins, or to their initial three months. It is important that once you have an offer and acceptance that everything runs smoothly. No waiting for contracts or other detail, regular communication between hiring manager and new hire and some clear information regarding onboarding and induction.

Many companies will leave this to HR, but I believe that those in HR need to involve not just the hiring manager but also the rest of the team in making the new person feel both welcome and valued. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve interviewed a candidate who is leaving a role after only a few months and hear ‘I knew straight away’ or worse ‘they gave me loads of information about themselves in the interviews that, as soon as I started, I realised wasn’t accurate’.

The most successful hires that you make will always be the ones who find no surprises at any stage of the process, never have to check where their paperwork is, never have to phone a week before they join to find out starting details and, crucially, walk in on day one and find not only is everything as they have been led to expect but that they have also already met everyone in their immediate team.

That is only part of the closure though…what about the candidates who didn’t make it through to this stage? A lot of damage can be done to an employer’s brand by poor communication to rejected candidates. They have invested time (research and preparation) and hope in working for your business, they have an emotional bond with you and may well want to work for the business at some stage in the future. They need to have expectations managed as rejected candidates are consumers and ambassadors for your business too.

Race For The Prize? What’s Your Hiring Process?

What does your hiring process say about your company?

We talk about culture, employer brands and employee brands…we talk about social recruiting, attraction strategies, talent pipelines and puddles…but what of the process in between?

You can find the talent and onboard the talent but in between you have the hiring process itself…it’s often said ‘you can tell a lot about a company by the way it goes about recruiting its staff’ …is this true?

Let me illustrate the point by talking about a particular client that I recruited for a few years ago. They were mainly a sales led, aspirational business, and many people I approached on their behalf wanted to talk to them. Their process was:

1) First interview with internal recruiter, primarily for fit and motivation

2) Second interview with 2 or 3 different managers to ascertain into which team they may best fit

3) Possibly another couple of managers or more usually a divisional director

4) At this stage there would be one or two teams that they were considered right for so they would come and meet a couple of people from these teams

5) Now is when they would come in and meet the Managing Director who, if he liked them, would suggest which team he thought they should join

6) They would come back and meet most of the rest of that team and, usually, leave with an offer from a Director

Phew! That all took over 12 hours, nearly 2 whole working days spent on interviews!!

Now here’s the thing…they had a high proportion of new employees who didn’t make it and left within 12 months! Discussing it with the MD one day he said…

‘The trouble is they come in thinking the prize is to get a job here…they’re wrong, if they’re good enough we’ll hire them anyway…the REAL prize is to succeed here’

So I explained that maybe, just maybe, having a recruitment process that resembled the Labours of Hercules set an unrealistic expectation, with the securing of a job becoming the prize. The harder you make it to get something, the more that the getting it becomes the goal rather than the starting point.

The client reasoned that the process was the best way of letting the candidate see a lot of the business, and the business see a lot if the candidate, which was important to negate any surprises once employment started.

My own opinion is that the longer and more tortuous you make the process then the more likely you are to lose sight of why you started the process. In this client’s case the candidate was focusing on which team/director was right for them and the company was also focusing on which team/director would be the best fit. Which is all well and good if the decision has been made to hire and accept, but as part of a recruitment process this is likely to lead to an assumptive hire rather than a qualified hire…

…the Labours of Hercules is not a talent acquisition strategy that I would recommend!

Not that all clients use a long process. I have also recruited for businesses that like to offer after a first interview…gut instinct is good, the person feels like a fit, hell let’s just get them in before someone else hires them. It won’t be a surprise that this approach also carries a high chance of not succeeding…

…easy to hire, easy to fire is not a talent acquisition method that I would recommend either!

Many companies spend a lot of time designing perfect recruiting processes that deal with the metrics, that provide quantifiable information to management, but how many look to create processes that actually reflect culture, values, expectations, and a picture of what success will look like to both sides?

