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  1. How do I successfully hire for attitude?

    March 12, 2017 by scrowe

    Most organisations have a solid understanding of the skills a good employee needs to be successful.  But how many companies really understand the attitudes that are important for success in their organisation?  How many hiring managers or recruiters know how to determine whether a candidate’s true attitudes reflect those required to succeed in your business?

    Mark Murphy, in his book “Hiring for Attitude” describes an approach to discovering the attitudes that matter in your organisation and the methods needed to uncover whether a candidate has those attitudes or not.  And the good news is that it can be replicated by all organisations, large and small.

    Below is a brief summary of Murphy’s method.

     1    Define the attitudes that make a difference in your organisation

    The temptation is to write down a long list of traits we want to see in all employees, including for example honesty, reliability integrity etc.  The problem though is that these traits often exist in both successful and unsuccessful employees (there are plenty of honest reliable but unsuccessful employees out there).  They do not help us separate those people that have the best chance of success in your organisation from the others.  We need to find two distinct groups of attitudes, those that only exist in the successful people in your company and those that only appear in the unsuccessful people in your company (the differential characteristics).

    Murphy suggests uncovering these attitudes by questioning the people in your organisation who will have witnessed them.  But the trick is to get very specific examples of and descriptions of the behaviours.  But don’t get fooled by “fuzzy language”.  Descriptions like ‘maintains the highest level of professionalism’ or ‘leads by example’ are open for interpretation.  What you understand as professionalism can be quite different from my definition.  Murphy’s test is to ask yourself ‘could two strangers have observed those behaviours’?

    The output of this phase is a table with two columns, one listing the positive differentiating attitudes (those that exist in successful employees), the other listing the corresponding negative differentiating attitudes (those that exist in employees that do not succeed).

    2    Create Interview Questions that highlight the difference

    Creating these questions is a four-step process:

    Step 1 – Select one of the Characteristics from your table

    Step 2 – Identify a differential situation to highlight characteristic

    Step 3 – Begin the question by asking “could you tell me about a time you …” and insert the differential situation you have identified

    Step 4 – Leave the question hanging

    Seems simple enough.  But simple doesn’t mean easy, finding the right situation takes some effort and usually need you to look back at the examples you were given when you were surveying your colleagues.

    And what does step 4 mean? Murphy explains that too often good behavioural questions are spoiled by leading the candidate to the solution, e.g. “Tell me about a time when you had to adapt to a difficult situation. What did you do?”  Well you have just said that they should adapt to it.  Leave the question hanging means not leading them to the answer.

    3    Creating answer guidelines

    Why do we need answer guidelines?  For two main reasons, to ensure we have a consistent understanding across the organisation and to give interviewers cues to listen for in the interview.

     

    To get the full picture on hiring for attitude please consult Mark Murphy’s 2012 book; Hiring for attitude; a revolutionary approach to recruiting star performers with both tremendous skills and superb attitude.


  2. 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.

    SEPARATING FACT FROM FICTION

    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.

    WHY IT MATTERS

    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.

  3. What companies with the best employee retention have in common

    July 19, 2016 by Alison Hill

    With competition for workers in many sectors fierce and the costs of recruiting and replacing good employees growing, it makes sense for organisations to put more effort into retention. Engagement and retention are one of the top concerns for 78% of today’s business leaders, according to Deloitte. Employee engagement solutions company TINYpulse researched what really drives attrition, and recently published their Employee Retention Report.

    The report surveyed 400 full-time employees in the US over two weeks in July 2015 and analysed the data. This is what the top performing organisations do to retain the best employees.

    1. They choose supervisors that respect employees’ work and ideas

    When employees feel managers respect their work and ideas they are 32% less likely to think about looking for a new job – strong support for the adage that employees don’t quit their job; they quit their boss. Additionally, employees reported that they would be 13% more likely to stay if they were satisfied with the organisation’s senior management team.

    TINYpulse reports that micromanagement has a big impact on team satisfaction. Those with freedom to choose how they do their jobs are satisfied and more likely to stay. But those who feel micromanaged will most likely be thinking about leaving – 28% more likely. That’s a lot of disengagement.

