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  1. Employer Brand – A Cornerstone To Successful Recruiting

    June 10, 2014 by Jenna

    After a long period of uncertainty our economy is finally showing early signs of recovery. As a consequence the optimist inside every business person starts thinking about growth and that often means more staff. So what does the recruitment scene look like in 2014?

    Well it is different to what your might have experienced previously. While we have rising unemployment we also have skills shortages in a number of important sectors. Due the uncertainty of the last five years good candidates are reluctant to change jobs unless they are really confident about the strengths of their new employer.

    What does this mean if you’re trying to attract good people? It is a new world out there and one of the keystones of recruitment success in this new world is your employment brand.

    Just as your business brand defines you to your potential customers, your employment brand defines you to your potential employees. It answers these questions (amongst others):

    • Why should I want to work for you?
    • Why are you different from your competitors?
    • What sort of work culture do you have?
    • What can you do for my career?

    Candidates get to understand your employer brand through a range of sources. One of the most important and influential is a trusted third party (usually an employment agency). If you work with a good employment agency one of the value added benefits is that they sell your employer brand to every candidate they talk to.

    Challenge Consulting is a recruitment services company that works with organisations in the Banking and Finance, ICT and Not for Profit Industries to attract, select and on board great talent. Please call to discuss any of your recruiting questions.

    Stephen Crowe
    Challenge Consulting Australia
    Managing Director

  2. New Year Finance Market Update: How to Compete For the Best Talent – By Lauren Eardley

    February 14, 2014 by Jenna

    Coming out of one of the busiest Januaries I have experienced in the recruitment industry, I feel compelled to share some of my findings on the early part of 2014. As a dedicated Finance & Credit Recruitment Consultant; my findings will be biased towards this sector.

    I was one of those lucky people to work straight through the Christmas period so I rode out the quiet days and clung on during the January surge. Whether it be a trend in just my own clients or a reflection of the market as a whole, there has been a definite increase in demand for experienced Analysts, Collectors, Business Development Managers, Credit Controllers and Support Staff across the Finance industry. I believe this trend is linked to the ‘non-bank’ smaller lenders making an aggressive push to take market share in lending; particularly on home loans. Borrowers who may have been disenchanted with ‘non-bank’ lenders since the GFC have increased their confidence and in some cases have turned away from banks due to their higher interest rates and increased lending criteria. This has meant a requirement for more staff for these businesses and an increase in jobs. This demand has subsequently been reflected by an increase in quality candidates looking to snap up the best jobs out there this side of Christmas (up 8% on January 2013). This is great for employers, however; more opportunity means more choice and competition for candidates.

    The choice that strong candidates have in this market has created the ability for them to demand more money; and trust me they are! Depending on your budget requirements and flexibility you may or may not be able to meet these demands but I have certainly witnessed my clients in this market becoming more generous in their salary provisions so it is certainly something to consider if you wish to compete strongly for the best talent.

    I have also noticed a certain ferocity in the competition for these strong candidates in credit and finance this year.  A great candidate is always interviewing for several positions at once and they have varying levels of honesty in describing yours as their ‘Number One Priority.’ This creates an obligation on the employer to differentiate themselves from their competitors on what matters most to a superior performer; the benefits. Now this varies from person to person, salary is of course the most obvious point of differentiation but I have also witnessed an increasing emphasis on finding ‘The Right Role;’ this comes down to something less tangible; Culture.

    The culture of an organisation comes down to a few fundamental points: management, team involvement, rewards, recognition and performance monitoring. While it is easy to stick an extra few Ks onto the salary, these cultural points are less easy to address (at least in the short term).

    The length and smoothness of the recruitment process is also an initial indication to the candidate of the culture of the business. If the process is long and arduous and the hiring manager is taking 2 months to make a decision, this reflects poorly on the company and its brand; it is not a good look. And in this market where superior performers are available for no longer than 72 hours, I highly recommend moving quickly.

    I am more than familiar with the hoops that candidates have to jump through to get their foot in the door with financial institutions and alike: multiple interviews, psychometric tests, skills tests, background checks, yet another interview and I certainly understand the value of each and every step. The onus is therefore on the hiring manager to move the candidates quickly through each stage and for the recruiter (i.e. yours truly) to keep the candidate motivated and excited about the opportunity throughout the whole process. This is where specialist recruiters can really complement internal teams and make your life a whole lot easier throughout the selection process.

