Tag Archives: HR

Top 5 On-Boarding Mistakes made by Recruitment Companies

Remember that time as a kid you got invited to your little school buddy’s birthday party?  He was bragging about it all week long at school.  The invites had been sent out and they had glitter on them.  The party was going to be held at the local leisure centre and there would be swimming, followed by some football, then lunch at a nearby assault course with a clown and a magician in attendance?  You were giddy with excitement.

Then Saturday arrived and your Mum drops you off at the leisure centre where the pool is closed for cleaning and the gym out of bounds due to an outbreak of Legionnaires Disease through the air-con.  It’s raining so the assault course is off limits so you end up playing arcade games with your mates instead.  It’s ok, not the worst way to spend the day, but nowhere near what you had expected… Then Bozo and Merlin turn up stinking of booze and Merlin’s forgotten his rabbit.

Bit of a come down?  No doubt about it.  The thing is there appears to be a few recruitment companies starting to play the part of your old school buddy all those years ago.  As the recruitment market picks up post-recession and good recruitment talent becomes harder to come by, there are an increasing number of firms making some quite outlandish promises to prospective employees.  Now there’s really nothing wrong with that per se.  If you decide that the best way to acquire recruitment talent is to offer them 70% commission, 30 days holiday and season tickets to the Blues then that is fine.

But you have to then actually back that up when they join you.

Amazing as it sounds, there is an increasing amount of this going on.  Recruitment companies will be, and are, competing for the top talent in the market, and it is natural to conjure up unique selling points and other methods of coercion to land your recruiter.  But I cannot stress enough how critically important it is that you maintain credibility by actually providing what it is you initially promised.

 

The current phrase for this new phenomenon is “onboarding” which must be fairly new because Word just underlined it in red!  But most of you in recruitment will be aware of what it is, and how important it is to get it right and make sure your new employee’s first experiences of their new job are fabulous ones, helping to cement their longer term loyalty and buy-in to the company vision.

Here are my Top 5 On-Boarding Mistakes made by recruitment companies:

  1. The promise:  We sit on a large number of PSAs and have an extensive database of candidates for you to put forward for roles.  The reality:  You’re on 3 PSA panels, one of which will only deal with the company’s top biller, and the other two just keep re-appointing your company because of the 8% fees you agreed to back in 2001, which means no-one has ever bothered recruiting roles for them.  The candidate database is made up of CVs sent in in response to generic ads from 2 years ago and no contact has been made to assess suitability or availability.
  2. The promise:  We have a tight-knit team who generate a fun, sociable atmosphere and having Friday night drinks every week.  The reality:  You have an insidious clique of long-timers who shun new employees and bottom drawer good candidate CVs, as they see the new employee as a threat to their own desks and slice of the pie.  They make crude comments and jokes during the first week and on Friday they do go out for drinks, but don’t invite the new person whose name they never found out anyway. 
  3. The promise:  You will have a car park as part of the package.  The reality:  The car park space is on the other side of town beneath a huge bird-infested tree forcing you to spend every Saturday morning cleaning off the bird product spattered all over your roof. 
  4. The promise:  You will have a company phone and laptop as part of the package.  The reality:  You “inherit” the clunky old Toshiba laptop with the processing speed of treacle trickling uphill.  The mobile is quite new but looking through it you find it still contains the lewd photos and dodgy text conversations of the previous incumbent of your desk (who was fired for inappropriate behaviour towards other staff members, funnily enough). 
  5. The promise:  All your tools will be ready for you to start recruiting right away, from day one.  The reality:  You arrive on day one to find your desk doubling up as the dumping ground for everyone’s coats and jackets.  Moving them aside you find your new log-on for the computer hasn’t been activated and you have to wait until later in the day for IT support to get onto it, the only programmes accessible being Solitaire and MineSweeper.  As for business cards, you are told that the server room is piled high with boxes of business cards for previous employees like some kind of business card tomb.  To avoid further potential loss you will only be ordered your business cards once getting through the 3-month probationary period.

 

These are all real-life experiences I have witnessed over my years in recruitment, both as a supplier of recruiters to the industry and also as a recruiter within the industry.  What employers need to realise now is that it is one thing making promises to get someone to sign up, but takes a lot of leadership and follow-through to actually ensure everything happens as promised.  If not, do not be surprised if your shiny new employee does a quick about-turn and turns up at your main competitor a few weeks later.

To finish, it is important to mention that the prospective new employee also has a big duty of care before accepting their new role.  It is quite natural for a new employer to go to some kind of length to sell their company over their competitors, especially in a tightening labour market.  If you are a recruiter looking for a new role, make sure you ask the right questions and really dig into the promises made by the person interviewing you.

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Is Recruitment the Real Barometer for Economic Recovery?

