Author Archives: Dorothy Dalton

career transition

9 stages of career transition

Over the years I have coached probably thousands of men and women through career transition. And although each case is always unique, (everyone likes to think they are special) I have observed 9 common stages in the process which each career changer or transformer makes.

1.Detached and dissatisfied 

Most people seek out professional career support when they are desperate or lost. They have usually tried to change jobs on their own and have met obstacles. This can be extremely disheartening and frustrating.  They read my web site and say:

“You wrote that for me! That is exactly where I am”

They are filled with conflicting emotions which can include anxiety about the future or financial issues, concern about lack of status and self-worth and even depression. They might have enjoyed their old jobs at some point and either change has been forced upon them or they have simply fallen out of love with their old profession. This will involve an element of grieving and a lot of chest beating and “what ifs” and “if onlies.”  It can be a very challenging place.

A smaller number focus on change in a strategic and structured way and they usually get stuck in this particular sand trap less frequently. They are happy to consign their old career to the past, but are then caught up in another bind. This group frequently want to disown their previous life and skills. This presents a whole other set of problems.

2. Identity limbo

As we struggle to understand who we are, what is important to us and how we want to add value in the next phase of our careers we can fall into identify limbo. Benchmarks about our achievements may no longer be valid and in some cases we may even reject the values that were once important to us and the people around us. But when we do that we frequently miss the recognition and endorsements we all seek at some level associated with that.

Aaron decided he wanted to leave private legal practice and join an NGO which was more in line with the values he now held. This created a significant gap in income and outlook with his previous colleagues which he described as being

“insurmountable. They just didn’t get the person I’d become. It wasn’t something they could deal with and pretty much dropped me. We were in different places. ”

That happens, but there are new kindred spirits on the horizon.

Read: How to manage your career in times of uncertainty 

3. Confusion

Many people say they “feel all over the place” at this point They seem to have too many choices but at the same time none of them feel totally right. They flounder and become overwhelmed and get bogged down in analysis paralysis and make no headway. They feel insecure and lack confidence. This is the point when most seek professional support. It’s important to hold yourself accountable for decisions and paths taken in the past, without beating yourself up. You can’t change what happened historically.

4. Commitment to the process

Most career changers expect an epiphany or “ah-ha” moment. In reality although that can happen, it rarely does. What usually takes place is through painstaking hard work. If you commit 100% to the career transition process, being open to support and willing to change, a myriad of inter-connecting switches flicker on, causing a slow and gradual internal illumination. Those that don’t commit totally to the process in terms of time and energy will not make the same progress. Getting a job is now your job. Anyone who can’t get into that zone, gets into trouble.

5. Danger zone

Spending time doing the inner work, anchoring strengths, identifying personal development plans and finding and owning their “why” is really key at this point. It’s not uncommon to meet resistance as old habits, inner critics and negative thinking hold career changers back. Backsliding can kick in at this point until complete clarity about goals, vision and action is achieved. I hear a lot of “yes-but,” at this point, which is a massive tell that there is deep-seated resistance. The message here is “yes I want to move forward” but old habits and influences are still getting in the way as clients struggle to let go of what they usually do or did before.

It takes persistence and resilience to get beyond this and can be a danger zone for some. It’s important to work with your coach to get through the fog during this phase of your career transition.

6. Picking up the pace

Emerging from a misty tunnel and making progress is a huge energy booster. It’s common to see a flurry of activity at this point. Plans and strategies are drafted, CVs updated and online profiles professionalized. It’s all systems go! Networking is well underway, job applications in the pipeline and even interviews lined up. Remember to stay focused and on plan.  It’s easy to drift and get sidetracked by online “busyness.”  There is a lot of nonsense around job search and career advice which can be distracting and a big time eater especially on the internet. It’s not uncommon to see a loss of focus after a period of intense activity.

Read: White noise nonsense on job search and recruitment  

7. Cohesion and synergy

As all the different threads seem to come together and fall into place. The potential and possibilities of a new career and maybe even a new life are on the horizon. Success breeds success. The career changer gets a buzz. Success seems on the horizon and within their grasp.

8. Set backs

But….career transformers rarely get the first job they apply for. They are dismayed at the speed of the procedures (slow) and lack of positive response (variable.) Recruiters take time to respond or don’t respond at all. It’s all frustrating. It can take 6-9 months to start a new job. Patience is vital to maintaining sanity. There may be some set backs, perhaps several. It’s important to learn from the experience and be flexible, adapt and dig deep. Every situation even the negative ones, give great feedback, so it’s important not to let it damage your confidence. You have to hang on,  flex the resilience muscles and power through the adversity. It’s only temporary.

9. Score

Finally, after what seemed at times like an impossible journey, goals have been achieved. Dreams have become a reality!  Your new life is about to start!!

If you would like to re-invent your career – contact Dorothy Dalton  

Graduate recruitment tips for SMEs in 2017

Graduate recruitment can be expensive and not always successful, with heavy investment needed at the upstream identification end.  There is a high risk of low return on that investment if the downstream end isn’t tightly managed. Large corporations have huge budgets to invest on job fair stands and online campaigns.They make scores of offers. But all is not lost for SMEs if they go about the exercise in a structured and strategic way. They will still be able to attract the best candidates for their organisation, if their graduate recruitment process is sharp.

