Category Archives: Executive search

Post Brexit Recruitment

Post Brexit recruitment from the pointy end

As a Brit who embraced the European experience I am having a bit of an existential crisis. Post Brexit has been traumatic for many, but none more so than those Brits who live in the E.U.  I feel as if I am living in a parallel universe as every value I held dear is being changed out, reneged on, obliterated, and evaded. I read that a new disorder has been identified as Political Anxiety Disorder. I’m sure I have it! Post Brexit recruitment is already being impacted and I’m not sure how evident this is yet to decision makers. But at the pointy end – we are already seeing a shift.

Disconnect

The disconnect between the powers that be and what’s really going on is a major stand out issue for me. There was an expectation that life as many of us knows it would stop after June 23rd 2016 and there would be a tsunami of devastation. But anyone with half a brain knows that unless it is a tsunami or other meteorological disaster, negative change tends be a corrosive slow drip effect over time, rather than a sea change swell. It has a slow build up and like the 2008 recession, the impact is lasting. Many of us could feel the rumbles of down turn months before Lehman Brothers folded. We just didn’t know why. Now we do.

Anyone on the ground dealing with E.U. candidates, whether at home or in the U.K., knows that fall-out is building up.  Not only is there a reduction in job postings in many sectors in the UK, but it’s also getting harder to attract skilled  E.U. nationals as candidates for British based openings.

After talking to fellow headhunters and recruiters who work internationally, we are all making the same observations about the post Brexit recruitment situation. It obviously varies from sector to sector and the level of seniority. But for mid to senior levels of executive search this is the feedback we are encountering.

  • Brand Britain is damaged  

The reputation of the U.K. as a quirky and diverse career destination has been dented. The U.K. press may not report all the issues that have happened to E.U. citizens, but their stories of harassment and abuse are being recounted to the media in their home countries and getting traction. Based in Brussels, I had heard of the ill-treatment of  Eastern Europeans in the U.K via European media sources, long before my British colleagues had the faintest inkling.  One Czech candidate told me “I wouldn’t want to be stuck on that island post Brexit.”  

There is no doubt that Britain is developing a reputation as a culture where racism is embedded.  Some say it has always been there. Others believe that the xenophobic nature of the Brexit campaign has fuelled it. This does not only apply to Eastern Europeans or blue-collar workers. Senior executives of all nationalities report negative reactions and some express concerns for their children in school.

The fall out will be particularly felt In sectors where there is a skill set shortage with a reliance on non-U.K nationals to fill the gaps.

Read: Post Brexit Talent Drain 

  • Hard Brexit protection

One  of the concerns of candidates contemplating a transfer or applying for a new job in the UK is what will happen if a hard Brexit impacts them. Will they have to pay for a visa or even have to repatriate?  Recruiters are starting to be asked for clauses in their contracts to cover negative contingencies such as a visa support and repatriation.

  •  Salary protection 

Another concern is the current drop in the value of the pound, but also other volatile currency shifts. Many candidates have financial commitments in currencies other than they one they maybe paid in and are looking for salary hedging clauses. Candidates currently paid in sterling with commitments in Euro have seen a recent negative impact on net income.

  • Protection of other rights  

Prof Alan Vaughan Lowe QC a leading barrister who specialises in international public law told a House of Lords panel last month that it was “inconceivable” that the employment laws would survive entirely intact. He maintains that there is  “zero chance EU citizens in UK will keep same rights post-Brexit”  This massive level of uncertainty makes candidates wonder what they should be looking for from employers if they transfer internally within an organistion to the U.K. and where they stand longer term. The lack of clarity is creating a culture of uncertainty, which always  deals a damaging blow to any business or economy.

Not unsurprisingly the reverse situation does not seem to apply, in my experience at least. To date I can report no concerns from candidates contacted to relocate to Europe and even an increase in numbers open to international assignments.

If your company struggles to identify and attract the right candidates,for all executive search requirements contact me.

 

How a “slow no” damages your employer brand

What is  a “slow no?”

A “slow no” is a communication device used by hiring managers or recruiters for keeping short listed candidates warm as a back-up plan. It involves indirect and opaque communication, which is a death knell to any search carried out with integrity. It might involve no communication at all, or fluff about delays. Sometimes it’s intentional. Sometimes it’s about incompetence, lack of knowledge, training , experience and confidence.  Frequently, it’s about all of the above.

