Category Archives: redundancy

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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Sucking Eggs, correctly

“Yeah I’ve Recruited before. I had to hire people for my team. I know what you do, its your core job, what do you mean you cannot hire everyone we think we need? I mean I know how difficult it can be at times. But I read the news, I know what is going on in the world, this isn’t one of those times. You’re job must be easy now. There must be candidates everywhere, I mean how hard can it be to hire in a recession”

Ahhhh I love being in the Recruitment world. Especially in a Corporate environment, we’re lucky really. We have so many people who can and will offer you advice. In fact nearly every single person in the organisation will have an opinion as to how and where and how quickly you should be hiring. There seems to be an omnipotence as far as a knowledge of this mythical thing called “the market”.

One of the most challenging parts of any Recruitment role I believe is client education. Getting them to listen to the real version of the market (well according to me anyways) as opposed to the media beat up, hyperbole and assumptions that people are prone to. Don’t make excuses, just tell it how it is. Do you know it is not “just you” who can’t find the people they want? Try to back it up with more than just anecdotes. They’ll think you are just making excuses.

This has been one of my bug bears for a number of years, here are a few points I’ve used to try to combat my lemon sucking lessons. (My other Bugbear, joke! I’ve always wondered what a bugbear was.. thanks Google)

1/ Listen
2/ Be open and transparent
3/ Be honest
4/ Be factual and clear, most C level people have a decent BS monitor.
5/ Get some facts and stats to back up your argument
6/ Forward articles agreeing with your point of view.
7/ Remind people that being made redundant is not a blot on your career. It’s like blogging. It just happens.
8/ Advise to not opportunistically hire people at a lower rate than you should do, just because you can, keep your employer brand intact. (Bad business karma I think)
9/ Find different ways, mediums to get your message across
10/ Be consistent and strong, don’t be bullied into agreeing into something you don’t agree with.
11/ Actively look for effective cost savings
12/ Get C levels involved in using technology to help (ie show possibilities of Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin etc)
13/ Know (and be active in) your “market”, your demographic, your region
14/ Prove you know it. Be involved with all areas of the business, add value to discussions which will show you understand the market, the movements and the players in it. (ie know client or competitor is laying people off in a certain area or hiring even)
15/ Don’t be afraid to annoy and challenge some people
16/ Be Patient and calm
17/ Find a sponsor in the business
18/ Don’t be arrogant, defensive or too aggressive
19/ BE RIGHT!
20/ FIND A WAY TO FIND AND HIRE THOSE IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND PEOPLE ANYWAY

I’m sure there would be more, but these are the ones off the top of my head. Please let me know ideas

There is also the final little known clause… avoid the “I told you so dance” when you are proven correct.

Two things to live by… Add VALUE, let your bosses look good by giving them all the information they could require if pushed by Boards or other C level executives.

DELIVER, find a way. Continuously being able to solve business problems with your skill in finding the right people at the right time, will give you and your theories (or excuses if you want) that much more credibility.

………and finally, remember, you all want the same thing, to hire quality people, at the right quantity at the right time for the future success of a project, a team, a department, a business. Find a way to start acting like it.

Learnings from an evil boss

Working in the HR arena is tough! Especially in bad times. Who likes sitting across the desk from someone explaining to them that as of now your livelihood has been taken away. (I have only met person ((and catbert)) in my career who actually enjoyed it)

We are hearing lots of stories about redundancies at the moment, I was talking with one of my colleagues today about this and how we (the collective “we”) handle it. We must remember there is almost a whole generation in the workforce who have never seen a downturn. Sales people who have never seen an environment where budgets just weren’t to be found, HR people who have never had the “I’m sorry, there is just no job for you here anymore… through no fault of yours”, or candidates who have never had to find a job in a candidate rich market.. phew.

Thus the people delivering the bad news, may have never experienced the bad news before (or had to deliver it before) and may find it difficult to engender sufficient empathy to perform such a task adequately.

Poor handling of such events actually pushed me into this industry! Originally I wanted to be an HR professional. Why? because of the way a company handled my father and his redundancy. My father had worked for a company for 34 years (give or take), until in the early 90’s it was time to rationalise etc (during what one prime minister of Australia called the “Recession we had to have”) and his job was deemed redundant. How was it handled? Poorly from what I remember. Now what I remember may be a little inaccurate as it is seen through an emotional teenagers eyes. However, there was little council, little warning, little payout, little explanation, and less support. It was one of the rare times I saw my father in a very emotional state. The sole bread winner, having spent his entire working life at this establishment, only to get discarded like yesterday’s newspaper. His identity had been taken from him in my view.

My fear is that the marriage of these two points, could mean that, in these most difficult times, the handling of redundancies may not have improved.

In one of my first jobs, as a console operator at a petrol station, my boss decided to teach me a lesson. Why? I still don’t know, but the lesson was learned.

My boss at this time treated me like he was going to fire me. ALL day.. the entire 6 hour shift I had anyway. At the end of the day, he started the you’re fired conversation… I was really scared, stammering and stumbling over my words, really struggling through the conversation.

He then stopped, and grinned. “Have you ever been fired before?” he asked
“Nope” I responded nervously. “Well now you know what it feels like!” “so now before you decide to take this option with someone you know how it feels and how to respect the people you will be doing it too.” Powerful huh! This was almost 20 years ago. You know what, although harsh, and bordering on harassment, I’ve never forgotten it or the feeling.

For those of us who may have to sit in on discussions around redundancies, have the actual conversations, as well as those of us who now are charged with finding them new work, please keep a few things in mind.

Ensure you have thought of everything to prevent having to do this. Just because everyone else is, is not a good enough excuse.

Bring your empathy
. Be human, and be aware that these business decisions will have real personal effects on the people hearing the news. It may not be personal to you, it will be for them… guaranteed!

Bring your respect, and give them dignity.
Take your time in telling them, spell it out clearly and concisely (Don’t get in an argument though).

Expect to feel bad.
That’s OK. The conversations are about them, not you. If people cry, allow them to. Give them space and time, silence is OK. Do not feel the need to fill a silent void with words.

Bring some options for them.
Outplacement, agency names, something. Think about the people and what they may need before the discussion.

Be prepared for criticism and finger pointing, but again, there is no need to buy into arguments, the decision has been made.

And of course have everything organised, current and covered off BEFORE the meeting.. triple check it.

Bottom line… REMEMBER you are dealing with people (with lives, responsibilities, and dreams), not employees, not numbers, not inventory.

I read an article a little while ago which stated that

“More than 40 per cent of the Australian workforce has been made redundant at least once in their careers and for most (70 per cent) it was extremely stressful….”

The stress mentioned will be for a number of reasons, the loss of income, the loss of identity, the loss of self confidence due to the stigma attached to a redundancy.

Redundancies are not just a clear out of dead wood anymore. Good/Great people are being laid off too. IT IS A REALITY. We have a responsibility to ensure that people being made redundant know this, and as Employers, we need not to look at people who have been made redundant, actively challenge the idea that only the “Dead wood”, would be culled first. Hard business decisions are needing to be made everywhere.

OK, these are tough conversations to have, you have every right to feel uncomfortable and nervous about having them. If you are the person delivering the message…. Please remember these discussions aren’t about you, they are about the person you are talking to. Give them the respect and dignity they deserve by present for them and not just a messenger.

I am not a religious person, however the term “Do unto others…” rings true to me.