Category

Recruitment

Head in the sand or action junkie ….what’s your mantra?

By | Leadership, Performance, Recruitment

This Christmas I bought my husband a book called “100 Things What’s on Your List” by Sebastian Terry.  I was attracted to the cover initially because I saw the Camp Quality symbol and both of us have volunteered with Camp Quality in the past and I was intrigued by the concept of having a 100 goals to achieve (plus the good looking aussie on the front cover didn’t hurt either)!  Drew finished the book in a day and was inspired to start writing his own list, which of course egged me on to read the book also. Within a few chapters, I was addicted.  This guy essentially has taken the exact opposite approach to most – at 28 years of age instead of settling down, building a career, buying a house and accumulating assets – he has embarked on a journey of taking action – the where/who/how considerations all thrown out the window, with a commitment to just making things happen.

I’ve always loved and lived by this concept in business – successful people take more action.

So often I hear “you’re so lucky” or “luck plays a huge part in success” and that annoys me.  In my experience, it isn’t luck that allows people to achieve great success and happiness in their lives.  It is their ability to create and commit to doing things (taking action) that allow them to achieve this.  It isn’t by accident that success happens for some and not others.

For example, working in recruitment is a hard job to crack and it is only a rare percentage who become really successful at it.  There is a lot of ups and downs, lots of rejection, lots of being outside your comfort zone and dealing with people, emotions and circumstances outside your control.  Being successful in this industry takes incredible persistence and a strong commitment to action.

Over the years I have seen more fail than succeed and there have been two clearly defining factors – coachability & commitment to action.

One Senior Consultant who worked for me was textbook ‘perfect’ for a Consultant role – she had completed the training with a national recruitment firm, had worked in corporate HR, was degree qualified, was extremely polished in presentation and communication and had the knowledge and experience about the market.  After her first year she billed $250K – a solid performance back in 2005.  I have to say most Recruitment Managers and Consultants would be content with this performance and hope to increase the following year by 10-15%.  To me however, she had all the attributes of being a much higher performing consultant – significantly better than the average.  What was holding her back from being in the top quartile of recruiters?

On closer examination, observation and discussions – we identified that there were a few factors.  She disliked prospecting for new business and felt that clients didn’t want to hear from her (that she was being annoying), her communication lacked a specific agenda (often waffled) and thirdly there wasn’t the burning desire to be or do anymore (where was the benefit?).

Overcoming these areas of improvement required a significant commitment by both of us.  It meant we were going to be treading new ground by pushing her outside her comfort zone where she currently was and it was a nice place to be and was genuinely producing good results.  The sweet spot was finding out what was going to motivate her to push ahead (see previous blog staff mojo….how to plant the seeds of motivation).  The transformation over the course of the next twelve months was amazing. This Consultant truly realised her potential and moved from a competent well performing consultant to a trusted advisor that clients honestly saw as an extension of their business. The financial results followed with her billing $430K the following year – which allowed her to achieve some of her tangible goals, but it was the intangible benefits that she didn’t expect that really inspired her.  Being an expert, mentoring others to achieve similar results, her professional learning and growth, the recognition and delivering better results for her clients.

It was a methodology that I took forward with many Consultants and of course it didn’t produce the same results every time.  However, when those two factors were present – coachability and commitment to action – the results, confidence and satisfaction skyrocketed.

This discovery taught me over the years that most people fall into one of two categories – either you’re a head in the sand person and like to be average or like Sebastian Terry you like to test the limits, take more action and be outside your comfort zone.  This exclusive club of action junkies know the benefits far outweigh the complacency of being mediocre. The challenge of course is making the commitment to action – once you get a taste of what’s possible, you rarely turn back.

 

successful people take more action

 

Employees aren’t mind readers – 6 tips for early performance intervention

By | Recruitment, Retention

ic-stock-image-432176378245429887_7392189-300x300A prospective new client told me last week that they may need our services as the person they have recently hired is a “dud” and they may need to let him go. This jolted my curiosity, as after 6 weeks in the role it sounded like they had already made their decision. This must be major. What had he done? Stolen the petty cash, spoken inappropriately to other staff, upset a client, given a false referee?

