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  1. How Recruitment Has Changed In The Last 10 Years

    August 26, 2014 by Jenna

    I started my career in recruitment in 2004, in the days when skills shortages and low unemployment dominated the airwaves. SEEK was without question the online job board of choice, although CareerOne was in a desperate re-branding phase to attract us all back to their stable. Newspaper advertising was also still a key attraction tool especially for Senior Executive and regional roles. There was no Facebook, there was no Twitter, and there certainly wasn’t LinkedIn.

    But there were people. The most important thing about recruitment, and the essential key to effective recruitment, is and always will be the people. The ability of a recruiter to identify a strategy to attract potential candidates to a job is the first step, the second step is the ability to quickly identify that candidate’s skills, abilities, and motivations to most effectively match them to the right job and right company, and of course the most important step; effectively manage the negotiations of this match-making process between candidate and company to ensure a long-lasting partnership for all.

    Some of the candidates Challenge Consulting placed in 2004 are still in those roles today. Some have moved up into higher level roles with the same or other organisations. Others have made a complete career change. I can still name most of those people I had the good fortune of meeting 10 years ago, I’m not so good at faces – but for me the names tell a story. A story of change of country, change of state, celebrating 10 year wedding anniversary with a surprise trip to Hawaii, babies, marriages, and fresh starts in a brand new role filled with possibilities. I was so lucky to work with these people when they often were stepping outside of their comfort zone and at their most vulnerable, making a job change.

    All those years ago the thing that surprised me most about recruitment, was not the process itself, it was the reputation of recruiters. To many the profession of the recruitment consultant was closest to a used-car salesman – slimy, arrogant, and only in it for the money (apologies to the used-car salesmen). But the truth is the best recruiters do not fit this stereotype. The best recruiters are not chucking CVs at an inbox hoping one will fit. The best recruiters are not scouring the online job boards and cold calling with offers of the best candidates without any idea what your requirements are. The best recruiters are not cold calling you endlessly full stop. Because the best recruiters are too busy meeting people and developing a talent pipeline for your company. They are networking at industry events so they best understand what is happening in your industry and sector. They are meeting with you, between job hires, to understand the current strategic priorities for your business now and into the years to come.

    An ironic shift in the industry happened in 2008; I was at the time travelling overseas enjoying the best that Europe had to offer, but when I returned it was clear that although Australia was not in recession, the Global Financial Crisis had just hit us hard. It was at this time that many of those bad recruiters went out of business. It would be mistaken to suggest that the GFC did not have an impact on Challenge Consulting, because even for the best recruiters business diminished, but like the other great recruitment organisations we looked at other ways to partner with our clients, who too were struggling with the uncertainty of what next.

    Fast-forward to now and what frustrates me the most is that the bad recruiters are starting to re-dominate the landscape. I know this because I now work in the area of career transition with individuals whose positions have been made redundant and they tell me the incredible horror stories.  Recruiters that advertise jobs that do not exist. Recruiters that do not return their calls after a SECOND INTERVIEW with the client company. Recruiters that chuck their CVs at jobs without their permission. Recruiters that do not return their calls full stop. How is it that in 2014 this is the standard of recruitment practice that we accept? How is it that these companies even exist?

    They exist because someone is paying them to exist. Every time a company says, “I will just throw this job out to a couple of recruiters and see what comes back”. They are rather saying: “it is OK to send CVs without a thorough attraction and screening process. We don’t want the best match for our requirements.” Every time a company says: “I will not pay that rate because this other recruiter will do it for less than that”, they are saying “we don’t want good recruiters; we want bad recruiters that will waste our time and ruin the reputation of our company in the marketplace”. Every time a company lists a job with more than one agency, they are saying “we support bad recruitment practices based on competition rather than collaboration and quality”.

    Of course recruiters can do better. We all can, we are all people. But we need to demand that they do better and not pay for those services that breed a profession that burns people out. We need to empower a profession to be the best that it can be by paying for quality partnerships with the best recruiters. Those great recruiters that will partner with you and help you build that talent pipeline that will lead to your future success, because at the end of the day, that’s what it should be about. Your most important asset = your people.