    The next biggest factor in the manager relationship is transparency – there is a very high link between setting clear goals for the team and communicating them clearly and retention – 30%, in fact. Showing respect and appreciation has measurable results when it comes to keeping great employees.

    1. They hire candidates who show positivity, innovation and productivity

    ‘Colleagues have a lot of power’, says TINYpulse. High levels of peer respect mean higher levels of retention, so paying attention to the hiring process is critical and hiring people who are great to work with and are a good fit is as important as their skills when deciding whether to make the offer. Those who did not feel respected by their peers were 10% less likely to see a long-term future with the organisation.

    1. They pay serious attention to workplace culture and hire for cultural fit

    TINYpulse’s research showed that workplace culture is not a fluffy issue. Where employees rated the culture of their workplace low, there were 15% more likely to think about leaving. Both the type of culture and how the individual fitted into it mattered, and having a bit of fun on the job, such as at office drinks, sporting events or team volunteering, makes a big difference, as does assigning new employees a mentor or peer buddy who is an ambassador for the workplace culture.

    1. They encourage employees to take their paid time off and don’t overload them with work

    This one was huge – ‘Employees that are tired and burnt out are 31% more likely to think about looking for a new job than their colleagues who feel comfortable with their workload’. The survey points out that burnout is preventable if managers understand its downsides, measure it and take efforts to eliminate it, such as by taking their own paid leave.

    1. They offer professional growth opportunities to everybody, not just young employees

    Those with access to professional development and skills training, either externally or internally, were 10% more likely to stay with their employer. Millennials were almost unanimous that they would consider changing employers if they did not see opportunities for professional growth with their current employer – a whopping 75% of them. The report points out, though, that the desire for opportunities for growth now applies across workforce generations.

    Asking employees where they see themselves in six months’ time, next year, in two years’ time, is not just a good conversation starter; it’s an essential part of a retention strategy. Listen carefully to the answer – and do something about it. If you won’t, a competitor will. Our blog will offer some great ideas about in-house and external skills and development training in the near future.

    No initiative – especially one to improve your retention – should begin without a measurement to see how your team feels about the issues, the TINYpulse research report points out. You need to know where you are now, to pinpoint the most troublesome areas that need your attention, and to know how you will measure your success.


    Challenge Consulting’s Employee Retention Optimiser has been developed to identify key retention issues and priorities for your organisation; guide improvement strategies at all levels and help you to implement them; and track and monitor improvements. Find out more at Challenge People Services

     

     

     


  4. 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.’


  5. 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.

     

     

     

     


  6. Seven ways to help you decide between two superstar candidates

    May 3, 2016 by Alison Hill

    Every so often, a hiring manager will have the problem of deciding between two great candidates. It seems like a great problem to have, but what if you get it wrong? What if the candidate you choose doesn’t work out, and leaves after a couple of months? 

    Choosing between two equally qualified candidates who have impressed in their interviews and whose references are impeccable is difficult. Once you have made absolutely sure that both have the skills necessary to do the job through testing and a structured interview, there are a few more things about each candidate to consider. Here are our best tips to help you make the decision.
    1. Consider cultural fit, based on shared values, motivation and drivers. Read all about this in our shared articles, Recruiting for cultural fit and How to spot the right cultural fit in a job interview.
    2. Look to the future. One candidate may have skills or experience that are not essential to this position, but could allow them to add value later as they move up in the organisation. A candidate who has travelled extensively, for example, may one day be the right person to work in an overseas office.
    3. Consider the team they will work with. Looking at the team’s culture, work style preferences and balance of skills and attitudes can help you to decide which candidate will do better in the team. Does the team need rounding out with a more diverse group of people? Or will a person with the same traits as the existing team do better?
    4. Get back to basics. Ask yourself, ‘What is the number one priority in making this hire?’ After so many interviews, reference checks, skills test results and deliberations, it is easy to forget this most fundamental question. Step back and see if contemplating this makes the decision clearer.
    5. Have another conversation with their referees. Be really awake to their tone of voice and degree of enthusiasm, and aware of what they might not be saying, or be slightly hesitant about.
    6. Invite the candidates to spend a few hours with the prospective team, and get the team’s feedback. This is sometimes known as the ‘beer test’, but you can equally well have lunch together or even have them spend some time working in the team so that you can each assess the others’ working style. If both candidates have made it this far in the hiring process, they are most likely keen to take the position. What will it take to attract hem to the organisation? Have you already dealt with the question of pay, or will that make your decision for you? Is the start date critical, and if so, is one candidate available sooner than the other? Have you checked that both are qualified to work in Australia?

