Category Archives: lessons learned
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?
“Do as I say not as I do!” – This was/is a favourite saying from my Dad. Normally trotted out when we as kids, busted doing something, which we found amusing. Talking with his mouthful and farting/burping in public being a few examples that you cannot go past. (Those last two normally followed with the infamous “Where ever you may be, let your wind go free”)
———> MY Dad!
Now I’m an experienced Dad (well, I’ve been one now for 8.5 years and have now ramped my Dadness up to cover 3 (not so) little tykes, I’m finding myself morphing into my parents. Sadly (I feel) it’s not just at home. It’s creeping into my work life. It’s quite confronting when you realise that you have people in your team, who are almost a generation younger than you!
I felt this yesterday. I took an annual leave day to spend what turned out to be a stunning day with the family. Being school holidays and all, it was the least I could do to at least seem like I was shouldering the load with my wife. It was a great day, weather wise, couldn’t have asked for better, best Spring day for the season. We jam packed it with activities which were fun for all of us. We laughed when we heard about the traffic chaos almost shutting poor Melbourne town down, as I wasn’t needing to battle it. We played, we worked in the garden, we got haircuts and we played some more! It was gold!
But I was still drawn to the phone, the little mobile office in my pocket. I only took one call, which we concluded in less than 2 minutes, but I was still compelled to check. I’m not sure why.. I’m not a workaholic (sorry boss), sure I enjoy what I do and have a real passion for it, but reflecting back…. seriously? one day? My mistress iPhone gets me in. (I get grumpy with my team do it) I can remember the days when you just travelled somewhere. If you were out and someone wanted to catch you, you had to leave a message on a cassette tape on the answering machine (I think I’ve lost my Gen Y readers – check this for clarification) I couldn’t take calls, I couldn’t check status’ (that was done at the pub with the lads) and my message bank was a number of red slips of paper in my cubby hole at work when I returned to the office! I’m wondering how my kids will actually be able to take a break from the office? They’ll be doing stuff we haven’t even thought of yet.
Is this a comment on me? society? a new working culture? Does it make you good at your job or just bad at living?
Funnily, I accepted a meeting invitation which takes all of a microsecond to click “Yes” I’ll attend. This acceptance was followed by a quick email, in capitals no less from one of MY team, saying “GET OFF THE EMAIL!”. Humph… Double Humph!!!! She was right mind you, and I would have done exactly the same thing, if the roles had been reversed. But come on, “Do as I say not as I do!!” I can say that right? 😉
I am the JITH Lord! OK, maybe a little over stated, but an interesting start to a blog right? I’m pretty sure that the JITH’s are related to the Sith’s depicted in the Star Wars movies (and the cool picture above), taking the Recruiting ninja idea to a whole new level! The Force v Ninja’s, I should call James Cameron now to secure the film rights.
OK, Sorry not really what I wanted to write about today.
I have been reading Glen Cathey‘s “Just in time Recruiting” series a lot after his inspirational talk an Australasian Talent Conference event last year (click on the link guys, there is another one coming up.. these are the events which changed my Recruiting life)… It would be quite safe to state that Glen’s talk at this event instilled a “man crush” from my then boss. I saw it change his whole philosophy on Recruitment.
Flash forward half a year or so, and wow, it’s been an interesting few months. Going back to an inhouse role. With Peerlo we looked at numerous Recruiting philosophies, I’ve tended to morph a few of these into my role now.
In my current position, the majority of the roles we Recruit for fall into one of maybe 2-3 categories. So, we aren’t an agency, and the variety of our roles won’t expand apart from the odd “Hail Mary” to help a client out. So I’m thinking I can do a bit of this “Lean Recruiting” stuff and morph it into my “Just in Time Hiring” (JITH) ideal.
The idea of “If it doesn’t add value… it’s waste” resonates with me a lot. This, I think is the backbone of any Consulting business in my eyes. Glen speaks about the 5 of the 7 wastes that “Lean” aims to eliminate. Not all of these are “wastes” to me or my company or areas I need to or want to eliminate. There is probably one section which I would change to have input to JITH
Let’s look at them:
Glen mentions: “In recruiting, your candidate pipeline is your inventory. More specifically, your work-in-process (WIP) candidate inventory.” further refined as “A group of candidates that a recruiter stays in routine contact to maintain a relationship with, without a specific and current hiring need is essentially a work-in-process (WIP) candidate inventory.” ie they are “paused” somewhere in the process. Glenn argues that the amount of time and effort that goes into the relationship building. I tend to agree with this. “In or out” I think. I understand timing is not always right, however constant “catch ups”, coffees etc without the ability to hire in the forseeable future, is a problem that has to be monitored.
Glenn states. “According to Lean, a “defect” is something that does not conform to specifications or expectations. When it comes to recruiting, I’m not suggesting that the people themselves are defects. However, candidates that are sourced, contacted, screened, and with whom a relationship is maintained that do not ultimately match the actual hiring need are defects of the recruiting process.”
