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Results Archives | Underwood Executive | Executive Search & Talent Management

Underwood Executive takes out 9 medals & named Australia’s Executive Recruiter of The Year 2020

By | Leadership, Performance, Recruitment, Results, Success

At Underwood Executive we are delighted to announce that we have been named Executive Recruiter of the Year 2020 by HRD Magazine for the third year in a row. We have won a total of nine medals in Australia’s Top Recruiter Awards in the following categories:

  • Executive Recruitment – Gold Medal
  • Professional Services– Gold Medal
  • Banking & Financial Services – Gold medal
  • Sales & Marketing – Gold medal
  • Overall Recruiter of the Year – Silver medal
  • Healthcare – Silver medal
  • Human Resources – Silver medal
  • Construction & Engineering – Bronze medal
  • IT, Technology & Digital – Bronze medal

We are very proud to be acknowledged in these national awards. Most importantly, these awards are recognised by our clients and represent the service they receive, the results we generate and the relationships we build. It’s a genuine recognition of these peer relationships we invest in and value in our consulting practice that mirror our own ethos around culture, leadership and high performance. Awards like these are so important to our team, as they give us an opportunity to reflect and celebrate our point of difference and appreciate the impact we are having on businesses, people and their careers.

Now in our ninth year of business, Underwood Executive is consistently dedicated to the executive search market and winning gold in this category is an absolute thrill and a very proud moment for us. In the past 12 months, we have been accredited with the AESC (Association of Executive Search Consultants), which is an exclusive global industry profession that sets the highest quality standards in executive search and leadership consulting worldwide.

As the only recruitment firm in Adelaide with this membership, it further reinforces our commitment to providing the highest quality standards in executive search and recruitment. The executive search market demands that we become a trusted advisor to our client’s business and we work hard to find them the highest performing talent in the market – talent that they couldn’t otherwise access. We acknowledge the responsibility we have in representing our client’s businesses and how we contribute to their overall success by finding them their most important assets – their people. We are absolutely committed to the fundamental principles of search and are consistently advising our clients on the benefits of this approach – these awards reinforce that our client’s value this approach and the return on investment.

Founder & Managing Director Nicole Underwood says “With dedication, discipline and consistency. The team at UE are united, with team goals, aligned values and a high care factor about what they deliver. We are very clear about who we will and won’t do business with – there has to be an alignment in terms of people, culture and leadership. We choose to work with organisations who are dedicated to getting this formula right. When you know what you stand for, it makes it much easier to say no. From day one, I have held an unwavering dedication to building this business with that mindset; with the discipline to consistently have a ‘high touch’ relationship service with C-suite level decision makers.”

Underwood Executive is an exclusive executive search and talent management consultancy based in Adelaide specialising in sourcing C-suite, leadership and hard to fill positions. Please contact us here.

 

Underwood Executive Named In ANZ’s Most Socially Engaged Search Firms in Australia/NZ 2018 by LinkedIn

By | Executive Search, Innovation

Last week, our team travelled to Sydney to be part of LinkedIn’s Most Socially Engaged Staff Agencies awards to celebrate the best in social recruiting.

The 2018 Most Socially Engaged Staffing Agencies list is based on an extensive analysis of the interactions between over 2,800 firms and 580+ million members on LinkedIn over the past year. What sets the winners apart was their ability to engage LinkedIn members through compelling company and employee activity.

Out of the top 25, Underwood Executive ranked 7th up seven places from ranking 14th in 2017. We were also the only South Australian firm listed in the awards.

This is a wonderful achievement for us and we are very excited that our talent community is engaging with our content that is authentic and relevant.

The award criteria includes:

  • Content performance: How members engage (like, share, comment, follow, click) with company content (company updates, sponsored updates, influencer, and employee posts and employee shares)
  • Social reach and engagement: How members engage with posted jobs, the number of followers, and visitors to the Company and Careers Pages
  • Social recruiting: How effective recruitment consultants are at establishing their professional brand through profile completeness and sharing rich content, finding, and engaging with the right people and building meaningful networks

Here’s what our Founder Nicole Underwood said when asked “What does it mean to be recognised in LinkedIn ANZ’s Most socially Engaged?” 

