The REAL irony of recruitment

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There is a thread on LinkedIn that is likely to run and run and run. It was posted with good intentions and borne out of frustration. The update reads as follows: “Definition of irony = Chasing a recruiter for several months and time and time again, them NEVER calling you back when they say they will, NEVER replying to your emails, having members of staff who answer the phone blatantly lie to you, then you getting a Head of HR job and said recruiter chases you to meet for a coffee and discuss my needs for recruitment within 5 days of your start date. Now that is ironic in my book! This is not a recruiter or recruitment industry bashing thread but my own personal observation.” Unsurprisingly it has turned in to exactly what you would expect, a recruitment bashing thread. Unfortunately the real irony has been missed altogether. The real irony is that recruitment has turned in to a circle of abuse that only the abused can break. You probably know this statistic already, but here goes. People who have been bullied are twice as likely to bully themselves. The candidate that experiences the worst that recruitment agencies have to offer is the only one that can break this circle. They can break this circle when they become the client. The client is THE customer. The stakeholder with the greatest power to define how recruitment agencies treat candidates. Indeed there are lots of things we agencies can do to improve the experience for candidates - all of which can be measured and reported. Unfortunately it’s an expensive model. Even more unfortunately, most clients don’t want to pay for it. The very people who often complain about the conduct of recruitment agencies are utterly unwilling to invest their own time and their (employer's) own money in improving the candidate experience. That’s the real irony.
 

Confessions of a broken-hearted recruiter

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As you may have noticed, we are growing our team currently and the responsibility for finding new hires has fallen to me. Now this isn’t the first time I have recruited ‘in-house’ but blimey, can there any be more pressure than recruiting for other recruiters!?? As with any in-house role, you feel acute pressure to deliver results for each vacancy, not least because your client is ever-present and usually extremely senior and influential in the wider business. Fail to meet their expectations and you risk damaging your reputation internally. This is a risk that agency recruiters also face with their clients however the difference being that they don’t have to sit in the same office/ attend meetings/have lunch with said client on a daily basis! The pressure also comes when you have a personal stake in the results. AdMore need new people if we are to grow and my own career development and that of my colleagues depends on us doing just that. Like any recruitment, in addition to finding people that can do the job, I also need to make sure that they will fit within the team – something which becomes more important when you know the individuals in the team so well. Anyone working in agency recruitment will tell you that finding great consultants is difficult, unless you are employing a ‘bums on seats’ hiring strategy! Finding people with the right values, who will be able to engage with candidates and clients at all levels and crucially, win over clients who may have had a poor recruitment experience previously, is no mean feat. They also must be highly commercial, results driven, resilient and hard-working. Most challenging of all, they need to have a ‘spark’, that dreaded Holy Grail that is impossible to judge on paper! Having said all that, recruiting for a company I know inside out and am hugely passionate about is a privilege and great fun so I feel more than up for the challenge. Recently however, I had a reminder of how brutal the role of a recruiter can be and thought it worth sharing the experience. I met a guy. He was capable, driven, well presented, commercial and best of all, he had the ‘spark’! Those of you in recruitment will recognise the feeling when you meet a great candidate, one who you know your client will love. I left our first meeting floating on air. Fair to say I was excited! I was confident that my Directors would like him and that he would fit into the team. Before I knew it, I was imagining him in the office, joining in the daily banter, bringing something new to our team social events. I envisioned him becoming a top biller, delighting candidates and clients with his professionalism and charm. And I, having found this rarest of gems and persuaded him to join our team, would bask in this reflected glory! The problem is, for a moment I forgot the fundamental rules of recruitment, namely: If something is too good to be true, it usually is. If something can go wrong, it probably will. NEVER EVER celebrate a placement until it is water-tight. Like all whirlwind romances, the spark is easily extinguished and it turned out that my candidate had a hidden past, one which I should have explored more thoroughly before getting so carried away. My fantasy disappeared faster than you could say ‘pathological liar’ and left me, well, more than a little broken-hearted. A loss of appetite and sleepless night ensued…how could I have been so stupid? I felt hurt and humiliated that I had put my faith in this person only to be let down and worse still, championed him so passionately him to my Directors. Those of you in recruitment know that this happens and you don’t have long to wallow in self-pity. So, I have dusted myself off and have reminded myself of the fundamental rules of recruitment, namely: Move on quickly and keep focused on the next placement Get back on the bike (phone!) – the next great candidate could be just a call away and… You can’t keep a good woman down!   If you are interested in joining the lovely team at AdMore and have drive, resilience, commerciality and integrity, please contact me at [email protected]  
 

Do employers and recruiters really care about the Candidate Experience?

By Sophie Mackenzie, AdMore Recruitment

I was prompted to write this after observing my colleagues go through a tough summer in recruitment. Tough, not so much due to the economic conditions as things are actually more positive than they’ve been for a long time but because of numerous issues simply getting our candidates through a recruitment process. I will try to elaborate .