    Finally, it may be down to gut feel. When you have done the science of recruitment, it comes to the art – what your instinct tells you about the two candidates after you have weighed skills, fit, and practical details of the offer. Given that you have two great candidates, it’s likely you will end up with a successful hire. Just don’t take too long in your decision, or somebody else might snap them up!


  7. What are second interviews really all about?

    April 5, 2016 by Alison Hill

    Joy! Your recruitment process is at second interview stage. For job seekers, this means you’re a big step closer to landing the position. If you’re a manager, you’ll soon have a new team member on board and your team working at full strength again. It’s time to celebrate, and also to take a deep breath and look at what the second interview is really all about.

    Somewhere around 20% to 50% of candidates who are interviewed are offered a second interview. The second round is a chance for the line manager and senior staff to meet candidates and to ask further questions. Candidates may meet those who’ll be supervising them and working closely with them, and should be able to see where they would be working and meet prospective colleagues.

    A word of warning: the person who gets a second interview has not got the job yet. Job seekers should not be complacent, and interviewers should be careful of giving the impression that the second interview is a mere formality.

    Jonathan Foxley, Recruitment Manager at Challenge Consulting, explains: ‘Quite often people get ahead of themselves thinking they have it in the bag and that they made a good impression first time round, and that is why they’ve been called back.’ This is particularly the case with those with less experience at interviewing, he says. ‘Often they have impressed, and are eighty per cent of the way there. But then they throw it away by being too sure of themselves and leaving a bad impression second time around.’

    If you’re a line manager, you may not have been at the first interview.  You may have been called in to give a second opinion, and feel apprehensive if you are not an experienced interviewer. Preparing yourself and knowing how the interview will be structured will help your decision making. This is your chance to meet and engage with the person you might work closely with.

    • Find out who else will be present. Will there be one or two interviewers, or a panel? What will the role of each interviewer be?
    • If you are new to interviewing, read our Interviewer tips for success.
    • Make sure you are briefed in depth about how candidates went at the first interview. Find out what issues should be followed up, such as any apparent skills weaknesses or lack of knowledge. As the person who knows the job best, do you have specific questions or concerns for each candidate to address?
    • Ask questions that address realistic scenarios in your team. If you ask a competency-based question, you may want to base it on an actual scenario in your team. Make it closely related to the work the person will be expected to do. Ask technical questions if you have concerns about skill levels.
    • Ask strengths-based questions that will highlight what aspects of the work the candidate loves, as this will give you insight into how the person might fit into your team. Strengths-based questions are a good way to get around candidates giving prepared, formulaic responses, and give you better insight into how the person might perform in your team.
    • Find out if there will be psychometric testing of candidates and make sure you are given the results.

    If you’ve been called in for a second interview, here are some things you should know.

    • Ask who will be in the interview, what their roles are, and what the format of the interview will be. Remember that some of the people in this round might not be experienced interviewers.
    • You are likely to be interviewed by a person you will actually be working for, and the questions will be more closely related to the work you will be expected to do.
    • You may also be interviewed by more senior employees: your manager’s manger, for example, or even the head of the company in a smaller business.
    • The first interviewer will have briefed the second on any points from your first interview that should be followed up, particularly any areas they are concerned about. Think about parts of the interview than didn’t go so well, and prepare to be asked further questions about them.
    • Think about how the interviewer seemed to respond to you in the first interview. If anything made them look uneasy, you can be sure it will come up again in this interview, so be prepared.
    • The second interview is your chance to ask really good, probing questions. Think about new information you can bring or issues you did not have the chance to raise in the first interview.
    • Research the company even more thoroughly before going in for the second time. Find the interviewer’s profile on LinkedIn and take a look at the company’s profile on Glassdoor. Research the industry if you haven’t already been working in the area.
    • You may be invited on a tour of the organisation’s premises If you’re not, it’s okay to ask to be shown around and to meet employees.
    • You may be asked to take psychometric tests or other assessment tests at this stage. Again, ask if this is the case before you go to the interview, and allow enough time so that you are not stressed about how long the interview and testing may run for.