    If you need help harnessing and managing star candidates for your organisation, call Lauren Eardley our Specialist Finance Recruiter on 02 9221 6422.

  3. The 5 P’s of Your Personal Brand

    August 2, 2013 by Jenna

    So, tell me about yourself?

    The question that puts fear into us all, we stumble across an answer that will reveal what the person wants to hear and what we need to sell.

    It’s hard. Who am I? What defines brand ‘me’?

    Last month I learnt the 5 P’s of your Personal Brand at a NIDA event, ‘Become a Key Person of Influence’. The target audience for the event was entrepreneurs, but attendees came with a common purpose – to help define themselves (their goals) and their brand (what they need to portray about themselves to the world).

    Daniel Priestly identified five steps on how to become a person of influence, and I think these steps apply no matter what stage you are at in your career –

    1. Pitch – Do you answer the question ‘what do you do’ with confidence and clarity? You also need to make sure you know what industry or network that you want to promote your brand to. Similar to what I had covered on resumes, if you are providing a pitch that isn’t specific or tailored to that market that you want to get into, you may lose the person from the beginning. Keep it short, sweet and precise.

    2. Publish – Gain credibility through writing. I am very privileged to be able to write a blog within my organisation. Writing is a great way to communicate ideas, share information and connect. Credibility can also include transcripts, academic achievements, awards – present your brand, don’t be shy about what you have achieved so far, be proud of it without being arrogant about it.

    3. Product – Turning your skills into an asset for the company you work for, the business you are wanting to start, the next challenge that you want to take on in your career. This means not just verbalising what you do, but providing the results, proving that you are capable of putting plan into action when you are sharing your ideas or defining who you are.

    4. Profile – How easily are you found on Google and other social media networks? Now remember this could be a double edged sword, while it is great to keep up to date with technology and ways to socially connect online, be careful of what you are promoting. For example, most employers will take a look on Facebook or LinkedIn before proceeding to the interview. If your profile is open to all public viewing and your profile picture has obscene or rude gestures, chances are you may not be taken that seriously. Make sure you are promoting the best side of yourself to everyone.

    5. Partnership – Are you connecting with others in your industry or other mentors or professionals that can help steer you in the right direction of where you want your career to lead? Connection builds to relationships which can further expand your network and also provides recommendations and support. Do keep in mind this is not often a one way street. You cannot gain what you need for others without making negotiations or going the extra mile for them as well. This takes time, but make the effort and commit to catch-ups to build these relationships and lasting connections.

    What I liked about this course was that it gave me a ‘refresher’ when it came to promoting my personal brand. We had intervals where we were timed to meet someone else in the audience and had 90 seconds to give our elevator pitch. While initially I wanted to promote the company that I work for and its services, it challenged me to reflect on what I brought to the company personally, especially since I had been used to my pitch from when I was in the events industry, and I had built different skills and expertise to promote.

    It is never easy to approach a stranger and talk about who you are; in fact you can feel quite vulnerable! But the more firmly planted you are in terms of your skills, qualities, what makes you unique as well as how that ties in with your career field of interest, the more confidently you will be able to express that. The remaining four steps will follow.

    My last piece of advice is not to wait too long or turn down opportunities to showcase your brand. The sooner you are able to present yourself, the more confidence you will build in delivering your pitch, and the more brand awareness you gain. Especially when it comes to seeking new roles and opportunities, if you wait to long to seize the moment, chances are someone else will come along and take it for you. So carpe diem!

    What is the best advice that you have ever been given regarding your personal brand? Did it help lead you to where you are today?

  4. When was the last time you did a ‘spring clean’ of your career?

    June 4, 2013 by Jenna

    Whether you are happy in your current role or currently looking for something new, it is always important to keep your job search and career development skills up-to-date.

    Not only that but cleaning out some of the distractions and bad habits that may be weighing you down instead of helping you move forward can only be a good thing, right?


    Have you reviewed your resume lately?

    We tend to only look at our resume when we need to look for work. But whether you are looking for work or not, your resume is your most important personal brand document. And we all know how time consuming writing a resume from scratch is.

    So pull out your resume for a spring clean:

    Update Information – Are your most recent achievements added? Is your employment history up-to-date? Have you identified who you references will be?
    Formatting – Is your resume easy to read? Is it set out in a way where the employer or recruiter can identify your key skills without having to do an investigative search? Does it look clean and neat? Is the language formal and professional? Would it grab your attention if you were an employer?