There were lots of wishy washy comments about him not being ‘strategic’, delivering a report that wasn’t up to standard, he was keeping very much to himself and overall “just not fitting in”. In all honesty, it was a verbal dump – the client was clearly letting off steam and venting frustration because they thought they had hired a star and where was the star performance they expected?

The realist in me kicked in – it’s been 6 weeks! It takes time to learn a new way of doing things. It takes time to get to know people. It takes time to build confidence in a new environment and depending on people’s personalities, it can appear to take even longer. But more than this, it takes a good leader to communicate expectations and give effective feedback.

“So how did he respond when you gave him this feedback?” I enquired, “is he willing to change his behaviour?”. This was received with more woffle and side stepping explaining that he hasn’t had a formal review as yet and what’s the point, we can see that it isn’t working! Agghh! People are not mind readers. People don’t know what you are thinking or feeling, unless you tell him! Bitching and whinging about what you are not getting is not going to change their behaviour or improve their performance. The only chance you have to improve performance is by giving feedback.

In this case, the client appeared resistant to give this feedback, as a lot of people don’t like giving bad news, especially to a new recruit. The flip side of this is actually a worse problem – having to let someone go, telling the team, the impact on morale, the headache of having to re-recruit, the time and emotional investment … the list goes on and on. Instead, having a 20-minute conversation discussing expectations and progress could turn the whole situation around. Imagine feeling clear, delighted and that you are both on the same page after all.

Quick tips for early performance intervention:

  1. Set a regular meeting to review expectations and performance
  2. Give specific examples where behaviour isn’t where you want it to be and be clear about how it needs to look next time
  3. Give specific examples of where things are going well
  4. Ask the employee how they think they are going?
  5. Agree to required actions to review at next meeting
  6. Ask the employee what is their understanding of what is now required (this is a communication check to ensure you have been clear in your expectations)

I rang the client today to see if he needed my services to replace his ‘dud’. Funny thing is that after having a chat, it seems that things are better and he might just work out after all……

Are you worried about someone’s performance? Are you feeling frustrated a leader isn’t delivering to your expectations? Ask yourself, when was the last time you ‘checked in’ and clarified your expectations and gave specific feedback?

 

Recruiting an Executive? Don’t make this mistake

By | Executive Search, Recruitment

ceo-stand_786bdb494a6028e3This week I was told an excruciating story of a senior executive going for two roles at the same time and the two very different experiences he had during his job search.  The end result was one happy employer and consultant who scored a top executive, the other consultancy and client didn’t see it coming, and would have felt blind-sided and confused as to where it all went wrong.

Both employers outsourced their vacancy to an external consultancy – an expert in their field, committed to filling the role with the best candidate from the market. When outsourcing to an external recruitment consultancy there are generally a number of key factors that clients consider such as:

  • Reputation / brand
  • Track record / expertise
  • Cost
  • Consultant relationship
  • Methodology / offering
  • Value-added services

Ultimately, every consultancy is promising the same thing – to find that needle in the haystack – the very best person available for that vacancy.

What sets Consultants apart is not the shiny brand or website, not the long list of placements, or the most competitive bid.  The real difference is the Consultant’s ability to manage, negotiate and consult through what is a very emotional, intuitive and onerous process.  A Consultant’s ability to read people, situations and solutions is paramount. This becomes even more crucial when conducting executive search. Your Consultant needs to know when to push you and your board to move faster, to make a decision, to challenge your thinking, question your assumptions and ensure you have your eyes wide open to all the positives as well as development areas and concerns. On the candidate side, there is a responsibility to build a relationship, get inside their head, know what makes them tick, know when they are holding back, know when to put pressure on, to take pressure off and ultimately how to manoeuvre the candidate through what can become a competitive bid process. This was the case I heard this week.

My friend, had 2 jobs that were neck and neck in terms of his level of interest and in terms of where they were both at in the process – both second interview with each panel. He was equally interested. He was equally committed. What got him over the line? The relationship with his Consultant and their ability to move fast and to run a true executive process (rather than transaction recruitment) – there were phone calls, consultation, probing questions, availability and check in’s over the weekend (both Saturday and Sunday), which resulted him taking that job at 9am on the Monday. The other firm was rushing at the final hour with final reference checks and testing, then knocking off at 5pm Friday and said “talk to you again on Monday”.  While they were enjoying their weekend, the other Executive Consultant was doing the deal – keeping the board and their candidate informed to enable them to have a signed contract on Monday morning.