During the recession, due to the glut of candidates on the market, companies have had the pick of the bunch. It really has been a ‘buyers’ (client) market. Companies in the happy position of being able and willing to recruit have held all the cards and conversely, candidates have had to accept that they are one of many and so need to do whatever it takes to land a rare job offer.

I think this situation has had an adverse effect on the ‘candidate experience’ which we recruiters often talk about and which is often held aloft by companies as something they are truly proud of.

The Candidate Experience is, broadly speaking, how candidates are treated when they go through a recruitment process. What the application process is like, how they are communicated with, what information they are given, how they are made to feel and if they are unsuccessful, how they are rejected from the process. It continues through the offer stage, notice period and on-boarding process.The quality of this experience should be important to companies (particularly in the Retail & Hospitality and Consumer sectors) because each candidate is likely to be a current or potential customer. In a competitive market where a strong brand is so important, it is important to ensure that your brand as an employer is as strong as your brand for consumers. It is also really important for recruitment agencies, as we need our candidates to come back to us for all their subsequent career moves. We work in an industry with such a poor overall reputation that individual companies simply cannot afford to lose candidates or damage relationships.

What has got me flummoxed at times this year, has been the disregard of the impact on candidates of poor recruitment processes, whether that be due to sketchy information, elongated timescales or poor assessment techniques.

Before I go any further, this is not about apportioning blame. As the ‘middleman’, our job is to deliver for our clients and support our candidates and, when all goes smoothly, it is a fantastic privilege. We must take the rough with the smooth and, irrespective of our lack of responsibility for how companies choose to assess people or treat them through the process, we need to act as a buffer and minimise the impact on the candidate and client if things aren’t as professional as they should be. What worries me is that a lot of processes suffer from a lack of common sense and worse still, a lack of common courtesy. We have seen examples of this over the past year and often I think it is because, when planning a recruitment process and assessment method, the assumption is that candidates should bend over backwards. In principle, I agree with this and if you are serious about getting a new job, you will need to be extremely flexible about making yourself available and travelling wherever necessary for interview. However, when candidates are currently employed, we have to respect that they should not jeopardise their current role when attending interviews. So, if we are only giving a few days notice for interview, we cannot expect a busy Store Manager, Regional Director or Head of Marketing to miraculously free their diary. Equally, when asking candidates to take a day off to attend an assessment centre, in my opinion, we should give them full opportunity to represent themselves. The current vogue for X factor-style rejections half-way through the day makes sense from a practical perspective however it is hardly fair on candidates, particularly if you have asked them to prepare a presentation in advance which they then don’t get to deliver. The same is true of interviews – much better to give a little more notice for interviews and make sure that the hiring manager is fully focused rather than a candidate travelling several hours only to spend 35 mins in the interview because the interviewer has another meeting.

Another issue candidates have raised is being interviewed by inappropriate people. Such was the experience of a Senior Operations Director whose first meeting with a particular business was with a junior member of the resourcing team whom was clearly out of their depth. When it came to giving feedback to the candidate, they lacked the level of knowledge or capability to deliver it positively and at the right level given the level of seniority. Feedback in general is a recurring issue. We are constantly in a position of having to make excuses to candidates who, several weeks after interview, may at best have a verdict, but don’t have any detailed feedback about how they performed. This reflects badly on the agency and the company concerned. The worst culprits are line managers and I feel for our in-house contacts who you can hear cringing as they explain that they have been trying to get feedback for weeks from an unruly hiring manager! For the hiring manager, you can understand the logic – why waste more time if a candidate is unsuitable? However, surely this comes down to basic manners: if someone has taken the time to come and meet you, the least they deserve is a response.

There are more extreme examples. We heard recently about a candidate who, after receiving a verbal offer from a client (thankfully not one of ours) and agreeing a start date 4 weeks hence, received no paperwork and no returned calls despite chasing them for 3 weeks! Needless to say, he accepted a role with another business. There are numerous examples like this and let’s be clear, anyone working in recruitment is going to struggle to keep everyone happy when there are so many complexities and variables involved. However, I think it’s important that we remember that candidates are not commodities to be traded but real people with commitments, responsibilities and diaries to manage like the rest of us. If they are working hard to land a new role by being flexible and spending time going through a process, the very least they deserve is to be treated with respect.

Interestingly, the market is on the turn. There are more vacancies and we are seeing the best candidates get multiple offers.

When things return to a candidate driven market, as they inevitably will, the Candidate Experience may become a deal breaker for candidates who view this as an indicator of the professionalism and company culture of their potential employers.

