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  1. Talent Pools – Why should I join one?

    March 2, 2017 by scrowe

    In a world where there is growing competition for good staff, talent pools are a great way for companies to develop relationships with potential employees.  They are an important part of an organisation’s employer branding, providing an opportunity for direct two-way communication with potential employees.

    But why should a potential employee sign up?

    A good talent pool is a resource for candidates as well.  A good talent pool will provide information that enables members to get an understanding of what it might be like to work for the company or in the industry supported by the talent pool.  Apart from electronic communication they will often provide networking and educational events.  These opportunities enable members to meet peers as well as potential employers.

    If a candidate is thinking of a change in career direction joining a relevant and active talent pool will put you in touch with people who will be happy to discuss the pros and cons of your proposed new direction.  Through your membership of a talent pool you should be able to determine whether you have the skills and experience necessary to make the change without the pressure of applying for a job.  This also means that you will know where you have to focus your training and development if you want to pursue that change.

    You don’t have to be actively looking for a job to join a talent pool, in fact most members probably aren’t.

    In summary, the benefits of joining a talent pool include:

    • Understanding what skills and experience you need to be eligible for positions you are interested in.
    • Gaining a “feel” for the culture of potential employers
    • Building your network of people who are already working in the industry/job/company that you are interested in.

  2. What every manager must know about building a great employer brand

    December 6, 2016 by Alison Hill

    Employer branding as a recruitment tool has become too big to ignore. Once the preserve of big consulting firms and global brands, it is now mainstream enough to have a day of its own – 27 April 2017 is World Employer Branding Day.

    Although HR departments and recruiters have been on board with the concept of employer branding for the past 10 years or so, senior leaders have been harder to convince. Now, new ways of measuring the impact of employer branding on the cost of hiring lets managers create a business case for employer branding that will convince even the most hardened CFO that creating a distinctive employer brand is a worthwhile investment.

    What can mangers do today to build an appealing employer brand that will attract the best talent to their business?

    1. Analyse where employer branding fits into your recruitment strategy (because its not the whole story). The best, authentic employer brands are built when HR, management, PR, marketing and employees work together to create a consistent message about what it is like to work for the organisation.

    Make sure that candidates’ experience with your organisation is stellar. Is it easy to apply for a position? Are you communicating effectively with candidates during the process? When a candidate has a bad experience, they will not only not apply for other positions with you, they will also tell others.

    2. Make sure your strategy is not exclusively employer-led. Employees are critical to developing brand image. What your employees communicate with people outside the organisation is far more important than the organisation’s own communications, research has shown. If employer branding is left to the marketing and PR functions only, it is not going to ring true.

    Including the voice of your employees and communicating their experience is vital. Define why people work for your organisation: is it to advance their careers as quickly as possible? To learn and grow? To make a positive difference to the world? An employee referral program can be a valuable part of a company’s recruiting strategy and reinforces your brand.  Knowing what percentage of your employees would recommend you as a great place to work, and why, gives you a good indication of how your brand is perceived right now.

    3. Amplify. Spread your message far and wide with content marketing and other forms of communication. You need to be where your prospective employees are, on social media, at trade fairs, community events, awards ceremonies and in the media. Tell the story of your company. What are you about? What do you stand for? Your vision and mission statements, your blog posts, intranet, public website and social media pages should all reflect the same values and story. This should be true both internally and externally, reinforcing why people want to stay with you as well as attracting them in the first place.

    4. Be real. No organisation is perfect, and no workplace is ideal for everybody. As well as promoting the strengths of your organisation, share the realities. Prospective employees will be more trusting of your employer brand if you are realistic about the work environment. This can be done in a positive way, such as by emphasising that you value work-life balance even if you don’t pay the highest rates in your industry.

    5. Measure. You will convince the bean counters that the strategy works if you have the numbers to back it up. Things to measure and track are number of applicants, cost per hire, quality of hires, retention rate and employee engagement score.

    A strong employer brand enhances the organisation’s brand overall, as well as adding value by building a recruitment pipeline through having a sharp and defined brand message. A strong employer brand  makes recruiting high-quality candidates who will be a good fit with the organisation a reality for every organisation.

  3. Active v passive job candidates: what’s the deal?

    November 30, 2016 by Alison Hill

    Truth or fiction? When you are looking to fill a position you should look for a passive candidate – somebody who is not looking for a new opportunity – because they will be better at their job. Or you should always fill the position with a person who is actively looking for a job because they will be more motivated, ambitious and ready to make a move.