Best as we know, is a very nuanced word.

I started my early career running graduate recruitment programmes and in 2017 I observed improvements, contradictions, some changes and the same old. Some things that you would think would have changed, simply haven’t. Graduates are pretty much the way they have always been. Some are open, others arrogant. Some get it, others don’t. Some are focused others are not.

Managing expectations

The World Economic Forum report lists the 5 things that Millennials look for in a job .Holidays, working with great people and flexible hours are important factors, with money and job security listed at the top. Research from Deloitte indicates work life balance, professional development, sense of meaning, the impact on society and high quality products are also key drivers.

My own experience would be in line with the Deloitte research, although work-life balance was not mentioned once by any one of the hundreds of graduates I talked to this year. The focus was more on lifestyle in general. I found that the connection to family seemed stronger than I had encountered in other years.  They key mentions to me were: career advancement (very important) ethical products and leaders and meaningful, impactful work.

Here are 6 graduate recruitment tips for SMEs

But what do SMEs have to do to get the right talent for their organisations?

1. Career Services

University Careers services continue to be mixed. Their web sites are easier to navigate than I remember and they do seem to be more in touch with what’s going on in the market than before. In general I found the level of CVs higher than in previous years, so they are obviously working with their students to produce better results, which is always a positive. Some use their job boards as revenue generating operations and charge for their service. Others have fees for a placement. I didn’t use these options, which was a good decision. I found like any job board the results were generally poor and it was direct approach via my network and digital sourcing worked best. LinkedIn Recruiter was helpful to a point. The quality of contact varied between universities with some acting as if they were doing me a favour connecting me to “their graduates”.  I bypassed their system and used general sourcing methodologies.

2. Values and Vision

Looking for employment in line with their values and vision seems to be a key motivator for 2017 graduates. Many are open to working for SMES especially those that replicate their own beliefs. So although hiring managers from SMEs fear competition from the top players, many students are looking for smaller more flexible environments. Some of the big name employers are perceived to be working with, or have strong links with top ranked universities, giving preferential treatment to graduates from those establishments. A strong big name employer brand isn’t necessarily always going to win the day. In October 2016 budget supermarket Aldi out-positioned Google in the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers. 

Lifestyle decisions seem to be critical. I observed larger numbers than usual being very specific about their general needs with regard to friendship groups, relationships, family commitments and geographic location. There was no mention of work life balance with regard to time, even those new graduates who are already parents. And there where some. I saw little evidence of graduates yearning for independence and desperate to escape the nest. Rather the reverse. Family commitments seemed more significant and many had lived at home to save money during university to reduce student debt. We looked for indications of independence in other ways. A high number openly referenced the influence of their parents. Almost all had worked to support themselves through university and workplace exposure was an added bonus. There seemed to be a higher number of mature students.

3. Speed is of the essence

Today the recruitment process needs to be speeded up. Graduates expect rapid responses and high levels of engagement. Corporates are frequently not set up to reach decisions as fast as they need to be for this demographic. Expect high levels of fall out if you are not running a smooth operation with a clear timeline  to manage expectations. Very often final year students have exams and dissertations well into July of the academic year. Making your application process as seamless as possible is important without asking them to jump through too many selection hoops.  Regular communication is vital even if you have nothing to say. They like to be kept in the loop. Many will not read emails for days – agree in advance what platform you are using and advise them to monitor communication channels frequently. This is where smaller companies may have an edge with fewer approval layers. I advise you to use it.

4. Online presence

This generation is digitally savvy and will research your company online. Skilled and experienced at picking up digital anomalies, all online communication needs to be on point. Any detail no matter how small will be picked up. Because I focused on online sourcing, I tapped into students who had a reasonable professional presence. Anecdotally I would say that this had increased in the last year. Employers need to have compelling web sites with some space dedicated to the career advancement featuring younger employees.

5. Long short lists

Graduates will agree to participate in a process and do accept alternative offers if they receive something better or just something quicker. It’s important to have longer than usual short lists and to move swiftly on final decisions. This is where ongoing communication is imperative.

6. Everyone makes the pitch

Graduates need to see enthusiasm from everyone in the process. They are looking for work as a life experience which is a major shift. Many are saddled with significant debt and commitment to future training and  career development needs to be spelled out. They have expectations of corporate life gleaned from TV and the movies. Very often the office on a plant or some industrial site is a far cry from what they have in their heads. Your brand needs to be sold convincingly by everyone. I used researchers nearer to the demographic in age than I am and they provided invaluable insights and could put expectations into perspective. One researcher was well versed on where the best music scenes could be found in relation to the hiring locations. This proved to be invaluable information, clearly something I might struggle to do.

So although SMEs have concerns that the big corporates will cream off the best talent, a strategic, targeted, flexible search which taps into core values of the graduating demographic will prove to be a big bonus. SMEs still have the opportunity to attract the best talent for them.

