Category Archives: c-level executives

Flogging a dead horse… OR The Recruitment industry sucks!

Recruitment agencies tend to be getting a bum rap at the moment, with what seems an endless amount of people getting on the “Whack the Recruitment Agency” bandwagon.

Whilst I cannot disagree that some agencies and some Recruiters can be dodgy and misrepresent the industry as a whole, it isn’t all bad.  I’ve wrote about this before here.

However, I have noticed a distinct lack of posts from agencies or anyone really talking about dodgy clients, dodgy candidates and the like.  This post aims to balance the scorecard to a point and share some war stories from the Recruiting trenches that I have seen or heard.

So dear readers, hold onto your seats and let me tell you some stories of dodgyness, dishonestly and downright crappyness perpetrated by “clients” and “Candidates” from the eyes of a Recruiter.  I know, shocking right? It’s not just the Recruiters that are bad to deal with all the time.

Have you heard about the client who after going through a whole drawn out process of 2 interviews, psychometric tests, 3 references, turned down the candidate?  That’s not the bad bit, that happens a lot.  (but it really sucks to be a contingency recruiter when this happens) Skip forward 3 months, person who won job, leaves.  Agency candidate is hired (great to be a recruiter when this happens), all behind the back of Agency Recruiter (again, not so good).   This could all be an innocent mistake right? In fact as much was said when the Agency Recruiter called the company, first to find out what had happened, and if, in fact the person had started. (notwithstanding all candidates documentation from resume to reference checks were heavily branded in the agency logo etc) Once confirmation was given, agency person informed said client that an invoice would be coming.  NEXT was the call from the CEO informing of the mistake and that he had never OK’d the expenditure, so there was a problem.  There were threats of firing the person so as to not pay the bill etc, they said the person applied directly to them from when they had advertised (on inspection there was no ad).  After lots of negotiation, it worked out for the agent, once lawyers entered the discussion.

How about the candidate who upon signing up for a role and joining a company, just doesn’t turn up on day one?  No word, no nothing?  Days of frantic searching later, emails, phone calls to mobile at all hours, even checking with emergency services to see if there were any accidents nearby etc, the Recruiter finally found a correct home phone number.  Spoke to the candidates wife, hoping all was ok (I had called a candidate on a database and sadly I made the call in the middle of the person’s wake).  Wife informs me that the candidate is fine and is at work “sorry what is this call in regards to?”  hmmmmm accepted job, signed job, went through induction etc, just didn’t get around to leaving old job.  What the?

How about the person who rocks up to an interview with IBM and proceeds to tell the hiring managers there that “IBM stands for Idiots Become Managers” that’s not embarrassing feedback to get is it?

Or the hiring manager who says “You’re 32, how many years would I really get out of you working here before you go off and start having babies?”

OR the hiring manager who actually compliments an interviewee on her ummmm appearance

OR asks out for drinks immediately after ascertaining said candidate doesn’t have a boyfriend?

OR the candidates who say they’ll do “ANYTHING” for a job, whilst shifting in what she believed was a direct take off of Sharon Stone in “Basic Instinct”

OR clients who specifically ask for “Australians” (I cannot dignify this by expanding further)

OR clients who make offers to people after 6 interviews only to shut down that division making the person redundant after 4 weeks of work?

OR the candidate who takes another job after 2 days on new job with client because he was actually waiting for that job.

OR The clients of a start up, who scared the new hire on day 2 by sharing a joint in the office

OR Those candidates who just don’t turn up for interviews AT ALL.

OR The candidates who bring their entire family, wife, child etc to the interview and let them wait in reception during an interview?

OR The clients who just don’t pay?

OK sorry, the rant took over.  Feel free to share some more with me

The point of this post? Let’s see the world for what it is? There are good and bad everywhere.  To just get stuck into one area, one industry because it is an easy target is stupid and lazy.  Sure things can be improved in the Recruitment industry, tell me an industry that cannot improve somewhere.  I bet you can’t.  (I’ve deliberately not linked to any of these Recruitment bagging “blogs” as I don’t want to give them any more “air” time than they have already stolen)

So, stop trying to get cheap plugs and visits to your websites by highlighting these things and generally talking rubbish, there is enough stuff to sort through on the internet without sensationalist hyperbole bagging an easy target!  Hmmmm what ever happened to lawyer jokes?

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#atcsyd Day 2.. The Awesomeness Returned!

Man what a day…. sorry, it’s late I’m writing this, but I just arrived at home. (took a few more days, went back to work, and now finished this)

But back to the start of my day…

Great start… woke up without the sound of crying (I have young children… this is a perfect start of a day!)

Then… awesome breakfast provided by the #atcsyd guys (the food at this event was magnificent!)