    Many hiring managers and recruiters have passionately held opinions about whether active or passive candidates are best, so we thought we would look at the arguments. Is one ‘better’ than the other? As with most endeavours that combine art and science, as recruiting does, the conclusion seems to be ‘it depends’.

    Here are the rather simplistic arguments made for preferring either active or passive candidates. You can probably come up with a counter-argument for each of them. For a start, active candidate does not mean unemployed candidate; passive candidates are not all uninterested in pursuing an opportunity if the circumstances are right.

    They say you should employ an active candidate because…

    Recruiting them is easier. They are easy to find and ready to start when you need them. Easier and available also means less expensive.

    People who actively look at job opportunities are younger and better educated. Research for Indeed by Harris Polling in the US in 2015 showed that those who ever looked at job opportunities were mostly between 18 and 44, and graduates.

    They are actively looking for a challenge. They are more likely to want to move on because they want to learn, work in a larger organisation or earn more, and an ambitious candidate is more likely to succeed.

    They say you should employ a passive candidate because…

    You won’t have to compete with other employers to get them to work for you. You know that they are not sending out resumes and attending interviews, so negotiating with them will be straightforward. Most likely, you will not have to compete with other offers.

    They won’t inflate their skills or qualifications in their resume. There is no need for them to exaggerate their accomplishments or overstate their education and training, as they are not putting themselves out there.

    They will be loyal and stable employees. If they are not looking, they are engaged and happy in their job, making it more likely that they are a good team player and an all-round great employee.


    None of these arguments stand up under any real inspection. An active candidate might be leaving due to a poor performance review. They might be job-hopping and take any opportunity until the right one comes along, leaving you to repeat the recruitment process not too far down the line. A passive candidate may be a great fit with their current organisation, but a lousy fit with yours, or be hard to convince to consider your organisation, take up days of your time, and then ultimately say no – proving to be no less of a gamble than an active candidate.

    Other models have come up with the idea that there are four categories of active/passive candidates, or a continuum. LinkedIn reports that its 2014 research found that 75% of full time workers internationally consider themselves passive candidates, and about 15% aren’t actually applying for jobs but are preparing to move.


    To find, recruit and hire the best candidate for a particular role is ultimately what is important. Understanding that active and passive candidates are different, motivated and attracted in different ways, means that a single recruitment strategy is unlikely to work for all potential employees out there, ranging from 100% active to 100% passive. Active candidates can be reached through job boards, advertising and a good website; to an extent, they will come looking for you. Passive candidates are harder to reach, and you must go out and find them, wherever it may be, from social media to networking events and referrals.

    In the end, these sure-fire ways to attract both active and passive candidates should be the bedrock of your recruitment strategy:

    • Promote your organisation as a great place to work (and making sure it is one).
    • Run an employee referral program, particularly to connect with passive candidates.
    • Offer video interviews (e.g. Skype), after-hours interview times and flexible, discreet arrangements for discussing the position.
    • Use an executive search practitioner to be on the lookout for senior staff.
    • Create a fast and agile recruiting processes so that good candidates don’t withdraw in frustration.
    • Work with a recruiter who will maximise your sourcing capability and ensure the process keeps moving.

  4. How to create an elevator pitch that takes you to the top

    November 22, 2016 by Alison Hill

    ‘What do you do for a living?’ ‘So, what’s your business all about?’ ‘Tell me about yourself.’ If you’ve ever stumbled over a response to these enquiries, you need to craft yourself an elevator pitch.

    It’s called an elevator pitch because it should take no longer to deliver than the trip in the lift (or elevator, as they say over there) ­from the ground floor to the boardroom ­– about 30 seconds or so.

    In essence, your elevator pitch is a brief, interesting statement about who you are and what you do that makes the recipient care and want to know more. Whatever your purpose, the steps to take to create your elevator pitch are the same.

    Define your goal

    Why do you want to tell people about yourself or your organisation? You might want to make a career move, explain your start-up idea or sell your organisation as a great place to work. You might want to pitch a great idea to an exec, meet like-minded people at a networking event or create interest in your new product. Being clear about what you want to achieve is the first step, because it will shape what you say in your pitch.

    Explain what you do

    This is the simple, most obvious part. ‘My company handles corporate insurance’, or ‘I am a social worker and I work with young people with a disability ’. However, this is only the start. The more interesting part comes next.