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How to prepare an interview presentation

 

By Russell Adams, AdMore Recruitment

Interview presentations are often used as part of the recruitment selection process particularly to differentiate candidates applying for senior roles. They are most commonly used at the later stages of a recruitment process when the field has been narrowed and the interviewers are looking to make a final decision. The presentation topic might be about you and what you will bring to the role, a particular issue the client faces or the future of that industry or marketplace. Getting your "pitch" right in this situation is not always easy but can be an excellent way for you to set yourself apart. It can be a daunting experience for many but with some thought and preparation you can ensure you present yourself in the best possible way.

Below is some guidance that may help you in your preparation.

Understanding the brief – You can be the best presenter in the world but if you do not fully understand the brief and aren’t clear on the expectations the interviewers have, then you are potentially setting yourself up to fail. If you are using a recruiter, make sure they are able to give you the required information. If they cannot answer your questions then make sure they seek guidance from the client. If you are dealing directly with the client then I would suggest you make a list of questions to ask so that you only have to talk to them once. Going back constantly with lots of questions will not reflect well on your ability to plan. It is crucial that you repeatedly check that your presentation answers the presentation topic.

Questions to consider

  • How long should the presentation last?
  • Who will be present at the presentation?
  • What is the expected format?
  • How clear is the presentation title – do you need to clarify?

Know your audience – it is absolutely imperative that you find out exactly who is going to be at the presentation. With multiple individuals you need to consider the different agendas they may have and their level of knowledge and expertise to ensure that you pitch your content at the appropriate level. It can be difficult to cater for individuals from different functions, however try to establish the key decision makers and ensure you tailor your presentation appropriately.

Points to consider

  • Think about how you can ensure all angles are covered i.e. if you have both Line Managers and HR present how can you ensure that your presentation appeals.
  • Your presentation may also be to individuals of varying seniority – make sure you get the correct level of detail but draw this together taking consideration of the strategic elements
  • Research the individuals online, there will be a wealth of information on LinkedIn and Twitter that will give you a taste of individual preferences.If you want to get a little more complicated search media interviews or try a ‘boolean’ search for PDF documents.

Timing – it is really important that you know in advance how long your interview presentation should last or be expected to last. Trying to cram in too much information into a short period of time is one of the most common mistakes. I recently had a candidate who sent me his 20 minute presentation which included 35 PowerPoint slides! Getting this element right is critical to your success.

Points to consider:

  • It is difficult to provide a definitive guide as it will depend on the presentation but as a broad guideline you are likely to need a minimum of 3- 5 minutes per slide.
  • Less is more – ensure that the slide just provides highlights and is not crammed with text. In fact it could be just a picture or even one word – it is about using different ways to get the message across.

Substance over style - Beware of high tech imagery and animations (unless of course you are going for a role in IT!) Being serious though, lots of imagery can be distracting for your audience and may dilute the messages you are trying get across. For most roles, the interviewers are much more likely to be interested in the content of your presentation (which is an opportunity to display your knowledge and experience) than it is about style. That said, you must ensure that your presentation is interesting. Try and break up the slides a little so that you don’t have slide after slide of heavy text. If the organisation is considering a number of candidates and the interviewers are sitting through a number of presentations, think about how can you make sure your presentation is memorable?

Points to consider:

  • Work within your comfort zone – if you are comfortable with using animations etc. that is great but if not, be wary and ensure you are comfortable with the format you have chosen.
  • Try and break up slides of text using picture, diagrams or images. Using single words and images can be a powerful way of reinforcing your message.
  • Make sure you check and check again for spelling mistakes.

Message – You need to identify the primary message you want to deliver. This will determine the structure that you follow and needs to be clear and consistent throughout your presentation. Another common fault is the temptation to cram each slide with information in order to help the audience remember all the key points. Using the presentation as an autocue is a sure way to switch the audience off. In short you should have a strong introduction and a memorable ending. Think about what it s that you want your audience to take away from your presentation.

Points to consider

  • Delivering a great presentation is all about structure. You need an engaging opening giving an overview of your presentation. Consider how you can capture the hearts and minds of the interviewers. A memorable close is also crucial.
  • Use occasional anecdotes to build rapport with the interviewers and reinforce part of your message.
  • Point –reason – example – point – use this simple structure to provide convincing and reasoned points.

Format – again this is an area you should seek to clarify in advance of your meeting. The setting, the number of people attending and their expectations are all factors that may affect how formal or informal your presentation should be. This can range from using a projector in a board room (in which case you may be expected to take along your laptop or perhaps a memory stick with your presentation on) through to a printed hand-out to one person in a small interview room (and of course everything in between).

Points to consider

  • Don’t just go for the easy option involving the least work. The client will be looking at the effort and energy you have put into the presentation as a sign of your commitment and interest in the role.
  • Also take multiple printed copies of the presentation.
  • Email a copy of the presentation to the recruiter in advance to allow for any technical glitches!

Keep it authentic – I recently had a client give feedback on a candidate’s presentation saying that it was one of the best she had ever seen in terms of style and content. However, she felt it was a little too slick and perhaps a standard format that had been used in other interviews. It is crucial that the presentation is written for the interview and not a ‘cut and paste!’

