Category Archives: management

Recruitment Agencies…. They aren’t going anywhere

Those of you who know me will know my Recruiting background.  Started in a Recruitment Agency, well fell into it, as we all do.  Went to an in-house role for 8 years, somehow ended up back in Agency land again, and am now back in-house.

One of the things I learned whilst working in house was the utter despising of Recruiting Agencies by most people I came across, both from the business point of view and the candidates.  I had been blinkered maybe, “Did people dislike me that much when I was working for an agency?” Well I didn’t think it was me, but the function.  Really?  Sadly the answer was YES.

The reasons are not too hard to fathom.  So many cowboys and cowgirls out there, giving everyone a bad name.  It is the industry where a quick and hefty buck can be made, and I’m sure we all know a few or know of a few that have done that.  I knew a guy who placed the same person into a permanent role 3 times in a year! Twice in the same company, just asked her to go by her maiden name the second time around so as to not arise suspicion.  He made a fee each time upwards of $20k (in the days of 3 month replacements), and would brag about it.  I’ve heard of agents blatantly using their sexuality to try to get work to the point of offering “the full service” for work. I had a boss, who actually tell a young “lady” that she’d better go to the ladies to fix her dress as the straps kept falling off, “it’s not accidentally happening” he was told.. (True story)  Worse, agents, who once in to a company try to pilfer people out once they’ve sniffed around a little and learned the lay of the land.  Heard of one agency, threaten to “empty your car park” if said company wouldn’t use their services!

These type of stories, along with what can and has been perceived as the exorbitant pricing has started a shift away from the model, with more and more in-house teams popping up (bragging about their lack of need for agencies), LinkedIn’s Recruiter tools and “Social Recruiting, have left some doomsayers predicting the death of agencies as we know them.

In past lives as an in-house recruiter it was inconceivable that I would use Agencies, roles I couldn’t fill would remain unfilled and pressure would just build up on my team.  The amount of cold calls, warm calls and reverse marketing calls I would have to knock back probably didn’t do much for my popularity in the Recruitment world.  It was a directive from the people that paid my salary, an unbreakable rule, and we were able to deliver most of the time.  (* I remember telling one boss that he was notorious in the IT Recruitment industry for being a hard ass and putting people through the ringer.  I used to put his name deliberately on young Recruiters working for me who’d made too much money and were over confident, just to bring them down a peg so I could work with them once more!)  I have however recently broken out of that mould a little bit.  Of course there is a need and a place for this multi-billion dollar (Euro, Peso etc) industry.

I don’t see a need to use them in my day to day “normal” hiring, you know those role types that I will need to fill 80-90% of the time.  That is for me to build a successful, engaged and prepared talent pool of people who are already through our process, who just need the final tick to get started.  That is my core business, that’s where we should be spending most of our time and money.  If I used Agencies for this, then why would my company pay my salary?

However, for those “different” roles, for sectors of the market where I/we don’t have expertise, don’t have the network, where there is a speed to fill urgency, why wouldn’t I use an Agency?  Take on a Contracting resource makes a hell of a lot of sense to me.  I did come up with some raised eyebrows from the powers that be, until that is I reminded them of one thing… I got to set the rules!  I can choose who I deal with and who I don’t, it’s based on my relationships.  If a company calls me up, at a time when I have a need, promise the world and then don’t deliver, that’ll leave a bad taste, and I get to choose if I deal with them again or not.  If a company is perceived to be acting unscrupulously, then… I get to choose whether to work with them again or not.  If I see them advertising on a job board for my role, guess what? I get to choose whether to work with them again or nor.  I get to set the buy rate (I honestly don’t care what margin the agency makes, it’s none of my business, as long as everyone is happy), to ensure that the arrangement is still profitable for us.  It’s a no lose situation.

If you’re smart you can also get a fair bit of industry knowledge of your Recruiter (if they are any good), I have in the past felt a little insular, a little blinkered to the wider market when sitting in an in-house role, my focus (rightly or wrongly) being on my company alone.  Recruiters should have a great deal of industry knowledge in their mind, they are talking to companies, people and yes competitors on a daily basis.  Why not get an industry overview from?

