‘The Way You Make Me Feel…’

I really do enjoy listening to Michael Jackson. His music engages, is all-consuming, and has some dope beats. Show me an empty dance floor when MJ is locked and docked. But enough about MJ.

So my fifth week in and the agency calls are still coming in thick and fast. Some call to congratulate (thanks heaps, really appreciate it), existing suppliers call to introduce themselves (great to speak with you), other suppliers are just doing the rounds and notching up another stat. So lets look at how ‘they make me feel’.

The Thoughtful:– I like you. Usually these are the folks with whom you have relationships with. They appreciate how hectic things are in your first few weeks and leave you be. Typically the conversation is around past and present, a few well wishes and a ‘leave you to it, give us a shout if you need anything otherwise I’ll call in X months’. No sell, just good old relationship building. Some are a little cheeky and ask for a referral back into my previous employer to backfill, and I’m usually happy to oblige. You’re on your game, and I love it.

The I’m Important:– I appreciate their enthusiasm. More often than not, existing suppliers eager to ensure their slice of the pie isn’t given away to the relationships you bring from your former employer. Almost always ensure that you are gently reminded about just how much business they are doing with you and the epic relationship that has lasted longer than the Lord of The Rings Trilogy. You must meet them and you must meet them this very week even though they say “I guess you’re probably very busy…” Somewhere during the conversation I somehow agreed to join a spam list.. oh sorry.. I mean mailing list.

You know the one I’m talking about. The one that is addressed to Undisclosed Recipient, the more savvy catering for a salutation for that little personal touch. The email then goes on to outline their ‘mad skillz’ and super-duper list of highly active candidates….ok this same email applies to The Entroducing (fans of DJ shadow will appreciate that reference). But more about them later. DETOUR

The Candidate Marketing Email. What really is the purpose of this? Recruitment Managers and Owners will say it’s a numbers a game. I say its a relationship game. Why? It’s not personal and makes me feel like a stat. You’re telling me, my company is no different to the rest of our clients. Your telling me, you don’t actually have a clue about how to sell my company over our competitors to candidates. Your telling candidates you don’t actually target, well ok the target is the size of Australia..and you aren’t really interested in tailoring your approach to meet their specific requirements around company values and culture. Yeah yeah yeah I know, it provides organisations an insight into the calibre of people you work with BUT just how specific to my organisation is their calibre beyond technical experience? So for me, the next time you think of sending something like this out to me.. think about the value you are providing me, the service you are providing your candidate and don’t include me on your list. I’m not just another employer.

Now if you were to tailor a more specific email outlining why you thought the candidate/s was better suited to my employer over my competitors, or wanted to work for us, perhaps even discussed their values and how they align with ours… I’d be as excited as dog getting out for a walk.

The Entroducing:– Awkward calls more often than not and last all of 2 maybe 3 minutes. First timers calling in to establish something. Usually have no idea about me, or the organisation and focus on “need any assistance…got any jobs I can fill”. “Cmon, give me a shot”. Here’s a hint, demonstrate your ability to follow-up and provide value through market stats, info, news that I might be interested in. And NO a salary survey does not cut it for me. OH and another secret, some of us have access to REAL Data.. provided by HR departments. Not data obtained from individuals who can and do inflate numbers.

The Leveraged:– aka The Embellished. You know someone in the business who refers you on to recruitment. Somewhere between that call and my call you picked up a few roles and have been doing the biz for sometime now. Not that the hiring manager would admit to it. For whatever reason, there is a sense of right to recruit the role, that permission simply through relationship or should I say referral is granted. Sorry, your job is just as hard now. You’ll need to prove on an on-going basis you have a quality supply, fit for purpose.

I know you are all doing your jobs, and a very hard one at that. I hope that some recruiters read this, challenge their managers the next time they are asked to shove these candidate emails down their clients throats, I mean in boxes and say “No, my relationship with this client is more valuable than this”… if you do, let me know what the reaction is! I hope its positive.

For me, you’ll never get a sale on the first call. Highly unlikely on the second and more than likely on the 5th or 6th call. By then you will have demonstrated tenacity, follow up, quality candidates, market intelligence and I will have remembered you form the hordes of other one offs!


A big thanks to Trevor Vas and Martin Warren from HCMS for bringing the Talent Management Round Table (TMRT) to Perth once again. And thanks to Kentz for hosting us.

