Category Archives: Recruitment Industry

Motivational Self Belief Speakers or Snake Oil Salesmen

images (1)Yesterday I was offered a complimentary ticket to attend a show by a world renowned Motivational Speaker and Author. I use the term show to describe the event because I simply don’t know what else to call it. If it’s anything like the Tony Robbins gig I attended about 20 years ago, show is the appropriate word. The only things missing on that occasion were Elvis Presley costumes and knickers been thrown at the stage, although I do recall we got to see some Kung Fu and Karate moves.

I’m curious though. This is BIG MONEY. There are summits, shows, seminars in the recruitment industry that charge upwards of £1,000 per day per delegate to attend. There is no Gala Dinner or Hotel in that fee either. But for throwing a huge chunk of money at some guy who recruited back in the day when we were all carrying Rolodex and your clients had the number for your local pub, they’ll tell you how to explode your potential. I’m not sure Michael Page or any of the founders of the UK’s leading listed recruitment organisations or their current CEO’s ever attended this kind of event, in fact I’m pretty certain that they didn’t. But they still sell these gigs out, a bit like the Rolling Stones I suppose, you know that what you are going to get is a dusty book jacket, but just maybe there will be that one amazing rendition of a wonderful song that will become legendary like Coldplay performing Fix You at Glastonbury. As a recruiter you just want that one snippet of information, that nugget of gold that will elevate you to the summit of recruitment excellence.

The truth is, if you ain’t got it, you simply ain’t got it. Harsh but true. We are not all destined to be multi-millionaires from this industry and we shouldn’t all want to be. Of course monetary reward plays an important part in what we do, that is fundamentally why most of us go to work. But for me passion for the industry, a love of your job and what it offers you in terms of emotional and psychological reward are just as important. Are you proud of what you do and how you do it? If the answer is a resounding Yes, then just keep doing it until it becomes a No.

In the meantime if you really want to see a Motivational Speaker – there are loads on Youtube for free. Gather the office around and check out my absolute favourite: Kevin Nalts –

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Pigeon Recruiters and the race to Game of Thrones, Flea Bottom

PigeonsFor many recruiters it’s tough out there despite the changing tides of the economy apparently. The pace of adaptation is rampant across the commercial sectors and there is undoubtedly a disconnect somewhere between the companies who use recruiters and recruiters themselves. In essence pro-active collaboration where a customer and a service provider work together to truly understand a need and then to establish a solution has fallen by the way side. In many areas chaos has ensued and the end result is almost a race to the bottom to see who can do the least for the least. Before long much of the recruitment industry will reside in Flea Bottom.

But this isn’t a new and shocking revelation. This has been blatantly obvious for over a decade. So what has been the recruitment sector’s answer to this decreasing lack of faith in its ability to provide value and to resolve the pain many companies feel in probably the most time consuming and costly activity many of them engage in, recruitment? A quick look around and the answer is clear. The vast majority of the industry decided to dumb down. No industry cohesion to improve quality, drive up service levels and to increase the capability and therefore the expectations. No, almost as one across the board the vast majority of the recruitment industry adopted the stance of those cute cuddly but often baffled lemmings and all held hands and walked off the cliff together.

As corporate buyers embraced lower levels of service with lower expectations and accompanied these with lower deliverables the move towards ever decreasing fees was inevitable. The recruitment industry unbelievably couldn’t wait to embrace this commercial virus with open arms, rather like a heroin addict stops complaining about the quality of their supply providing they have a supply, any kind of supply regardless of the consequences. All morals and ethics discarded to feed their habit.

When I first joined the recruitment industry I worked for an independent company in Leeds called Link-up. It was mandatory that within the first 6 months you attended 2 training days per month at Head Office. This was complimented by in branch training led by Managers or Regional Directors. You had to demonstrate in live situations such as client meetings, candidate interviews, issue resolution and role play scenarios that you had acquired and adopted these skills to a certain level. This was enhanced by external training and coaching on skills such as Public Speaking, Power Point Presentations, Interview Coaching, Spin / Solution Selling, Creative Writing and so on, skills which most recruitment firms today would scoff at. How many invest this amount of time and money into new recruiters today?

How many recruiters actually focus on providing a solution? When was the last time you invited a recruiter into your office and they explored your business, its processes and suggested an approach or a solution and gave you alternatives demonstrating the pro’s and con’s as to what the advantages and disadvantages of each were? When was the last time a recruitment consultant actually showed any inclination to consult? When was the last time a recruitment consultant told you that you didn’t need to use a recruiter, you needed to do something else instead or offered to drive internal recommendations or similar for free?

Or did they just agree to sign anywhere at any expense and grasp that job description and vacancy requirement as quickly and eagerly as possible like a pigeon scrambling for that last bit of corn?

Do your recruiters inhabit Flea Bottom or Kings Landing?

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

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?

 

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…

MaverickRecruiter goes to the movies….

Recruitment Myth Buster Part 1 – The Wall Test…

Good morning people. I hope like me you have arrived to work fresh and eager for the day ahead. I know I may be alone in this but there is just something about working in the recruitment industry that makes me smile in a morning and the obligatory leap from the bed to meet the day ahead fills me with excitement and glee.

But putting the smoked salmon bagels and Kopi Luwak latte aside for a moment I want to explain why I was so eager to get into work this morning. Over the last few days everywhere I have looked on LinkedIn there are people who have never worked in recruitment extolling the secret to success in the industry. At first I thought to myself, it can’t be that easy. They don’t know what they are talking about. If it was that easy wouldn’t they be doing it? Why haven’t I come across this secret to financial and personal success after 20 years in the recruitment business? How come all the awesome people I have worked with didn’t know about this simple, easy and cost effective way of delivering recruitment solutions?

I’ll use a direct quote for effect here

“all recruiters do is throw loads of CV’s of candidates they have never met at the wall in the hope that some will stick..”

Brilliant. Even better was this quote along the same lines but with more detail

“how can you justify paying out £10k to a recruiter who doesn’t bother meeting any of the candidates in person, and who merely throws a few CV’s at an employer hoping that one of them will stick ?”

Now having just finished a particular recruitment assignment that from start to finish took 8 weeks to complete. Involved no less than 68 long distance telephone interviews with candidates in Chicago, Austin, Dallas, New York, Boston, San Jose, San Antonio and Detroit and Hong Kong. Often at absurd times of the night (or morning in some cases) speaking to people in depth about technology patents, strategic alliances and OEM’s in the world of analog digital semiconductors and similar the realisation that I could probably have made as much if not more money by simply throwing a load of random CV’s at the wall struck me as mind blowing.

So here I am at 7:30am in the morning with a whole bunch of CV’s. I’ve thought about this overnight and have come to a number of conclusions. Every body say’s it easy but nobody has actually gone into any detail about how it is done. So I have prepared a couple of different options. I have 3 piles of 100 CV’s on my desk. Pile 1 is held together by a bungee cord. Pile 2 is loosely stacked. Pile 3 has been carefully folded in various origami style paper darts. In front of me I have a client of mine in a helmet and safety glasses who has volunteered to take part in this experiment and a freshly cleaned wall……..