  2. Is It Fair to Consider a Candidate’s Online Footprint During the Selection Process?

    August 12, 2014 by scrowe

    The debate about whether an organisation should use a candidate’s online profile to assess their suitability to join an organisation has been circulating for a number of years now.  Survey results (mainly from the USA and UK) appear pretty inconclusive as to how many are doing it, with figures ranging from 40% to 90% of respondents admitting to using online information in the selection process.

    The basic issues are:

    • Is it an invasion of privacy?
    • Is it fair on shareholders, existing employees and customers to select a person without using all the publically available information?
    • The level of publically available information a person publishes on their own social media accounts is controlled by that person.
    • Not all information available online about a person was authorised by them or is necessarily accurate.
    • Apart from LinkedIn, online information about a candidate is most often used to rule a person out of a job.

    An early article (2010) about the ethics of the subject describes the employer’s position as follows: “According to an article on Ethica Publishing’s web site, ‘When an employer uses Facebook as a means for employment screening, they are practicing the utilitarian approach of ethics [which states that] ‘the ethical corporate action is the one that produces the greatest good and does the least harm for all who are affected – customers, employees, shareholders, the community and the environment.’… Employers do not care if they invade your privacy during their hiring search as long as it is serving the ‘greater good’ by hiring superior employees.”

    Well, my opinion is that an employer (or agency working for an employer) should use the verifiable information that is appropriate for the stage of the recruitment process, the type of organisation and the position being sought.  That means that early in the process it is very appropriate to use information from, for example, LinkedIn (as it only exists for this purpose and all LinkedIn users are very aware of this) and the results of searches regarding a person’s work history.  I do not think it is appropriate to use Facebook or similar information at this stage as this information is predominantly concerned with a candidate’s life away from work.

    Once the person is in the final stages of consideration, though, (typically after interviews have been conducted and the person assessed for both job and cultural fit by the hiring manager and at the time they are being considered for offer) I think it is an appropriate part of a background check to review other sources of information as long as the person is not ruled out without being given the opportunity to respond or validate any unfavourable findings.

    The other consideration that, to my knowledge, has not been fully tested is the legal position.  There have been a number of high profile cases where an employer or agency has been accused of not using all available avenues to verify a person’s history when the history presented has turned out to be false, but I’m not aware of any cases where an employer is pursued because they ruled out a candidate based on information they found online.

    So, what is my conclusion?  I think it is only appropriate to use a person’s online “personal” i.e. non-work, information to confirm the appropriateness of an appointment once the decision has been made using the “traditional” methods (interview, role play, psychometric testing, etc) and that the candidate should have a ‘right of reply’, if needed,  before a final conclusion is reached.


  3. Is it OK to do your makeup during the morning commute?

    December 13, 2011 by Jenna

    I suppose I should begin by coming clean and explaining why I chose this as my topic for last week’s online poll and, subsequently, this week’s blog post. 

    Last Monday, I was sitting on the train during the morning commute and I became riveted whilst observing a young lass applying her makeup. And I don’t mean daubing on a bit of lippy, I mean her whole makeup routine, from foundation and concealer on those unsightly dark circles and areas of uneven skin tone through to a dusting of loose powder over her face and neck, from eyeshadow, eyelash curler and mascara through to lip liner and lipstick. A final dab with a tissue and she was ready to face the world. It was quite instructive in a way. 

    However, I felt somewhat sorry for the gentleman sitting beside her (at least I think it was a gentleman – it was difficult to be certain given the cloud of powder he was cloaked in, magician-like). 

    Personally, I do not like it. At all. I can cope with a slick of lippy and a dab of powder from a compact, but the whole routine from go to woah? No no no. No. 

    Am I overly sensitive? Should I just build a bridge and get over it? I just had to know what other people thought. I first posed the question “Is it OK to do your makeup during the morning commute?” on my Facebook profile. Reponses were mixed, but were essentially divided between “no, I hate it, why don’t you do it at home or in private somewhere?” and “yes, who cares, as long as the person is not encroaching on my personal space”. 

    I then put it out there to our eNews readership and visitors to our website’s homepage

    And again, it was pretty much evenly split between YES and NO. The few respondents who chose “Other” were basically smart alecs who said they were okay with it as long as they could shave / brush their teeth / squeeze their pimples / pluck their eyebrows / cut their toenails. 