Either way the candidate knows that he or she is not the preferred candidate, but doesn’t know why. No direct feedback is given.

Three of  the most frustrating experiences candidates report relate to the quality and regularity of communication with the head hunter or hiring manager.

1. No updates

Candidates get more upset by not having a status update than being told they are unsuccessful or if there is a delay.  Avoidance strategies damage the employer brand. This is especially true if the candidate is aware of a prescribed process within a certain time frame and they are not included. If second stage interviews are to be held in London in March and it’s now April – they know there is a problem. This is a failed slow no.

Candidate feedback

“Lack of communication is a real problem. I get really annoyed when my emails and calls are unanswered, especially if the head hunter contacted me in the first instance.

2. Delays

Hiring processes are actually becoming slower and longer than ever. As the chain of decision-making becomes extended, multiple interviews are increasingly common. In senior level jobs, candidates commonly report 6 or even 10 interviews as the process (risk responsibility?) is diffused. Read: Why too many interviews is bad hiring practise. To deal with this, candidates need to take vacation days to meet all the necessary stakeholders. This makes the hiring manager seem indecisive and disorganised and clearly impacts the brand.

Candidate feedback

“There are obviously always extenuating circumstances but the hiring process should have a  streamlined time effective process and milestones, which  wherever possible should be adhered to”

3. Evasive responses

Nothing makes candidates more annoyed than evasive responses from the head hunter. This could be because they don’t know the job or client well enough, or they don’t have the information themselves. At that point you have to say you don’t know, but will get back to them. Candidates appreciate transparency and see evasion as part of the “slow no” process.

Candidate feedback

I’m a grown up! Just tell me how it is and allow me to make a decision. You are more likely to lose me as a candidate by being evasive than by being straight”

At the root of this is also, and perhaps more worrying, is a lack of understanding of the cost of an open position to the business.

Are you ready for a professional emergency landing?

Many of us sit on aeroplanes, especially frequent flier business trips and watch the cabin crew go through the emergency procedures with tuned-out indifference. We know the drill because we’ve seen it possibly hundreds of times in our lifetimes. Despite the commentary that all should pay attention, we dutifully turn off our electronic devices as instructed, read our books and magazines, chat to our colleagues and fellow passengers or simply settle in for a good movie, a nap and perhaps an inferior meal. After all the odds that anything will happen to us are slim. Right?

Workplace parallels
Sadly, despite the pace of unwelcome change which has become a hallmark of our economies, this is not too dissimilar to the view many take of the workplace. We have all seen many excellent people blindsided and ill-equipped to make an emergency landing which causes us to flail around in search of life-vests and oxygen masks.  This can be because of redundancy,  a merger, a take- over or any other unforeseen business circumstance. As the cold winds of recession blow through our economies, the reality is that having a professional emergency landing procedure in place is now taking on increased significance.

This is the professional equivalent of knowing the exact location of the emergency exits.

Need support during a difficult transition? Check out the individual coaching programmes.

So how can we do this? Here are 7 strategic career contingency measures:

  •  Up to date professional skills – it’s important to be current in this area. Many people take their feet off the pedal in terms of professional development , quite often in mid-career and find themselves lacking particularly in relation to newer (read cheaper) employees. It’s important not to become complacent and to view education as an ongoing exercise.
  •  Work on your network – many job seekers tap into their networks only when they have a need, by which time it’s too late. Networking should be an ongoing effort.
  •  Pay it forward – the more you can do for other people when you are in a position to do so makes it easier to ask for reciprocation at a critical time.
  • Create a financial reserve – it’s hard to define in precise terms how long it could take to find another job. You could be lucky – but generally executive searches take about 3-6 months. Today the suggestion is that it can be as much as 9 months. So although it is hard in today’s economic climate, sound advice would be for all of us to have a reserve  “disaster fund“ of a minimum of 6 months to cover critical  expenses. One of the most terrifying aspects of job loss is the gnawing anxiety of how to meet fixed overheads.  It’s a good idea to make sure that key financial contact details are in your address book.  How well do you know your bank manager?
  • Invest in professional support – many individuals seek career support when they are desperate: it might be when they have already lost their jobs or are facing any other sort of career blip. It is important to treat a career with the same strategic analysis as one might any other housekeeping exercise. In the words of John  F. Kennedy “ The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining”. 
  • Look after you –  Job seekers with family or other obligations worry about letting down their families and their ability  to support their nearest and dearest.  But just as a cabin attendant will exhort  passengers to put on their own life jackets and oxygen masks first and then look after their dependents,  the same is true for the person looking for a job. Putting your own needs first will ultimately be in the best interests of the people who rely on you.
  • Leave your luggage behind  – this is always one I imagine I might struggle with if tested,  but the logic resonates nevertheless. Sometimes our baggage gets in the way and we have to let it go and take that step into the unknown to protect ourselves.

