Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Recruiters - the new Mad Men

To work in recruitment you must be a Mad Man

Most CEOs realise the importance of securing the best people in their industry. Having the top talent working for you gives you a huge advantage over your competition. Whilst most companies will  have developed a compelling message that they are ‘the’ place to work,  the reality is that majority don’t do much with it. It is often left sitting in the “Why work for us’ section of their website hoping that someone will stumble across it and contact them. Some are a bit more pro-active and will use things like social media to spread the word. Whilst some efforts can be effective, for most it is more of a hit and hope approach and this is typically true of smaller companies. Whether it is due to budgetary constrains, a lack of in house expertise or just a flippant approach, few effectively  get their message out to their target audience.

What they really need is  an on going campaign that  constantly engages with their target audience and builds a strong brand presence. It might sound like a job for someone in marketing. The reality is that this is where the future of recruitment sits. After all,  there is no one better positioned than a recruiter to do this job. They will know who the top talent is and more importantly have easy access to them. They will be speaking to the target audience all day, every day. They will also be actively engaging with the  competition so can provide valuable and up to date market information. They will know how the brand is really perceived in the market place and be able to advise if changes need to be made.

As the competition for top talent increases, those companies that actively and consistently promote their employee brand will have the advantage. Similarly, recruiters who can provide this service become far more important to a client, and vital in a market that is increasingly sceptical of the value that agency recruiters provide. To achieve this recruiters and clients need to adapt the relationship they have with each other. Recruiters need to position themselves not just as an extension of HR, but also be a part of the  marketing function, experts in engagement, brand development, communication and market analysis. Equally, companies who continue to use a recruiter to just fill vacancies will be missing out to their competitors that are actively engaging with the same talent pool.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Recruiters - can you answer these 3 questions?

When I first talk to a recruiter who is looking for a new job, I will always ask them 3 questions.

The answers separate the good recruiters from the average. They tell me whether a person takes their recruitment career seriously or are just hopping from one job to the next .They indicate whether a person is really committed to securing a new role or just dipping their toe in the water. They also highlight if someone is not telling the whole truth and has maybe something to hide. Not surprisingly, they  are the same 3 questions that a client will always first ask me about a candidate before committing to interviewing them.

If you are serious about securing a new recruitment role you absolutely need to be able to answer these 3 questions:

What did you bill last month, quarter, year ?
An exact figure to the dollar please. About……roughly….in the region of…..not sure….I’ll get back to you…..won’t do. Any recruiter worth their salt will know exactly what they have billed and be able to give a detailed breakdown. If you can’t tell me, then either you don’t take your job seriously enough, or your billings are not that impressive (in which case it is better to be upfront and explain why).  

Why are you looking for a new job?
Answers like “I need a new challenge” or “I have outgrown my role” are too safe, wishy washy and  are almost definitely not the real reason you have decided to look for a new job. There is no correct answer, but if you cannot be specific, I will question whether you really are serious about moving jobs, or worse, hiding the real reason.

What are you looking for?
If you are serious about your career then you will have thought about what you need  from your next role. So answers like  “Just the right role” or something equally vague makes you sound at best like you don’t take your career seriously, and at worst a bit desperate.

So, before you put your CV together, or think of all the great things you can tell a future employer about yourself, make sure you can first nail down these 3 questions. Otherwise you may struggle to get past first base.

Friday, 4 November 2011

The blame game.

Dear Hiring Manager

I was sorry to hear that John has left your business after only 2 months. However I am confused as to why you think this was my fault.

My role was to provide you with a qualified shortlist of candidates based on the criteria you gave me. The thorough recruitment process I undertook meant that my shortlist was accurate and I was able to provide you with detailed feedback on each candidate.  As well as the positives, I also advised you of any areas of concerns that I felt you should explore further during your own interviews.  After each interview, I spoke with the candidates and gave you their honest feedback, good and bad, and continued to update you with any relevant information during the process. After taking references, which again I did thoroughly and fed back to you honestly, you asked me to make John an offer.  At no stage did you express any concerns about the quality of the shortlist or John’s suitability for the role. In fact, I remember you being delighted to have found him.

Here's the thing:

I did not tell you to make an offer to John, nor did I put you under any pressure to make an offer at all. I am sure that if you thought none of the candidates were suitable then you would have told me to start again. The fact is that you decided to make an offer and you decided to make that offer to John.  This was after you interviewed him twice, your boss met him as did your HR.

So why are you blaming me? Your are the Hiring Manager; not me. You make the final decision; not me.

I appreciate that you are not happy with the outcome - trust me neither am I. But recruitment is not an exact science and any hiring decision has risk. My role was partly to do everything possible to mitigate that risk for you, which I did. If you have to blame anyone, blame John for not performing in the role. Blame your boss or HR for not spotting something. Blame yourself for making the wrong decision. Better still, don’t blame anyone. Accept that sometimes it just doesn’t turn out as expected, learn what you can from it and try and get a better result next time.

Yours Sincerely


PS – Feel free to not use my services again. However, you may find that the next recruiter you use is not as thorough or honest as I was – but at least you can then blame them a little bit more justifiably.