Talent Alienation or Talent Attraction Conundrum?

What most automated recruitment systems and applicant tracking systems really should have as an automatic email response.

What most automated recruitment systems and applicant tracking systems really should have as an automatic email response.

As the UK economy begins to stutter back into the black and organisations tentatively raise their heads above the trenches they have been dug into like infantry battalions in Flanders Field during World War 1, the early indications of a fresh war are clearly becoming visible. That is the war for talent. After such tough economic challenges this war could very well be as challenging if not more than ever before. Now is the time to review and seriously consider how to stay ahead of the game and ensure that you are leading from the front. Change your organisations mind-set and begin to switch to Talent Attraction as opposed to Talent Alienation.

Let me suggest a little role play exercise. Imagine for a moment that you are an applicant who has a life-long dream to work for your organisation. After sitting tight for the last 5-6 years in your current role, acquiring the skills and expertise needed to move upwards and onwards now is the perfect time to see what is available. Now test how easy it is to actually identify where and what the potential vacancies are and then to apply? See what the response time is if any, and what the quality of that response is?

Recently I conducted a very straight forward review of a medium sized but very attractive company on their recruitment strategy including how they sourced and the actual application process. It was startling. Very quickly it became apparent that this company had actually gone out its way to ensure that the whole process was difficult, frustrating and almost inexplicably distanced from any kind of human identity. It was almost as though in a bid to minimise the white noise of incorrect or inappropriate applications they had given no thought whatsoever to all the really good ones. This makes absolutely no sense to me, it is like using an industrial rock crusher to find a diamond.

I actually spoke to some of this company’s most recent hires to ascertain what their individual experience had been like. Vinesh had applied directly to the organisation for the same job through 8 different job boards over a period of 3 weeks and had never once received a response. None of the application options provided him any specific name or direct contact option. He was basically applying in the dark. He may as well have thrown a paper dart into Outer Space for all the good it did.

He finally got an interview through a recruiter.

Another far more senior qualified accountant called Jackie had applied for the same job 3 times via 3 different recruitment companies without realising it was actually the same job. Only one of which explained to her who the organisation was, what the culture was like, the strategic vision (including a clear IPO strategy for 2015) and provided her with an insight on the key relationships aligned to this role. Jackie was actually delighted and impressed to spend over an hour with this recruiter in person over coffee. Jackie got the job but not through her preferred choice of recruiter who unfortunately was too slow to send her CV forward because he wanted to meet her first. Imagine that? A recruiter was sloppy enough to actually want to meet, interview and prepare his candidate before he submitted them for consideration? Seriously just pause for a second and imagine being that recruitment consultant?

Shouldn’t the actions of that recruiter be standard wherever possible? How can the alternative process, no interview and no preparation or selection process be preferable to a hiring organisation? More importantly Jackie went on to explain that the recruiter who interviewed her was so animated and enthused about the organisation that you could almost believe that they worked directly for them as an employee. Scant reward that recruiter got for his enthusiasm, although Jackie and the business intend to address this scenario positively in the coming months.

I’m not bashing anyone here. All I am saying is that whether you are a hiring manager, work within HR or an In-house Recruiter just take 30 minutes once a month. Pretend to be a candidate who wants to work for your company and from scratch knowing nothing see how easy, how gratifying and rewarding it is to try and identify and apply for a job with your organisation.

You could be even more diligent and pretend to be a mystery candidate and apply for one of your vacancies through one of your PSL recruiters? But that may just be a little too scary for most of you. I suspect many of you would be absolutely appalled at the lack of actual professionalism you met. I think many of you would actually physically gasp at the lack of real screening, interviewing and preparation you received. But then you need to balance any findings with a comparison of how you as a business have set up your recruiters to work for you?

The best of luck if you are one of those companies who really offer prospective job seekers an engaging and rewarding experience, there are many of you. But for the rest of you as the War on Talent picks up momentum you may find that Talent Alienation creates a Talent Attraction Conundrum which can have far reaching consequences.

Please feel free to contact me directly for straight forward and honest advice on any of the points raised above by either connecting with me on LinkedIn -http://uk.linkedin.com/in/emeaexecutivesearch/ or calling me on +44 (0) 113 230 5555

LinkedIn adopt a Facebook tool that is long overdue and an abundance of LIONS!

Maybe I am behind the curve here and this facility or option has been available for a long time. But until today I didn’t realise that LinkedIn now had an option to block people from viewing or interacting with your profile.