If your organisation wants support for graduate recruitment now or in 2018. Contact us.   

 

boreout

Boreout the latest workplace malaise

Boreout is a management theory dating from 2007 in Diagnose Boreout, a book by the Swiss business consultants Peter Werder and Philippe Rothlin. They suggest that the lack of work, boredom, and subsequently low level of satisfaction is now an identifiable trend in the modern workplace particularly amongst white-collar workers. Recently, in France, Frederic Desnard tried and failed to sue his employer for being “killed professionally through boredom”  in his job as perfume industry executive.

Does boreout exist?

The report by Werder and Rothlin references research in 2005 into time-wasting at work carried out by AOL and salary.com  The survey revealed that of 10,000 employees showed that the average worker frittered away 2.09 hours per eight-hour day outside their break time on non-work related tasks. The reason most often cited for this behaviour (by 33% of respondents) was a managerial failure to assign specific tasks. They had insufficient work.

Brussels based osteopath Ian Tarlton said he is now treating patients many of whom he believes are suffering from “boreout” syndrome when it becomes manifested in physical symptoms. At one time he observed these symptoms were more readily associated with “burnout.” Long hours, over load and excessive pressure. Now he reports a shift where people simply hate their jobs and they are bored, literally to ill-health. This can be from not having enough to do or insufficient meaningful work. Each patient has different problems (e.g. headaches, digestive issues, tightness in the neck or spine) but Ian is seeing an increase in patients who openly report a lack of professional well-being.

Read: Help I hate my job

5 downsides of boreout

Low employee engagement and absenteeism have been plaguing businesses for years. A normal level of absenteeism has to be built into any HR head count projections. All employee become sick or have personal issues to attend to. The issue starts when low engagement and absenteeism become chronic. This leads to a vicious cycle:

  • reduction in productivity – low engagement impacts productivity. Employees under perform. Boreout coping strategies include stretching assignments to fill up the week and working on personal admin in office time, checking in on Facebook, taking cigarette and coffee breaks and even naps in the bathroom.
  • low morale   – an employee who is not motivated and feels unappreciated or bored is more likely to take sick days showing and increase in absenteeism.
  • reduced loyalty – an employee suffering from boreout is likely to have low levels of engagement and reduced loyalty to the company
  • the bottom line  – low morale and productivity impact business results
  • safety  and mistakes – disengagement which can cause mental health issues leads to lack of concentration which in turn leads people to make careless mistakes and even injuries.

Read: Are you ready for a professional emergency landing

Wijnand van Tilburg, Assistant Professor in Psychology at King’s College London, suggests that “boreout” is currently not a recognised condition psychological condition. But there is no doubt that people claim to be so bored at work they eventually are unable to get out of bed and face the day. They might start to self-medicate with food and alcohol until they exhibit physical symptoms which force them to consult osteopaths like Ian Tarlton.

Boreout is something that individual supervisors and managers can deal with to create a more meaningful workplace environment.  But has boreout always been there,and people just sucked it up and got on with it or did something about it?  Boreout is very real if you believe you are going through it. Ian’s advice:

I always tell them their fate is in their own hands and they have to change their lifestyle and sometimes that means changing your job. I can only treat the symptoms and not the underlying cause.

Positive outcomes

On a brighter note there can be positive outcomes to completing boring tasks. Joyce Petrina recounts:

It was sorting and filing hundreds of backlogged, unfilled financial statements for banks and private customers in a Danish Bank in Luxembourg. It was so bad I had to take over the board room’s long table and floor to get the job done. I do think that my willingness to do that tedious job led to the bank hiring me and getting my work papers in Luxembourg. Coming from the Bahamas where we def were not a member of the then EEC, it was extraordinary that the bank was able to do that for me. It changed my life.

Sally Lee is so mindful of her experiences as a finance assistant where she was bored witless that she says

“I am now mindful of my bad experience when I delegate or train others.”

Anyone who stays so long in a job which ultimately gives them health issues needs to seek help immediately. Ian Tarlton is absolutely right. The underlying causes have to be tackled .

If you are looking for a career or job change contact me NOW

 

 

 

Is the the automated interview the future?

More and more organizations use video as an integrated part of their recruitment process. But a new step is the automated interview also called the on-demand interview. This is a structured interview where candidates answer a series of predetermined questions which are recorded to camera. There are a number of platforms that deal with this and the process can vary.

Benefits of an automated interview

Marketed as a way to overcome unconscious bias, primarily they serve to cut manpower costs of labour intensive recruitment processes. An automated interview process offers the possibility to reduce the admin costs associated with preliminary interviews. This can be around scheduling and all the time-consuming to-ing and fro-ing with diaries, time zone differences, no shows and candidates who are not on target or unsuitable in another way.  Focused questions specific to the opening allow interviewers to assess candidates at their own convenience and call only the most suitable for a face-to-face interview.

For candidates they also give flexibility, reducing the time needed off from a current job or trying to find a quiet space in today’s open plan offices.