So are you ready for a professional emergency landing?

Job search: Are you missing in action?

Off the radar

Getting on the job search radar!
I have spent the past week with two different women, of two different ages. Their backgrounds could not be further apart. One is a young graduate, seeking entry-level employment, the other a woman in her 40s, with extensive supply chain and procurement experience, as well as an MBA. She has taken an eight year parenting break, relocated internationally with her husband and is now dealing with the inevitable challenge of explaining motherhood and her CV gap.

Both want to enter the workplace. Both are struggling. Both are drifting off the job search track and are M.I.A. Despite feeling they had nothing in common, even just idle chat reveals the numerous common elements. Not only were they simply failing to get the jobs they wanted ( when they could even find a job they were interested in) they were receiving no response to their CVs, sometimes not even a rejection letter.

Back on track
All job search candidates regardless of age, gender or time in life need to have some basics in place, so here are some easy tips to get back on track:

  •  Identify and articulate transferable skills. It doesn’t matter how you do this but this is a critical exercise, taking time and thought. I repeat my mantra – if you don’t know what you’re good at, how do you expect anyone else to know? Recruiters and hiring managers are not telepathic and don’t have the time to drag it out of you.
  •  This basic but critical exercise leads to the creation of an effective mission statement and elevator sounds bites. CVs should stop disappearing into cyber space and interview performance will be strengthened. If there is any hesitation in delivering your USPs – practise and practise again!
  •   Establish and develop a professional online presence. This is vital for anyone, male or female, young or old, entry-level or transitioning. Failure to do this is tantamount to professional suicide. The entry-level woman had received no advice from her university careers advisor to create this type of profile, which in my view is a scandal in itself! Careers advisors – read my open letter! The older candidate needs to resurrect and tap into her existing network from her days as a professional woman and connect with them virtually on platforms which simply did not exist when she was in the workplace ( LinkedIn, Twitter, Google +) This small step shows you care about your professional image and that you are current in your approach. Your LinkedIn profile url can also be used in an email signature or on other online profiles as a way of extending the reach of your CV.
  •  Create a modern CV with targeted keyword usage. Their current versions are probably not getting past ATS ( Applicant Tracking Systems) or coming to the attention of recruitment sourcers. 97% of CVs, it is maintained, are not read by a human eye! Once again this could account for a failure to obtain an even a first interview.
  •  Most jobs (estimated at 85%) are not advertised. Creating a strong online presence and strengthening a personal brand will drive traffic to your professional profile. It’s no longer about looking for a job – it’s also about raising visibility to ensure you are found. Many jobs are also only advertised on LinkedIn.
  •  There is no substitute for strategic networking at any age and stage. No matter how young you are, or how long it’s been since you were in the workplace, we are all connected to someone! Have some simple, but good quality business cards printed – you never know when you need them! Connect and re-connect. Join networking groups and professional bodies especially if any membership has lapsed during a career break.
  •  Be active. Inactivity is not just a barrier to getting top jobs, it’s a barrier to getting any job! It’s also a great way to beat negative thinking, and maintaining your confidence, vital in job search. It also gives you data to monitor, from which you can make any changes to your job seeking strategy.
  •   Tweak those strategies . Don’t panic and especially don’t be afraid to change. Nothing is set in stone and what works in one set of circumstances may sink like a lead balloon in another! Be flexible

But most importantly never give up. The estimated time to get a job is reported to be on average a minimum of 7 months currently. If you carry on struggling – seek professional help. It will be worth it in the long-term!

Good luck!

Are we seeing a resurgence of candidate power?

Candidate power

Top candidates making greater demands
As the worst of the recession seems to have bottomed out and economies are hopefully experiencing an upward turn, I have noticed a slight, but perceptible shift in the executive search process. Organisations had their pick of top talent for probably 3 years, the challenge during that period was being able to sift through the sheer numbers of applications to identify the best candidates. Hiring managers who could during this period, choose their terms of engagement, are currently meeting candidates who are more demanding. Top candidates are now involved in multiple processes, very often with their existing companies being prepared to enter a bidding game and making counter offers to retain key employees.