Now maybe it is just me that has the occasional stalker on LinkedIn, but regardless the ability to block them from ever being able to see my profile or my activity ever again is actually rather satisfying.

Let’s be honest about this there are a whole multitude of people who have intentions which are far removed from doing honest business, from enhancing their sector or professional knowledge and essentially contributing to what is undoubtedly the worlds premier professional social network. I know that the many of the spam and phishing emails I receive come as a result of the openness of my contact information on LinkedIn. On average I receive about 25 invitations to connect from fake profiles. I know this because I use an online image checker to verify the authenticity of their profile image.

Those LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) Groups are partially responsible I am sure, anyone can join and anyone can message the group. I realised a long time ago that LION generally means multilevel marketing, work from home scams and all the other detritus of the world wide web.

On a more serious note almost all of my female colleagues and associates tell me they get marriage propositions and similar from suspicious characters all over the world. So I am sure they will be relieved by this option greatly.

Now I’m just waiting for them to introduce an option whereby I can restrict pictures of Lions, Word Puzzles, Maths Conundrums and other general pollution from my timeline.

I am a huge fan of the natural world and having seen Lions in the flesh sleeping in trees and prowling the bush in places such as Uganda and Rwanda I think that is where they belong. Either that or with some soothing and intelligent voice over courtesy of Sir David Attenborough. Not all over my LinkedIn profile.

So I toast LinkedIn on the introduction of this facility and look forward to even greater safety features in future. Deleting all the fake and duplicated profiles would be great. But considering that the families of the bereaved find it almost impossible to get their relatives profiles removed I won’t hold my breath for too long.

What is wrong with recruiters?

This is a live example of a job post advertised on LinkedIn:-

“Sore Managers for Luxury Retail Brands

XXXX XXXX - Senior Recruitment Consultant at XXXX  International Consulting Pvt. LtdTop Contributor

Looking for people with excellent communications skills and very good understanding of sore operations..”

Now maybe I am being pedantic here, but is this really acceptable? Several questions present themselves with this example:

  1. If you were a client would you really want this recruitment consultant representing your business, at any price?
  2. If you were a candidate would you actually respond to someone who advertised for candidates with ‘excellent communication skills’ who themselves couldn’t be bothered to actually proof read and spell check their own advertisement before posting it globally for the world to see? How can this recruiter actually quantify or test communication skills?
  3. If you managed this recruiter would you question the integrity of your business and the validity of your training and development?
  4. If you were the recruiter who actually posted this vacancy and someone professionally commented on this grossly sub-standard work would you consider editing the actual advertisement and then re-posting or would you just ignore the advice?

I see this kind of work everywhere. Any random search of any job board brings up endless examples of appalling attention to detail, an absolute lack of personal or professional integrity and generally what can only be described as shoddy work.

Consider this for a moment. The actual job advert is in the public domain and is essentially the branding and PR of a recruitment business. Advertising of any nature speaks volumes about your business, how it functions and how it behaves. If a recruiter and a recruitment business can’t get this very public basic process right, what else in their business don’t they get right? What processes behind the scenes are subject to shoddy work, a poor attention to detail and a general apathy about quality?

Is it any wonder clients expectations of many recruiters are so low, that they insist on huge PSL’s and low fees with very little in the way of actual quality process, service or delivery?

Who is to blame for this? Is it the recruitment industry itself? Or is it the fact that many of our customers consider this to be acceptable?

Will organisations such as The Institute of Recruiters and their drive for professionalism and qualification gradually eradicate poor quality of work of this nature?

 

Dear Dave – Please find my CV attached

Ah don’t you just love these people? Where would my business be without their unrelenting and endearing overtures. Everything from ‘Dear Esteemed Recruiter’ to ‘My Most Respectful Sir’ is used as an introduction. My particular favourites are ‘Dear Mrs Darren’ and ‘Dear Dave’ which always makes me smile and of course reminds me of the late Roger Lloyd-Pack and his infamous character Trigger in Only Fools and Horses.Dave and Trigger

But seriously, its bloody annoying. I can’t think of any other scenario whereby someone would just assume that they can access and utilise your expertise and business services for free and expect some form of service when I have no idea who you are and have not invited the introduction. It is nothing less than spamming.