There is a difference between executive search and contingent or main-stream traditional recruitment. It doesn’t only lie in the fees (which may seem an attractive proposition when comparing proposals), it lies in the firms ability to run an executive search process that goes beyond ‘filling a job’.

In the highly skilled area of executive search,  you don’t often see what goes beyond the fine print of the proposal – it’s the nuts and bolts, it’s the people skills, it’s a Consultant’s ability to earn trust and go beyond the shiny, slick proposal with pages of placement history to create both warmth, trust and competence to negotiate the finer points that will ultimately result in a win for all parties involved.

How will you choose your next Consultant?

 

 

How to reduce staff turnover and to ensure top talent stays

By | Leadership, Recruitment, Retention

businessman-mirror12 years ago, I was asked by my business coach to write down a list of all my frustrations in business and in life. I wrote a solid two pages of whinges. It was the permission I needed to have my own little pity parade with on orchestra of violins. It was effective. It gave me several views – an opportunity to offload, an opportunity to get clear, an opportunity to look at patterns and the light bulb moment I needed …….. it was all within my control to change.

There were no concerns about market conditions, the economy, my competitors or external impacts – everything on that list was about people, culture or leadership. There was staff turnover, there were problems attracting talent and issues with keeping people engaged, motivated and performing. The impact on me as the leader was overwhelming. I felt helpless, burnt out, tired, emotional and frustrated.

Here’s what I did to turn it around:

  1. Ask for feedback

When things are not going the way you want, be brave and ask for feedback. Give your team permission to tell you what they love and loathe, without fear of retribution. If that is too scary or you don’t feel you will get the honesty you need, engage a Consultant or do a 360 degree survey. I discovered that our culture was one of high expectations and high pressure, where the client was king and the team didn’t feel they could achieve a healthy work life blend. This was the number one factor why they were leaving – it was impacting their relationships, health and personal time.

  1. Analyse real reasons for leaving

We all know that when people resign that don’t always tell you the real reason they are leaving. They start with the polite reason such as career development or it’s time for a change. I did an analysis on the past 3 years of all the reasons why people had left – not the reason they necessarily told me – but what I knew deep down was the real reason. That was a game changer. All reasons, apart from a handful of genuine interstate transfers and family reasons, there was a consistent theme related to leadership and culture.

  1. Leaders look in the mirror

Retaining talent and reducing staff turnover is not necessarily about more money or perks such as days off or free yoga classes. Although nice and staff will appreciate it, it isn’t what gets them out of bed in the morning, excited to go to work and to stay long-term. It’s about you, your leadership style and your ability to engage, inspire and create an environment that is motivating where they can contribute and feel valued. I found out that I was inspiring about 30% of the time and the other 70% I was pushing my high expectations, which resulted in feelings of pressure and an inability to please me. This doesn’t make anyone feel good and inspired does it? Looking in the mirror and seeing the impact this leadership style was having on my team was the wake up call I needed to reduce staff turnover and increase retention rates.

  1. Culture review

Leadership is culture. Culture is leadership. A leader sets the tone and culture is caught, not taught. Write a list of the type of people you want to attract into your business – what qualities and competencies do they have, what do they want out of an employment relationship and what will make them stay? This is your clue about what you may need to change, adapt, develop or build into your culture. It was for me. I created an environment where flexibility was introduced, people were empowered to make their own decisions and own the consequences, there were ongoing learning opportunities and success was celebrated and recognised.

  1. Action delivers results

There is no point doing all this pre-work, if you aren’t prepared to take action. Losing your people headaches, reducing frustration and ultimately getting your life back involves taking different action – implementing and trying new things. Don’t look at it like you are losing control (yes you control freaks out there), I know it will feel foreign and little uncomfortable – that’s good. You need to feel this to get a different result. For me this was the hardest step. We stopped having meetings at 8am, people left early to go to gym or to pick up kids, we hired part-timers, we set different expectations and had to let go of what others would think (we weren’t slackers or losing our drive or ambition!). It took time, but the change was just what we all needed. The results spoke for themselves – retention rates skyrocketed to an average length of service of 6 years, we didn’t advertise our vacancies – people knocked on our door to work for us and as for the impact on our financial results, they doubled.