Normal candidates
I’m not talking about corporate prima donnas, who are playing one company off against another, or leveraging their current employer with empty threats to move. These are genuinely top class individuals who have probably been held back by the lack of opportunities, caused by the economic downturn. In the intervening years we have been exhorting candidates to research and prepare to create good impressions with potential employers. But now is it organisations which are found wanting and not making the correct impression on candidates?

Internal audit
Perhaps now is the time for hiring companies to carry out internal audits to check that they are operating to best practises: They should be satisfied that:

All stages of the recruitment process from sourcing, interviewing, offer and onboarding, especially candidate communication and management, is efficient and timely. Any hiccoughs or delays in any part of these processes will result in losing the preferred candidate. Lost candidates = lost revenue, as positions remain open for even longer.

Salary and benefit levels are in line with the market. If hiring managers don’t know what market rates are – now is the time to find out.

Development and training programmes are in place to guarantee employee engagement in terms of future career opportunities.

Tomos, a recently graduating MBA suggests ” After a period of stagnation candidates need to know that companies are offering career development opportunities. For me this is as important as the salary package.”

Employer branding and reputation are strong. Just as employers can research candidates on-line, the reverse is also true. It is becoming increasingly easy for candidates to establish the corporate culture of any company by asking well placed connections, a few carefully constructed sentences about hours worked, vacation times, bonus systems, management style and so on. Glowing references from existing employees are a huge boost to the recruitment process. However, even a well-intentioned comment can send the wrong signals. One contact decided not to apply for a position when an internal connection within the company mentioned that he had a closer relationship with his Blackberry than his girlfriend.

First impressions count
Organisations which are complacent about any aspect of their hiring systems might be in for a wake up call. As Matteo, a Business Development Manager actively looking for a new opportunity confirmed, the recruitment process is the first encounter with the overall corporate image. If that isn’t strong, other areas of the company can be brought into question. “I was involved in 3 different search processes. All opportunities were attractive in different ways. The offer I accepted came from the company with the most professional hiring procedure. I felt it was one indication of how the company was managed from the top down

First impressions cut both ways.

The Feminisation of HR

Feminisation of HR

Is there a downside?
I was recently involved in an executive search for an upper level middle management HR position. The European VP asked me to try to produce a gender balanced short list. Now, this is not what you are thinking! What she wanted in this case was to try to balance her team, which is currently composed of 90% women, to include some men. For many searches I struggle to find women at certain levels and on this one it was men who were in scarce supply.

Female dominance
In recent studies carried out in the US, HR is personified by a 47 year old white woman! In the UK according to research carried out by XpertHR,  75% of the HR function is female. This substantiates what we all imagine to be correct, following an even a cursory glance at any company’s organogram or telephone directory.

In the UK at entry-level, 86% of post holders in the HR profession are female. This percentage drops to 42.5% at director level.  In the US the overall percentages are pretty much the same, women occupy two-thirds of the HR executive positions.

Transition of the function
I started my own career in HR, in the heavily unionised steel industry where more often than not I was the only female in any meeting and men formally objected not just to me being there, but any woman  at all. During the last 25 years, there has been a significant evolution and today, HR is quite often one of the most predominantly female functions in many organizations. Over the years we have seen a gradual feminisation of the HR function.

This is part of a general shift over time from production to knowledge based economies and a  functional evolution of the discipline leading to what Michele Mees, author of the Balanced Leader, describes as the ” unsuccessful re-branding ” of the function.

Back in my day, when industrial/employee relations, payroll, employee administration and recruitment were the primary time consumers, we have seen a move of the function into internal consulting services: leadership coaching, assessment and development. The more transactional sides of the function have either been taken over by software or are outsourced, including compensation, records and recruitment services. This leaves aspects of the function that seem to be more attractive to women, where their “people skills” are more highly valued. XPertHR are observing a a slight levelling out of gender within the function after the all time high figure in 2007.

Career Gateway
At one time, the HR function certainly provided a great career gateway for entry-level women to embark upon a corporate career compared to other functions, such as finance or sales. According to CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) in their report “Beyond the Glass Ceiling” female members of their organisations are 6 times less likely to become CFO or Finance Director than their male counterparts.