Read: 15 ways to finesse an online interview

The automatic automated interview  

Yep, that’s right… it wasn’t a mistake.  In this model all candidates receive an email access link to the video interview which can come as soon as they have submitted their CV.  Candidates can decide when they want record their responses. That gives them flexibility to complete their recording to meet the deadline  Questions may be posted as captions on the video link, or come by text and audio questions.

Recorded Answers 

The interview starts the second the open link is clicked. Sometimes there is a welcome and housekeeping message or an organisation mission statement. Candidates should complete a tech check and then are usually asked questions specific the opening. They might have 3 questions to answer in 15 minutes. They need to pace themselves and check the available answering time as well as  the number of  re-recordings (if any) they are allowed.

Once the recording is submitted the interviewer will revert to let the candidate know if they have been successful.

Live streaming generation 

Maya is a senior executive in a Brussels based international organisation and just completed her first automated interview. She had applied all the basic tips relevant to any other video interview and was well prepared.  However, she felt some discomfort without human interaction.

“With interview questions posted as captions on the screen, it felt strange delivering a monologue. I felt the process would work better for younger generations who are used to posting and recording themselves and might feel more comfortable in that situation. It’s very different from a video interview taking place in real-time. it was also strange talking live to myself on the screen”

The feedback I’ve had has been mixed. Both interviewers and candidates comment negatively on the impersonal elements with interviewerss coming our more strongly than candidates on the cost effectiveness of the process. Candidates who are confident and comfortable performing to camera tend to do better and nervous candidates tend to underperform. With limited time for answers, preparation is key with an abiltiy to be succinct more important than ever. All believed that an automated interview by video was a huge improvement on its counterpart the auotmated telephone screening.

Read: Brevity the secret to a good interview

Recruiting skill

Regular face-to face interviews are considered to be one of the least effective ways of hiring talent and lead to signficiant errors. So care is needed to make sure the questions are designed and appropriate for each role. There were some doubts around their effectiveness on managing unconscious bias. Many felt that it was simply being deferred and judgements were being made especially on appearance and voice.

One HR Manager suggested:

Despite the automation of the process it is still possible for bias to kick in around gender, appearance, accent, voice, ethnicity etc. so it doesn’t go away completely. The “performer” quite, often an indivudalist alpha male personality will tend to do better. So that’s not a change for the better.

There was a consensus that an automated interview is useful for preliminary triage especially for lower levels positions where there is a high number of applicants. It is also useful for technical roles or to assess a specific skill. it would also be helpful if a performer personality is needed for a role.

Read: Do structured interviews overcome unconsicous bias?

So where are we going with thi?  Will they ever eliminate the human element no matter how flawed? Would you hire a candidate you had never met or accept a role without meeting the hiring manager?

To take it to the next phase. Would you work for a bot?  What are your thoughts?

Ask for a call regarding executive search services for your organisation.

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professionalisation of the recruitment industry

Professionalisation of the recruitment industry is urgent

The demand for the professionalisation of the recruitment industry seems to be at an all-time high. LinkedIn in particular is regularly filled with complaints about the way individuals have been treated by a recruiter in some part of the globe. There are also complaints from recruiters about the comportment of candidates. Often times many of these complaints are justified.  As I have written before, one of the major reasons that such poor quality exists is that the barriers to entry in recruitment are non-existent and miscommunication about their role is rife. The reality is that anyone who can read, write, hustle, has a lap top and a phone can set themselves up as a recruiter.

A recruiter or head hunter is dealing with people, their lives and livelihoods. A poor recruitment decision impacts the profitability of any organisation. The hiring process is an important professional activity, so why do we not pay enough attention to make sure it is done properly?

Professionalisation of the recruitment industry  – raising the bar

It was never more clearly highlighted than today when I spoke to a network contact who talked to me about her new job in a recruitment agency. Her experiences signal everything that is inherently wrong with the recruitment industry culture and system. The bottom line is that it needs a serious upgrade. Although a highly qualified, multi-lingual professional herself, she has been tossed onto the market with no training at all. This is the responsibility of the agency director.

The two places to start with the professionalisation of the recruitment industry are here:

Agency owners or managers need to train their staff

Would you ask a barista to work behind the bar without showing them how to pull a pint and them not knowing the differences between beer, wine and gin? Didn’t think so.

To become a recruiter, no certification is necessary even though recruiters are handling information that can be technically complex and requires an understanding of sophisticated organisational structure and behaviour. Without this knowledge most recruiting practitioners will not be able to glean an accurate idea of the role nor properly pitch the organisation and the job on the market. It is really important that recruiters have the necessary information and insight to ask both the client or the candidate for the information needed to make an informed assessment.

All this leads to an unproductive use of time and resources in “spray and pray” practises that sometimes work, but mainly don’t. So for agency owners or managers, the lack of professionalism in recruiting is in your hands. It is your fault. The bar needs to be raised.

Hiring company commitments

Hiring companies frequently state how committed they are to their company talent. For many it is superficial lip service only. They need to commit to professional standards in their hiring processes by stopping contingency recruitment, especially on a first past the post basis. For those not in the know this situation is “no placement, no fee”  and multiple companies placed in competition to get the first placement. They are in part responsible for the lack of professionalisation of the recruitment industry by an unwillingness to pay for full professional services.