  8. Job description, job brief, job ad: what’s the difference?

    February 16, 2016 by Alison Hill

    Your employer has done some reorganisation and you’ve been promoted. You’re heading up a brand-new team and look set for an exciting few months ahead. One of the first tasks you’re asked to do as a new line manager is to recruit a team member. ‘Write a job description and a brief for the recruiter’, HR tells you. ‘And have a go at a job ad. We’re so busy, it will really help. Thanks.’

    Can’t they just give a rough job description to the recruiter and let them work it out? Cut it down a bit for the ad? Welcome to Lesson 1 in building a star team: getting these three distinct documents right so that you can make the best hire.

    So let’s take a look at how to write a job description that attracts the right candidates. In the next few weeks, we’ll look at how to create a job brief for a recruiter and what to put in a job ad.

    What is a job description for?

    A job description is a hard-working document. It does exactly what its title says – and then some. As well as describing the skills and competencies needed to do the job, a comprehensive job description also:

    • Describes where the job sits in the organisation’s hierarchy
    • Forms the basis for the employment contract
    • Is an important performance management tool
    • Forms the basis for your brief to your recruitment consultant
    • Forms the basis for a job advertisement
    • Is a reference in case of a job dispute

    Step-by-step guide to writing a job description

    1. Choose a self-explanatory job title that truly reflects the role

    A good title is clear and simple, and accurately reflects the duties to be performed. It also reflects the job’s place in the corporate hierarchy. Choose a title that allows for comparison with similar positions in your industry. Vague descriptions mean you will be inundated unqualified responses; while a job title that is too specific may mean very good candidates rule themselves out. Finally, remember that when job seekers search online, job titles are the most common key words, so make your job easy to find.

    1. Outline the purpose of the role

    This should be a brief summary of the general nature of the job – why it exists and what the incumbent should accomplish. It is also helpful to the candidate to outline the experience required for the role. A descriptor such as entry level, mid-career or executive can be helpful without expressing experience in a definite number of years.

    1. List the duties and responsibilities

    This is the most important part of a well-crafted job description. Rather than making a long list of every possible task involved, list them from most important and time-consuming to least, keeping the list as short as you can. Using headings followed by examples of the tasks is a good way to keep the list both concise and descriptive. For example:

    Answer the telephone
    Greet callers in a friendly tone and redirect calls accurately and promptly.

    Around 10-12 tasks is a good number to aim for. Many organisations like to include the phrase ‘other duties as assigned by [supervisor or reporting manager]’.

    1. List the skills and competencies needed

    Skills are what the candidate can do, based on education or experience, while competencies are traits or attributes. HTML coding is a skill; communicating with people at all levels is a competency. If particular minimum qualifications, certification, licences or memberships are a requirement of the job, list them here. If specialised experience is needed, it should be spelled out.

    1. Relationship to other positions in the organisation/reporting lines

    Both reporting lines and working relationships (‘dotted line’) should be included in this section. The reporting lines should be really clear. Some organisations even include their organisational chart. Clarifying reporting lines gives a picture of who the position reports to and whether anybody reports to them, allowing candidates to see how the position fits into the organisation. ‘Dotted line’ relationships allow the candidate to see who they will work closely with, as opposed to reporting to.

    1. Salary and other conditions

    Usually salary is expressed as a range and with reference to other positions in the organisation. If there are conditions such as shift work or frequent travel these should be included here.

    How to go about the technical business of writing

    The skill in writing a good job description is striking a balance between being too vague and too precise – too vague and you will attract unqualified candidates (and your description will not meet its other, non-recruitment purposes either); too specific and you will cause good candidates to exclude themselves.

    Pay attention to structuring and formatting your content clearly and concisely. Using a template can help (see below).

    Cut out any insider language that is used only in your organisation or industry and that might serve to exclude well-suited candidates.