You can read more about the awards and category winners here.

 

5 ways to accelerate your career with your personal brand

By | Career, Coaching, Personal Brand

On Thursday the 24th of May, I was invited to speak at the National Wine Centre in Adelaide for the wine industry’s “women in drinks” event on how to build your personal brand and career. With over 100 women in attendance, in an industry where women represent only 22% in senior leadership roles and then less than 2% at the CEO and Board level, they were extremely keen to know what they can do and should be doing to help them stand out from the crowd.

Having a strong personal brand is a valuable career development strategy – it’s about managing your name, image and people’s experience with you. What do they think and say about you? I shared the 5 C’s of how to build a personal brand, which can contribute and open up further career opportunities:

1. Connections and building relationships – one of the most important factors in building my own personal brand, network and business has been based on building networks and connections. I encouraged the women in the room to think about who their target audience is and then the best ways, platforms and avenues to get front and centre with them. The ability to network inside and outside your organisation is critical to stay relevant and to ensure you don’t become insular, which could become career limiting down the track. Relationships don’t have to have an immediate pay off – it’s best to think more broadly about what access to knowledge you can gain, what you might learn or what influence your relationships might give you. Be curious and open – it’s a strategy I invest in every day.

2. Challenges – think about what challenges you will face in building your personal brand. In Australia, there are 6,900 recruitment firms, as an industry we generate $11.2bill in revenue, we employ 92,000 people and fill approx. 15% of all job vacancies in Australia. The gender ratio is 53% female, however when it comes to recruitment owners, only 28% are female. This is a very saturated market, with very few female business owners in a very male orientated owner market. I saw this as opportunity – away from the traditional (and somewhat outdated) service offering and the same old faces. This presented an exciting challenge to determine how to stand out in the market. Always remember where there is a challenge, there is always a greater opportunity.

3. Core message – once you see an opportunity, determining what do you stand for is the next strategy. When people think of you what comes to mind? You can ask people around you. For me, I used the technique of thinking of 3 words and asking myself, what am I qualified to teach others? Recruitment Retention and Results. I wanted to stand out from the crowd by being a thought leader in this space. My core message has always been recruit the best people, retain them and the results and success will follow. My messaging always has this undertone and link back. This core message becomes what you are known for.

4. Communicate – a great branding strategy is to ensure that you have a clear and consistent tone and story and to decide what is the best way to get your message out there. For me, to share my ideas and content publicly, I started a blog back in 2011. I’ve noticed that many people find it hard to talk about accomplishments (even at interview) or to promote themselves directly. I also see in general, that women struggle more so with this than men, as they don’t want to come across as pushy or aggressive. The best way to get around this is to share all learnings – yes this includes wins, but including stuff ups too is a great strategy to resonate with people and demonstrate an authenticity, which isn’t about self-promotion, it’s about sharing. For me, the blog allows me to share my knowledge and real experiences around leadership, culture and how to hire the highest performing talent in the market. This has been one of the best personal branding strategies in my career – it created the platform for my business Underwood Executive and has led me to new clients, new talent, different relationships and ultimately a successful business.

5. Commitment – building a personal brand takes discipline. It’s a long term commitment to yourself and your career. Some people come out all guns blazing with great gusto messaging through social media or blogging just because they think they should be. It looks like a scattergun approach with no real thought given to the strategy or content. This can be more harmful, as your target audience might make an incorrect assumption about your motive or be confused by your agenda. Do things regularly, post your own content, share others content that is consistent with your thinking, argue articles that don’t align with your thinking and build your profile consistently. That’s what will make you memorable. Once you get known for what you stand for, the right opportunities will come to you.