Greg Savage,  business advisor to recruitment agencies, running Recruiter Master Classes internationally, cites this as being a highly dysfunctional business model which is damaging the industry.

Multi-listed, contingent job-orders benefit no-one. Clients, naively thinking they get a better service because they get agencies to compete, actually get a far worse service because they are actively encouraging recruiters to work on speed, instead of quality.

The hiring manager thinks this is efficient way of doing business, but all it means is that they get the first and the fastest, not necessarily the best. The reality is that top talent is turned off by this uninformed, lazy methodology and hiring managers need to understand that. Only recently I was bewilderingly approached by a recruiter for an Account Manager role in a Canadian Insurance company.  I know nothing about insurance or Canada, but my name had obviously appeared in a search and all targets had been sent a generic mail. The guy just looked stupid.

The important thing is that both agency recruiters and hiring managers have to understand and as quickly as possible, it’s the hi-po, in demand talent that holds the upper hand. Recruiters will not consistently reach and convert those sought after candidates, unless the business model is changed and upgraded.

Recommendations

  • Agencies have to be accredited and meet minimum requirements to become operational.
  • The licence holder should be qualified in a related field or have a required number of years experience. There have to be barriers to entry with proven qualifications in the field some sort of qualification achieved after a period of study followed by examination. This is common in many professions such as accounting. Just because someone has worked in corporate H.R. for example, does not mean they can assume the role without any training.

You would be surprised how many people conduct interviews and make selection decisions with even no basic training at all, let alone more sophisticated knowledge around unconscious bias or interview techniques. They may have industry and functional insights, but the specifics of conducting multiple searches simultaneously will be new to many. Sometimes they will have none of the above.

Read: If you are not bias conscious you shouldn’t be a recruiter 

  • When they are operational they should be legally mandated to provide minimum training levels for any staff. Candidate sourcing, development and attraction require specific skills. Interviewing and assessment require additional areas of more sophisticated competence. They are not divine gifts but can be learned, so therefore need to be taught by someone who knows what they are doing. Having remote employees working in isolation without supervision is also a recipe for disaster.
  • There should be a regulatory body to monitor complaints and performance. Persistent complaints should result in detailed investigation. Penalties should be imposed and if necessary they should not be allowed to operate and their license suspended or revoked.

At the moment we rely on the natural economic justice of the business world to make dodgy companies bankrupt. Transline Group, one of the employment agencies at the centre of the Sports Direct scandal, lost a contract supplying temporary  staff to Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer for failing to pay minimum wage. The company may now be headed for administration. Social proofing or old-fashioned word of mouth will also play a part to produce accountability.

But what is needed for improved professionalisation of the recruitment industry is increased regulation.  I am not sure how likely to happen that is.

But would you want to put your career into the hands of someone who didn’t know what they were doing? Me neither.

If you are looking for a high level head hunter to market your employer brand to identify and attract top talent – book a call now.  

 

If you are not bias conscious you shouldn’t be a recruiter

I was intrigued to read that a recruiter had been fired by Pepsico for failing to provide a diverse short list which should have included more than one woman. I actually don’t think the lack of women on a short list is a diversity issue, but one of balance and inclusion. It’s a small thing and illustrates underlying thinking, but at least there is a conversation. But who should be held accountable for a lack of diverse candidates on any short list when most recruiters are not bias conscious themselves?

Bias conscious recruitment

As with all these issues it’s often more nuanced than people realise. In 2014 I wrote post “Do headhunters exclude women”   It was in response to a Glasshammer post about how executive search companies and headhunters serve to exclude women. I read the Glasshammer article with interest and the report it was based on  “And then there are none: on the exclusion of women in processes of executive search,” which appeared in Gender in Management: An International Journal in 2013.

My main contention was two-fold:

  • if organisations really wanted to hire women they would
  • the recruitment process is riddled with unconscious bias at every turn, both at head hunter level and internal corporate processes.

Responsibility split   – head hunters and recruiters 

I don’t know anything about the assignment brief which resulted in the firing of the recruiter, so can’t comment on the detail. The reality is that some recruiters are woefully unprepared to recruit anyone at all, let alone provide gender balanced shortlists. Unconscious bias training should be mandatory for all recruiters and if they are not  “bias conscious” I would even contend they shouldn’t be recruiters.

This is fixable.