I will use a live example. This morning some candidate who I only know as Chronos1@gmail.com sent me an email with the subject title ‘cv’. Now at first I thought this may be a phishing scam but took the decision to open the email on my phone. This enlightened individual had sent his ‘cv’ randomly to over 1,000 recruiters across the world and lucky for me he had openly Cc’d all our addresses so we could all see each other. I love the sensitivity of this approach. Not only does Chronos1 want me to waste my time reviewing and unsolicited ‘cv’ but he also wants to compromise my email address by creating and distributing an open mailing list. Or maybe he just thought we may all like to get in touch and discuss the merits of such a wonderful candidate. Maybe he thought that advertising the fact he had mailed it to over 1,000 recruiters would provide some kind of race to secure his candidature?

I doubt it because the idiot forgot to attach his ‘cv’ to the email. I use the term idiot loosely here of course.

This is spamming and if job seekers think this is how to get themselves noticed they are as delusional and misguided as those idiots who automatically apply to every single job advertised on every single job board in the hope that the Exec Search consultant recruiting a Group Finance Director might sit up and take notice when they see Bob Smiths comprehensive work experience as a fork-lift truck driver and banana harvester.

As for Chronos1, if I had the capability I would send you back a virus to ensure that any access you had to the world wide web was disabled for the sake of everyone.

Right I must leave this blog post here. I have to dash and send off all my tax paperwork to a couple of hundred accountants I have never met but have recently connected to on LinkedIn in the hope that despite being very busy one of them might just sort out my company tax return for the year for free…..

The Recruitment sector needs a rottweiler not another toothless industry body.

Charming, lovable, full or personality and loyal. A perfect mascot for a fantastic industry.

Charming, lovable, full or personality and loyal. A perfect mascot for a fantastic industry.

Mitch Sullivan prompted me to write this in response to a discussion post he made in the IoR LinkedIn Group which you can find here - Mitch’s IoR Discussion . It was rather novel to find a real discussion point in the group for a change. For months it has just been a constant barrage of people trying to sell their services via thinly veiled blogs like training, SEO, Social Media Solutions, Applicant tracking systems, umbrella company services….. blah blah blores… So it was quite refreshing to see some people getting involved again. Anyway, I digress. Mitch asked the following question:

“What does being a member of the IoR say about you and / or your business? For me what it says the most loudly is that you find the changing recruitment landscape too bewildering and what you really want is someone/something else to solve your problems for you.

What do you think? Am I being a little harsh here? If so, why?”

As someone who was an open critic of the IoR when it was first mooted and someone who openly challenged it as an organisation I stated my reservations from the beginning. I don’t care about badges or status or being part of a club. To be honest the IoR offers nothing in this context, there is no camaraderie that I can discern other than a few cliques, the few events they do hold in the North of England are usually more about selling me services or enabling some other service provider to sell me services. There is no active promotion of ethical recruitment, solution or quality focused services. Even if you are actually at the cutting edge of radical recruitment innovation the only support or promotion you receive is offered on a pay for basis. You could for example develop the most profound, game changing exceptional recruitment innovation to date and would have to drain your bank account to get the IoR to support it. In fact it is circa 4 months since I swallowed my pride and joined and I can’t think of one singular benefit thus far of the membership from a business or personal development perspective, although many have been offered with a ££££ attached.

Saviour of the industry, or just another looking to generate revenue?

Saviour of the industry, or just another looking to generate revenue?

I’m yet to understand how funding the IoR to develop a whole raft of revenue generating training courses, vocational qualifications and apprenticeship schemes benefits me or the industry. The IoR is yet to fully advise me of the outcome of the multitude of meetings they have attended at 10 Downing Street. In fact I suspect that there should probably be a public enquiry into exactly why 10 Downing has nothing better to do with their time than keep meeting with the IoR. As yet I’m at a loss as to how some of the most significant innovators, the absolute creme de la creme of entrepreneurs and successful brands such as Micheal Page and Robert Half and many other managed to create such great businesses without any vocational training in recruitment. How these and many other companies such as Adecco, Kelly Services and all the fabulous boutiques actually trained some immensely talented recruiters without some form of recognised apprenticeship program? Yet they did. But I digress. This post isn’t about training and courses and qualifications. It is about the impotence of yet another recruitment industry body.

There needs to be some form of regulation or at the very least there needs to be a loud voice that can influence and lobby government and other associations on behalf of the recruitment industry both external and internal. There needs to be an organisation that can create a partnership and a collaborative dialogue with the CIPD for example. But ultimately there needs to be some form of professional complaints body, somebody with bite who can investigate, mediate and who can punish the guilty or resolve disputes forcefully. Personally I am an advocate of their being an Industry Ombudsman who can mediate disputes and complaints and where necessary have the power to discipline or even exclude. This body would have to be impartial and have jurisdiction to some extent over both parties, in the same way as the FSA or the Banking Ombudsman would. Is the IoR the organisation to do that? I very much doubt it.