Points to consider:

  • There are a number of techniques to make it personal and authentic. The use of stories and examples ensure relevance to the interviewers can all help in this regard. It is particularly important if the presentation is about you rather than being about the company you wish to join.
  • Include your own photos, particularly if you are presenting for a Retail position.

Practice and practice again – the most effective presentations are those that are delivered without the need to read word for word. Presentations are definitely an area where time invested pays off. Lack of preparation will definitely hamper your performance. It is important that you run through your presentation out loud. Ideally this would be in front of a friend or even videoing yourself to ensure that you can critique your performance.

Points to consider:

  • If you only run through your presentation once then you are highly unlikely to deliver a great presentation.
  • Time yourself when practicing to ensure you are within the time frames given.
  • Don’t memorise your presentation word for word – being too slick makes it less engaging. However you must know the content inside out – using cue cards will mean you are looking down at the cards and not engaging with the interviewers.

Presenting style – this is a widely written about subject. Just remember to present with confidence, energy and enthusiasm. Take your time – one of the most common errors is rushing. My personal view is to always stand; I think it allows you to inject more energy and command of the room.

Points to consider:

  • If you are offered a glass of water then accept it as you may need to drink part way through your presentation.
  • Breathing techniques can used to control presentation nerves. Try not to speak too quickly and allow yourself to breath naturally. Just imagine it as a conversation with one of the interviewers.
  • Try and move around during your presentation to engage and interact with the interviewers – although you should avoid pacing.
  • Modulate the tone, pitch, and speed of your speech. Do not speak in a monotone. Vary the pitch and speed of your voice for emphasis and effect. Use appropriate pauses. Rather than using filler words such as "uh," for example, simply pause before moving on to the next idea or point.
  • Make sure you try and show passion and energy in what you are delivering.

Questions – it is easy to forget sometimes in all the planning and preparation that you will be asked some questions at the end. Try and think what questions you would have if you had just heard your presentation and prepare your answers accordingly.

Points to consider:

  • The questions are likely to be focused on your recommendations, your analysis and observations. They are likely to probe how you have come to those conclusions so you need to be prepared to discuss this in detail.
  • If the presentation is about you and how you would perform in the role then be prepared to provide examples if asked.

 

Hopefully some of the guidance above provides some simple but effective tips to delivering a great presentation. Most of the advice above is common sense but despite this we see all too often great candidates forgetting some of these golden rules and falling in the ‘Death by PowerPoint’ trap.

I do accept that some people find presenting much easier and natural than others but unfortunately it continues to be a well used tool in selecting candidates.

With time effort and preparation you can hopefully ensure you deliver a convincing and stylish presentation.

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Social Recruitment in Retail – infographic & report

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The challenges of a career in recruitment

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By Sophie Mackenzie, AdMore Recruitment - Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.

I recently wrote a blog titled Top Eleven Best Things About a Career in Recruitment and jokingly mentioned that I would be writing this follow-up blog. In all seriousness, Recruitment is a very challenging career and anyone considering making the move into our industry should do so with their eyes wide open. In my view the pros far outweigh the cons, however in the interest of balance, here are some of the issues which can make the role so difficult. People have minds of their own!

Dealing with people is fundamental in recruitment – it is what we do, day in, day out. Every action you take, decision you make and issue you face is related to a person and so it follows that every single situation is unique. Once you have chalked up some experience in recruitment, you will have seen a huge variety of scenarios which helps you deal with different issues, however achieving this level of recruitment ‘zen’ is a long and painful process!

People can be unpredictable, unreliable, change their minds and lie. However strong you believe your relationship with a candidate is, they can still cause you problems if you do not anticipate possible complications. The same goes for clients.

Negative image of the industry

Most relevant for those working on the agency side, the perception people have of recruitment consultants is pretty unflattering, down there with Estate Agents on the popularity scale! We are seen as aggressive, sales focussed, arrogant and unscrupulous. Although I have met a few people who do fit that description over the years, the majority of people working in the industry do not fit this stereotype at all. Unfortunately, if someone has had a negative experience of a Recruitment consultant, it can be very difficult to win them over, but therein lies the challenge!

The Ups and Downs

Although the highs are great and accompanied by financial reward and recognition, the lows are tough to handle. There are so many factors which affect your success and you have to learn to anticipate these and avoid them where possible. At some point you will experience a slump when your CVs are rejected, jobs are filled internally, none of your candidates gets an offer and one of your placed candidates ‘backs out’ at the last minute. Those who build a long term career in this industry quickly learn how to cope emotionally with the stress caused by these setbacks.