This week I made a placement into a recruitment firm that came with a $5k signing-on fee for the candidate.  I felt a little bit like how Fernando Torres’ agent must have felt when he negotiated a £50 million signing-on fee from Chelsea (ok ok…I said “a little bit”)

But this is indicative of the way the recruitment market is heading now in New Zealand, and even more so in Australia from what I have heard.  We have come flying out of the traps into 2011 and it is busy, very busy.  The demand for recruitment talent is high because recruitment firms are getting so busy they are starting to struggle to deliver, in some areas.

Check out some recent Tweets, in the past 2 weeks, from recruiters that I stalk “follow”:

“Farrow Jamieson just finished the best January Revenue in a decade.  The New Zealand Recovery is underway!”  @nzheadhunter

 

“What a week.  7 placements in the Melbourne office.  Bring it on!”  @hamiltonrec2rec

 

“RFP’s, proposals, presentations, new business, all on a Saturday & with no hangover 2011 is going to be busy and is shaping up nicely!”  @JamesNutt11

 

“Congrats to Gordon and Philippa for accepting your dream jobs in the NFP sector!!!  February is gearing up to be a good one!!!!”  @Talent_Capital

 

“And sales and business development roles aplenty!  2011 recruitment market in NZ is looking promising.”  @bobwalkerNZ

OK so this all sounds fabulous right?  Add to that the supposed “shot in the arm” that the Rugby World Cup is going to deliver to our New Zealand economy.  $500m according to a presentation by the New Zealand 2011 Business Club at an HRINZ function on Tuesday night.

But how does all this positivity stack up against the seemingly negative statistics constantly coming out of Government?  According to this article from Bernard Hickey, English and Key have admitted New Zealand may have statistically hit a double-dip recession already and despite it being an election year are talking up fiscal responsibility and reducing debt.  Furthermore it seems consumer confidence dropped again in February. 

And what of the RWC2011 economic benefits?  Are we really pinning our hopes of a sustained recovery on this one event?  I recently read a brilliant book called “Why England Lose” by Simon Kuper & Stefan Szymanski (2010).  Here is a pertinent excerpt:

“The raising and dashing of hopes of an ‘economic bonanza’ has since become as integral a part of a modern football tournament as the raising and dashing of hopes that England will win it…Euro 96 generated about £100 million in direct income for Britain.  This was peanut dust beside the £12.7 billion spent by all overseas visitors to the country in 1996.  Meanwhile, a study by Liverpool University and the city council found that the 30,000 visitors to Liverpool during Euro 96 spent only £1.03 million between them.  How many jobs did that create?  Thirty, all of them temporary.”

 

Simple message – don’t pin your hopes of increased recruitment activity and economic stimulus on the Rugby World Cup – just enjoy it for what it is, showcase New Zealand to the world, and for God’s sake don’t plunge the country back into a fatal depression if the All Blacks fail to win it!

Another alarm bell was rung last week with the liquidation of a long-established Accounting & Finance recruitment business in Auckland.

However, I am a recruiter like those Tweeters above.  I am busy, I am confident, I am positive.  I just struggle to see how the vibe in recruitment relates to the words coming from economists and politicians mouths.

Maybe we should ignore Government statistics which are old news by the time we read them.  Maybe the recruitment industry is the true barometer of what is happening out there in the employment markets and economy as a whole.  What do you reckon?

The Future of Recruiting? Predictions from 2004 vs. Realities of 2011

Last night I had an interesting chat with Dave Thomas who is the Chairman of CXC Global Board of Directors, ahead of his visit to New Zealand next week to make some presentations to our recruitment community and leaders. 

Dave is an affable, straight-talking South African / Australian who founded CXC back in the early 90’s by accident.  He started out as an accountant, which he despised, so he thought he would give IT a go, which he rather enjoyed.  Moving to Australia he stumbled across a company managing a payroll system that was not legally compliant with Australian tax laws, much to the shock of the company’s global CEO.

Dave spent 28 years as an IT contractor, travelling the world, before ending up in Australia.  So he reckoned that this, coupled with his accounting background, meant he knew a thing or two about contracting, payroll and different tax laws.  Turns out he was right as the company he started to provide a solution to that original employer now operates in over 30 countries worldwide.  CXC Global looks after self-employed contractors, sorting out their GST, taxes, salary packaging, payroll and all that boring administration stuff that gets in the way of actually doing your job.  This has actually provided a path for small to mid-sized recruitment companies to build their contractor books up too, which is something that has traditionally been hampered by lack of cash-flow and accounting or tax law knowledge.