A personal brand is the single most important and powerful thing you can do for your career. Personal branding isn’t an ego play, it’s an increasingly effective way to differentiate yourself, connect with your audience on a human level and grow a valuable network. It takes time, persistence, energy, dedication and focus. Taking this time to invest in building your personal brand will help set you up for future success.

7 lessons for work-life blend

By | Success, Work Life Balance

worklifeblendLast month I spoke to an executive networking group about work/life balance. I initially felt some resistance towards the topic.

My thoughts went … really? Are we still talking about this? Are people still wanting to figure this out? Yes. Yes they are. It’s nearly always on the agenda with my executive coaching clients who balance the tightrope of working hard and achieving their definitions of success, whilst managing their own time and personal relationships to ensure ‘balance’.

As I reflected on my own journey over the past 15 yeas, I see that the way I manage time and achieve balance has certainly changed as life and priorities change.

In my early 20’s it was all about building a career, driving and working as hard as I could to achieve work success and results. In my late 20’s it was about having a family, whilst managing an executive career and proving that I can have both and in my 30’s it is very much about building a business and lifestyle where I am doing what I enjoy, I like the people I work with and it doesn’t feel like ‘work’ – it is an all encompassing approach to work and life. In my view, they aren’t separate. The way of the world isn’t like that anymore with technology and accessibility and for me that’s okay; I embrace it and use it to my advantage to thrive. Everyone’s definition of balance is different and how we achieve it is also going to differ from one person to the next.

Along my journey I’ve learnt that to get to my place of harmony requires a combination of practical techniques, mindset and continual learning and reassessment.

 

  1. I’m Accessible – I don’t believe in black and white rules of turning my phone off or no work on the weekends or not checking emails on holidays. I love what I do; I’m engaged with my clients and love achieving results. So this means I can work anywhere, I can take a call at night or answer my emails when I can’t sleep and that’s okay. Being accessible gives me flexibility and balance at all times.
  1. Be present – when you commit to something – a coffee catch up, a networking event, a meeting, a phone call – whatever it is, being present is something I try really hard to do. I imagine I’m in a bubble and there is nothing else there – that there are no deadlines, no problems or worries. The only thing that matters in that moment is the person I am with and the commitment I have made to myself and them, to show up and be my best self. If you feel yourself struggling in this type of situation, then it is an opportunity to reassess what you are saying yes to and realising that saying no in some situations is going to be a better option to achieve your right blend.
  1. Outsource – for me to achieve a greater blend, I have learnt to outsource or invest in those things that someone can do better, faster or cheaper than me. From a marketing newsletter, to housework, to gardening, to helping with children, to debt collection! Whatever is taking your time, giving you a headache or where you are feeling angst – ask yourself “is there someone else better to do this for me?” Don’t feel guilt – life is too short for that – feel joy in doing something else.
  1. Organisation – it goes without saying I know, but without being organised, achieving successful work life blend is going to be difficult. A ‘to do’ list is my go to tool and it hasn’t let me down yet. Planning in advance, a diary that coordinates personal and business appointments, emailing myself reminders, leaving people voicemails that don’t require that they call me back, ringing my own voicemail while driving if I remember something are all little techniques I use to try and stay one step ahead.
  1. Evaluation & learning – like most things in life, if you want to get better at it, you need to reflect and reevaluate is this working? If not, why not? Change it, try something else, ask what others do, google it, read a book – don’t just accept the way things are. There is always a better way.
  1. Avoid W4W – I first leant about work for work’s sake (W4W) reading Tim Ferris book The 4 Hour Work Week. It is common for a lot of us (yes I’m guilty), to turn to email or social media as a habit – it’s just what you do when you don’t know what else to do with yourself. If you can recognise this pattern first and then fill it with another activity to get out of the cycle. Would you believe a lot of our coaching sessions with executives involve them re-discovering hobbies and what gives them joy. I can tell you their answer certainly isn’t Facebook! W4W is an easy trap that can cause you to lose sight of your dreams and where you feel pure joy and happiness.
  1. Self-Responsibility – it is completely up to you as an individual to take responsibility for your work/life blend. That is what it means to you, how you define this success and how you will actually achieve it. You can’t blame your partner, your boss or external factors like where you live, things are too expensive, you don’t earn enough etc. First decide on your definition, realise that it will be different to other people around you and their definition and that’s okay and then get into action. The quickest way to cause any result you want is take responsibility for it right now.