Rebecca Houghton was the emcee today, and for a lady who was introduced as someone who is self confessed as unfunny, she had the room giggling and laughing and well, eating out of the palm of her hand.. Even if she did crowdsource her 10,000 steps for the day. (I won’t tell anyone though)

Then Rebecca did something that has the potential to change my professional life.  She introduced Glen Cathey who presented  “Moneyball Approach to Recruitment” Big Data – Big Changes… aka The art of winning an Unfair game…

It’s fair to say that “Big Data” was the term for the day!

Changing of mindsets and questioning what Real Data you need to make GREAT decisions….. and can you validate your currently held assumptions and ensure you don’t hold any biases of any type.  He shocked (and worried) the majority of the people in the room, with some stats about the relative success of tall people (over 6 foot 2) versus not so tall people. (Glen stated that 3.9% of American males over 6’2, however 30% of CEOs are over 6’2, a disproportionate number you’d think… interpret as you will!)  Sadly I qualify for the latter.  On a personal note, I could hear my Dad in my head, throughout this presentation with the idea of the “Assumption” doctorate.  ie Don’t assume things, get backing from your ideas with statistical data.

Questions raised in my head were, what data do I have to challenge? What do I want to challenge?  As far as I know the majority of Recruiting is subjective, you like the person, they perform OK in interviews, their chances of getting hired are greater than those who don’t interview well, but may have other core skills.

With Moneyball Recruiting, Glenn, suggests we “Move away from subjective means of assessing talent and make hiring decisions more objective, fact and empirical data based means”  The idea that Google have a specific “People Analytics” team, gives us something to think about, apparently all “people decisions” at Google are based on Data and Analytics.

Imagine if as an employee you carry your statistics across your career like sports people do? Raw numbers out there for everyone to see and assess! How would you feel? Would it change the way you work?

Glenn then raised the idea that “Intelligence” is a core predictor of performance.  Statistics given stated that if you use “intelligence” as a core predictor of performance, you’ll be right 65% of the time.  That’s not a bad score  I wouldn’t think.  The question raised was “What is intelligence?” “Are we talking Emotional Intelligence? Street smarts or your IQ?”

Another question was raised, which realistically hit right at the heart of a core belief of what we do as Recruiters or Sourcers.  “Why do you want to hire an industry re-tread?” Someone over looked by someone else, or already working at another place.  Why do that or could you identify people outside your core beliefs and ideals who could do the job as effectively, if just viewed a little differently?  Looked at through more objective eyes, through the identification of core “Traits” or “signals of success”.  These questions had a huge impact on the crowd, you could almost hear all the cogs turning in the collective brains of the attendees… How can we re-look at what we do?  The big question was then posed “If you had to start all over again… what would you do differently?”

In case you were thinking the age of information was taking over, and Recruiters we fast becoming an endangered species, Glenn concluded that “Great strategies… without great people, are not worth a damn!”  So, we’re still hanging in there people.. room for us all yet!

Adding to the days geekfest was Simon Cariss talking about “Global intelligence leverages HCM Decision making”.   Essentially Simon took us on a magical tour of numbers.  (I saw in some circles it described as #dataporn!) Just having some fun with them, showing us how data can tell us a story.  He illustrated this story with the global launch of the virtual launch of the iPad 5 (it’s invisible folks!) and how everything connects.  This dude seriously had his geek on… (it was great). (Another highlight was Simon’s Australianising the infamous “Purple squirrel” with a “Red Possum” LOVED IT!)

He then asked a question, based around the idea that “the door of the CEO is always open, for the right information”.  What is the right information your CEO requires to make decisions? Can you simplify it down to one number? In the age of mobile information and smaller screens, maybe this is something you need to think about! (Apparently for those “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” fans, 42 is not the number!)

Howard Kotzen was up next “Building a case for intuitive Technology and integrated Talent management”, more talk of Big Data and continuing on the theme of “asking the right questions” a perfect follow up for Simon.  He spoke about talent ownership and the responsibilities for success.  How Recruitment should be seen as an Enterprise Resource Planning idea, where each silo of the process understands and appreciates the fact of their dependency on one another, striving for the same goal of company success.

Howard’s talk was followed by a person I was really looking forward to hearing, and meeting, Master Burnett.  He gave a talk on “Lean Recruitment Marketing” – I loved this talk, fast paced, thought provoking and practical.  Just what we (OK I’m speaking for myself) wanted in a conference like this.  It was tough to take notes, as my mind was going flat out trying to keep up with everything.  I took pics of the slides, which I’ll share if I get the permission of Trevor and his team.

Bottom lines (yes plural, as he made some great points which stuck with me and may have changed the way I look at Recruitment… again!)

Master asked us to think about our Marketing, and question “What’s changed in 10 years?”  Think about the channels you used, how many of them are obsolete now?