Anyway, this isn’t a sales pitch for CXC, I’ll leave that bit up to Dave at the end of his presentations.  I’m mentioning it because the actual presentation really caught my eye and is probably well worth the attendance of all you recruitment owners, Directors, and general recruitment futurologists out there.  Here is the outline of Dave’s talks:

“As Dr John Sullivan saw it …5 years on”

In 2004 Dr John Sullivan, a world renown thought leader on strategic talent management and human resource practice, produced a paper “The Future of Recruitment” in which he made interesting predictions on the direction of the recruitment industry. Many of these have come to pass.  

At the time CXC Global ran a series of talks based on Dr Sullivan’s paper, and offered our technology solutions to the recruitment industry at large in preparation of these imminent changes.

Five years on, the face of recruitment has changed and the pace of change is accelerating.  Many agencies have adapted their business model, but is this enough? Is it sufficient to take you to where you want to be in 2020?

 

Putting on my cynical hat for a moment, I thought that 2011 would actually be 7 years on from that 2004 white paper.  And keeping up with the cynical theme, I decided to take a closer look at this white paper to see just how prescient this Sullivan fella really was.  Sure he has some good credentials.  A large body of work on HR Strategy, Recruitment functions, and an unhealthy obsession with Metrics to measure the ROI of everything, which I suppose is just a by-product of his being American.  Looking through ERE.net to get the links to this big article it is clear he is a prodigious writer, commentator and provocateur on all things recruitment, talent and HR.  He is, according to Fast Company magazine, the “Michael Jordan of Hiring”…oh and also a Professor of Management at San Francisco State University.

If you have the time or compunction to read through the entire article I have put the separate links here for your reading pleasure:

The Future of Recruiting Part 1

Part 2: Internal Departmental Changes

Part 3: Internet Recruiting Approaches Will Change

Part 4: Websites Shift to the CRM Model

Part 5: Metrics Dominate Decision-Making in Recruiting (see – told you so)

Part 6: Recruiters Will Change

I have to say it makes an interesting read, although obviously far more aligned to the US business style and recruitment approaches than ours here in Australasia.  But he made some big calls back then.  Try these out for size:

Junior Recruiters.  Since managers using self-service tools will do the most recruiting, the few recruiters that remain on staff will be experienced recruiting consultants who will focus only on key hires”

Has this come to pass?  Demand for my services certainly hinges around finding more experienced recruiters and I get a sense that the days of filling recruitment agencies with young, energetic, have-a-go Graduates has shifted to a slightly more mature culture.  But is this really sustainable as the talent shortages start to really bite later on this year?

Brand Manager.  As recruiting strategies shift away from short-term “paperwork” solutions (such as running ads or going to job fairs) and towards the ultimate long-term answer – a strong employment brand – the employment brand manager will become the most important position in recruiting.”

 

Bingo.  Although many New Zealand companies are still slowly getting to grips with this concept of Employment Branding, great strides have already been taken by the likes of Trade Me, Deloitte, The Warehouse, Air New Zealand and Counties Manukau District Health Board.

“Changes in Candidates Will Dramatically Impact Recruiting:  Resume Spamming.  Candidates can use software to continuously submit their resume to every possible job”

 

This really made me chuckle.  What foresight and this is a definite blight on the life of recruiters nowadays.  What the good Dr got wrong though, was how the candidates that spammed their resumes everywhere would not gain an advantage by doing this, but would in fact cast themselves in a poorer light in the eyes of recruiters.

Social network referral systems.  As the popularity of social network systems grows, more recruiters and managers will utilize them as referral sources.  These systems will automatically rate the referrals base on the past referral success rate of the person making the referral.”

 

Hmmm.  An amazing prediction given how LinkedIn was in its infancy back then and Twitter was still 2 years away from even coming into existence.  But I am not convinced we have quite worked out how to use these social network systems as a truly effective referral method yet.  It’s still a work in progress but even in the past few weeks I have started to elicit more business and referrals through this method than ever before – so it’s clearly a hot topic right now.

Anyway, I’ve no doubt this will be an informing, thought-provoking and enjoyable presentation from Dave Thomas and I reckon you recruiters of New Zealand should check it out next week.  Here are the details for Wellington and Auckland:

Wellington – Lunch Presentation

Monday 7th February

12.30pm

Level 16 Vodafone on the Quay

157 Lambton Quay

Auckland – Breakfast Presentation

Tuesday 8th February

7.30am

Mecure Hotel

8 Customs Street

RSVP to kirsty.erasmus@cxcglobal.co.nz

“Job Descriptions” Are a Waste of Paper

I was kindly forwarded an interesting article by a client this week and there is a part of it I feel compelled to comment upon.  The article was published in the Computerworld New Zealand magazine on 19th July and was titled “ITCRA clarifies questions raised by online comments”.