However, unfortunately, one of the other comments made about many organisations is that HR lacks teeth. With no P and L responsibilities, in many companies the function is relegated to a non-executive position, with barely lip service paid to its contribution.

Re-cycled CEOs
Gurprriet Singh suggests in his post CEO HR I am fed up of seeing tons of research and surveys saying that the MOST important differentiator for an organization is talent and culture. And then not see organizations deploy their best resources to this function.” He calls for retiring CEOs to be recycled as HR Heads to give the function some much-needed teeth. As the majority of CEOs are male, does he believe this will make a difference?

A male view
I posed the same question to Tim Douglas International HR Director, CSM “Today I asked my team, who are all female. Their view is HR is seen to be about providing support and caring, although they recognise it requires hard-nosed decisions and sometimes very unpleasant ones. They suggest it’s seen to be back to the original ‘welfare’ roots of personnel, and definitely not associated with being influential in big business decisions, hence fewer man are attracted to it (unless, as one kindly said, those men have a few too many y chromosomes!) However they also pointed out that HR teams led by men were often more ‘dynamic’ and ‘engaged with business decisions’ and often taken more seriously by leaders

A female view
Tim’s experience of a male voice carrying greater weight is re-enforced by Michele “I only recently heard a woman (head of legal department and in charge of gender diversity project) say she had been trying to get the gender balance topic on the management agenda for over a year, without success. She then got back up from a male colleague , who joined her gender balance team, and asked him to put it on the agenda. Guess what: he only had to ask once. This is in my view a demonstration of (hidden) stereotyping by a male management team.”

She would also support Tim and Gurprriet saying ” HR people and departments are often very process driven and they do not come across as begin flexible, agile, quickly to respond to market changes (as sales and marketing must be for instance). HR people are not always keen to ‘dive into’ the business, I think this is needed to build up credibility with business leaders (today I heard the remark from an HR manager that HR people seldom network to other than HR events, that they do not take MBA courses, or any other managerial courses apart from their own specialist field) and apparently HR is still a snug comfort zone to be in

Correcting the balance
Companies with masculine dominated cultures (most perhaps?) can successfully recruit women into the HR function without disturbing the masculine order. HR is perceived as “soft”, while sales and finance are “tough”. This way stereotyping is continued and gender roles are confirmed. It seems that tough decisions or actions performed by an HR woman, will not be perceived as tough and decisive as if they were performed by a man.

Culturally women are expected to exhibit softer skills, while men are expected to be more decisive. The criteria for evaluation is such that even when women are decisive they are not taken seriously, or get caught up in that old double bind as being too ” aggressive”.

So until HR qualifications include, and mandate, a solid business base, rather than simply focusing on functional expertise and qualifications, then this situation is likely to be perpetuated.

What other solutions could there be? What do you think?

The new actively passive candidates

According to research carried out by international organisations such as Manpower and Deloitte, there are many indications that after a period of cautiousness brought about by stringent economic times, a high percentage of employees will now be open to new job opportunities. The numbers range from 66% – 84%, but whichever one you take, they are pretty high.

 

Risk averse
The recent recession made those who were fortunate enough to have survived a dramatic downturn, risk averse. The old mantra of ” last in, first out ” played loudly in their ears. Now, with small signs of recovery, people are lifting their heads above the parapet, to step down and are willing to dip a toe gently into the job search water. In the executive search sector we call this category of candidate, “passive candidates”.

This doesn’t mean to say they are “passive ” people. It’s a generic term used to describe job seekers who are in employment, but who are not necessarily actively sending out their resumes , or are advertising themselves on job boards. For many companies, for reasons I sometimes struggle to understand, passive candidates are considered to be more highly desirable prospects. This is why the catch phrase “it’s easier to get a job while in a job“, is so popular and proved a huge frustration to job seekers during the recession, when many good people lost their jobs and were actively looking for employment.

If your organisation want so identify top passive candidates check out the  pages relating to Executive Search and Research. 

Actively passive candidates
Candidates might not be sending out CVs blindly, but there are certainly some very strong smoke signals in the air, with active self- promotion and the raising of visibility to the right people. This doesn’t necessarily suggest lack of focus. For the first time in several years candidates have choice and there is no problem saying that. As someone who makes those calls to candidates every day, very often the opportunity I present may not have occurred to the potential candidate. But receiving that straightforward, time-saving communication of “Thanks, but your opportunity is not in line with my current career plans. Let’s stay in touch.” is also quite acceptable.