What we really need is an RIR, a Recruitment Industry Rottweiler. We need some kind of organisation that is independent. Someone who companies faced with questionable invoices, bad practice and legal disputes can refer to for not just advice, but action. We need a body that will arbitrate between recruitment firms to settle disagreements, act as a protective representative for candidates with genuine concerns such as breaches of confidentiality, duplicity and so forth.

The IoR isn’t a rottweiler by any stretch of the imagination. My disappointment thus far with the IoR is not just it’s lack of bite it is the people behind the it. Many of them are not actually recruiters and even the ones who claim to be often haven’t recruited for over a decade. Harsh as it may sound but the organisation and many connected with it, the so called Genius Team for example are wholly engaged in their own little personal status and promotional crusade. Many of the Genius Team (not all I hasten to add) are precisely the people who have worked diligently over the last decade to dumb down the recruitment industry, to simplify it, dilute it and to focus it on volume, process and KPI’s not quality. We have people that apparently we should aspire to on that team who have created recruitment businesses built around offering bargain basement multiple job board advertising, a kind of Poundland of recruitment where they provide a service which simply auto posts job vacancies for £499 + Vat across 3000 job boards. This has undermined the whole concept of great, even exquisite recruitment. We have representatives in the IoR who were personally responsible for driving the concept of Preferred Supplier Lists, who developed and drove the idea of automated recruitment processes and as a result are directly responsible for all those poor recruiters whose only contact with their clients is an automated email with a vacancy description and a demand to be the first to provide a handful of anonymous CV’s pulled off the same jobs boards with no due diligence or care at 12% margins.

So no, the IoR isn’t the answer. It is in many ways littered with dinosaurs. It is influenced by people protecting their assets, looking for ways to milk other recruitment businesses assets and generally keep things the way they want them. One thing the IoR can do is provide you with a plethora of ‘big billers’ or ‘industry leaders’ to come and train your organisation and consultants to keep doing things the same way, poorly. They talk about conversion rates, call rates and worse of all they encourage quantity above quality.  They don’t train you how to really blow your clients away, they don’t educate clients that there is no short-cut to exceptional recruitment. You don’t see the IoR in The Times extolling the virtues of service excellence, of recruitment processes that focus on accuracy and understanding and consider cultural fit and attitude as well as experience and skills. Similarly what is the IoR’s view and advice on those recruiters who send unsolicited CV’s with terms attached and then send a company an invoice when they recruit the very same candidate through alternative, direct or more structured channels. What is their stance when a retained recruiter successfully finds the right candidate and 1 month later their client receives an invoice from BOBaJob Recruitment Ltd on the basis that they sent that candidates CV to one of their hiring managers 5 months ago? What is the IoR’s stance when a client refuses to pay a placement invoice with 30 days payment terms for 120 days and threatens that businesses very existence because of cash flow issues?

Can anyone tell me of any actual action, mediation or resolution that the IoR has been explicitly responsible for? Have they investigated or punished anyone? Have they actually established any strict guidelines which automatically resolve issues around candidate ownership, mass mailing of CV’s, exploitative terms in PSL’s. Is there a HR Director somewhere who breathed a sigh of relief and now has a whole new perspective of the industry because the IoR has protected them or resolved a major issue for them? Is there a recruitment business member of the IoR who have had a disputed client invoice paid without the need for legal action and expenses because the IoR mediated and delivered a solution or compromise?

My guess to all the questions above is probably not.

Don’t fear the doubters and those who won’t conform.

Every brave initiative meets resistance and have no fear, there will be an abundance of recruiters and recruitment business owners who will aggressively argue against any kind of housekeeping, who will rally against any such Recruitment Industry Rottweiler. But the question should be why they feel this way. It isn’t wrong for the valiant, for the virtuous and the sincere to crave equality and quality in equal measure. There is no shame in wanting your industry to operate and deliver the very best in world class solutions. The only people who would fear that are those who thrive and are nourished by the lack of controls and restraints.

Which corner do you stand in? Given the choice if there was an alternative do you think your client organisations would rather work with a recruiter who complies and signs up to the Recruitment Industry Rottweiler or one that doesn’t?

Personally all you need to do is show me where to sign…

Britain’s Got Talent – But many companies don’t have a Simon Cowell

Britain‘s Got Talent?