    TIP: Don’t use jargon or excessively bureaucratic language. You run the risk of sounding insincere, or of your audience not understanding what it is you do at the end of it.

    Explain how you do it

    To stand out from the other insurers, or social workers, or whatever it is you do – because you will most likely never be the only one – include your ‘unique selling proposition’ or USP, to use some advertising jargon. What makes you different? What is your story about why you do what you do, and how do you do it in a way that makes you unique? This is what will make your audience remember you, so include it in your pitch in a way that is memorable.

    Use words such as ‘I have a knack for…’ or ‘I’m an effective…’ in your USP. They convey your ability and self-confidence without sounding conceited (yes, many of us struggle with that).

    Engage the recipient with a question

    At the end of your 30 or so seconds, have an open-ended question ready for the other person, such as ‘How does that relate to what you do?’ Your pitch can then move into conversation mode. (Unless you really are in a lift, in which case stop there.)

    TIP: Keep some business cards readily accessible so that you can hand them to the person at the end of your pitch or conversation.

    Practise your pitch until it is perfect

    You might well feel a little awkward, but practise saying your pitch out loud. Do it several times over. Time it, and perhaps even record yourself, and make sure it is not too loud. Say it to another person who will give you honest feedback about both your content and your delivery.

    TIP: Be natural in your speech patterns and in the words you choose. Your elevator pitch should be an authentic representation of you. Watch your body language – make sure it reflects what you are saying. Telling people how compassionate you are in a stilted voice with your arms folded will not come across as convincing.

    This is a real example of a suggested pitch: ‘I’m currently working as Human Resources Manager at [insert company]. My supervisors frequently commend me for being able to weigh and consider multiple perspectives and negotiate conflicting perspectives.’ Would you really speak that way? If you would, that’s fine, but if not, rather say something like  ‘My bosses often tell me I’m good at weighing and considering a lot of perspectives  and negotiating in conflicts’.

    Be prepared to tweak your elevator pitch both for the occasion and as your skills and experience evolve. At the end of it, the listener should have a really clear idea of the value you can deliver. Perhaps most importantly, your fire and excitement as you deliver it should be obvious, and infectious. It could just be the 30 seconds that changes your life.

  5. You have six seconds to make an impact with your résumé. Here’s how

    November 8, 2016 by Alison Hill

    By Alison Hill

    The world of work is changing fast, and the recruitment process is changing with it. A few years back, we reported that employers filter out 90 per cent of all résumés they receive in about 10 seconds. Now new research shows us that recruiters spend only six seconds reviewing an individual résumé. Here’s how to make your résumé grab a recruiter’s attention in this very short time.

    1. An organised layout is essential

    With so little time to make an impact, organising your information clearly is the number one priority. Most recruiters will scan the top third of the page when looking at a résumé, so make sure this area presents a snapshot of your best self. Outline what you can offer in specific terms – your ‘elevator pitch’ – rather than writing about your own career objectives.  Tell the recruiter what you are good at and what you love doing, and explain why you’re qualified to do it. Then summarise your core competencies, using active words such as ‘managed’, ‘initiated’ and ‘exceeded’. Your professional experience is best summarised in bullet points that draw the reader’s eye. One recruiter explained this as ‘bullet point equals bragging point’.

    1. Customise your résumé for each job application

    You may be qualified for a range of positions or be interested in different career options, but a one-size-fits-all approach will generally fit nobody very well. Customise your résumé just as you would your cover letter (please say you do that, don’t you?) so that the information you send is targeted and specific, leaving out everything that is irrelevant to the job description and skills and attributes the employer is looking for. Make sure all information you include is objective fact, rather than your own opinion of yourself. Recruiters want to see what you have done to demonstrate the traits that are important to them. Your opinion that you are a ‘great leader’ doesn’t count – tell the recruiter that your team exceeded its targets and was recognised as the best performing team in the business.

    1. Pay attention to how you write and who you are writing for

    Recruiters read hundreds and hundreds of résumés, so put yourself in their position. The same tired clichés and well-worn phrases are not going to capture their attention, no matter how much they really do apply to you. You’re a ‘hard worker’? Sure you are, but don’t use those words; instead, show that you have met every deadline even when it meant sometimes staying back to do so. We’re all ‘team players’ these days, so find a fresh and original way to express how you pitched in to meet a collective goal even when it wasn’t strictly your job to do so.