    Gross. 

    One respondent enjoyed the fact that applying lipstick whilst on a moving vehicle was rich in comic potential: “how amusing is it to watch the application of lippy go horribly wrong as a result of heavy braking?” 

    Another respondent had no issues with a quick touch up but drew the line at anything heavily scented or that released clouds of powder or particles that might be irritating to other people or even cause allergic reactions. Fair enough, I say. 

    Another was quite adamant in their response: “Who cares what you do in your personal space on public transport! As long as it doesn’t disturb anyone else, why should it matter?” 

    And ultimately, I suppose that is the crux of the issue – we should always ask ourselves “Is what I am doing right now in this public space going to p*** the people around me off? How would I feel if someone, especially a stranger, was doing this very close to me?” 

    And that extends beyond rampant makeup application to playing computer games without using headphones, wearing headphones whilst listening to music that you may as well not be wearing because your music is so bloody loud that everyone on the carriage can hear it anyway (and why is it somehow worse when you can ONLY hear the tinny treble track or the tortuously repetitive bass track?), taking part in endless, inane conversations rendered even more so because only on side can be heard, sending text messages on a mobile phone that is not set to “silent” … I could go on. And I KNOW I am not alone in finding this list of things maddening. 

    What annoys you when you’re on the bus or train? Leave your comment below!

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  4. Should smokers be allowed to go out for a cigarette break during office hours?

    September 13, 2011 by Jenna

    Initially, I was quite surprised at how close the results of the online poll leading up to this blog entry were: 

    Should smokers be allowed to go out for a cigarette break during office hours?

    Yes – 38.2% 

    No – 47.0% 

    Other – 14.7%

    My initial response when I was chatting to my boss about this topic was something along the lines of “certainly not outside normal break allowances, ie, lunch. What if I said to you ‘I have an addiction to pretty shoes and must go out looking for them at least four times a day’? I’m sure you’d just love that …” 

    But then I put my reality hat back on and thought a bit more about it. We all hear and read about the notion of ‘the flexible workplace’ these days and how, due to factors such as technology and constant connectedness to our jobs, standard hours of work don’t really apply any longer. 

    So, really, as long as the job’s getting done, who cares how many ‘smokos’ someone has during the day, or how many ‘fresh air breaks’ they take, or how many times they update their Facebook status, or how often they pop over to Priceline or Nine West or Wittner (ahem)?

    Here is some food for thought from last week’s poll respondents:

    > “As long as it is not excessive and the time is made up for there is no issue.”

    > “As long as they make up the time elsewhere or don’t have as long a lunch break as non-smokers. Meaning, they should add up the time they take smoking each day and calculate this into their break/overtime etc.”

    > “If cigarette breaks are allowed, which can add up to an hour or more a day, then non-smokers should be entitled a similar type of break or given a 1.5 hour lunch break as standard.”

    > “If smokers go for a smoko break, then non-smokers should get a non-smoko break. It is only fair. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander!”

    So, the notion of fairness and ‘break equality’ is the key for many people. Fair enough. I also rather loved this response: “Are you going to stop people from having a cup of coffee, too? Smokers have a wonderful ‘friending’ network which seems to be evaporating in the office where people do not talk but prefer to email or text.” This totally reminded me of my pre-Challenge Consulting job when I was a smoker who did smoke on the job. There was a place where the building’s smokers all gathered, enjoyed a cigarette, and chatted for a few minutes. I met colleagues from other departments I would not have otherwise. Interesting …

    But what of the health issues surrounding smoking? I think it’s fair to say that, whilst it may be someone’s right to choose to be a smoker, is it ethical for a company to in any way support what is generally accepted to be a very damaging habit? Granted, many smokers don’t smoke during the working day such as this poll respondent, who said: “There has been a ‘no smoking’ policy in the work place for more than 20 years. I am a smoker but I do not smoke at work.” Another respondent was much more decisive: “It is counter productive and bad example for the company.”