  • Understand the concept of gender coding and other biases and how the impact the recruitment process. A client bemoaned the fact that their entry-level intake for women was at 33%, which although was a critical mass for women, meant that the talent pipeline struggled when churn kicked in later down the line. Yet only a cursory check showed that their adverts are male coded. This will not be the only factor but it will play a role.
  • Be able to ask their clients the right questions. The fact is that women are under represented at senior levels in almost all organisations. Detailed analysis needs to be made of where barriers for women occur and why. Many organisations need to re-think their hiring policies and come up with some creative alternatives.
  • With a tendency to demand shortlisted candidates who can “hit the ground running” at a more senior level, organisations place demands on recruiters to look for the usual suspects in the usual places and they tend to be male.
  • They can source candidates in a creative way from places where women will be found, not by running a basic Boolean string on LinkedIn. Currently recruiters rely heavily on their networks to present shortlists which can lead to the embedding of affinity bias, what I call the 3Ms (Mini –Male-Mes)
  • They need to know how to sell to women. Many don’t.
  • They need to understand gender difference in communication and ask better questions of both male and female candidates.
  • They can make sure that interviews are structured and that any potential bias is called out. Many are reluctant to do this because clients can take offence. I’ve been in this situation and it calls for extreme diplomacy.

Corporate Responsibility

  • Stop the practise of hiring recruiters on contingency (no placement no fee) especially first past the post. It encourages dubious quick fix, low-cost practises which are certainly not diverse.
  • Be more creative themselves –  consider returnships and other ways of strengthening the female talent pipeline. Support recruitment organisations which have an innovative approach to recruitment.

Bias is learned behaviour and habits acquired over years in all aspects of our every day lives. Understanding those biases, to make bias conscious decisions requires significant effort and training to become conscious of where and when it impacts the recruitment process and all hiring decisions. Needless to say this applies to all biases not just gender. But it’s a good place to start.

If you need a bias conscious recruitment team – place a call now. 

Social proofing is key to the recruitment process

Social proofing is here to stay  –  so be prepared

Brendan O’Brien Partner – Technology Recruiting posted a LinkedIn update about comments on the social proofing site Glassdoor.com.

Wow! Just had another candidate cancel an onsite interview based on a Glassdoor review. Pulling out of an interview based on a Glassdoor review is the equivalent to making a critical life decision based on what a Kardashian said…rant over

What surprised me was that he was surprised. The development of social proofing as part of a corporate branding strategy, whether it’s AirBnB, Trip Advisor, Hotels.com, Rentalcars.com or Uber is a key part of the way we make consumer decisions today. We wouldn’t even think of going out for dinner, making a hotel or theatre reservation without checking the online reviews. It was only a question of time before it was going to be applied to the workplace on a wider scale. Glassdoor.com and PayScale.com have been around for a decade (the former) and even longer now for the latter. They have also been recently joined by sites such as InHerSight and FairyGodBoss which are active in the gender equity space.

social proofing

Read: 7 tells you are on the brink of losing your team

Candidate experience

Employers check out candidates online, it should therefore be expected that they will do likewise for the employer, the hiring and line manager and even the recruiters. Social proofing is considered by companies to be a prime marketing opportunity for their products. We are all invited to leave reviews and “likes” at every available opportunity

But part of the process is a need to be mindful of, and prepare for, potential negative comments. If a pattern does emerge, any organisation would investigate, whether it’s the state of the bedrooms, the taxi experience, the quality of the mashed potatoes or the holiday rental Fiat.

In the recruitment process less than positive feedback is an automatic and immediate heads up to any candidate, that they should start checking the voracity of the comments. If we would consult social proofing platforms for a dinner date which lasts 3 hours, we would be mad not to be as thorough, if not more so, for our careers. This can be done via actual networking, as well as other online platforms. As a career coach I would strongly recommend my clients pick up a phone if they could, to someone in the organisation or the sector, to investigate the detail and the sub text.

The words smoke and fire come to mind.

For the employer, it’s a great opportunity to address specifically flagged up issues, which impact employee engagement and retention. That is, the issues that cause people to quit.The candidate can then decide if the comments from ex-employees are significant enough to be deal breakers for them, or the superficial rant of a disgruntled quitter.

Read: 6 sandtraps that cause onboarding fails

Part of the routine

I routinely check for any comments about my clients on social proofing sites to see if there is anything out there in the ether we should know about. I’m a great believer in no surprises. One client had retention problems at a manufacturing site in rural USA and the realisation that these comments were gaining traction in cyber space and impacting their global brand, made them sit up, pay attention and take action. It also flags up that the exit interview process is not functioning properly. None of this should come as a shock if correctly carried out. If no systems are in place to track employee engagement and attrition then it will be horrifying.  The issues could be about onboarding, salaries, general conditions and benefits, the culture or even one specific manager.

Bill Boorman suggests in the New Rules of Recruiting  that real candidates track an organisation via multiple channels, for up to 7 months before making a decision to join.

Applicants apply for jobs or a specific role, but candidates are attracted by the company: they go on LinkedIn, Facebook and investigate the company and interact with it.

Social proofing is here to stay. Recruiters and hiring managers have to accept that and prepare to leverage good feedback and tackle the negative. It’s a perfect opportunity to identify where any problems lie.

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Diversity and Inclusion Recruitment – Beyond the Hype

Diversity and Inclusion recruitment processes and workforces are the buzz words right now. If the level of white noise was a benchmark, we should be there and all sorted. But we’re not. So  what’s going on behind the hype?

Why aren’t diversity and inclusion recruitment initiatives working?