    1. Check and re-check your final draft for errors

    Being a good communicator is an almost universal requirement in the workplace today. Don’t undermine your claim to meet this prerequisite by overlooking spelling errors, typos and grammatical mistakes in your résumé. Many recruiters for professional organisations will discard a résumé at the first spelling mistake. Also make sure all your dates and facts add up, and absolutely never, never make up qualifications or positions held (it happens, even the CEO of Yahoo lied about the details of his degree). After all, if you can’t get this important document right, what are the chances your reports will be readable or your instructions clear to others? Have a professional proofreader, or at least somebody with considerable writing experience, read your final draft for errors.

    Using a professional résumé writing service can be helpful. Challenge People Services’ professional consultants with extensive recruitment experience can work with you to ensure your résumé showcases your skills, experience and background and is designed to deliver results.

    See more about our résumé writing service at Challenge People Services.

  6. You can’t ask that! Or can you? Questions to pose and avoid in an interview

    November 1, 2016 by Alison Hill

    When hiring managers interview a candidate for a role, there are plenty of questions they should NOT ask. Some are unhelpful (like the perennial ‘What is your greatest weakness?) and others are just silly (‘Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?’ – yes, that was an actual question asked by a big tech company). Others are breaking the law because they are discriminatory, being irrelevant to the person’s ability to do the job. Here are some questions that may not be asked – and a couple that may – in line with federal and state anti-discrimination laws.

    Employers may not discriminate on the basis of race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction, social origin, age, medical record, marital or relationship status, impairment, mental, intellectual or psychiatric disability, physical disability, pregnancy, nationality, sexual orientation or trade union activity, writes Nathan Luke of law firm Stacks.

    If employers may not discriminate when hiring, it stands to reason that if they were to ask questions about these matters and a candidate did not get a position, he or she could argue that asking the question was discriminatory. The Australian Human Rights commission or a state-based anti-discrimination board would consider a complaint from the candidate.

    ‘Even if the applicant cannot prove that the answer they gave to your question is the reason they didn’t get the job, they will still have a valid complaint on the basis that you asked the question. Insisting that you simply gave the job to another candidate who was more suitable will not help in your defence’, writes Luke.

    Some attributes are plain to see and no questions need to be asked. A racist interviewer can see immediately if a candidate is of a race or background they reject. Somebody who wants to employ a strong-looking 25-year-old man can rule out others without asking questions. The law cannot entirely protect against bias, conscious or unconscious. But generally, if the answer is irrelevant to the person’s ability to do the job, don’t ask the question in any form.


    How old are you?

    While we are generally well aware of gender and race discrimination, age discrimination is still prevalent, with assumptions that older people have fewer tech skills and are more inflexible (tell that to Bill Gates).

    Are you married? Are you gay? Do you have children?

    You can’t rule a person in our out of a position because of their relationship status or family situation, so don’t ask the question. If you do, the candidate is entitled to assume you placed weight on the answer in making your decision.

    Are you pregnant?

    Making assumptions about a pregnant woman’s ability to do her job is not only unwise, it could be considered discrimination. Sure, it’s difficult to think you may hire a person only to have her take extended leave a few months later, but if she is a good fit for your business hiring her is worthwhile in the long run.


    Religious organisations, including religious schools, are exempt from anti-discrimination laws in a range of defined circumstances. The discrimination must be in line with its doctrines, beliefs or principles, and must be reasonably necessary to not offend its followers. So a religious school may ask candidates about their religion and sexual orientation, for example.

    It is legal to ask candidates if they smoke, and to undergo a medical check as a condition of employment. It’s isn’t strictly illegal to ask a candidate at an interview if they have a criminal record, but it’s not the best way to discover this information. Have the recruiter or HR department run a background check if necessary. In general, if the conviction is relevant to the person’s job then it is not discriminatory to ask. So a person interviewing a candidate for a position as a driver is entitled to ask about convictions for driving offences.

    As with most laws, there are exceptions. When a particular attribute may be relevant to the inherent nature of the job, an interviewer may ask a question that would otherwise be discriminatory. An interviewer may ask about disability if it would affect the person’s ability to do the job, such as when filling a job that may involve danger to themself or the public. Asking about physical disability may be relevant for a job as a tree lopper or an ambulance driver, for example, but not for a call centre operator.