    Yet another respondent observed: “if you’re a smoker who works in the health industry then no, it’s not a good look to smoke at work.” I know I have often found myself aghast during visits to hospitals seeing nurses outside puffing away on cigarettes. On one hand, I think they have one of the most stressful jobs in the world and don’t blame them (as an ex-smoker, I know how marvellously relaxing a cigarette can be), but then I also think that they are in a prime location to witness the ravages of what a lifetime of smoking can have upon the human body and if that’s not a deterrent, then I don’t know what is.

    Ultimately, as with other workplace issues, consideration for your fellow workers must remain topmost. 

    Smokers should ensure that their cigarette breaks are not adversely affecting their work performance or inhibiting their productivity. Smoking should be undertaken discreetly. And, as one poll respondent quite rightly pointed out: “Smokers need to be aware of the smell they bring back with them and freshen up before rejoining their colleagues.” 

    Mint, anyone?

    ___________________________________

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  5. 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


  6. What is the #1 thing that would make you feel truly welcome on your first day in a new job?

    August 16, 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 …

    ______________________________

    One wit I know maintained that “having songs written and sung in my name” was a perfect introduction. Another suggested “a fruit basket”.  

    Lovely, apt even, if one is beginning work with a fruiterer, but perhaps not #1 on most people’s list of first-day expectations. 

    So, what was #1 in our online poll last week? 

    #1 = In-person introductions to your key colleagues, junior and senior – 32.7%

    #2 = Being assigned to a “buddy” for your first week while you learn the ropes – 24.5% 

    #3 = Feeling expected by your new workplace and colleagues when you arrive – 13.1% 

    =#4 = Having a desk, equipment and a computer ready for you – 9.8% / Immediate involvement in “real” work or a team project – 9.8%

    Nothing makes a new person feel more like part of a company than warm, personal welcomes from the people they’ll be working with and, perhaps more importantly, for. 

    “Make sure that the first day’s schedule is full of meeting people and onboarding activities. Schedule a good portion of the morning with the new employee’s boss and mentor. Don’t let the day go to waste and contain nothing but paperwork and HR meetings. The day is for bonding with the boss, the mentor, and coworkers.”* 

    After one week on the job, the employee should begin to feel comfortable with her responsibilities, have met at least one new business contact each day, be familiar with team members (inside her department and outside) and be able to walk into your office with any questions. Arrange an informal session of drinks, cake, or something similar with the other team members at the end of the week so the new hire can assess what she has learned, ask the group questions and hang out in a less formal setting. 

    And what of the notion of being assigned to a “buddy”, which came in at #2 in our online poll? What is a buddy? What do they do? And why can they make such a difference? 

    A buddy is an experienced employee who partners with a new employee to provide guidance and encouragement during a defined period, typically the first two to three months of employment.  A buddy helps reduce new employee uncertainty by being available to answer immediate or routine questions. They relate new employee information to actual situations, and can suggest experiences and provide information to help the new employee become an “insider.” 

    To be a buddy, an employee should know and be committed to their department or work area, understand the company’s culture, have good interpersonal skills, be a respected performer and role model, be a peer of the new employee, and want to help.  A buddy must also be given time to support the new employee. 

    Of course, the flip side of this equation is that it’s not just up to your new company and colleagues to ease you into your new role. You are a professional. You are there to do a job and you are getting paid money for it. So, it’s also up to you to make the best impression you can during your first days in a new job.

    Here are some top tips for all newbies (and, quite frankly, some of them can be applied even if you’ve been in your job for a while!): 

    Your First Days Working at a New Job: 20 Tips to Help You Make a Great Impression**

    1. Have a Positive Attitude: Nothing works better – in all situations – than having and expressing a positive attitude. Let your enthusiasm for being part of the team and the organisation show to everyone you interact with. And always leave non-work problems at home.

    2. Dress Professionally / Blend in With Co-Workers: You should never underestimate the importance of dressing professionally in your new job. And in the beginning, even if your department has casual days, you should dress professionally because you never know when you’ll be called out to meet a top manager or key client. “Dress how you want people to perceive you because it plays a huge role in how you are initially treated,” advises Desiree Devaney, a financial analyst with GE Capital Credit.

    3. Show Your Team Spirit: You are now part of a work team, and teams work together to solve problems and get the job done. Show loyalty to your co-workers and focus more – initially at least – on sharing any recognition you get with the team. Always give credit to the team.