He spoke about the polarisation of our audience now across our multiple SPOPs (Social Points of Presence) cool term huh! and the fact that now the audience will talk back and readily question

Are we forcing our old stuff into new markets?

These Lean philosophies will test market, and see if our assumptions are accurate.  Try many things, in small doses across many mediums.  Measure, iterate, try again! (wash, rinse repeat!) Trust data over opinions, build and derive that data yourself!  And allow yourself the flexibility to move with the times.  Who would have thought about marketing/recruiting in Pinterest a year ago?  Be dictated to by the conversation and get to a stage where you are leading it!

He spoke about how in this age speed and flexibility are the new drivers of competitive advantage, process slows us down! (For those that know me, it was music to my ears)  Apparently, Life happens when you’re stuck in the middle of process!

Master was not talking about throwing “process” out the window, but get rid of in the aim of trying things, in small stages to reach an outcome (or not).  He encouraged us to think about outcomes versus output.  Don’t talk stats of interviews achieved, page views, eyeball minutes, etc.  Talk about outcomes, be specific, make it measurable, attainable, relevant and of course bound by strict time constraints.

The game changer?  This really resonated with me.  The outcome of successful Recruitment is great performance and success of the business!  What do you think about that? Not talking “bums on seats” in a timely manner, not talking time to hire or quality of hire, not talking longevity of hire, but business success.  BAM

(Makes sense doesn’t it, but haven’t really ever taken it to that extreme!)

Sadly, due to travel plans I had to miss the unconference sessions, but I have no doubt they would have continued down the stream of thought provocation.  I look forward to reading more posts as they filter out about this great conference.  Hat tip to all the organisers, speakers and attendees.  I just love the conversations! Can’t wait until the next one!

Jerry Maguire changed my life


A sad statement I know. This movie turned up on late night television the other night and it reminded me of a situation I was in a bit over a year ago.

Now this isn’t a Show me the money take off, but I still love that scene and needed the photo, for my own amusement. I digress
I was sitting at home, after a hellish day in the office, an occurrence which was happening not as rarely as it once had, and found myself writing. Lucky for the blogosphere I hadn’t joined its ranks yet. I voiced all my opinions about the company, my role, the management, the different personalities etc.. put it all out there. I was writing an email to my CEO and MD at the time. Man it felt good, so cathartic, and I believed it made a hell of a lot of sense.. I was about to change my world. I was pumped, maybe it was the caffeine I’d had to ingest to get through it all, who cares? I was excited. Now in Jerry Maguire, he acts out, passionately, straight to the copy mart and goes a little crazy, luckily enough for me (as Jerry gets fired.. remember) I remembered a little advice I’d received as a young professional. Never send an email on emotion, anger or happiness, save it in drafts, read it in the morning, and if you still believe it, then all means, GO FOR IT.

All I can say is thank god. I re-read in the morning and WOW, what a lot of nonsensical, emotional, jingoistic, egotistical crap it was. Don’t get me wrong, I believed in the underlying message, and still do, but wow the message was lost in lots and lots of words. Here’s the kicker.. I still wanted to send the message, but not in that format, not to those guys.

I was lucky, I had someone I could talk to, someone who understood my company, my role and my feelings and the players I was talking about. I sent this person my email, and held my breathe for the response… was I talking from a part of my body polar opposite to my mouth or not.

Luckily enough this person agreed with the message and the sentiment, and was nice enough to let me know.. they also agreed with the fact that the format would not get the message across. Think about your audience, how do they think? what would grab their attention?

Great thought… now remember I was writing to my CEO and MD, not sure if this is true of all people of this rank, however, my audience had to have their attention grabbed in seconds, or less to keep them reading, it had to be succinct enough to let them know what I was thinking and the benefits it held, and it should not be emotional at all (as that would stop reading, or at least reading with an objective viewpoint ASAP). I re-wrote a few times, and could not find a way to change too much. I tend to sometimes get attached to my work, and find it hard to change.

At 3am, it hit me.. (unfortunately this happens a bit to me) I had to start thinking like a recruiter, writing my ads for a particular person. Very effective I found.

I wrote a catchy title to the email, which I new they would read. Something like “A great way to improve profits”. I wrote a short sweet intro. Then dot points I needed them to know, and of course what they would get out of it. Finally, there was a call to action! “We should do this, or with your support I would like to discuss more.”

End result.. an emailed response from my CEO, with a phone call 20 minutes afterwards, some changes immediately, (I feel) an increased standing in the company, and a few more initiatives which changed the way the company operated.

Now this may seem like bragging, and maybe you are right, however, I thought it was an example of a way to use passion and communications to C level executives and get away with it. It’s like your ads.. Grab attention, use the what’s in it for them theory and finish with a call to action.

It continues to work.. hope this helps someone.