Life is busy. It can be hard at times. But this week I was reminded of Steve Job’s quote that the most important tool he used was to remember that he would be dead soon. This thought alone gave him perspective and helped him make the biggest choices in life. So yes we have demands and juggles, but it’s so crucial to enjoy, don’t take things so seriously and amongst the appointments, meetings, emails and expectations, be inspired and enjoy the present moment with those around you.

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

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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.

X Factor – A lesson in how NOT to deliver feedback

By | Leadership

X FactorA few weeks ago I was horrified to watch the two judges on New Zealand’s X factor supposedly giving feedback to one of the contestants during a live show.

Did you see it?  If not, you can watch it here.

It was a beautiful (and horrific) example of how not to deliver feedback! It was nothing more than a personal attack that could only make the person on the receiving end feel belittled, embarrassed, unworthy and incompetent. Was he incompetent? Was he underperforming? I guess that is a personal opinion in terms of whether he gave a good performance or whether he is a talented singer  – but calling him “cheesy”, “a fraud” or “disgusting” is way out of line. Here in lies the difference of effective vs. ineffective performance feedback. The focus of the feedback was based on personal opinion that involved labeling and personal traits.  There was nothing constructive in the content of the feedback whatsoever.

How receptive do you think the contestant Joe was to this? Was he open to their feedback? I doubt it. It is more likely that he felt overwhelmed, attacked and that he was in an unfair situation – publicly too I might add!

Assessing performance and giving feedback is part of everyday in a leadership role – but if leaders behaved like these two judges, we wouldn’t be left with too many employees or a business for that matter!

So when you observe behaviour that isn’t up to standard or is inconsistent with expectations, don’t shy away from it or hope that it will go away (hope is not a strategy!) and certainly don’t rant and rave and tell someone how ‘bad’ they are. Both are completely ineffective strategies.

To ensure your feedback is heard, remember this – most people can handle feedback if it is immediate, specific and truthful.  Here is a quick checklist you can follow:

  1. Immediately when observed – give feedback as things happen, don’t hold on to things and talk about it days or weeks later. Performance issues are not to be stored up and delivered when things are at breaking point or just when you have the courage to talk about it.
  2. Be specific (behaviours) – being clear on what behaviour was or wasn’t demonstrated in the example moves the conversation away from labels, opinions and personal traits and becomes about the behaviour only – not the person.
  3. How you feel about what’s happened – what impact has the situation had and how do you feel about it? Are you frustrated, angry, concerned? This open communication is important to ensure there is a two-way dialogue about the situation and behaviour.
  4. Remind them you still value them as a person – as per a leadership classic book “The One Minute Manager”, behaviour and worth are not the same thing.
  5. Let it go – if you have been able to discuss the situation and behaviour clearly and you are back on the same page with expectations, then “shake it off”. Thrashing it out, or reminding them again in a few days time doesn’t achieve anything. Be the bigger person and leave the meeting with good intent and belief that your employee wants to perform well in their job.

Giving feedback doesn’t have to be like these so-called ‘expert’ judges on the X-Factor delivered their message. Feedback keeps people motivated and engaged, as it’s a two-fold opportunity, to give praise and to support development – don’t abuse your power, use it wisely.

 

nicoleunderwood pty ltd is a national executive search and consulting practice known for its innovative approach to identifying, engaging and developing the right people for its client base. A successful formula gives their clients a significant competitive advantage – access to the greatest available talent and then a platform to convert that talent into high performing employees in a short period of time.  Contact us here.

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

By | Recruitment, Results

Top 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 Underwood Executive 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.

 

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.