    When interviewing candidates, the best course of action is to approach the process with an open mind and treat all candidates fairly. Becoming aware of your unconscious biases and not acting on your conscious ones is not only legally essential, it also might lead you to a star candidate you would otherwise have overlooked. There is plenty of evidence that diverse workplaces perform better, too. That, however, is the topic for another post.


  7. Hiring new talent? Here’s how to spot a potential leader

    September 13, 2016 by Alison Hill

    Having a strong leadership pipeline is a sensible strategy for any organisation. Identifying, nurturing and retaining high potential employees at the start of their careers is a strategy that pays off handsomely.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to hire an enthusiastic young gun with the skills you need now, and then have them move up the ladder with your organisation? Ideally, you would spot a candidate with high leadership potential and then nurture them, helping them to grow into the leader whose aptitude you so astutely spotted way back. The long-term health of an organisation is much better when hiring managers can identify those with the potential to grow into a leadership role and excel at it.

    The problem is, it can be difficult to know what skills will be needed next month, let alone further into the future. As Daniel Goleman has written, ‘the only certainty about tomorrow’s business reality is that it will be ‘VUCA’: volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.’ Technological change, globalisation, economic uncertainty, demographic shifts and an increasingly data-driven business environment mean that we are less likely than ever to be able to predict the future of any industry, let alone our individual businesses.

    With the help of the right recruitment tools, your organisation can identify people who have the right skills for the role and the organisation right now, and the ability to master new skills that may be needed later. Critically, you can also learn to spot the right attitudes and behaviours that identify a new hire as a potential leader.

    These are the personal characteristics to be on the look out for when you interview future leaders and when you decide what personality assessments to use in your hiring process.

    Social and emotional intelligence

    People with high social and emotional intelligence understand both themselves and others and how to manage emotions in each. They make others feel valued and can motivate them with their enthusiasm and positive attitude. They are consistent in their actions, able to show empathy and compassion, are honest and always act ethically and responsibly.

    Motivation and a degree of selflessness

    Potential leaders can inspire those around them to be their best selves. They are not egotistical or driven by self-interest, but by a genuine desire to inspire others to do their best. They know that their success always depends on the willing co-operation of others.

    Openness to feedback new experience and information, learning

    Potential leaders are curious about themselves as well as the world around them. They ask good questions and listen carefully to the answers. They look for feedback from others and learn from it and from their mistakes. They understand collaboration and can identify strengths in others that will contribute to great outcomes.


    Willingness to work towards difficult goals without giving up when things are tough, resilience to continue in the face of setbacks an to learn from failure are hallmarks of good leaders. Those with high leadership potential are able to motivate others and to keep going even when times are tough. They enjoy challenging both themselves and those around them.

    The precise mix of characteristics and how they combine with hard skills will be different for each organisation. Identifying what you need now and into the future is a complex tasks. Challenge Consulting’s suite of psychometric tests can help you to identify potential leaders to match your needs now and into the future.

    Contact Challenge’s People Solutions Team on [email protected] or (02) 9221 6422.

  8. How to get the most from your temporary assignment

    July 12, 2016 by Alison Hill

    Temporary work can be great for all involved. Companies get to fill leave positions, cover for a key person who is ill, or find an extra pair of hands in busy times. Newly qualified workers can gain experience in the workplace and try out different industries and employers, and otherwise unemployed people can keep their skills current and earn an income while they search for a permanent position.
    A first-class agency that specialises in the industries and skills that both the company and the temp are interested in can make a good match great.
    So how do companies and temps both get the most out of the temporary assignment? We asked Melissa Lombardo, Challenge Consulting’s Temporary Services Consultant,  and considered what employers have valued when they nominated people for our Temp of the Month award.
    Here are four things you can do to maximise the temping experience.

    1. Be reliable
    Reliability is Lombardo’s first requirement. It seems self-evident, but sadly it isn’t. She explains that Challenge maintains a group of excellent candidates that have been interviewed and reference checked, so that when an assignment arises, the candidate can fill the position the same day if necessary. ‘This means reliability is the most important characteristic of a good temp’, says Lombardo. ‘Temps who show commitment to the position will be most likely to be offered the next position, as they’ve demonstrated their reliability by showing up and completing the placement’.