    Another thing to keep in mind, in the age of technology – is your online presence. What does Google say about you? What does your LinkedIn profile say about you? Is it time for an update to list your most recent skills and experience? What other social media sites do you currently have a presence – do they represent the image you would like to portray?


    Do you know what level of skills you have? Do you know what skills you need to take the next step in your career?

    If you are not sure what level your computer skills are at, there are plenty of opportunities to assess your skills through online skills testing. For jobseekers you can keep a copy of the results to share with future employers.

    There is no time like the present to invest or consider additional training to update your skills. Perhaps your current employer offers training programs that you can sign-up for? If not, consider what training you need and ask at your next performance discussion with your manager.

    Set Goals

    What are your personal goals? Do they tie in with your career goals? What matters most for you?

    I’m most successful when I have a healthy body and mind. But I tend to find that my body and mind are more often in conflict rather than cooperating together!

    To get myself back on track, I set physical goals to reach the state of health and fitness I want. For me, being more active allows me to be more positive in my approach to life. Not to mention, knowing that I’m capable of achieving these physical goals helps build my confidence to push myself forward to achieve my career goals as well.

    Now I’m not saying go out and spend a lot of money to join a gym, sometimes simple things like going for a daily walk, having a yoga stretch in a park or going to a class with a friend, can really boost your overall well-being. And let’s be honest, when you are not healthy you tend to feel sluggish and demotivated. I know how difficult it is when I get caught in this rut, but once I push myself outside of my comfort zone, I definitely feel more motivated to achieve even more.

    Remove Obstacles

    Are there factors in your life that are making you stressed or holding you back from making the best decisions regarding your career?

    Too often we get busy just being busy. But are there tasks that are taking too much time that are stopping you from investing in what is important? Are there things that you could delegate, share or remove entirely to allow you the time you need to invest in what you really want to achieve?  The body cannot function without the mind, and if you are losing too much sleep because you have too much on your mind or have too many commitments on your plate this will not benefit you in the long run. In fact, if you are tired and unfocused it could potentially harm your decisions. So get rid of those negative factors that are holding you back, and if you can’t get rid of some factors try and find a way to find balance. Most likely you will know someone who has been in a similar situation and their advice could really help guide you.

    It can also be very easy to be comfortable in your current routine ‘bubble’. But every now and then we need to challenge ourselves outside of that bubble to examine if what we are currently doing is the best for us and our future career. What do you need to spring clean in your career?

  5. Should employers put restrictions on the use of social media in the workplace?

    March 7, 2012 by Jenna

    We have all seen or heard of the good and bad situations with social media in the workplace.

    I have seen examples of employees complaining about their boss on Facebook, only to forget that their boss was included on their ‘friend list’ to then get fired. To negative publicity (usually spread by gossip) in the social pages of the media in previous places that I have worked in. But I have also seen business branding grow, as well as social networks and client relationships increase as a result. So I guess when it comes to how social media is viewed by the public, the good and the bad must be taken hand in hand.

    Social Media certainly cannot be avoided, it is the way that our generation is evolving, and the faster that news can travel the better.

    But as individuals of this generation, are we getting way to distracted by the latest aps, connections and sources of social media that it is decreasing our level of performance and perhaps putting our organisation at risk?

    I have worked in previous jobs where the IT Department has been able to block the use of Facebook and personal emails within the workplace. And I have seen first hand the negative results of internal gossip and emails can have when discovered by management (remember we are never the only ones who can observe our own emails at work!)

    My parents also work for a financial franchise and they have strict rules when it comes to the use of camera phones in the workplace, especially when they are handling money, vaults and cashing cheques.

    At the same time I think it is unrealistic to block out the use of social media entirely. One website that I looked at, identifies the 12 benefits of social media in business:

    1. Increased awareness of the organisation

    2. Increased traffic to website

    3. Greater favorable perceptions of the brand

    4. Able to monitor conversations about the organisation

    5. Able to develop targeted marketing activities

    6. Better understanding of customers perceptions of their brand

    7. Improved insights about their target markets

    8. Identification of positive and negative comments

    9. Increase in new business

    10. Identification of new product or service opportunities

    11. Ability to measure the frequency of the discussion about the brand

    12. Early warning of potential product or service issues

    In my current role I am required to keep up to date with the social media aspect of the business with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as my sources of distributing our weekly newsletter, blogs and polls. I find it incredible to see the amount or information that the general public have access to and articles are being posted constantly. We have so much knowledge available at our fingertips that were not even considered options many years ago.