At the core of what make successful companies great are people, culture and leadership. Become a better leader, develop a great culture and only then can you attract top talent that will stay. Getting this right is the sweet spot in business. Your leadership will feel natural, your stress levels will float away and this empowerment will bring you work life blend, confidence and profit. Get great people and great stuff happens.

Nicole Underwood recently spoke at Elders Real Estate National Conference on Talent Management – How to Crack the Code. You can watch a snippet of her presentation

.

 

Caution! Why you shouldn’t hand over your referees before interview

By | Recruitment

Reference Checking A natural step in the recruitment process is for employers to verify your employment history and job performance in previous roles before making you a formal offer of employment. Nothing new here.

However, there are things that you should strongly consider before casually handing over your referee details.

Talking to an executive this week about his current job search, I learnt about his staggering experience with sharing his referees with a local Recruiter before meeting with the client/employer. Typically at an executive level, reference checks are not completed until much later in the process, when the candidate and client have met and decided they are both keen to progress the recruitment process. In this instance the candidate completed full psychometric testing and reference checking prior to any formal interview or meeting.

Presumably because the candidate had his referees listed on his resume, the Recruiter proceeded to speak to them without seeking permission first.

The first the candidate knew about it was when one of the referees called and told him that not only had he been drilled about his job performance and working relationship, but then the Recruiter had proceeded to canvas the referee for the job in question. So much so, the referee was then invited in for interview for the same job! The candidate was clearly gob smacked. He had potentially just done himself out of a job by providing competition for the opportunity, albeit unintentionally. He was absolutely floored that this could happen and questioned the integrity of the Recruiter.

Some of you may argue – so what? What is wrong with that? The referee might be a better match for the job in question and the Recruiter needs to act in the best interest of their client. I would argue that there is due process, common decency and respectful communication in question here.

With this example in mind, I recommend that all executive candidates do not include a referee list on their resume, unless of course it is explicitly requested as part of the process and you have informed your referees of the role you are being considered for. If you progress past first round interview and there is genuine interest where both you and the employer feel there is a match, then, and only then, should you discuss your referees.

Referees are busy and a thorough reference check will take at least 20 – 30 minutes to get a detailed understanding of not only roles and responsibilities, but KPI’s, outcomes, job performance, areas of strength, development areas, leadership style and communication skills. A hectic executive is not going to appreciate being called every few weeks by another potential employer or recruiter to have the same conversation. The risk also is that it potentially reflects badly on you, as your referee might be feeling ‘over it’ and thinking ‘not another reference’ and if these feelings are coming out in their tone, it could overshadow their true assessment and reflection of your job performance in the past. It is better that your referee is only interrupted and called for a role that you are very close to securing and will accept if offered. Don’t waste their time or yours for roles you aren’t 100% serious about or when you are in the early stages of a process and unsure of how close you are to winning the job.

Other quick tips:

1. Always ring your referee before they are contacted and ensure they are still happy to act as a referee for you. Quickly explain your current situation and the type of role you are going for – this will help give them some context before receiving a call and it also helps frame their reference to match the type of role you are going for.

2. Tell the referee who will be calling. You could always text the person’s phone number for them to save in their phone, so that when the number comes up, they know who it is. It’s all about taking responsibility and making it as easy as possible for all parties involved.

3. Find out the best number to reach them on and when is the best time to call and communicate this back to the person who will be ringing.

4. Make reference checking easy for your recruiter – text or email the exact referee details including current employer, exact title, best numbers to call on, email and even a link to their LinkedIn profile. The more prepared everyone is for these conversations, the more meaningful the exchange and information obtained – all of which helps your case and increases your chances of being offered the role.

There are certainly many examples out there relating to where reference checking can go wrong for different parties involved. Even last week, after I conducted a glowing reference check for my candidate, she rang to say “Hey, I heard you spoke to Chris (the referee), he didn’t realise I was on the job market and offered me a job with his new employer”. Now, lucky for me, she didn’t take it and won the role with my client – but it is a clear reminder that as a candidate on the job market, you need to take responsibility and be on the front foot when it comes to providing referees and having conversations upfront, where you set expectations and create the most favorable set of circumstances for all involved.