    What they said about the temp …
    ‘Her work rate and standards are very high’ – Challenge Temp of the Month Michala Kowalski
    ‘She is so accommodating and bright that any company would be silly to not offer her a role for which she applies’ – Challenge Temp of the Month Janette Wallman


    2. Be a clear communicator
    The agency can make a good match if both the temp and the organisation are clear about what they want. If a temp is unable to take a position because it means a long commute, they should say so, says Lombardo. A reasonable recruiter would not hold that against a temp, and can offer them another assignment closer to home.
    Organisations should try to plan for covering maternity leave, annual leave or periods of higher activity. With more notice, the temporary recruiter can place the most suitable person, particularly for longer assignments. The best temps are in high demand and may be unavailable at short notice.

    What they said about the temp …
    ‘She is a strong communicator and is able to deal with our introducers demands with ease’ – Challenge Temp of the Month Anna Kemp
    ‘… a friendly and energetic part of the team’ – Challenge Temp of the Month Nishma Manandhar


    3. Be open-minded about the assignment
    Lombardo says that both organisations and temps can be reluctant when the person’s skills and experience are more than the role requires. Approached with an open mind, this situation is a winner for all concerned.
    The temp has a great opportunity to impress, to network and to learn new skills and systems. They will be remembered when it comes to making a permanent hire in a position for which the temp is qualified; they will think of Charlie the great temp receptionist who was actually a qualified accountant when the next suitable vacancy comes up.
    ‘The company gets the benefit of a person with strong experience and skills, representing great value for money, says Lombardo. ‘This is particularly true for those on working holiday visas, who may be much more qualified than is necessary for an admin assistant.’

    What they said about the temp …
    ‘… doing jobs far below her skill set but she would not tell you she is degree qualified in the science field’ Challenge Temp of the Month Janette Wallman
    ‘Despite being a senior HR practitioner and working with us on contract, Janine has mucked in with admin duties’ – Challenge Temp of the Month Janine Brockway
    ‘… consistently amazes us with the upgrades he has made to our SharePoint site’ – Challenge Temp of the Month Peter Sunga


    4. Have a positive attitude and go the extra mile
    Temps are always meeting new people and working in different environments. It helps to be friendly, positive, and open to new experiences. If the temp assignment is more junior than is ideal, a positive person will see it as a good way to network and have new learning experiences.
    Employers should be open to contributions that are ‘above and beyond.’ Just because they are temps, it doesn’t mean they can’t make excellent suggestions or put improvements in place.

    What they said about the temp …
    ‘… jumped at the opportunity to take on challenging additional work’ – Challenge Temp of the Month Charbel Elhage
    ‘… made a huge effort to pinpoint any areas for further development’ – Challenge Temp of the Month Nishma Manandhar
    ‘… not only performed the role as required, but has worked to make continual improvements to the process’ – Challenge Temp of the Month Aisling Kennedy

    Find out more about Challenge Consulting’s Temporary Staff Services here.

  9. How to clear the last hurdle in the recruitment process: preparing for the counter offer

    May 17, 2016 by Alison Hill

    We’re hearing more and more instances of candidates being offered more money or a better position when they tell their employer they have been offered a role with another organisation. Handling the counter offer is something hiring managers increasingly need to do.

    It’s hard. You thought you had the person all set up to join your team. The contract was ready for their signature, but you get the call to say their manager had offered them a raise and/or a promotion to entice them to stay.

    But you can make it less likely that the candidate will accept a counter offer. Here are some ways to deal with the situation.

    The candidate’s present organisation will be enticing your would-be employee to stay with the promise of more money, a fancier title, or involvement in an interesting project. But that’s not all they will be weighing up; it’s also the security of staying in a familiar environment with familiar people, doing  job they have mastered. They may even feel guilty or disloyal for thinking of leaving. It’s human nature to feel this way.

    You need to convince your would-be employee that moving is the right decision for them. These facts might help you persuade them to accept your offer.

    • Once they have you have signalled their intention to leave, their loyalty will always be questioned, and future promotion may be jeopardised.
    • Because most people who accept a counter offer leave within a year or less anyway, their manager is likely to be on the lookout for a replacement whether they stay or not.
    • It is easier for the manager to entice the candidate to stay than to hire a new person, particularly in the middle of a project or when there are other vacancies in the team. When the crisis is over, the incentive to keep them on is gone.
    • If the underlying reasons for their resignation have not been addressed, or if the changes have not been enough, they are likely to feel the need to leave in the not too distant future.