Apparently Britain has literally wagon loads of talent. Although I suspect that most of it rather fancied their chances on BBC’s The Voice and ITV’s and Simon Cowell’s Britain’s Got Talent than Lord Sugar’s The Apprentice judging by the rather motley crew who have graced this seasons attempts to find a new business partner.

One thing that really stands out for me about the genuine (I use the word genuine very loosely in this context) talent  shows is that the general format hasn’t changed since Joan of Arc auditioned for the part of Mary in the Domremy Junior School Nativity Play. Basically we have a stage with a performer and a couple or more judges who then decide often with the help of a panel or group presentation interview (public vote) which particular person will get the job, or a recording contract or something.

Just like recruitment really!

Despite a plethora of almost immeasurable changes and developments in the recruitment process and industry throughout the last 10yrs or more, the vast majority of companies still do it precisely the same way. Okay, admittedly technology has become fundamentally important to the process in the shape of job boards, applicant tracking and candidate management systems and so forth. But has it really changed in anyway?

The only thing that appears to have changed is the expectation of being able to find better people, with more desirable skills and an overall better cultural and organizational fit with less effort, less risk, less time and for less cost.

Odd isn’t it? We all know that ‘Our people are our most important asset’ yet seem determined to ensure that the process of identifying, engaging with, screening and recruiting this rare gem, this valuable commodity and the lifeblood of our businesses success is undertaken with the least consideration possible. Companies take months to review and consider their options when they are considering buying a new fax machine or coffee machine for the canteen. Yet some of them appoint their Head of International Multicultural Diversity and Integration having screened a CV, done a couple of interviews and asked for a 20 minute power-point presentation. I still know companies who hire on skills and experience and fire on attitude and aptitude.

The bizarre thing is that it doesn’t matter how much you demonstrate that a better recruitment process, focused on accuracy and a combination of testing and measurement can significantly enhance and change this outcome positively. People still do it the same way. If a company includes a process to measure and to test attitude and aptitude in the initial recruitment process and test this against some peer references, imagine how many mistakes they could avoid.

Imagine the George Michael of Sales Management coming into your office? He can sell as good as if not better than George can sing, he certainly looks the part and acts the part and has a whole back catalogue of success in his brag file. You would probably hire him, you may indeed want to marry him as well.

But seriously if you hired him and only then found out that he had a tendency to crash cars, party all night, be anti-authoritarian, anti-establishment and a repeat drug offender and no doubt had poor punctuality and attention to detail and turned up for work on Mondays looking as though he had just spent the entire summer in Ibiza, how would you feel? So why do this in a professional situation?

Just like talent shows really!

Personally I do believe that people who take part in TV talent shows which offer life changing or emotionally shattering and psychologically scarring outcomes should also have to undertake a series of real interviews. If I was about to invest literally 10’s of thousands of pounds into a potential ‘Star in the making’ I would want to know that a level head accompanied their ability to create models of the solar system from a few coloured balloons. I would want to understand what motivates them, how they respond to pressure and communicate with people.

You never know, it may just be the case that Little Johnny the Dog Impersonator and his well balanced personality and genuinely accepting and tolerant psyche may be more suited and longer term a safer bet than Billy the Balloonist and His Multi-Coloured Latex Extravaganza.

Recruiters internally and externally and stakeholders in the recruitment process really need to add some definition to their recruitment process. There is a school of thought which claims that if you make prospective employees jump through a number of hoops on route to the final interview that you could or would cut out those who are not committed to the process. I agree entirely.

But I also think you need to undertake a set of serious competency based interviews, a solid behavioural profiling and analysis and a series of escalating interviews that become more and more acute to the actual key parameters of the role, including behavioural tendencies and similar.

Often recruitment is a hurried project, the need to take short-cuts can be appealing especially when time is of the essence. We have all been in that position where someone who should be involved in the recruitment process is actually on vacation and the recruitment agent is putting pressure on you to make an offer. Resist it; in fact avoid it at all costs. It will cost more time and more money in the long run if you get it wrong.

There are no short-cuts to great recruitment. You are sourcing one of the most valuable assets for your organisation imaginable and the options are unique complex organisms and your company and the organism deserve some in depth consideration.

If you want to experience a recruitment process that really engages, truly studies and assesses every aspect of every candidate before short-listing then check out what GrassGreener Group are doing and our unique candidate assessment and delivery platform i-Intro® by visiting our website – http://www.grassgreener.co.uk