Targets

Recruitment is a sales role. You are expected to ‘sell’ yourself, your candidates and your clients, develop new business, grow existing accounts and deliver against often-stretching revenue targets. While it is not about helping someone find a new role, this is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the job. Chances are, if you have the right qualities to succeed in Recruitment, you will thrive on targets and on beating your competition. If you are very lucky, you will work for a company where you are measured not only on your financial performance but on the quality of your relationships - repeat business, candidate and client testimonials etc. The phrase ‘you are only as good as your last quarter’ will resonate with most recruiters!

Frustration

The only joke I can ever remember is this one. Patient: "Doctor, Doctor, people keep ignoring me" Doctor: "Next!" This describes how recruitment can feel sometimes. Picture this. You have worked hard to understand your client’s business and have advised them about how best they can fill a problem vacancy based on your experience of recruiting day in day out and your knowledge of current market conditions. They don’t take your advice and insist on proceeding as ‘normal’. Several weeks later, the role still isn’t filled and you now get the blame for not delivering.

When you have a proven track record with the client and they trust you it does minimise this issue but it can still happen. Perhaps it’s because there are so many recruitment agencies all operating with varying degrees of integrity and experience that clients simply don’t view us as ‘experts’ or perhaps they don’t believe we have their best interests at heart? It takes time to build up a reputation in recruitment and often it is our own lack of conviction which perpetuates this situation. We should be more willing to politely walk away from business if the process is not collaborative.

Equally, on the candidate side, the perception some people have of recruitment professionals is so negative that candidates will often go into a conversation expecting the worst. This means that as a consultant who is genuinely trying to understand their situation, you spend most of the call trying to overcome barriers that need not exist. Again, this is something we must work hard to overcome by building trust over time.

There are countless other daily frustrations: candidate no-shows at interview or pulling out of a process with no explanation, clients cancelling interviews at short notice or changing the job brief – the list is endless! However ultimately, the skilled consultant will help minimise the impact of these issues by firstly anticipating possible complications and learning to ‘read’ people and secondly, by maintaining tight control of as much of the process as possible.

A thankless task

 Most relevant for in-house recruitment positions (in an agency, you may not get a thank you from your client but you will hopefully hit your bonus target). Recruitment teams in-house rarely get the credit they deserve from the wider business as recruitment as a discipline/professional is not valued in proportion to its importance to the business! They tend to get all the pressure when there is a vacancy but little credit for finding the right person and often hiring managers have little interest in a) how they have found the candidate and b) how much money they have saved the business by sourcing directly. Line managers are more likely to complain that the process has taken too long! Recognition is more likely to come from HR who, particularly if they hold the budget, will thank you for your efforts to source directly.

Some of these factors have been exacerbated during the recession and so, for those of you who have managed to hang on in there, you should find it a little easier once the market improves.

Despite these downsides, Recruitment is a great industry to work in – challenging, fascinating and exciting! For any advice about starting a career in recruitment, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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What should your Recruitment Consultant really do for you?

By Russell Adams, AdMore Recruitment- Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development. In a market where organisations are increasing their proportion of direct hires, do you still need to be talking to recruiters and what are they actually doing for you?  Are they really adding any value and what are they doing that you couldn’t do yourself? Indeed with LinkedIn it is now easier than ever before to be found by organisations looking to hire. So are recruiters really adding any value? The answer to that question will definitely depend on who you are talking to. Sadly the industry is lightly regulated and with no formal qualifications it is very easy for poorly trained individuals to operate without much scrutiny or redress. As we are all aware, the market is still tight. With strong competition for most roles it is likely that you will need to engage the services of recruiters in order to try and access the best opportunities in the market.

So what should a good recruiter be doing for you?

Career Advice

A specialist recruiter should be able to give expert career advice and both challenge and assist you in your career goals and objectives. They should be highly knowledgeable in your field and very well connected.  Your recruiter should be a career partner and not just an agent that will place you in a role.

Recruiters can and should provide impartial career advice. When paid commission you need to appreciate that some may have a short term attitude and advise what is best for them and not for you as the candidate. However, the best recruiters will take a look term approach, appreciate that people will remember great advice and certainly never forget bad advice. Although in the short term they may lose out on a fee, longer term if they do the right thing then you are much more likely to engage them when you are looking to recruit. So look out for the signs that they are thinking long term.

Recruiters can if they are willing provide advice across a range of areas including advice on CV’s and Interviewing. They typically do not change for these services but do it as a way of adding more value to the candidates. Again they are likely to only provide in depth advice to those individuals who they have built a relationship with.

Job Search

In addition to some of the added value areas, fundamentally you want your recruiter to give you access to the best jobs in the market. So, do plenty of research and ask plenty of questions; what roles are they recruiting? Who are their key clients? Are they recruiting the types of roles you are interested in? The competition out there is fierce and through building a strong relationship with key recruiters in your sector you can try and ensure you gain access to these roles. A good recruiter should always call you back. In the current market, recruiters are incredibly busy, there are large number of candidates on the market chasing relatively fewer roles, however if you agree up front how to communicate and how frequently then you should be able to find a way that works for both parties.