    4. Learn Co-Workers’ Names Quickly: No one expects you to have everyone’s name down pat by the end of the first day or week, but if you are bad with names, now is the time to research some of the neat memory-aid tricks you can try to use. 

    5. Ask Questions/Ask for Help: No one expects you to solve all the organisation’s problems on your first days on the job – nor that you know everything – so, relax a bit, and always ask questions or ask for help when you need it. Remember that it’s better to ask before you’ve completed the task the wrong way and wasted all that time. 

    6. Take Notes / Go to Orientation: Unless you have a photographic memory – and few of us do – consider taking notes on all the various systems and rules of the organisation. And no matter how boring they may sound, attend all orientation sessions. Nothing gets old faster than someone repeatedly asking how something works; such behaviour shows a lack of attention to detail. 

    7. Be a Self-Starter; Take Initiative: In most situations, in your first days on the job, you will be given small doses of work – to let you get your feet wet. As you finish assignments and are ready to handle a bigger workload, take the initiative and ask for more assignments. Whatever you do, don’t just sit there waiting for your next project. 

    8. Discover Everything About Your New Employer: In theory, you should have already done your homework during the interviewing process, but there is always more to learn now that you are on the inside. “Get an employee handbook” exhorts a MBA grad with an information-technology concentration. “Don’t act or think you know more about everything than your peers.” In addition, gather all those reports and company literature and read up and become an expert on your organisation. 

    9. Work Full Days: There’s nothing that can affect your reputation faster than routinely coming into work late or leaving work early. Especially in these first days/weeks on the job, be sure you get to work early and leave no earlier than when the majority of your co-workers leave. 

    10. Establish a Good Attendance Record: Just as with working full days, it’s important to show up to work every day and establish a good attendance record. Yes, there will be emergencies, and yes, you may get sick, but as best you can, try to make it to work every day during those first weeks/months on the job.

    11. Avoid Office Politics and Gossip: As with any social organisation, the workplace is full of rumours and gossip. Your mission is to keep your nose clean of all of it – and be sure not to associate too often with the office gossips or risk having your image associated with them.

    12. Keep Personal Business on Company Time to a Minimum: Studies show that just about everyone conducts some amount of personal business on company time – checking email, making dinner reservations, buying stuff online. Your goal is to keep your personal business to a minimum and stay focused on work. 

    13. Take Advantage of After-Hours Activities: Many organisations have formal or informal after-hour activities, such as sports leagues. Get involved – even if only as a cheerleader – because these types of activities are great ways to bond with your co-workers. Do be on your best behaviour during these outside-work activities, though.

    14. Show Appreciation: Nothing works like kindness and genuine appreciation. So, show your appreciation to everyone who helps you learn the ropes during your first days on the job – from your co-workers to receptionists to the human resources folks. 

    15. Find a Mentor: You don’t need to jump on this task your first day, but as you get introduced to senior staff, begin thinking about developing a mentoring relationship with a member of management above you – and outside your department – in the organisation. Mentoring has numerous benefits, from a simple sounding board to someone who helps direct and advance your career within the organisation. 

    16. Get and Stay Organised / Set Goals: If you’re one of those super-organised people, this tip will be easy for you. The rest of us, however, need to develop a system for keeping track of meetings, appointments, assignments, and projects. Get an organiser or planner and keep on top of all your work. You certainly don’t want to miss an early key deadline or meeting. And as you look ahead, set goals for yourself s- and then strive to achieve them.

    17. Keep Your Boss Informed – of Everything: Your boss is not a mind-reader, so keep him/her informed of how you are doing. Especially in those early days, meet with your boss to further establish a rapport and relationship. 

    18. Meet and Network with Key People in Organisation & Profession: Join an organisation outside of work. Take additional classes to stay ahead in your field. Take advantage of every opportunity to network with key people in your organization and profession – attend staff meetings, professional organisation conferences, trade shows – every opportunity to meet colleagues in your field. Just because you have a new job does not mean you suspend your network; constantly manage and grow your network of contacts because you never know when a problem or opportunity will arise. And networking with key people can also help you in finding one or more mentors. 

    ______________________________

    * How to Welcome a New Employee 

    ** Your First Days Working at a New Job: 20 Tips to Help You Make a Great Impression




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