Don’t keep your candidate waiting… the only 3 questions to ask before you hire

By | Recruitment, Results

3D person kicking anotherTop talent can be hard to find and enticing them to consider your role may be even harder. Even though our unemployment rate is at 6.3%, A-class super stars are almost always gainfully employed and are rarely actively on the job seeking market. Finding them is tough enough, so this means that when you engage them in a recruitment process, it is critical you move quickly to ensure you ‘close the deal’, don’t miss out and get them on your team as soon as possible.

Easy in theory, yet I see so many employers drag out recruitment processes and hesitate to make employment decisions.  So what makes employers stall? Why do these processes drag out? Why can’t an employment decision be made? It can be one of the most frustrating aspects for an internal or external Recruiter who is facilitating this ‘courting’ process.

Consider this – the candidate’s ego is at an all time high as they have been approached or picked from a large pool of candidates to meet face to face – getting this far is not to be underestimated when you look at the large number of people looking for work. They are excited. They are engaged. They have done their research. They’ve asked around, they’ve googled, they’ve potentially rejected other approaches and they are ready to impress.  The first interview goes well. There is quick follow up, feedback within 24 hours and everyone is on the same page. Well so it seems…then suddenly booking a second interview meeting time gets tricky as there are several decision makers involved and schedules to coordinate, the boss is away, there is a board meeting, there is an internal referral at the last minute or someone on the hiring team starts questioning the role purpose or the candidate’s suitability.  These delays take the ‘shine’ off of things. The candidate goes back to their normal day to day, they take on new projects, their boss might even give them some recognition and you, the new potential employer are at the risk of taking a back seat.

Prolonged or unnecessary process delays are dangerous. You have now entered a zone where your chances of an offer acceptance have started to decrease and you are on slippery slope to achieve hiring success.

Don’t delay! Ensure you ask yourself these 3 questions and then decide!

  1. Can the candidate do the job? That is, do they have skills and competencies to perform the job successfully?
  1. Will they love the job? This refers to their motivation – what is driving them towards your opportunity? In what circumstances do they experience job satisfaction and will your role satisfy this desire?
  1. Can you work with them? Will they fit in to your culture and will your team genuinely enjoy working with them?

That’s it. If you are experiencing hesitation, recruitment delay or decision making avoidance – just ask these three questions to find your answer. If you have positive answers to all three, please don’t delay. Make an offer and fast. Delight the candidate – make them feel special and worthy. The consequence is a return to the drawing board which not only is frustrating for all involved, but costs more time and money and may affect your reputation as an employer of choice in the market.

 

At nicoleunderwood we specialise in sourcing talent where we partner with organisations that value the importance of recruiting and retaining high performing employees. Our up-to-date research and progressive sourcing strategies ensure that we unearth the best talent, giving our clients access to the nicoleunderwood talent community, which reaches beyond the active market. To discuss how we can source talent for your organisation, contact us here.

 

The reason why you may not be getting a job interview

By | Career, Recruitment

Photo LinkedInWould you go to a cocktail party in your cycling gear? Would you go to a business networking event in your wedding dress? Would you attend a job interview with a glass of wine in your hand? I don’t think so. It begs the question then, why do we see these types of photos being used people’s profile shots on LinkedIn?

In the business of ‘search and recruitment’, we spend a lot of time on LinkedIn – looking for talent and generally getting to know who you are and your experience within industry. This is especially helpful if we are meeting for the first time and want to see what you look like so we don’t approach the wrong person at a café or it may be that we are reviewing resumes and want to see a professional image consistent with your formal application. More and more we find that people are using photos that aren’t helpful, up to date or even remotely professional. Here are some of the biggest blunders we have observed: 

 

  1. No photo – if there is no photo, the assumption can be what’s wrong? What are you trying to hide? The whole point of LinkedIn is to network and increase your professional connections – so you need to be willing to share and help people recall who you are. Putting a face to a name is important.
  1. Using company logos for your profile shot – this is not you or who you are. That is what a company page is for.
  1. Cartoon picture – okay so you might have a good sense of humour, but we like to know who we are dealing with. I’m yet to meet Road Runner in the flesh!
  1. Group shots – hmmm are you the blond or the brunette? Considering this is an individual profile, it should be an individual picture.
  1. Social shot – this is not a dating site. Great that you enjoy cycling, fishing, walks on the beach, sunsets etc, just don’t use them here, save these photos for Facebook.
  1. No “Selfies” – Instagram maybe, but using a professional shot on LinkedIn is your best choice.