This model has been a paradigm shift for my company, and so far it seems to be working well.  We’ve formed some strong working relationships, we’ve hired some great contractors in a very timely fashion and solved both our and our clients problems in the process.  I am yet to feel or perceive the “stereo-typical” Recruiter push or sleaze (for lack of a better term).  I’m using Recruitment agencies as another channel to market, you cannot know everything and everyone.  You know what? It hasn’t diminished the value in what the Recruiting team provides in my company, it’s actually allowed us to solve more problems.

With most businesses, Recruitment Agencies should exist to solve a businesses problems.  Do that, agency land, and you will be here to stay (nobody say like cockroaches!)

Dad lessons

“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? 😉

4 factors changing the face of in-house Recruitment… Are you up for it?

 

I am an evolutionist.  I love seeing things evolve, people, places, teams and functions.  Looking back to 2002 (yep, all that way) when I first landed into the world of in-house Recruitment, it’s interesting to see how things have changed as much as they have stayed the same.

I went in-house for the same reasons of many, I hated the agency land, whilst I enjoyed the cut and thrust as I am a competitive bugger, I struggled with the closing and ended up hating the fact that no matter how we dressed it up, or changed our titles from Account Managers to Consultants etc, it was still hard core sales.  I struggled to come to grips with the worlds perception of what I did and it clouded my own perception of myself, my self worth.  After having a good trot with one agency (5 Agency years, I think that is 30 normal human years), and a couple of false starts in a few others, I landed a job inhouse.  Thinking it will be a cruisey way to ply my trade without the fear of those daily stand up meetings answering “Have you made 50 calls today?” “How many new roles?” “How many client visits?” “How many submissions have you made?””How many interviews have you scheduled?” and of course “How much MONEY have you billed today?”

I thought it (the in-house) role would be all the things I loved about this job function without all the shit that goes with it in Agency land.  Sadly, I found that in-house roles came with their own brand of shit to deal with.

It was a function viewed as a subservient part of a glorious HR realm.  A poor cousin if you would.  It was something that the HR people thought they knew how to do, just didn’t want to lower themselves to actually participate in the activity.  They had more important things to deal with like, L&D, OH&S, Remuneration surveys, and writing policies! (I remember someone in an HR team actually saying “I’m not here to talk to the people, I’m here to do HR!”) However, they were happy to give their 2 cents (OK a little more) on how to do it.  Multiple lessons in egg sucking did occur.

On top of this, is was still near impossible to escape the tainting that being an Agency Recruiter gave me, even in-house.  I was still known as “Agency Dan” (and no I don’t think it was for my great skills and winning smile!) behind my back.

That role did transform, and I’ve noticed the evolution happening throughout the market, as the importance of your incoming talent increases.  I hear GE just hired 30-40 Recruiting people for a centre of excellence in Melbourne, that’s got to tell you something!

With that evolution, comes more responsibility, more roles to play within an organisation.  The advent of Social Media, I feel has begun to transform the role once more.

4 areas largely impacted or bolted onto the role now seem to be:

  • Strategic planning
  • Marketing
  • Public Relations
  • Entrepreneurial or Future facers

Strategic planning:

Formulating, internal and external succession plans.  Building and maintaining an engaged (had to say that word, sorry) talent pool, not just a mailing list.  I’ve seen Recruiters being involved in spotting companies for acquisition, I’ve seen Recruiters being the person “on Point” for the company when looking at moving into a new geographic region, exploring the market and the main players in it. (Not sure any of these things would have happened 10 years ago.

Marketing

This is the tough one.  There is now a blurred line between the two areas.  The term Employment Brand versus Corporate brand has really put this into focus for most Recruiting functions.  The realisation (in some companies) that any external marketing has an effect on Recruitment has changed the landscape.  10 years ago, who would have thought about having Recruitment have a say in the website development (apart from the tiny careers page) ? Who would have seen the Financial Controller/CFO have to include input from the Recruitment department in the making of the Annual Report?  But we do now! These are things that the discerning candidate will check.

Public Relations

Again, the rise and rise of social media has seen the need for Recruiters to start dabbling here.  Messages about your company, your brand can come from anywhere within or outside your company.  Who keeps tabs on this?  Away from products, most things mentioned on forums etc are employment based.  “This person is crap to work with” “Their Recruitment process sucks, they never got back to me” “stupid test” “they have no idea” “I heard they lost their Microsoft accreditation” As a Recruitment department you have to be across this.  The messaging going out impacts our lives as Recruiters, the messaging will change perceptions of what we are going to market with.  We need to be inserted into the planning.