    From an employers perspective I can also understand that because social media can also tend to limit privacy, if an employee does something that they shouldn’t and it is exposed to the public with the company’s name behind it, this can cause a negative outlook not just on the employee but the company at hand.

    Yet banning social media entirely may be a tad excessive. Another website makes a valid statement to employers who may be considering this option: ‘Trust people, set them objectives (employees), engage them, inspire them, manage them, lead them.  Treat them like grown ups.  If they behave like kids, treat them accordingly and deal with it.  That’s management.  Banning social media says much about the failings of management.  It’s here to stay, take it for what it is, a great tool to reach out in new and exciting ways to customers that five years ago you could only have dreamed of.’

    So what were your thoughts on the matter? Some of the feedback from last week has been listed below:

    • Policy guidelines are recommended to ensure that employers and employees are aware of their responsibilities while using social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. It is vital to ensure to protect the brand and retain goodwill.
    • Absolutely, social media opens up a minefield of issues for businesses blurring the border between personal representation and that of what the business represents. Therefore it is important to have strict policies and procedures with clear restrictions.
    • Restrictions on company computers of social media would mean more covert and undercover usage on personal mobile phones. If an employee underperforms, disciplenary actions should be taken, if they perform and meet their KPI’s, why restrict their guilty pleasure?

    Overall from what I can gather most employers are quite open to the use of social media in the workplace, as long as employees are still representing the company in a professional manner and that the distractions do not overall effect their ability to meet their work deadlines.

    Haven’t had your say? Please feel free to write a comment below, and also check our latest poll:
    The follow up call: When applying for a job, is the candidate follow up call and advantage or an annoyance?

  6. You want the best people to work for you, but why would they want to?

    August 23, 2011 by Jenna

    Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. “Like” us now to stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …______________________________

    So, you’re a company. 

    You want the best people to work for you. Really talented people, unique even, with experience and skills and personalities that will bring even greater success to you. 

    But why on earth would they want to work for you? 

    Do you know why? Can you articulate it? Does your company have a strong brand, an attractive brand? Do people perceive you as a leader in your industry? Are your existing teams filled with people who actively share their skills and knowledge and expertise for the betterment of the whole? 

    Understanding a candidate’s expectations of your company and its culture is critical from the very start. If a disconnect exists between a candidate’s expectations and the reality of the situation, it can quickly lead to problems with engagement, performance, and business productivity. The candidate needs to know what is expected of them as well as feel a sense of strong company culture that is not only clear but inviting. 

    So, how do you go about building and leveraging a positive talent brand? 

    Brands are a powerful combination of symbols, messages and beliefs about a product or employer. You need to think about your potential candidates like a marketer would think about their potential customers. Take a look at the current advertising your company conducts. How does it come across? What are the key messages being put out? Who are you trying to attract? 

    The objectives that a good brand will achieve include:

    – Delivering the message clearly

    – Confirming your credibility

    – Connecting with your target prospects emotionally

    – Motivating the buyer

    – Concreting loyalty

    In terms of attracting the best performing people to work for your company, your branding is about getting them to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem, ie, working for an exceptional company, and industry leader, that satisfies their professional needs and provides an arena in which they can contribute their skills and talents, make an impact, and continue to learn and grow. 

    To succeed in branding you must understand the needs and wants of your customers and prospects. As the thrust of this blog entry is about attracting high performing candidates to your company, our most recent online poll asked: “High Performance Employees: what is the #1 thing your organisation offers to attract them that works?” 

    The results were:

    #1 – Providing opportunities for continued learning, both formal and informal – 25.0%

    #2 – Having a confidence-inspiring company “brand” that ensures high-performing people want to work for you – 16.6%

    – Providing a leadership and mentoring program – 16.6%

    – Paying above-market rate salaries – 8.3%

    – Having a defined career progression plan in place – 6.2%

    – Being decisive and quick to make job offers so the high performers don’t go elsewhere – 4.1% 

    It is interesting that money was fourth in our respondents’ list of priorities. Perhaps this reflects the fact that it is a given that high performing people will be appropriately compensated for their contributions and competencies anyway, and that exceptional people are seeking more than just monetary reward? 

    Clearly working somewhere that has a gold-standard reputation as a top employer is very important, but a culture of continued learning is number one in people’s list of priorities when seeking employment opportunities, something for all organisations to bear in mind when formulating brand strategies and during recruitment exercises. 

    This week’s Challenge Consulting News features two articles on this topic – for your free subscription, click here

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