Reputation economy
With this upturn, executive search specialists, passive candidates and hiring managers alike should find themselves in stronger positions. But all parties are going to have to up their games , as the sheer volume of possibilities kicks in. For passive candidates this is a critical time as we move towards a reputation economy, where everyone can be researched online.

  • – Make sure your online presence is precise and of high quality content to guarantee that key word searches are accurate. Otherwise you will find yourselves being approached for the wrong type of searches, which will eventually become irritating.
    – No online presence could mean no contact, unless you have a very strong actual network.
    – If you are not open to job opportunities currently, close that option on your LinkedIn profile. This should deter all but the crassest of recruiters.
    – If you are, contact details should be easy to find. Search consultants for the first time in years have a wide choice and if you are hard to reach, they will move on to the next candidate.
    – Make sure all your networking is strategic and you are connecting with hiring decision makers in targeted and researched companies. The right opportunity could be around the corner.
    – Have a polished up to date CV ready to send out at the push of a button. Hiring companies and search consultants no longer have to chase anyone too hard.

It’s great to feel the stirrings of a recovery! Let’s hope it continues!

Executive search, dinosaurs and maternity leave

And corporate dinosaurs should be left where they belong. In another era

You would think that when you reach a certain age there shouldn’t be much left in this life that can surprise you. But yet it does …every day! Whether it’s a person’s salary being the size of the GDP of a small Baltic state for doing a bad job, or last month when a candidate took a call on his mobile phone during an interview, without so much an embarrassed mumbled excuse. He was then surprised because the meeting was unceremoniously closed on the spot! What was he thinking? I’m not sure of the psychology behind this. Is it arrogance or ignorance? Now you can’t impress everyone all of the time, but you can impress most people, some of the time. This I do know.

Return of the dinosaur
Imagine my astonishment when I saw this little gem from Glencore’s ( the mining and trading giant, preparing to launch London’s biggest-ever flotation) newly appointed Chairman Simon Murray on board quotas “….pregnant ladies have nine months off”, women “have a tendency not to be so involved quite often” and are not “so ambitious in business”.

Barely moments into the onboarding process and seemingly unstoppable, he carries on, opening his mouth only to change feet. “All these things have unintended consequences. Pregnant ladies have nine months off. Do you think that means that when I rush out, what I’m absolutely desperate to have is young women who are about to get married in my company, and that I really need them on board because I know they’re going to get pregnant and they’re going to go off for nine months?”

Old boys board search
So although there was a subsequent apology – my first impression was not positive. Seemingly Mr. Murray was already under pressure to resign only 10 days after his appointment. When we consider the government committees, column inches and think tank hours invested in discussing womens’ positions on boards, this appointment has to bring the whole selection process into question, if there even was one. It has the hallmark of a hardcore old boys network, doing its very worst. Otherwise, how can the appointment of a dinosaur such as this, ever be justified and then now he has, what on earth was he thinking making press statements in this way? This is arrogance not ignorance.

Grass roots
I have spent the week with a number of experienced business owners and managers, all with families themselves. We discussed this article and the repercussions of maternity leave on their organisations in some detail. There were mixed feelings. Tim, owner of an orthodontic practise in Surrey, employing predominantly women, husband to a senior doctor and father to 2 daughters said ” Of course, I am fully supportive of women taking maternity leave, but not enough is said about the organisational difficulties current legislation presents especially for small businesses. My managers are not allowed to ask expectant mothers working in the practise, if they intend to come back to work after they have had their babies, or when. We are not allowed to contact employees while they are away, even if we want an update on a case they have been working on.”

Patricia a senior manager in a large health care organisation, a mother with two children, told me that in the past 7 years one of her senior staff members has been absent for over 50% of that time on maternity leave, which has had serious repercussions on her team.

Pierre, now a retired Managing Director of a construction company in Belgium and father of 3 adult children, as well as 7 grandchildren suggested ” If women are committed to their careers they find a way to pursue them at the same time as raising their families, together with their partners. A relationship with an employer is like any relationship: it’s about open communication. 30 years ago, when it was more common for mothers to stay at home, one of my best managers was a working mother. My daughter and daughters-in-law both work in professional jobs. Today, when both partners need to work for economic reasons – all parties have to find a way around this problem.”