Talent acquisition strategies and processes tell you a lot about a company…candidates will reasonably expect them to be reflective of the business priorities and principles.

What are the ones that have worked for you?

Recruiters vs HR…It’s Tom & Jerry Time!!!

Recruiters vs HR…it’s as old as, well…the recruitment industry! Like cats and dogs, Tom & Jerry, there seems to be, in the UK certainly, this automatic default position of mistrust.

It’s reared its head again, with blogs appearing, including Bill Boorman’s guest post on Punk Rock HR, and no doubt discussions will be had at HRevolution.

Well I’ll let you in to a secret…it’s always been like this! Seriously, on my first day in recruitment, over 20 years ago, amongst the advice and on-job training I received about interviewing, cold calling and selling in candidates, I was told…

…ignore personnel; you don’t want to speak to them. They’ll ask you to send the CV through, then they’ll question you, and if you say that your candidate should to be interviewed, they’ll challenge you…

And it’s not changed!

As you read this there will be a rookie recruiter somewhere being told…don’t speak to HR, they’ll want an e-mail with reasons to justify the candidate, they’ll negotiate fees and keep you waiting…forget it, you’ve got targets to meet and you need to get your candidates on interview NOW!

In fact recruitment companies spend lots of money on training their consultants how to AVOID HR!

They’ll deny it of course, but the transactional sales model, which has been favoured by the majority of the recruitment industry for over 50 years, usually dictates that there isn’t time to follow PROCESS…

…which is what it’s all about in my opinion…HR makes recruiters justify what they are doing, asks them to follow a process, whilst the average recruiter ideally wants to phone a harassed, time-pressured line manager, with a candidate that they’ve found who they think is a perfect match, book an interview over the phone, push back on feedback and try to CLOSE THAT DEAL!

Not all Recruiters are like that, clearly…but then not all Recruiters dislike HR!! I have always developed relationships with HR, treating them as much my client as any line or hiring manager. One of the reasons I moved into HR recruitment was because of the strong relationships I had built.

We’ve all had times though when we don’t think HR gets it…a marketing recruitment colleague said to me the other day…”HR wasn’t sure, said they didn’t think the person was a good fit, but I persuaded them to send the candidate along to see the hiring manager who loved him and hired” …but I’m sure that HR would point to hasty hires by line managers who didn’t really follow a true recruitment process, offering little selection and engagement. In my colleague’s example HR did set aside their initial view for the wider good of the business.

Let’s face it, HR want to get the best talent, the best fit for their organisations, the people that will add value and be part of the company’s growth, whilst Recruiters are looking to place candidates.

HR are usually measured by many deliverables, of which talent acquisition and retention is just is one, whereas the vast majority of Recruiters are measured and judged by the number of deals they close.

It’s a bit apples and pears…cats and dogs…it can work, but in many cases that’s not always the same thing, not always the basis for a mutually beneficial relationship.

Many Recruiters have always tried to bypass HR (hate is a very strong word) and many HR professionals have always had a mistrust of recruiters who think they’ve found the most outstanding candidate that needs to be hired NOW before they disappear to another company.

I think it’s straightforward…HR like recruiters who make their job easier, who respect the role they play in their companies talent process and want to help them find the best talent. Likewise Recruiters like HR who value what they do, who give them the information that they need to identify the talent that companies want. A lot of the time this works fine, but then pressures of budgets, targets, misinformation and miscommunication sometimes kick in.

So rather than Recruiters thinking like HR and HR thinking like Recruiters why not try seeing each other’s point of view…why don’t HR spend time in their recruitment supplier’s offices, seeing how they work, how the consultants are managed, measured and rewarded, what the values and culture are…and why don’t recruiters spend some time in an HR department and find out what the talent proposition is, the engagement and the vision, what the budgets are, what pressures and priorities they work with, and get some feel for all the other things HR does.

Maybe, just maybe, they may even learn…to LOVE each other!!