We know some of you will find our comments controversial, or you may think well I’m not actively on the job market so who cares – but a good mentor once said to me, think of Facebook as a pub, Twitter as cocktail party and LinkedIn as a networking function. With that in mind, think of your current photo and ask yourself is this how you would present at a professional networking event or a job interview? Having a professional, clear and up to date photo combined with a complete profile with current title and key skills and competencies, will definitely help you stand out from the crowd. Having professional consistency across all platforms is key.

Is your job draining your spirit? 4 ways to see the light

By | Career, Recruitment

light“I hate my job”, “My boss is a control freak”, “I don’t feel valued”, “The moment I see my perfect job advertised, I’m out of here”……

The start of a new year can be an emotional time …. There has been the pressure of getting end of year work finished, the obligation and expectation of Christmas and families and then the burden of setting new goals and getting revved up for the year ahead. I find through our coaching practice, that January is actually one of the hardest months of the year for people to get their mojo back and feel inspired to make changes. It is usually easier to have a whinge, stay stuck in a rut and leave things the way they are.

So far, this year has been no different. We’ve had people in tears describing how much they hate their jobs and their boss, the frustration of there being limited opportunities in the market and we’ve heard every excuse under the sun of why this year will be no different!

Let me ask you this – are you unhappy in your job? Did you get emotional at the very thought of going to work today? Or does the concept of working for your boss for another 12 months make you want to crawl under a large boulder? Yes? Okay here’s the good news – you don’t have a problem. You have an opportunity.

You can A. stay and play the victim, continue to not take responsibility for your unfavourable employment situation and continue to bitch and complain to any person willing to listen or B. you can take charge and do something about it.

Step 1:  What’s really wrong?

Get crystal clear on what is really upsetting you. What is it specifically you don’t like? What are three examples in the past month where you haven’t got the outcome you were wanting at work? Did your boss or colleague rob you of an opportunity? Did you encounter a challenging conflict? Were you unsupported or feel like you your values were compromised? Until you can be really specific about the situations where you felt frustrated, angry or helpless, it is going to be difficult to work out a plan of attack.

Step 2:  Are you prepared to do something about it?

In my experience, the difference between successful people and those who just coast through with complacency is action. Successful people are prepared to take action and know the price – being uncomfortable. This week, I said to a coachee who is extremely unhappy in her job – “do you want this situation to change?”. “Of course!”, she pleaded. “But are you prepared to be outside your comfort zone to get there?”. She got clarity that the responsibility is hers and her’s alone and the journey of change is going to be uncomfortable and certainly at times difficult and emotional.

Step 3:  Knowing what it will take

Once you have accepted the challenge and ditched the ‘victim’ mentality, you will need a specific strategy on what you are going to do. Will you give your boss constructive feedback? Are you going to communicate directly and more effectively when you are feeling unhappy or unsupported? Will you brave enough to ask for what you want? Will you put a plan in place to get your desired outcome?

Step 4:  Action junkie

Just do it! Don’t over-think things, don’t make it harder that it needs to be, don’t get bogged down in the “what if’s”. Day in day out, give yourself the permission and commitment to do something about it. Wise words were once given to me that propelled me into action – life is too short to work with dickheads!

You only have one life! If you are consistently having those days where you are unfilled and wondering what you are doing, that you are not learning or growing in your current work situation or you find yourself dreading every interaction with your leader – it’s a sign that things could be better. When you’re brave enough to make that step, you will not only inspire yourself, but others around you to follow your lead and not accept the status quo. Sometimes it’s just time to move on – go on, do something about it, no-one else will do it for you!

 

Rejected because of your email address …….. the harsh reality of selection criteria

By | Recruitment, Retention, Talent

SelectionIt seems everything I read this month features Ruslan Kogan …… At age 31, a ‘rich lister’ worth more than $300 million. He sparked my interest in a recent Financial Review article and now again as I read the Virgin Australia Voyeur magazine on my way over to the RCSA conference in New Zealand. It seems Kogan and I have a few things in common – we both started businesses at age 23, we believe in recruiting for culture, openly giving people feedback and that you need stringent selection criteria to hire the best people.