I see regular, but superficial posts about the way to get it right. But despite the social media fanfare and the business case for D & I being incontrovertible, the needle isn’t moving at the rate it should. In some cases it’s regressing. These are the stats from McKinsey,  but if you go with Deloitte, Mercer, the World Bank or W.E.F. the indications are all similar.diversity and inclusion recruitment

Now companies like Microsoft and Google who seemingly go to great lengths to do everything right are struggling to shift the status quo. They are making D & I KPIs for senior management and part of their personal objectives. Essentially the message is that people can’t be relied on to do the “right” thing, they must have incentives and be rewarded for achieving specific objectives when it comes to diversity and inclusion recruitment.

Tackling bias 

To tackle this, many organisations have thrown big budgets and people at unconscious bias training and awareness coaching, but without creating a safe culture where biases can be called out.  Not unsurprisingly there is push back against generic programmes as employees resent the idea that they need to be “fixed.” Unconscious bias can only ever be managed in any of us. Candidates are placed because they conform to pre-conceived ideas around “cultural” fit (affinity or confirmation bias) and conversely rejected because they may not. The concept of hire for attitude rather than aptitude beyond entry-level, is something mainly seen in Twitter memes and quoted by LinkedIn influencers.

Read: Affinity bias and the recruitment process

Defining diversity

Organisations need to have a clear vision of how they define a diverse workforce, what it means for them and then clarity on the strategy they need to achieve those goals. Then there needs to be an impactful  message related to the company mission statement and employee benefits that would attract that diverse workforce. These conditions need to be openly stated as this demographic self-deselect. This can be flexi-time, welcome bonuses, job sharing, disabled facilities, carer support, retirement support, mentoring programmes and education and study support. So whether diversity comes from hiring on the basis of gender, ethnicity, age, physical ability or even mental health issues, there has to be clarity on which demographics are being targeted.

Promote an employer brand based on diversity

diversity and inclusion recruitment

Diversity and Inclusion recruitment drives can’t succeed in a vacuum.  A positive employer branding message has to focus on the benefits of working in an organisation that supports diversity. Building relationships at grass-roots level to create a feeder talent pipeline,  whether via alternative schools, community centres, colleges, NGOs, charities or women’s organisations etc;, or offering returnships to early retirees or parents. This involves having role models to act as brand and diversity ambassadors going directly into those communities to do a full-on PR job.

Spread the word

Once created this message needs to be strategically communicated where the target demographics are likely to be found.  85% of jobs are secured via networking so you can see why hiring results in “mini-mes” being selected. Many recruiters pursue low hanging, visible fruit. It means a fast, problem-free placement and easier fee. Identifying potential candidates easily tracked on LinkedIn is the quick fix option which will not support diversity. Many young recruiters don’t have the skills to do anything more imaginative and will need training on what is needed to encourage successful diversity and inclusion recruitment drives

Positions should be advertised in a wide variety of places and platforms. It is well-known that women cannot be found on STEM courses, so it’s a waste of time looking there. Yet most companies continue to do exactly that and then complain loudly they can’t find the talent. They should try looking at liberal arts courses and conducting numeracy testing at the interview stage.

Neutral selection processes

At this point the selection process should be as neutral as possible.

  1. Empathetic application forms – some companies still list learning differences as disabilities.
  2. Neutral profiles – making sure that the text usually written in an alpha male tone will not cause candidates to self-deselect.
  3. Blind CVs  – these are useless on their own without 3,4 and 5.
  4. Structured interviews with open feedback and a culture of calling out and naming bias
  5. Short lists of 3 for the target demographic. A token minority will end up getting cut.
  6. Interview panels with a diverse composition.

Read: Do structured interviews overcome unconscious bias? 

Organisations with a real interest in diversifying their workforce will make more concerted efforts to test new ways to identify and attract a new type of potential candidate. Unless that happens then diversity and inclusion needle will continue to stick.

For support on innovative recruitment processes contact here 

Affinity bias and the recruitment process

Affinity bias and cultural fit plays safe and stifles diversity

Affinity bias is defined as:

preference for certain types of people for whom they have an affinity, such as respondents who are similar to them or that they find attractive, and including them in the sample at higher rates than others.

“The right fit” is a phrase I hear repeatedly in the hiring process. It’s a catchall term that covers a multitude of sins related to making sure that potential candidates will slide seamlessly into the prevailing corporate culture. This is supposed to guarantee onboarding success, but it also means that no boats will be rocked. It’s the safe and non disruptive option. Affinity bias occurs when hiring managers show a marked preference for candidates to whom they can relate which can play an over arching role in many selection decisions.

Affinity bias is a safe choice

Affinity bias is a safe choice

The role of trust 

Philippe is a French investment banker who joined a London-based outfit in 2014. Within 12 months the team had taken on a number of new hires all of whom were French-speaking, as either a first or second language. They were French, Belgian, Moroccan, and Québécois.  All without exception had attended a “Grandes Ecoles,” the French equivalent of a top Ivy League school. Although Philippe seemed open to interviewing and considering candidates with more diverse backgrounds, in the end the more familiar and dependable candidates prevailed. It was all about his perception of “fit.” They made him feel comfortable. He was confident about their rigorous academic backgrounds and knew he could count on them and trust them when needed.