Hard to argue with really. We had a great example of this recently in a meeting I attended. We were talking about a potential hire, the plusses and minuses of said candidate. People were on the fence. He had been in the “process” for a little while and some people were very Bullish about his potential for the company. Bottom line, question was asked “Would you hire this person with no reservation to work with you in this company?” We couldn’t get an unreserved “Yes” so therefore the person ended up being a firm “No!” Cut lose from the hiring process, not taking up anymore time.
Glenn states “Over-processing occurs any time more work is done than what is required by the customer. Engaging, screening and building and maintaining relationships with candidates that will never ultimately be submitted to a client/manager in consideration for an interview can be seen as performing more work than necessary and be classified as over-processing.” Agreed! Why bother? What stats/KPIs are you trying to maintain? Why would you invest heavily in people you would not ever realistically think of starting with your company? Not wanting to offend someone? Get a new career!
Glenn states: “Lean defines the waste of waiting as any time that something is held in wait of the next production step. In recruiting, waiting occurs whenever candidates are not being advanced through the recruiting and hiring process.”
Dead on! The efficiency of one’s process will make or break a hire. Take too long, those hires will disappear, someone else will hire them, or they will grow disinterested in you and your process. You really need to drive the process.
Overproduction: (this is the one I disagree with)
“Production ahead of and in excess of demand.” This is deemed wasteful for a Recruiter. Too many job applications, of which no-one gets a real personal response. Glen states “Traditional proactive candidate pipelining ahead of actual hiring need almost always leads to overproduction.” From my point of view, having too many qualified candidates, all the way through our Recruitment process ready to hire, is a great thing, not a waste. I like to have candidates ready, willing and able to go, as proper timely workforce planning is not always do-able in our business. We need to be ready, and try to eliminate the lag in hiring, which would ultimately be there if not prepared. Our process takes a while, and has a high exclusion rate, getting someone through, with all our ticks means I need this person fully engaged and bought into our brand and message. I will put work into these people, they deserve it, my company needs it, it’s value adding!
To move onto the “Just in time” Recruiting part. Glenn states that by eliminating these wasteful parts of a normal Recruiting workflow that ” Just-In-Time recruiting is a pull-based strategy of providing hiring managers/clients with candidates that exactly match their needs, when they want them, in the amount they want.”
What a great idea, concept. A bit utopian I think. To start from a zero base, find, attract, process and hire someone in a time efficient manner (and lets face it, most companies need them YESTERDAY!) . I am unsure this is really possible, but then again, I know I don’t have the skills of Glenn. Maybe I see things differently as part of an inhouse team now? But whilst I agree with a fair percentage of this model, I feel the need to change it just a smidge.
I firmly believe that Recruiting is the act of attracting people to your company, your roles, your ideals. Finding people who will come along for the ride and sharing with them the reasons why they should. Talking to people about your company, exploring talent channels. Sorting the wheat from the chaff, making the hard calls on those who would fit and those who wouldn’t. I have probably repeated this ideal ad infinitum of late around my office (driving those around me mental may I add) , “Companies should ALWAYS be Recruiting” (identifying, targeting, vetting, having conversations and coffee with people) “Just not always Hiring” (Hiring is the result of good Recruiting! I’ll hire these Recruits as required, knowing that those people identified will not always be available when we need them. If there is enough of them, I’ll live with that)
This is where I corrupted Glenn’s “Just in time Recruiting” ideal and (well, you can see what I did with this right?) and started going down the path of Just In Time Hiring.
Still sticking to the ideals of mostly eliminating waste, I agree with this philosophy mostly. However, in what we as Recruiting professionals do, the “Recruiting” isn’t the important thing in what we do. Sounds weird when you write it down doesn’t it. It’s really only the Hiring (and subsequent STARTING) that counts. Our value add, our purpose for being employed or engaged is to hire! How many of our stakeholders will care if we have a carefully maintained Talent Pool, great Social Media platforms, 100,000 “Likers on Facebook”. If we don’t put the right bums on the right seats at the right times our value diminishes!
Hiring is the all important thing here, not the Recruiting, my job doesn’t end if/when a Hiring Manager decides to interview a Candidate. An interview isn’t a win! The success of my role is based wholly and solely on the Hiring of great talent WHEN the company needs them. I’ll live with the Over Production, I’m actually hoping for Over Production, the more the merrier (of successfully Recruiter, qualified and processed people).
I always need to be Recruiting to achieve this. If I am ALWAYS Recruiting, I can be a JITH (Just In Time Hiring – incase you missed it) Lord, and that sounds pretty cool to me 🙂
Changing jobs a couple of times in the last 2 years has made me really look at myself and my belief structure in this field, refine this, perhaps even formulate one (or two). I’ve come to understand what I believe in, when it comes to Recruiting.