Everyone’s issue
So what is the solution here? Women have children. Men have children. We have a declining birthrate with simply not enough people to economically support an aging population. Future generations will have probably have to work until age 70 unless they can earn and save enough to retire earlier.

This is a problem for governments, organisations and individuals alike. We need an effective legal framework which facilitates appropriate maternity leave, but within a structure and culture where women can remain connected to the workplace, without feeling pressurised. Organisations should be able to stay reasonably engaged with their employees, without fear of harassment accusations. The issue of course will be in the definition of “reasonable”.

And corporate dinosaurs should be left where they belong. In another era.

What do you think?

Re-thinking our think tanks

Is this the best our brighest can come up with?

Women an untapped resource
Earlier last year the World Economic Forum issued a report indicating long-term talent management issues were actually being concealed by high levels of unemployment.
In today’s global and fast-changing business environment, access to highly skilled people – not just top talent, but also people who possess essential expertise – is crucial to succeed and grow,” Hans-Paul Bürkner, Global Chief Executive Officer and President of The Boston Consulting Group, Germany commented. “Some industries, such as business services, IT and construction, are likely to experience significant skills gaps, regardless of geography. At the same time, certain countries, such as Japan, Russia and Germany, will face shortages of highly skilled employees in many industries.”

The report calls for increased geographic mobility among countries as part of the solution. Anyone involved in executive search or recruitment will be familiar with the complex issues involved in enticing potential candidates to be internationally, regionally or even locally mobile. There are many factors in the frame: cultural issues, language and education system considerations, commuting times, childcare support and custody matters, dual career families – to name but a few.

However, the report suggests that the talent crisis will start much sooner than anticipated. With an aging population of hitherto unrecorded levels, the 60 + demographic is projected to exceed the under 15 demographic , for the first time ever in history by 2050. It is anticipated that in order to sustain the economic growth of the past 20 years, the United States, for example, will need to add 26 million workers to its talent pool by 2030. Most developing countries can expect large skill deficits in a range of categories. The report calls for a number of eminently sensible strategic measures to extend the talent pool by developing the skills of migrant workers, tapping into 2nd and 3rd tier universities and encouraging companies to extend the reach and creativity of their recruitment practises.

So far so thoughtful.

A gem
Imagine my surprise therefore when this little gem drifted onto my screen a few weeks ago. Another think tank report from The World Economic Forum report on 5th January 2011, Global Talent Risk analysing projected talent shortages in 25 countries, 13 industries and 9 occupational clusters between 2020 -2030. If you peer hard and long enough, one of the reports suggestions, last at number 7 is “Extend the pool by tapping women, older professionals, the disadvantaged and immigrants

So despite the fact that women comprise a significant global economic demographic, they are for some reason grouped with other seemingly marginalised categories. Is this the best our brightest can do? Fewer than a fifth of leaders present last year at the World Economic Forum at Davos in 2010 were women. This year efforts are being made to increase the number of women representatives at the 2011 conference, by insisting on attendance quotas for women. This is possibly designed to revamp the Forum’s alpha male image. But will that be enough?

Marginalised
Women represent 60% of today’s graduates and therefore a major segment of a top talent pool. I am always astounded why our leaders seem so resistant to reviewing our current talent management strategies to maximise their contribution to the workplace, to the point where governments are talking about a need to impose quotas. It has to make economic sense to maximise the potential of our workforces. Yet this significant qualified and skilled demographic, is lumped together with the “disadvantaged and immigrants” ( whoever you are, I’m sure you are very nice indeed and no offence intended at all) by some of the supposedly leading intellects and the brightest and most creative brains in our global economies. It’s hardly surprising that we find ourselves in this situation.

So perhaps before we start uprooting and whizzing people around the globe to fill these gaps, one approach might be to ask how can we tap into the talent we have on our doorsteps? What do organisations need to do to maximise the potential of this key sector of the talent pool sitting there in the wings?

Now is the time to reinvent, rather than react. Perhaps we also need to re-think our think thanks.

Visumés: The new way forward

PLEASE NOOOOO!!

Many people have talked about the concept of the visumé and their almost certain roles in our futures. Well, I was sent my first one yesterday and I have to tell you, that thought fills me with total horror.