 Process Management

A good recruiter should "coach" you through the recruitment process.  They should be using their in depth knowledge of the client and the individuals within it to guide and advise you on how to position yourself. They should be able to give you a strong insight into the culture and how you will fit.  The are also likely to get in depth feedback from the client after each stage so make sure they are sharing this information with you, so you can understand what you may need to do more or less of.  In fact a really good recruiter will always think long term. The better ones will coach you through a process even when they aren’t representing you but it is with a client they know. They will appreciate the long term benefits of doing this and the potential for the future.

 Offer Negotiation

Whilst there are a multitude of reasons for moving jobs, increasing your salary and benefits is often an important aspect.  Your recruiter should be instrumental in negotiating the right salary for you.  They should know the client well and will have a real feel for what the client may be willing to pay for someone with your skill set.  But make sure they are clear about your parameters because as much as you want to receive the best offer you also don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you are jeopardising a potential offer because the recruiter is demanding an unachievable  salary on your behalf. Also make sure you understand the full package. The benefits on offer may vary considerably from your current role and other roles you are considering and it is wise to look at the package as a whole. This will both influence your thoughts around basic salary but also may give you some leverage. Make sure you have this information early in the process. Like any negotiation the Recruiter will be aiming to find middle ground that is acceptable to both you and the client. It is ok to push but get a feel for where those boundaries lie.

Post Placement

A good recruiter won’t just place you and collect their fee, they will support you through your notice period and then though your induction into the business. They should provide you with an insight into the key players in the business you are joining, the culture and advice on how to integrate into the business. They should keep in touch and ensure that your induction runs smoothly, feeding back to the client where appropriate.

Conclusion 

Identifying and then building a relationship with the right recruiters will be critical if you are determined to make the best career move possible.

So how can you ensure your recruiter is doing all these things for you? Firstly please choose wisely. It is best to get recommendations and check their credentials.

Secondly to gain this level of advice, support and opportunity you need to invest time in building a relationship with the recruiter. This is easier said than done when working in a demanding and consuming role, so select a small number of well connected recruiters. For some additional advice on job hunting please read our recent blogs Looking for a job in 2013and How to avoid joining the wrong business.

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Winning hearts and minds: how to build your influence in an in-house recruitment role.

Sophie Mackenzie - Senior Partner, Research and Business Support. AdMore Recruitment

When moving into an in-house recruitment role, however good you are as a recruiter, the biggest issue when moving to a new company is how to build your influence internally.

There is so much to learn: the hierarchical structure of the organisation, the different business units and what they do, your key stakeholders in HR and in the wider business, the recruitment (and on-boarding) process and the intricacies of the pay scales and benefits package. You may also be joining from a different industry so will have to get to grips with your company’s USPs, their competitors, their geographical reach and the idiosyncrasies of the different role types you will be recruiting. If this is your first in-house role, you may be recruiting cross-functional roles of which you have no prior experience eg. Legal, Marketing, HR. If you will be recruiting technical specialists, you will have to learn an array of jargon and technical terms in order to understand what skills to look for on a CV. In short, all this needs to be done while simultaneously working through your list of vacancies and it is unlikely the business will give you much leeway while you get up to speed.

The challenge doesn’t end there. Once you start taking briefs from your hiring managers and managing candidates through the process, you will quickly realise the level of influence you do (or don’t!) have and the extent to which you need to influence. Line Managers may be inexperienced at recruitment or have an unrealistic view of the market. Being able to influence them does not happen over night. If you think it’s hard getting time to meet your clients on the agency side, it can be equally hard internally. You will get used to ‘pouncing’ on hiring managers if you pass them in the corridor (that is if you even know what they look like!) in the hope of getting feedback on some CVs. You will become best friends with their PAs in the hope of grabbing a crucial 15 minutes in their diary before they fly overseas for a week.

In larger businesses, you may never get to meet your hiring manager and so you need to become adept at getting your point across on the phone and reassuring them that their vacancy is in safe hands. You need to ensure they know that you are an EXPERT in recruitment and that they can therefore trust you to advise them appropriately. Unfortunately, they will only truly appreciate this after you have successfully filled some of their vacancies. As Mae West said, "an ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises".

So, knowing how hard it is to establish yourself in an in-house role, here is one tip to start increasing your sphere of influence.

As the in-house recruiter, you will often be the first point of contact the candidate has with your business. Chances are, you will be guiding them through the whole process, giving them feedback after interview, negotiating their offer and even looking after their on-boarding if you are delivering the 360° recruitment process.

Once the candidate starts you may never have contact with them again, particularly if you are working for a very large organisation. However, with a bit of planning, these candidates–turned- colleagues can be a powerful way for you to increase your influence internally.