Oh yeah, before I go into my take aways, the above were acronyms for position titles that actually exist (two of them) apart from EVP. Guess which was mine

For those that dont know, HCMS host TMRT’s around Australia every 6 months or so with Recruitment Manager’s getting together to talk on a certain topic in a ‘unconference’ type session over 2 hours. Its a fantastic opportunity to network, but for the community to get together and share their thoughts, experiences, frustrations, innovations, and challenge one another.

Today’s topic was a precursor to the upcoming ATC Contingent Workforce Conference in Sydney (and now I wish I was going). We spoke about the challenges around workforce planning, the importance of supply over demand, analytics, reporting, the lack of investment in training, productivity, EVP….errr yeah all that in 2 hours.

Shane Barnfield – Recruitment Manager KENTZ and good mate, was a major contributor, and his innovation is always thought provoking. I do think he sometimes takes my ideas though… love ya Shane… alls fair in love and the war for talent.

So where do I start?

Overall we agreed that a ‘step change’ is upon us with regards to the world of recruitment. How we manage workforces now is not efficient, not effective, and whilst may provide some temporary solutions will not be a long term solution.

The Big Difference… Productivity between companies who are Operational over companies who supply to them aka Construction Contractors, EPC etc. Contractors, Sub Contractors whilst they can look at productivity and efficiencies we are dictated to by our clients through systems and processes which require duplication, cause delays, and prevent the very efficiencies organisations are striving towards to lower costs through increased productivity. I fully appreciate why they utilise these systems to mitigate risk. But is this risk mitigation strategy actually costing them more in the longer term? I doubt that it is being measured, but it would make for interesting reading.

EVP. The last couple of years i’ve really bought into the whole EVP bandwagon. But to be honest, i’m getting a little disenchanted by it. Why? Because I  believe the vast majority of EVP’s are the same. There is very little point of difference. The last 4 major companies I have worked for have had very similar EVP’s. They were a Global Recruitment Agency, Engineering Consultancy, Tier 1 Contractor, and now Tier 2 Contractor. Sure, i’m looking at it as a selling tool as opposed to retention and engagement… but thats a huge part of our role of recruiters. Selling our point of difference. Speak to any Contractor and the vast majority will say their EVP is something like “thought leaders…excellence in project delivery…performance something or rather oh and innovation…”. I dont work in Financial Services or Banking but I would think they too would have similar EVP’s again. Assumption.

Trevor spoke about Aspirational EVP’s. I like the idea, especially where an organisation cuts out the marketing spin and takes a more honest approach. But do aspirational EVP’s again become very similar to one another as most strive towards common goals. Maybe its just me, and some marketing companies making some easy cash but throwing the same old same and putting what the company wants to hear down rather than what the reality is.

Workforce Planning. This was a whole new can of worms. A great slide went up and everyone started talking about manning histograms, schedules, redeployment, demand vs supply etc etc. Whilst others were getting right into the discussion I had an “oh shit” moment. My company doesnt fit anywhere in that graph (just one of the opportunities which attracted me to the role).  At least they knew what their demand was going to be.Sure you can focus on supply to counter the demand, but what if you are looking at the wrong type of supply!

My current employer is only just now considering this mind shift. “Histogram?.. we’ll give you the man hours and you can work off that…” is the typical approach. What was comforting, was that the plan I have was the right plan thanks to my colleagues sharing their wisdom. Phew, I’m on the right path.. thank god I am not out of my depth just yet.

In essence this was about the recruitment function becoming more analytical around workforce supply to meet demand. Looking at internal, local, national and international markets over 2-5-10 years. But how do you do this when you are having to deliver operational recruitment without impacting service. Some good suggestions from the likes Iluka and Woodside representatives were provided.

Ok this blog is getting a little long in the tooth and there is an interesting doco on tv about the Phone Hacking scandal that’s distracting me.

If this topic is of interest to you, I suggest you check out the Australian Talent Conference – ATC Contingent The New Perm Conference being held in Sydney. We covered this much in 2 hours.. this goes for 2 days!

Thoughts, opinions appreciated.. and if you have suggestions on how to improve my blog.. i’m all ears.

Listen Up….Mobile phones should be banned

Last Friday morning I spent much of the AM sitting in a fortnightly operations meeting. The first meeting I have attended of this nature. It was great to sit back and observe the various interactions and hear about the achievements and issues within the business.

I did not bring my phone. The majority of attendees however, certainly brought theirs and were not afraid to use them whilst others were talking. Those attending were Operation Manager’s, Project Directions, Department Managers.