For those of you who don’t know, ITCRA stands for “Information Technology Contract and Recruitment Association”, who are a body to which most kiwi IT recruitment firms appear to belong.  It also appears to be where the recently departed RCSA Commandant Julie Mills skipped across to.  Anyway, the article came about in response to a previous piece where John Wyatt was interviewed for the magazine, and it begins like this:

“Last month, Computerworld published an interview with Recruit IT Director John Wyatt, which discussed whether IT firms were specific enough when writing job descriptions for roles they seek to fill.

Many of the positions Recruit IT is asked to fill don’t have formal job descriptions attached, Wyatt said.  He added that the IT industry could benefit if job vacancies assigned to recruitment firms contained more precise details of what the candidate is expected to do.”

 

Julie Mills then goes on to respond to the 47 comments that were left on this previous article, many of which followed the usual boring patterns around low barriers to entry in recruitment, whether recruiters actually use their databases, why salaries are left off job advertising etc, etc, ad nauseum

But I want to make a comment on John Wyatt’s original assertion that the IT industry would benefit from giving recruiters clearer job descriptions:

Really?  I mean really?

You see I’m not so sure about that, and the reason for that is that job descriptions are a complete load of arse – a waste of paper – a pointless invention by under-worked HR departments seeking to attach a process and a label to everything.

Job descriptions may well describe a job, but they certainly won’t describe the ideal person for the role, nor will they describe the lucky person who eventually wins the job.  The reason for this is that any hiring manager, or recruiter for that matter, worth their salt, will hire on attitude first, and teach skills later.  Now I will concede that there are certain jobs where a certain level of technically definable skillsets are justified, IT being one of them, but why don’t you just put together a brief list of those technical skills and not waste time fluffing it up with all the pointless warm and fuzzy stuff?

The same logic applies here to the recruitment doomsday merchants who keep asserting that technology is going to render the recruitment industry impotent.  First it was e-mails (recruiters used the technology to their advantage).  Next it was the internet (recruiters learnt to harness it to market services and seek out candidates).  Then it was job boards (agencies now provide at least 80% of job board revenues).  The next wave is smart job boards that will be able to seek out candidates from online posted CVs who match certain criteria for a job, removing the job of the recruiter.  Of course, this will also fail to remove the recruitment industry.  The reason for this is that recruitment is not a science, it is an art, and the only machine capable of determining a match, a fit, is the human brain.

Job descriptions fall into the same category as this – you simply cannot accurately describe the perfect person for the role by listing a range of character traits, experiences and achievements.  Yes you can require a Degree in Chemical Engineering for a Process Engineer in an Oil Refinery but leave it at that.  That’s about as far as it goes.

As for John Wyatt’s belief that the IT industry would benefit, I assume he means that more placements would be made, of more candidates who more accurately fit the mould.  Come off it.  A good recruiter will find the right fit for a company by meeting the client, spending time in their business, really getting to know the workings and the culture of the firm, the social aspects, the balance of personalities.

A job description is a crutch for recruiters – to help them craft a half-decent sounding job advert – and to send to their candidate to make it appear like they understand the role they want to put them forward to.  Rip it up.

Now if there is one industry where it is totally impossible to contrive a straight-faced and useful job description, it has to be the agency recruitment industry itself.  But of course there are firms who have tried to put down the job of a recruitment consultant into a formal HR document, and I would like to share with you some of the best JD bits I have come across in my time recruiting for recruiters:

“Being ‘straight up’ with clients and candidates alike”

Should this really need to be in the job description?  Shouldn’t this kind of go without saying?  I suppose it says a lot about our industry.

“Having fun and not taking ourselves too seriously”

This is great.  I’ve worked with people in recruitment before who definitely don’t adhere to this one.  I’d have loved to have been able to wheel out the JD every time the sour face came on.

“Instigate appropriate number of sales cycles to generate and maintain a constant business pipeline.”

Pound the phone.  Just write it.  Pound.  The.  Phone.  Stop with all the flowery nonsense.

“Be literate and numerate”

Is this line really worth the effort of typing it into the JD?  This is like saying “breathe regularly”.  The funniest thing is that the next one was in the same JD…

“Present candidates all candidates honestly to clients”

Is it a grammatical error?  Or did the author write “candidates” before pausing to have a think, and then deciding to make it clear that they meant “all candidates” and not just the ones that might actually be worth putting forward.

“Ensuring our offices present a tidy and professional image always, and to encourage clients to visit them”

I can just imagine the new rookie recruiter, in his/her second month, starting to get some confidence going and referring back to the JD in their training manual or employment contract, and having a client turning up in the back office one Monday morning.  The desks of recruiters are generally not worthy of the inspection of your clients!  Of course, inviting them to your polished marble reception areas before interviewing your shortlist in the chromed, coffee’d and fresh-flowered boardroom is a different matter.

Just a bit of fun.  But seriously, get out there and get to know your clients better.  Don’t rely on a JD from HR and, even better, rip it up and make the placement anyway.

Have a great weekend.