Entrepreneurial or Future facers

With technology streaming ahead, there is an imperative to keep upto date with what is going on.  To evaluate what will and what won’t work for you.  Getting an edge, could help you out do your competitors, or vice versa.  You need to be trialling new things, have you trialled video interviewing? Sourcing from Facebook or YouTube? Is your ATS upto scratch?  Whilst I agree with the saying “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” I love a bit of tweaking.  You need to have some flair, take a risk, see if it works for you and your company.  Are you looking to the future and assessing what trends could mean for your company and your workforce? What does outsourcing or insourcing mean for your company? What does the increase in virtual teams or working from home mean for you? Is there an implication for your company with the well documented “ageing workforce” and the impending rise of Gen Y or millenials?  Does BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and Cloud technologies have an impact on your business and the way you work, and thus what you can offer a workforce?  These are all thoughts a Recruiting function should be considering.  10 years ago, I wasn’t aware of it happening, even in the agency field.  Do you as a Recruiting leader have the support within your business to be able to make mistakes?

I can see how in large companies this could be a political mine field, blurred lines of responsibility, lots of autographs to get to get something done.  But in smaller companies, without these restrictions these are growth areas for the “Recruiter”.  Do we have the skills to handle it? Can they be learned easily? Can we break out of our own moulds and embrace it? I’m excited! Are you?

#TruAus Words from Australia’s first Recruitment UnConference

Bill Boorman (@Billboorman) brings his #TRU movement to Australia.  Following an after party from Eminem Melbourne Show.  #TRUAus looks at the current, future and game changing technologies in the Recruitment space.  Futurist Kevin Wheeler (@KWheeler) was involved for great perspective.. Comments here from Ross Clennett (@rossclennett) David Als (@davidAls), Justin Hillier (@Justin_hillier) Martin Warren (@MartinWarren) Discussions included, “Future of work” “Facebook v LinkedIn v Google+) Video’s place in recruitment, Analytics and Referral programmes.

The way meetings should be!

This is just a fun post (well for me).

I was going to a meeting the other day and to keep the noise of the kids out of my head (who I was sharing a train carriage with) I had the headphones in just playing some “drown those kids out” type music.  I kept those headphones in all the way to my  meeting.  It gave me an idea….

How cool would it be to enter every meeting with your own entrance music?  (insert imagination dream style music here) “and here…… All the way from up the road….Weighing in at  …… An undisclosed number (lol)… It’s Peerlo’s own…… Daaaaaaaaannnnnn Nuuuurooooooooooo”  You could change it up depending on the tone of the meeting….

I saw a great example on Chuck recently:

(see Chuck.. http://youtu.be/xxBF8gId7Mo)

This is what I would use…..

What would you choose?

Calling all motivational Yoda’s

Wow, the things you find when cleaning out the Posts on one’s blog. This, I found in Drafts, I hadn’t it publish… oh well, I’ll fix that now. When reading think it was written in January.

So motivator you are? Let judge me you….

Thanks Yoda… I need your advice.. What’s your motivation? What gets you up in the morning? Why do you do what you do? Are you self motivated? And if you are how do you do that? Can you motivate others consistently?

This time of year is an interesting study into the psyche of the world as I know it. Things are supposed to slow down, it’s the way of the world. People are being merry, thankful and looking forward to a few days off in a row with family and friends.

“Nothing happens in December or January” Seriously, if I hear that excuse or poor synopsis of the market one more time I may need to poke myself in the eye with a fork. OK people are on leave, but business still happens everyday, whether we want to take part in it or not.

Honestly, I’ve had some of my biggest months in January.

So, how do we motivate ourselves, our teams, or even our clients to keep the world turning? How do you get up don the suit and get to the office, when all your friends are at the beach, or down the pub with each other?

I’ve seen the carrot and I’ve seen the stick style of motivators, and whilst both have been effective (when applied at the right time) it is hard to find one consistent method. I’m talking personally and for the teams around me.

Motivational skills are essential in our business, self motivation (be warned if you say this in an interview with me, I’ll ask you to prove it!) and the ability to motivate others. Included in this list of others are, clients, candidates, hiring managers, colleagues, partners, teams, bosses, etc. You need to find a way to get everyone going in the same direction. (OK cliche alert! but yes it’s true) As a mentor of mine once said – make your skills “situational”. Deal with each experience as it comes and rely on past experience (and your brain) to get you through.