  • We all know that, irrespective of the level you join a business, the first few days and weeks can be an anxious and lonely time. As their main point of contact throughout their recruitment process, offering to meet them for a coffee on their first day or in their first couple of weeks is not only a nice touch and surely good practice from an on-boarding perspective but gives you the opportunity to establish a relationship from the start. This is especially useful if the candidate is at a senior level and likely to be one of your internal clients in the future.
  • In this initial meeting, use the opportunity to get the candidate’s feedback on their recruitment process, good and bad. This can be particularly insightful, providing you information on the candidate experience you and your team are delivering and crucially, the experience the candidate has had if represented by an agency.
  • This is also a great time to ask the candidate for referrals – do they have any recommendations of former colleagues that you could approach? If they have restrictive covenants in their contract, this will prevent them from approaching former employees directly so this could be a useful way of getting round this, in addition to giving you access to passive candidates.
  • If your new colleague is likely to be hiring in the future, it is useful to understand their attitude towards agencies and who they rate. Depending on how much control you have over the PSL, knowing who your hiring managers have existing relationships with will help ensure you stay one step ahead when a vacancy goes live.
  • You should also use this as an opportunity for some PR. Make sure your new colleague knows what the recruitment process is and who they should contact if they need to recruit. Talk to them about any challenges you face attracting staff and what methods you use to source candidates. This is a great way to emphasise the critical role of recruitment in the organisation and to ensure that your new colleague takes this message with them as they begin their role.

By doing this with every candidate you hire, irrespective of level, you will soon build up your own network of contacts internally. By keeping in contact with them, you will learn more about differing business areas and functions and ultimately have more influence when they in turn start to hire their own teams.

Sophie Mackenzie - Senior Partner, Research and Business Support. AdMore Recruitment

 

What do you do when your Retail Employer brand needs a refresh?

By Jez Styles, AdMore Recruitment- Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development. 

The most challenging, and by it’s very virtue interesting recruitment is often when you are resourcing for an employer whose brand does not quite match up with candidate perceptions. This can work two ways. A business may have a great employer brand but in truth be a difficult to place to work and develop a career. Conversely, there are many businesses that have a poor employer brand but are actually a great place to work. This mismatch often arises for two key reasons; firstly businesses change - a company may have had a high staff turnover previously but due to a change of CEO/HRD the underlying problems have been removed. The second reason is that many people confuse the customer brand with the employer brand. Yum! Brands (The parent company of KFC) are a great case in point. Potential employees think ‘fried chicken?’ but do not necessarily know the fantastic, employee- focused career opportunities they offer.

So, what can you do to educate candidates?

I was recently invited to a Retail networking event at Harrods. I’ll declare my hand early; I used to work in Harrods. It was an amazing experience and I can honestly say that it was the most theatrical and exciting place to ‘retail.’ However, it would seem that many candidates do not see Harrods as being an employer of choice. Following a period of change at Harrods (click here for more information) the Resourcing team have decided that now is the time to win hearts and minds.

The event was by invitation only (thanks to Linda Treen for the invitation!) and was aimed at attracting the top talent from retail that had thus far declined to attend a formal interview. It was typically Harrods - held in the Georgian restaurant where we were offered some beautifully crafted bacon rolls served with coffee and tea. The Retail Director, Paul Thomas, kicked off the day with introductions. This was perhaps the most powerful part of the day. There were 8 Harrods employees present; they came from Asda, Zara, Tesco and a collection of large and small retailers. Not the typical luxury backgrounds one might expect. They also had interesting career paths; it would seem that the path from Operations to the Support functions was well travelled. I guess that is the benefit of having the core of your business and its supporting Head office within a few miles of each other.

Following the introductions, a chap by the name of George Hammer talked about his own experience of setting up the Urban Retreat salon concession in Harrods. George is a classic entrepreneur and was quick to cut to the chase. Harrods is not an easy place to work quite simply because the standards and expectations are so high. As he put it, if you want to work somewhere spectacular you will have to take a risk. This is an interesting point, as this is absolutely about confidence. If you are confident in your ability then why would you not be successful? His most memorable quote being; "be exceptional, do not be average." George is clearly an extremely successful entrepreneur, he was the founder of Aveda amongst many other concerns, however he seemed to connect with the audience and many of the candidates present were clearly impressed by his honesty and his passion for Harrods.

Paul Thomas went on to talk about his own career path (Asda - Saturday boy to Store Manager, Sainsburys, Harrods Food Hall) and then fielded some questions. Paul was candid about his own decision to join Harrods with the admission of a wobble during his notice period prior to joining – had he made the right decision?  He was keen to tackle the negative perceptions within the room. A few candidates opened up and to Paul’s credit he dealt with these in a way that encouraged others to raise their own concerns.  He talked about the operational roles being narrower, yet deeper, than normal. He discussed perceptions around a more mature workforce and the ‘stuffy’ stereotypes. He noted that in the four years since they have started measuring employee engagement, they have seen a marked improvement in scores. This willingness to meet these questions head on certainly engaged the audience.