It’s not about just going to work, hiring people and going home. I think people over complicate things to (sometimes) justify their own existence, pad out their “personal brand”, push their agenda or product, or suck up to “Recruiting aficionados”. And please don’t get me started on all those “Social Media is the greatest” conversations!
I’ve been able to break this down to a few key ideals which I believe in when it comes to this profession and what I do.
So what is it?
- Recruitment is all about the conversation (medium is irrelevant)
- Everyone (YES EVERYONE) is hired to solve a business problem
- Fish where they are
- Sharing and learning is essential
It’s official.. I’ve changed my mind.
I used to struggle with the idea of “casual days”. You know those days where you don’t need to suit up in the office, you come in your jeans, or whatever. I’ll be the first to admit, I was brainwashed. I was convinced, and from what I had personally seen, that when you have a casual day in the office, it leads to a real “casual day”. I saw it time and again infiltrate into the psyche of some of my team mates. The edge disappeared, the chats seems to linger over the cubicle, lunches extended out and time on the phone diminished, let’s not talk about client or candidate meetings.
I had a dilemma upon joining Peerlo. The suit was out! and just regular clothes were well… in. (unless meeting clients or candidates face to face). It really threw me, I mean, dressing was easy, a suit everyday, big decisions consisted of which suit, which shirt and which colour tie, and the weekend was the only time I had to think of the rest of my wardrobe. But now, with a good proportion of my work either interstate, or sourcing, I wasn’t always externally facing so to speak. Could I actually work if I was wearing sneakers to work? Seriously? Well over time, (and it has been a year) I’ve grown into it and you know what? I don’t believe it has affected my professionalism. Although now I have more decisions to make and more thoughts to have before I leave the house of a morning. Do I have any meetings scheduled (if not why not?)? are they in person? (in between comes the panic of, “Do I have a shirt ironed?”) and then the big questions come… what to wear today then? Oh lord it gets tough. Lucky I don’t have too many choices, don’t tell my wife I said that 🙂
I’m not sure what it is? Is it a generational thing? Is it a maturity level of the office? Or is it just a changing way of the working life? I have come to learn though, that suits don’t equal professionalism or a measure of work ethic. Maybe I need to get a hoodie like Zuckerberg? Seems to work for him.
You ever had one of THOSE days? I know you have.
One of those days where nothing worked, where everything you tried failed, your ideas were crap (or so it was explained to you), your star candidate declined or worse, disappeared, and because of a decision you made an urgent meeting has been planned tomorrow which includes every C level executive in your company.
Oh they are bad…. you leave the office with that knot in your tummy, you relive the decision or action ALL night, wondering what could I have done better? What did I so wrong? What are they thinking? IT wasn’t that bad was it?
Dad always said, it’s not how many times you get knocked down… it’s how many times you get up that counts
You lie down in bed, and it’s like an instant replay in your head… I did OK didn’t I? That wasn’t me was it, surely that other guy did that? Then the little red demon on the shoulder outweighs the white angel. “IT WAS YOU! YOU STUFFED UP! WHAT DO THEY WANT TO SAY IN THIS MEETING? IT CAN’T BE GOOD
Surely tomorrow is a sick day in the making? That feeling in the tummy must be the onset of gastro doesn’t it?
I’ve had a couple of days like this in my career, the worst one happened when I was away on a conference, away from my support structures etc. In fact I think I even called home and had a serious conversation about quitting. My wife, however if pretty wise herself (if anyone tells her I said this I will deny… I promise I will). Told me to take a deep breath, OK take a few. Sleep on it. Stewing won’t help.
I really wasn’t in the mood to hear it, she didn’t know how I felt or what I’d been through that day. Pish tosh I thought! That’s right. I said PISH TOSH!
Here’s the kicker… She was right… ahhhhhhh (again if you tell her I’ll deny it)
Surprisingly I got some sleep, dragged my sorry bum out of bed and decided on a course of action. Forthright and to the point.. I was taking control. I owned the mistake, and I started to take ownership of the solution. THIS was a powerful feeling.
I then realised (with a little more help of those around me) that the people I was worried about facing, were actually there with the same goal in mind, to help the company succeed. They were looking for solutions not excuses and were present to help. (after the obligatory “What happened?” “Why?” “Are you serious?” “Why would you do that?” “Oh crap!”)
Luckily all these questions (raised voices, red faces and ruffled hair aside) How are we going to fix it? Did you pick the important word there? “WE” I had buy in. They were there to help.
This was years ago, and I’m glad to report, we kicked some real butt recovering from this stuff up. I don’t recommend the stuff ups, seriously they aren’t something I’d want to do again. But my advice… if it counts for anything Stand Up, own it! take your licks (you probably deserved them), suck it up and work on the solution. Getting that solution will make you stronger. Listen to people and TAKE ACTION and fix it.