At anyone time, two or more individuals had their heads down and fingers tapping and scrolling away. Hmmm maybe they have never sat in an active listening training session or they are just supreme multi-taskers?

I began to feel uncomfortable, and felt that this behaviour was rude, that the meeting was a waste of time or poorly managed. I mean if it was that important, wouldn’t you be paying attention and not distracted by answering a couple of emails. Then I started to question whether the same people would be offended if I was doing the same thing whilst they were speaking with me, would they do this in a client meeting, would they be annoyed whilst sitting in the dentists chair and the dentist answered their phone and conversed for 5 or so minutes. And then it hit me, what if they were doing this in candidate interviews?!

After a marathon meeting, I approached the meeting chair and put forward a suggestion of ‘No Mobile Phone in Meetings’. To my shock the response was “are you kidding these meetings are boring…what would I do to pass time”…I then asked whether the same thing would happen at a client meeting which was met with a laugh and “they do it too and all the time…” I mentioned that I felt it was disrespectful to the person speaking as people were not actively participating or listening if they were distracted. Not to mention they may not actually be addressing the issue if they were listening to the meeting and responding to an email/text. I suggested the only person with a phone should be the minute taker, OR someone waiting on a “Must Take” phone call. I concluded that the meeting should be scraped or restructured to ensure people were attentive for the duration.

In my opinion, unless you have advised those in the meeting that you are expecting a call that you must take, TURN YOUR PHONE OFF (and no having it on vibrate is also a distraction), better yet, do not take your phone into the meeting so you are not tempted. Its rude. Someone has taken the time to prepare for and present to you, they deserve the respect of your time. If you don’t feel it is worth your time, don’t go and read the minutes instead.

I don’t care who you are, if you are on your phone in a small meeting whilst others are talking you are not listening.

So the next time you are in a meeting or organising one ask that all mobiles are either turned completely OFF OR organise a NO PHONE meeting. I’d be interested to hear how it is received and whether your meetings are more productive through contribution or productivity? What are your thoughts?

Time for some R & R – References and Recommendations

In my personal opinion,  I firmly believe that references and recommendations (LinkedIn ones) are about as reliable (we do it all the time) and as valuable (if you didn’t things could go badly wrong) as your morning visit to bless the porcelain bowl.


Unlike other countries such as the UK, Canada and USA where only a  confirmation of employment is provided (dates of employment and position), here in Australia there is still this requirement to conduct references. In some arena’s 3 references are required from 5yrs ago, 3yrs ago, and 1yr ago.

I’m not sure about you but I would struggle to accurately account for a former employee 3 – 5 yrs ago. You might remember a little about their good looks, quirky fashion wardrobe, sense of humour, untidy desk but their actual work performance? It’s not as if you are sitting there with his or her employee file going back through the various performance reviews and plans and commenting. If there was an actual performance review!

What if the persons name was Penny Jones or John Smith and several Penny’s or John’s had since worked with you. Are you 100% positive that the reference you are giving is for the same person?

Ok, maybe your last employer has some idea. The referee has just answered your call, and  you launch into the reference, can you honestly say that they are sitting at their desk with their file in front of them? Perhaps 1 in 100 referees provides some ‘gold’ or a negative feedback so is it really worth your time. Are you truly minimising the risk to your business?

Lets not even go near the whole idea of who the actual referee is. Listed as a manager, but was a colleague, listed as a client but was actually a good friend. Are you referencing your referee? To take a stab at it, I would say about 99% of organisations don’t validate the referee. So what really is the point?

If we are going to be serious about taking references then we should be validating who the referee is, requesting the applicant to provide copies of their performance reviews with which we can then more accurately review, and perhaps even discuss with the referee. Here in Australia, the former employee by law is able to request his or her details to be released to them. Whether the former employer is able to provide the information is a whole other story.

LinkedIn Recommendations.

Most of us have a few of these. Some have more recommendations than TripAdvisor. I have about 9 and show about 6. I don’t see the need to list them all, and they provide a mix of Client, Colleague and Manager. ALL of them make me feel great when I read them, and I hope they make you feel great to.

But let me ask you when you last read a recommendation that provided for some constructive feedback? Never? Funny that. Whether it be a client testimonial, manager or colleague rarely have I found a ‘useful’ recommendation. Hence why I have not asked for one since.

I think LinkedIn should require that you provide Pro’s & Con’s to each recommendation making it a more useful recommendation whilst also providing invaluable feedback to the individual.