I’d love to hear your thoughts Yoda, tips and tricks to inspire those around you to achieve great things……..

Recruiting Leadership in a challenging economy

There was a discussion I was involved in on Recruitingblogs.com the other day, which took many directions, from the effect the US economy has on the rest of the world, to Leadership situational leaders v top down leadership. I saw and was intrigued through the conversation and the different angles people were coming from.

It did get me thinking about about the Situational Leadership (Thanks Steve) and relating it to myself and my situation… yes I do tend to make things all about me. Why not.. I like me. But then I expanded it a little.

When you are a leader in an internal Recruitment function and there is a freeze on or a slow down, how does one keep a team motivated, busy, productive and adding value… after all we are a “cost center” in most companies 🙂

How can you lead when a clear concise message from the business is missing? Lots of companies are in survival mode at the moment, unfortunately Recruitment is not at the forefront of business leaders thinking. If you can’t relate Recruitment to the business goals how can you keep yourself relevant? Saying that is a cop out… as a leader, you should know the goals of the business, how can you sell it to candidates if you don’t know? You have to deal with what you know.. if it changes, goalposts moved or something, deal with that when you know it for sure.

I have a few ideas/suggestions.

1/ Impose yourself in discussions at the top level. Recruitment is a business function, you need to get yourself involved in discussions at the right level. Just like getting involved in online communities.. don’t be shy get in there, say something Dan (good name for a blog that 🙂 )

2/ Engage many areas of the business, CEO, CFO, IT, Sales, HR, interstate, they all need you when the pressure comes on. Build up these relationships now, or even better, get your team to build their relationships with business functions they haven’t been involved with previously.

3/ Keep the communication strong within the team. Keep your communication open, keep having team meetings, one on one’s etc to ensure consistency and that any fears, frustrations etc can be allayed.

4/ Celebrate wins. Make a noise, ensure the whole business knows how your team rocks

5/ Gimmicks
. Ok this is a weakness of mine… I love a good gimmick. We have a mascot in our team.. the envy of the business. Pete King, the Recruitment duck. Agencies ring bells (well they used too in my day), we quack the duck. Whoever makes the latest hire keeps the duck! This mascot has had his own column in our newsletter, presented at company meetings etc. Now the gimmicks don’t always work… I have had many a lead balloon moment… more of those another day. Be careful, they need to be relevant to your team, not just amusing to you. (lesson learned)

6/ Don’t let you frustrations show to the team. As a leader you are the barometer, if you are always moaning about everything, being slack as there is no urgent need to hire etc.. your team will reflect this too. You and your team cannot afford that.

7/ Brainstorm for the upturn coming (they do follow downturns.. trust me.. the dates are just not set yet. I love these discussions, the freedom to think.

8/ Educate the business about your market. Get your team involved in this. You are the front line. Management/Directors, will and do make assumptions based on something they’ve read or heard or plainly assumed… make a Mgt newsletter or equivalent to add your market intelligence to their thinking. Biggest misnomer at the moment I think is that it will be easier to hire good people at the moment and those great people will be cheap as they will be thankful to be in work. Don’t let your Executive sound mis-guided, help them understand our world. (or is it just mine?)

9/ Educate your team – Do team webinars (ERE.net is a great source for these, ensure that everyone is reading articles and getting involved in online communities, (Recruitingblogs.com is a great area for this) and get them to report back to the group as to what they have learned or discussed etc. Or of course run some training yourself.

10/ Don’t stop Recruiting – But don’t lie to the talent pool you are building, ensure that your candidates understand where you are coming from. However, you need to keep building. The market moves quickly, people leave etc, you may be required to adjust and react quickly. If you are prepared with a real, well managed Talent Pool, which delivers, you and your team will really stand out.

It is a challenging role at the moment, hard to build momentum, to allow your team to feed (as I like to call it). I would like to hear other tactics people are using Internally to ensure that their area is still rocking even in this market. Don’t be down hearted, we aren’t in this alone. Have fun, enjoy yourself and bring your team on the journey, when the world turns once more and you are overloaded with requirements everyone will look back on these times with rose coloured glasses… “ahhhh remember when we had time to read and think?”