    Write in straightforward language, describing each responsibility in a way that means they can be measured. Start each task description with a verb, making it clear what the candidate is expected to DO.

    Write in a way that reflects the organisation’s culture is helpful if you can pull it off. A job description in a conservative financial environment will be written in formal and impersonal language, while a description for a start-up populated with Millennials might be informal and stress the experimental and collaborative nature of the workplace.

    When you have completed the writing process, proofread the document to check for spelling and grammar mistakes, and for sense. Read it aloud to a co-worker if possible.

    Using a template

    One of the hardest parts of creating a job description is sitting in front of a blank document, often accompanied by a blank mind!  There are many good reasons to use a template to guide you, and that is one.  A template can help you to think systematically – this is one occasion in which creative thinking is not necessarily a good thing. Other benefits of using a well-designed template are:

    • It is easier to achieve consistency across the organisation’s job descriptions
    • Job descriptions are more likely to be complete and comprehensive when you are prompted to create each section
    • Quality standards are easier to enforce if writers have a template to guide them

     Checklist for compiling a job description

    Have you included?

    • Job title, department, reporting lines
    • Aim of the position
    • Prioritised list of the most important tasks and responsibilities
    • Skills and traits the ideal candidate will have
    • Level of education
    • Any other requirements such as licences or visa/citizenship requirements

    In the next blog post, we’ll look how to create a job brief for a recruiter.


  9. Hiring Adjustments for Generations X and Y

    February 10, 2016 by Alison Hill

    By Dawkins Brown, Managing Partner, UHY Dawgen Chartered Accountants

    Dawkins Brown has over 15 years’ experience in the field of Audit, Accounting and Taxation. Starting his public accounting career in the audit department of a ‘big four’ firm (Ernst & Young), and gaining experience in local and international audits, Dawkins rose quickly through the senior ranks and held the position of Senior consultant prior to establishing  UHY Dawgen.

    Work-life balance. Flexible work hours. Corporate mission. What is the point of focusing on these non-traditional hiring topics? Two letters: X and Y. Generation X (born between 1963 and 1980) and Generation Y (born after 1980) are establishing a more prominent position in the employment landscape as Baby Boomers prepare to exit the workforce. The shift to these younger generations is prompting a new focus in hiring tactics.

    The Baby Boomer generation was cut from the cloth of work first and foremost, climb the corporate ladder and retire with a healthy pension plan. Those days are all but gone. Today, younger workers are creating a paradigm shift in employee hiring based on their priorities. We have observed this accelerating transition first-hand over the past two years.

    We work with companies in many market spaces, industries and geographic locations. The hiring landscape has already changed and companies that do not frequently hire may be unaware of the new focus. Certain patterns exist today that are universally consistent when hiring Gen X and Gen Y employees.

    Work-life balance

    Perhaps there is no more profound shift in values than this topic. Gen X, and even more so Gen Y, is focused on a position’s time requirements. This isn’t to say the younger generations are not hard workers. On the contrary, they put tremendous effort into their work, but they also place a high value on their personal time away from the office. This balanced approach has been mistakenly interpreted by the Baby Boomers as a ‘slacker mentality.’

    The younger generations search for opportunities where they can grow their skill set without having to sacrifice every other area of their life. As an employer, it is imperative to understand this desired balance. Positions that lack the needed support, tools or technology often will be a red flag to the Gen X or Y candidate. The reward for accepting such a position clearly has to outweigh the perceived imbalance it may cause in their life.

    Skills path

    Most people are familiar with the term ‘career path.’ The Baby Boomer generation experienced a marketplace where preordained opportunities existed to climb the corporate ladder within the same company. Today’s younger generations generally do not have such consistent opportunities before them. More importantly, many of the younger generation do not subscribe to the same loyalty as the Baby Boomers.

    Gen X and Y candidates are looking for a ‘skills path.’ They desire to understand what skills are needed to be successful in the position today. The long-term incentive is to understand what skills they will personally develop or acquire within the company. They prefer a horizontal management structure and respond to personal skill development. Titles are out. Responsibilities are in. It is imperative to share with the candidates the responsibilities they will inherit as their skills become more advanced over their tenure with the company.