    Stephen Crowe,  Managing Director of Challenge Consulting,  advises that during the recruitment process, you should try to find out precisely why the candidate is leaving their current job. ‘Discuss the possibility of a counter offer of more money with the candidate and reinforce that a counter offer won’t fix the underlying issues for them leaving,’ he says. If they are prepared for the possibility that there will be an attempt to ‘buy them back’ when they hand in their resignation, they are less likely to accept without thinking it through.

    It also helps to make your first offer to the candidate your best offer, in terms of remuneration, opportunities, benefits and working conditions.  If there are non-monetary benefits from working with you, such as childcare facilities, a great location, the opportunity to work from home or an in-office barista, don’t forget to reinforce them to your candidates.

    If you sense their only motivation is financial, or that they are using the threat of a new position to leverage a pay increase, you will be wise to weed them out in the early stages of the hiring process with a great structured interview process and psychometric testing. Keep the focus on what the candidate is looking forward to in the new role, and talk about it often. ‘You may even mention those things in the offer letter to the candidate,’ suggests Crowe.

    Finally, it is worth remembering that if a candidate accepts a counter offer they have broken their commitment to the new employer who made the job offer. That is not only unprofessional, it is ethically questionable, and burns bridges. Their current company will question their loyalty, and they are likely to be first in line when staff is cut. The prospective company is unlikely to consider them again. Word gets around the industry.

    Prepare the candidate for the counter offer by coaching them to say, ‘I’m flattered, but I’ve made my decision. At this point, this is the right decision for me. I’m happy to make the transition as smooth as possible for you, and let’s stay in touch.’

  10. Use the onboarding process to build a positive culture in your organisation

    May 10, 2016 by Alison Hill

    If part of your strategy in making the new hire is to change corporate culture, grab the opportunity – and do it right. The first 90 days – that critical period for onboarding a new hire – are crucial in allowing the positive traits of the new employee to take hold in the organisation.

    Stephen Crowe, Managing Director of Challenge Consulting, explains: ‘When a new person joins a team, other team member’s senses are in a heightened state. People are more tuned in to changes. This sensitivity wears off over time, and as it does, so does the opportunity to effect change.’

     Two decisions have a large bearing on how successful you will be.

    1. Choose the right mentor for your new hire

    The right mentor must have more than just a good understanding of the job requirements. Pick somebody who embodies the culture you want to instil. ‘This person will have a large initial influence not just by what they say and do, and what they choose to focus on with the new employee, but also by how they conduct themselves while they do it’, explains Crowe. ‘Their vocabulary, their body language, the respect or otherwise they show for others and the emphasis they put on different aspects of the role will strongly affect the new employees’ understanding of acceptable behaviour.’

    This applies not only while the mentor is working with the new hire. ‘They will be strongly affected by how their mentor deals with co-workers, clients and others in day-to-day situations.  The new employee will be watching – often unconsciously – how their mentor behaves with others when they are not with the new employee’, says Crowe.

    I was told about a friend’s first day at what turned out to be a nightmare workplace. She was being shown around on her first day by her new manager, who talked up the friendly workplace culture with its breakout areas full of beanbags, Friday drinks and casual dress code. She was therefore taken aback when the manager snapped at a co-worker about preparing for a presentation and cut him off mid-sentence when he tried to respond. The manager’s body language, arrogant behaviour and disrespect was totally at odds with her words. It soon became clear this was not a friendly, laid back place to work, and she left after three weeks.

    1. Allow the positive traits of the new hire to take hold

    ‘Pinpoint which desirable new practices, suggestions and behaviours the new employee brings’, says Crowe. ‘Allowing their traits to take hold in the organisation is an opportunity to shift the culture, and has the highest chance of success during the first ninety days of the person’s employment.’

    The change in direction is not achieved by pushing those traits on the others in the team. ‘That will more likely result in resentment, explains Crowe.  ‘It is done by not standing in the way when the person presents something new, or suggests doing something in a new way, or displays behaviour that is different but is in line with the culture you are trying to build.  By allowing the behaviour but not imposing it on others, the organisation gives the signal that this is acceptable. By not forcing it, you are allowing a subtle change of direction’, he says.

    Crowe stresses that using the onboarding process as an opportunity to change workplace culture is a subtle process that comes about by a nuanced mixture of reinforcing the desirable aspects of company culture with the new hire and allowing their new, positive traits to hold sway. ‘It’s not  a game for the heavy handed, as any company culture is a complex and nuanced mixture of practices, beliefs and emotions’, he says.

    Have you had any experience – good or bad – of a new hire influencing company culture in their first 90 days? We welcome your comments.





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