Kogan was interviewed by the Fin Review on his “hiring secrets” and what criteria he uses to screen “in” or “out” new innovators into his technology business, where he employs 150 staff.  Now, anyone who has built a successful business like his, I like to think must have learnt a thing or two about hiring ‘A’ players and retaining talent to ensure long-term and sustainable results.

It turns out one of Kogan’s biggest selection criteria is dependent on the email address you use. Yes, your email address! If it is Hotmail and not Gmail, you will get a “no thanks” letter based on that alone. Too harsh? His justification is around the technology his company uses and he wants to attract people who are just as passionate and savvy about technology as they are – which means Gmail’s functionality and speed is superior to Hotmail and as a “technology boffin” you would know this. In a market where we are becoming flooded with responses and he is quoted as saying they get over 250 applications per role, is it no wonder that such criteria is being used? Fair? Maybe not. Efficient? Absolutely. Proven to be a precise assessment? Well that’s debatable. He admits it isn’t 100% accurate, but it’s pretty close.

It got me thinking about the other selection criteria used to “screen down” the volume of applications to roles and you may be surprised to know some of the other criteria that is going on behind the scenes including:

  1. Calling before you apply – anyone who calls prior to applying for a job gets a big tick in my book. It shows me that you are keen, see the process as a two-way street and aren’t just applying for any old job out there. You may want more information to ensure we aren’t wasting each other’s time or you may be opportunistic and get your 5 minutes to make a great first impression. Either way – it takes effort to pick up the phone these days and have a phone conversation vs. flicking off an email and resume.
  1. Initiative – sometimes recruiter’s advertisements don’t reveal who the employer is, which I acknowledge makes it harder to write a specific cover letter saying why you want to work for that company.  Again get creative – call, ask some questions, try and obtain any extra information that is going to allow you to tailor your cover letter and stand out from the crowd.  The generic “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir” will likely see your application automatically in the ‘no’ pile.
  1. Social media presence – there are more and more roles that require you to be a ‘thought leader’ in your field, to be the ‘face’ of the organisation, or to be a successful networker and influencer.  When this criteria is high on the agenda, don’t think it is only your application being reviewed. Google searches, LinkedIn profiles, Twitter feeds and Facebook searches are all being utilised to present a three-dimensional view. If your on-line presence isn’t projecting the level of influence and credibility required for the role, you may be screened out before a face-to-face interview opportunity, over other candidates who do.
  1. No cover letter – if a job advertisement asks for a cover letter and all you do is click ‘apply’ and send your resume, this could be the criteria that knocks you out.  It shows that you aren’t following instructions and potentially tells the hiring company that you aren’t that interested in their specific opportunity, more that you are happy to flick your CV for any role you see advertised and hope for the best.
  1. Motivation – if your cover letter does not clearly articulate why you are passionate about this role and this company and it becomes more a sales statement about how great you are in general, it might be the criteria that tips you over to the “no” edge.  Companies want to see a link and a real connection to their opportunity.
  1. Location – if you are ever applying for a role that is different from your home base or local area, please be clear and address this in your cover letter and email.  Why are you attracted to work in this area? How did you hear about the role? What connection do you have to this location? Will you relocate? It is much better to address this up front rather than letting the hiring manager make up their own mind, which might be an incorrect assumption and one that again lands you in the ‘no’ pile.
  1. Voicemail messages – I have been known to count someone out purely based on their voicemail message. I detest those leave a 10 second message and it will be sent as a text….do they actually work? Will you receive my message accurately? Or the voicemails with the funny music over the top, or the ones that just say “yeh you missed me, leave your number”. All of these examples do not create a great first professional impression and will be considered in the selection process.
  1. Phone manner – the way you answer the phone, the way you hold a conversation and the way you answer particular questions are all factors helping us to assess applications.  The other week, I was screening candidates via the phone and I said to this one person “can you talk freely right now?”, he asked me to hang on and after a minute of silence as he walked out of his open plan area, he then returned to the phone and simply said “shoot!”. This wasn’t exactly the most professional response I was expecting.