    Sherpa managers

    As mentioned, the younger generations have a fairly horizontal view of the org chart – whether accurate or not. We have seen this approach wreak havoc in an office dominated by Baby Boomers. The Baby Boomers expect an almost military-style chain of command while the younger generations have a more fluid approach to positions of authority.

    Gen X and Y highly value the manager–employee relationship. They view their manager as a guide – an experienced Sherpa to make sure they are on the right path. In debriefing Gen X and Y employees after they are hired, the vast majority consistently mention the impression of their manager as having the most influence on their decision to join the company. The hiring manager needs to connect with the Gen X and Y candidate on a personal level during the interview process. Clearly the manager–employee relationship is a two-way street so this approach affords the hiring manager a beneficial insight into the candidate also.

    Work smarter, not harder

    These generations are plugged-in to technology, from Bluetooth to Blackberry. They have spent much of their working career, even entire lives for some, having internet information available to them at a moment’s notice. This fact can work against employers in that these younger candidates are savvy about internet job boards and have a tendency to always have an eye out for new opportunities.

    However, the upside of this technological ability is far greater. A subtle item we have observed among Gen X and Y candidates is their strategic thinking. Their youthful age belies the fact that they have sharp minds for understanding macro markets. We have seen these younger candidates ask amazingly insightful questions that make the hiring managers pause during the interview. We have also seen strong candidates pass on opportunities because they were sceptical of the hiring company’s shallow business plans.

    The Gen X workforce will be ascending into prominent management positions at a brisk pace over the next five years. The next wave of change will occur in the management ranks as they shift the hiring process away from the Baby Boomer approach. The aforementioned topics will move to the forefront of the hiring process as the newly crowned Gen X managers hire the Gen Y employees. Until that happens, progressive companies will perceive these current shifts and adjust their hiring tactics in advance.


  10. Bad News, You Didn’t Get The Job… What Next?

    March 17, 2015 by Jenna

    You were picked out of the crowd of candidates to attend the interview. You meet the recruiter and start to feel like you are building a strong connection. You leave feeling confident and on a buzz. Then you wait with anticipation for the follow up call. When the recruiter gets in touch they tell you that unfortunately you were not successful, and will not be proceeding further.

    At this point you will probably be experiencing feelings of confusion, disappointment and even anger. Do not react in a way you will regret. Instead think about the importance of maintaining relationships in your potential employment network. Remember that industry networks are all connected in different ways. So if one door closes, it doesn’t mean that another one isn’t waiting to be opened.

    Before throwing in the towel and accepting defeat, you can run through the following steps to help lead you on a better the path towards success:

    • Thank the recruiter/employer for their time – After all it isn’t easy for the person conducting the interview to deliver bad news to a potential candidate. To react badly only shows that you are emotionally reactive and respond to feedback negatively. It could also put you on the back bench for future roles if you behave in a manner that is rude or sarcastic.

    • Don’t be afraid to ask for specific feedback – The best way to make improvements is to gain feedback to learn for future opportunities. Advice on how you performed during the interview (body language, eye contact etc.) or how you answered interview questions can be really useful for upcoming interviews. If the feedback relates to experience or skill sets, you may even want to consider educational courses or work experience that may help further develop those areas.

    • Let the recruiter know that you would like to be considered for other suitable roles that become available. This keeps communication open and allows you to keep connected to potential employers.

    • Don’t hesitate to get out there and start applying again right away – You probably don’t feel like applying for more jobs when that feeling of rejection hits you, but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing out there for you. It is important to stay focused on the goal of finding the job that’s right for you and not give up. Reach out to people within your network to let them know that you are searching for new opportunities. Register with a recruiting company that works in your chosen field. You can also seek out networking opportunities to start building more connections.

    • Keep practicing your interview skills – This may sound like common sense, but the more practice you get the more confidence you will have when you interview. Practice for different interview methods e.g. one on one, panel or video interviews. Ask connections who are responsible for hiring people what they look for in the ideal candidate and practice their useful tips.

    Remember that the application process is competitive and that we can’t win them all. That doesn’t mean however that we can’t take further measures and practice further steps to help us land our next great role.

    What was the best feedback you ever received after an interview?




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