Read: Top 5 videos that highlight and tackle unconscious bias

The role of chemistry

Threat to women's jobs conversation career

either on a personal or professional basis. You will frequently hear the phrase “the chemistry wasn’t right” as a reason for debriefing candidates. So if we all prefer working or having relationships with individuals who make us feel secure and feel we can trust, then the converse also applies. Why would we choose to be around people who make us feel insecure, ill at ease and as if we are not in reliable and trustworthy hands?

So in a personal setting it can make sense, even if it might be a little limiting. Affinity bias works. But in a professional sense it means we are restricting our hires or network contacts to PLU (People Like Us) or Mini-Mes based on affinity bias. Aren’t we repeatedly told that people do business with those they like and trust?

This bias can be based on race, age, religion, schools attended, or any other distinguishing demographic feature. But even within primary cultures there can be sub-groups. A German electronics company reported a logistics function where the team was comprised of hires from the Indian sub-continent because the EVP was Indian. So one of the major deciding components is the influence and power of  senior stakeholders on hiring decisions.

Read: OPINION: The business case for diversity is just offensive

Impact on diversity and inclusion

With affinity bias being so pervasive and embedded in different ways into corporate culture – how can we successfully achieve diverse and inclusive organisations? The absence of diversity at senior levels contributes to perpetuating the problem of exclusion especially women, older demographics and minority groups. This is why it’s so important to have women in decision-making roles.

The answer is to proceed with mindful intention. We have to have inbuilt systemic checks and balances to ensure that the diversity message prevails. This is not an easy process, as changing human behaviour long-term has only a 20% success rate. What we need is to create is a culture which is open to receiving feedback and which allows us to question any potential affinity bias influencing a key decision-making process. Organisations which are open to having this type fo dialogue are taking a step in the right direction.

Read: The value of Mindfulness in Recruitment

Most organisations are confused about what diversity and inclusion really means let alone making it happen. But any benefits gained in shifting to a truly diverse hiring culture fail very quickly if employees feel uncomfortable challenging the prevailing views.

For more information on unconsicous bias in the recruitment process contact us here

Post brexit language crisis

Post Brexit language crisis impacts talent pipeline

The UK is forging ahead with Brexit. Not only that, the amendment to protect EU citizens residing in the UK was not approved.  As the UK takes it place outside the EU, headhunters and recruiters are now trying to project skill set gaps in the coming years for British organisations. The one gap that screams for urgent attention is the British skill set deficiency in language capabilities, which is estimated will lose the UK 3.5% of economic performance per year. Unless some immediate and urgent steps are taken, there will certainly be a post Brexit language crisis.

Post Brexit language crisis and recruitment

EU nationals are currently “plugging the gap”  says an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Modern Languages. But with projected restrictions on EU migrants and the future of current European residents unclear, someone needs to come up with a plan. Modern languages are considered  “vital for our exports, education, public services and diplomacy.”  but the national situation is said to be “parlous.”  

Yet it seems that very little is being done about it. With a dramatic decline in students studying modern languages in university, the pipeline is drying up.

Read: Post Brexit uncertainty starts a talent drain 

Can’t, shan’t, won’t thinking

The British attitude to languages has always been of the “can’t/shan’t/won’t” thinking, backed up by the fact that “everyone speaks English.” This is a mix of low-confidence, low competence, low need and Colonial arrogance, which puts British candidates and businesses at an immediate disadvantage. Although improving, the cartoon stereotype of Brits talking loudly in mumbled English to bemused foreigners, is not far from reality. It is true that in many cases, their counterparts will probably speak English, but even a moderate knowledge of a foreign language helps bridge the cross cultural divide to give greater insight. And business is all about relationships after all.

A study from  CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey  indicates that at least 66% of UK businesses need foreign language skills. The problem is many UK businesses have given up on home-grown talent and recruit  abroad. Now they may be unable to  pursue that strategy to the same degree,which is going to present problems in recruitment processes.

 

 

In the last  year in any of  the senior pan-European executive searches I have been involved in, where UK candidates were ranked against their European counterparts of equal calibre, the Brits fell well behind in language skills.  Most  European senior executives, will generally speak a minimum of two languages and more often than not three, or even four. That means the UK candidates fell short overall, and were de-briefed. Nul points.

Read: Post Brexit recruitment from the pointy end 

Slow process

So although the number of students taking languages to the age of 16 is increasing, even if they carry on to further education, that demographic will not hit the workforce for some time perhaps another 5 years. That means that home-grown candidates seeking executive roles, who do speak languages will be in high demand and should see excellent opportunities on the market. For those without languages, they will need to up-skill as fast as possible, or miss out on career opportunities, unless they have a very specific high-value, niche-market skill where language skills are irrelevant. For anyone only speaking one language, training will be imperative. Enrol in a class now!

To avoid a post Brexit language crisis, businesses are going to have to offer in-house langauge training to avoid falling behind in their international markets.

If you want to recruit top talent for your organisation contact us