It’s a friendly reminder that every step in a selection and recruitment process is a test.  A test to determine long-term suitability and cultural fit for the job role and company.  I don’t believe anyone should apologise for having harsh or restricting criteria to find the best people for their organisation. Decisions need to be made and you don’t always get it right. I am sure some will read Kogan’s approach and think it is unrealistic, but you know what? It doesn’t actually matter. What matters is that he gets his formula right, is consistent in his approach and he knows the best people that fit his organisation and the method to find them. I don’t necessarily agree with all his theories, but I will give him the kudos for knowing how to recruit the best people for his business. That in itself is one of the hardest lessons to learn in any successful business.

 

 

5 ways to manage your on-line image…..BEFORE you hit the job market

By | Recruitment

online-profileLike many of you, I learned of Charlotte Dawson’s death via social media. The days following have seen many stories about depression and the role social media can potentially play in these situations.  This got me thinking about the role that social media plays in creating your online image during the recruitment process.

In the recruitment industry, it is common knowledge that Consultants will Google you, look at your social media presence – including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. This is not new and most hiring managers will do this at some stage in the process to gain a broader understanding of who you are and to do some fact checking. This begs the question – what does your social media profile say about you?

Are you presenting a positive and professional image consistently? Do you have a Facebook page? If you do, is it an open page? Are you even aware of your privacy settings and what the general public can see or not see? Are you “liking” controversial Facebook pages that could be a questionable culture fit for a new employer? Are you having heated debates on Twitter or posting contentious photos of your weekends out on the town?

If you are about to commence your job search, it’s a good time to consider and potentially clean up your online profile to make sure it is consistent with the image you want to project.

Here are 5 ways to take a proactive approach to manage on your online profile:

1.    Monitor

You can use monitoring sites such as Reppler, which give an overview of how others may perceive your online brand.  See below. In 2 minutes it gave my Social Media Image Score 86 by analysing my posts and posts by others in my network showing my most commonly used words. It presents a fascinating snapshot of communication, commonality and language tone.

Reppler

 

You can also Google yourself regularly to see what is coming up under content and images. Are there any inappropriate comments, images or tags that are linked to you? Is there any content you weren’t aware of through testimonials you may have made, groups you may have signed up for? I remember finding someone claiming I was a client of theirs in the past, when in fact I hadn’t ever engaged their services. It’s best to be on the front foot and know what is available on-line about you.

 2.    Privacy

There are just some things that are best kept private so check your privacy settings, especially on Facebook. Why have an open page? Restricting access and managing settings is important to maintain control over what is being put up on your page.  Test it! You can also be notified of potential risks and issues via monitoring sites – it’s about being aware and maintaining control.

3. Creation

Ask yourself how do you want to be seen? What is the professional image you want to be representing and how do you create this? This means as well as controlling what you don’t want the public to see, you can also control what you do want them to see.  To be consistent with this image, you can like pages that represent your professional interests, you can follow people you admire, join groups and build a LinkedIn profile that reflects your key strengths and expertise.

4. Consistency

It is quite common for us to view resumes and then find that LinkedIn profiles don’t match in terms of dates and even employers eg: they are jobs missing altogether. All your information needs to be consistent across platforms because otherwise the obvious question is which one is correct, why have details been omitted and why is the information different? There may be a logical and fair explanation – but you may also not get the opportunity to present your case. Tell the same story consistently.

5. Care

Ultimately it is your responsibility to take care in what you do and say on social media. Your professional reputation can certainly be at risk if you aren’t paying attention and consideration with what you put into cyberspace.  Also consider that your employment status might be on your Facebook page and this in turn can have a direct impact on your employer’s brand depending on what you are posting and liking. I certainly know of cases where employees have been reprimanded in line with corporate social media policies when their personal content on Facebook has been questionable.

Your professional image extends far beyond the people in your immediate network and the people you met face to face today. Your professional profile exists on-line and grows every day – sometimes without your knowledge.

Take control, manage your online image and ask yourself what would you think of this person? Would you hire them? Would you like them in your team? Is your profile consistent across platforms? These are the questions that I guarantee are being asked when potential employers do some fact checking of their own. Think about it – the image you portray is an important message you send to the external world and impressions can be made instantly. Be ahead of the game and take steps to ensure the impression you are creating is positive one.