I noted with interest the number of candidates that were keen to formally register their interest in Harrods following some further informal conversations. I suspect that the Resourcing team were slightly surprised to get such an immediate result. Jenny Parry, Head of Resourcing, told me that she was primarily hoping to get the message out there that Harrods is evolving.  Judging by the reaction from the candidates attending, I think they certainly achieved this. It would be interesting to know what other retailers are doing to actively manage their employer brand in what is proving to be a period of intense change in the retail industry, comments below please!

By Jez Styles, AdMore Recruitment- Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.

 

A Match made in Heaven: How to get a PSL that works for you

To continue my ‘Jekyll and Hyde- esque’ musings  about my experiences in-house and in agency, I thought it only fair to write a follow up to my recent post "How to win the heart of an in house recruiter". Having reflected on the frustrations experienced on both sides of the fence, I tried to think what advice I would have given myself when I first moved in house in order to most effectively manage my agency relationships.  I should point out that these points were relevant to my personal experience where I had full autonomy over my part of the PSL – I understand that this is often not the case. Firstly, you need a PSL By this I mean a genuine list of preferred suppliers that are proven, vetted and that you actively want to work with rather than an unwieldy list of anyone who has ever sent a CV. I know this is hard to manage. A random speculative candidate that a Line Manager wants to meet often results in agencies being signed up to the TOB leading to a random selection of agencies who you have no relationship with and who you will never actively brief again. We all know that this is an effective way for agencies to get on the radar and can sometimes result in uncovering a gem of an agency (and candidate) who can really add value. This is easy to control. Sign new agencies up for a trial period and make it clear to Line Managers that this is the case. If the agency then proves their worth, you can extend the agreement. If you have a PSL, respect it. Trust the agencies on your PSL and give them the opportunity to really support you. To do this they need visibility of vacancies and an understanding of the wider business and your recruitment priorities. If you want to focus on recruiting some vacancies directly, tell your PSL and get your agencies working on those difficult vacancies which you won’t have time to work on. If agencies know they have a strong (and fair) chance of earning a fee, they will move heaven and earth for you and will be spreading positive messages about your employer brand in the process. Ask for recommendations Most of your Line Managers will have been placed by an agency or will have used them to recruit in the past. Choosing agencies that they like and respect will ensure they are engaged in the recruitment process from the start. Most agencies will say they are great so ask for testimonials and ask for details of other placements they have made either in your wider business or with your competitors. In the brave new world of Social Media, it is so easy to cross-check with In-House recruiters in other businesses. Agencies need to be aware of this and ensure they deliver a service which will stand up to scrutiny on LinkedIn Forums and Groups. Meet the agencies you are working with. I know how hard it can be to find time to do this but it will pay off and if you are genuinely committed to finding recruitment partners for your business, this is the place to start. This is your opportunity to lay down the ground rules and most importantly for them to buy in to you and your knowledge. If you want agencies to deal with you rather than accosting your Line Managers at every opportunity, they have to feel confident in your abilities and trust that you are there to facilitate a mutually beneficial result. By showing that you are willing to commit to them, this will be rewarded by better service and more flexibility. Also, I actually found my meetings with agencies a welcome relief from the constant conference calls, internal meetings and process management.  It was good to talk to commercially minded people who are focused on results, particularly in larger organisations which by their very nature can be stifled by bureaucracy, lengthy decision making processes and internal politics.

Behaviour breeds behaviour.

It is a real shame that agencies are so often tarred with the same brush, inevitably the same brush that paints the whole industry in a negative light. Let’s face it, we all understand where this comes from. There is no excuse however for treating any supplier the way so many recruitment agencies are treated. Starting off any relationship with the attitude that your expectations are so low that the other party goes away with limited incentive to represent your business well, is counter-productive to all involved.

Reward good behaviour.

Good agencies so often lose out to their less scrupulous peers. Take the case of a duplicate candidate. One agency has clearly spent time selling your business to the candidate and understanding the candidate’s suitability for the role. The other has clearly sent the CV without covering the candidate first. I know this puts you in a difficult position but in cases where the candidate confirms which agency is representing them correctly, it would be great to see this acknowledged fairly or at least with a 50:50 fee split. If you can get to a point where you have a group of agencies who you trust and in whom you have confidence in their ability to fill your vacancies and represent your brand effectively, you can then concentrate on delivering the best and most cost effective recruitment strategy to your internal stakeholders.  Surely, a recruitment ‘nirvana’ worth fighting for! This list isn’t exhaustive and I would love to know your thoughts: What are the key ingredients for having an effective and motivated PSL? What tips would you give someone taking on their first in-house role? What is the best example of an agency relationship you have experienced – what does excellent look like? Sophie Mackenzie