As a coach, I can see they might have potential. The exercise would give individuals the motivation to focus on the content of their mission statement and USPs, as well as to the opportunity to perfect the delivery of their elevator sound bites to camera. It would certainly make any job seeker stand out if done professionally. As a recruiter, the thought of sifting through hundreds of 3 minute You Tube type presentations, delivered by what look like robotic newscasters of the lowest calibre, or possibly worse still the swaggering arrogance of Apprentice wannabes (see below), would frankly be intolerable.

So is this just my narrow-minded European view? Am I being a reticent Brit who sits there cringing through webinars and promotional clips from even quite highly regarded and rated amateurs? I decided to ask some contacts in the US, the home of “Show and Tell”, to let me know exactly what their thoughts are on the other side of the world.

Think hard
Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, Career Strategist at Career Trend suggests ” before stepping into the abyss of creative resume production, consider the goal of a resume: to hook the audience for further conversation (aka, the interview). As such, the buyer of your product initially is less interested in clicking on a 2-3 minute video and more interested in quickly absorbing your message through a glimpse of your written resume story.”

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Professional
So to get past people like me  if you are going to do it – it has to be done well.  Creating a video resume  will mean more than sitting on a sofa, in front of a web cam in your living room and reading your CV.  But as interactive on-line video resumés become more commonplace,   I anticipate (dread?) a time when candidates will,  as part of their job seeking  and brand management strategies,  start crafting an on-line video presence to add to their search portfolios.

There are also some basic operational issues as Jacqui mentions “ the viewer is required not only load up a video (and not all computer and smart phone systems will easily load up your video, causing frustration), but to listen and watch for 1-3+ minutes, versus an initial 15-30 second scan of a written resume. Most hiring and recruiting decision-makers I network with still prefer the written resume vs. a video for the initial touch point.

Performance
When you send or upload a CV or deliver your sales pitch,  the recipient reads your message before he or she hears it or sees it. With a visumé , you are essentially skipping the early parts of the process which are part of the job seeking building blocks and going straight for an audition. Julia Erickson, Career Expert at Careerealism.com, suggests that this is “actually not a resume at all, it’s a performance where you are attempting to show your personality as one the employer would like. So even if you have the qualifications, if the person watching the visume doesn’t like you or how you look or what you’re wearing, you won’t get an interview. “.

Image
There are advantages to both search strategies, if you are actually a skilled presenter. But as I know from my days of working in corporate HR for a major British TV company, working to camera goes one step beyond normal presentation skills and even the best presenters need on-camera training, with additional focus on image: clothes, hair, make up (even the men) and body language, more so than in an ordinary interview. Dan Harris’s sunglasses on his head are a definite NO!

Julia adds ” It’s been fascinating to watch some of the video resumes on-line and it confirms my opinion about them. It is even tougher to produce than a regular resume. If you are not using a professional videographer, you can make a mess. Vault.com is promoting them to a certain extent; they have a YouTube “primer” on how to make one that contains very basic tips. If you spend some money, you probably could get a video resume that was OK – if you want one

Across the Atlantic divide we agreed wholeheartedly, that as video is not an interactive medium, any personal chemistry is removed and there is no opportunity to respond to any body language or obviously questions. The candidate’s performance is generic and static, but each viewer will have a different perception of the delivery and you will not be there to engage.

Visual Resumés
Visumés are not to be confused with visual resumés. LinkedIn is a visual resumé site and I also have many clients who have added visual resumés to their own web site with great success. Julie cautions ” The important thing is to make your paper resume consistent with your virtual/visual resumes. All the information needs to be the same“.

Both sides of the pond also agreed that a Visual CV would never be used to replace a paper one especially when organisations have their own software application methods. Anything that creates extra work for hard pressed hiring or recruiting managers puts the candidates at risk. If you do go that route Julie recommends 2 sites : “Slideshare allows you to create a visual CV, and VizualResume that put your basic information into a jazzed up format”.

Visumés and VisualCVs allows candidates to give employers a look at your work product or portfolio, so as part of a wider approach they can certainly add value. They can also be added to a LinkedIn profile or website to enhance any job search strategy.

The general intercontinental consensus is that to rely exclusively on a Visumé as the only tool in your job search box would be high risk – unless of course, you are looking for an opportunity on television.

Special thanks for great insights to :
Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, MRW, CPRW, CEIP, Chief Career Writer and Owner – CareerTrend
Julia Erickson: Career Expert at Careerealism.com http://julieannerickson.blogspot.com/ http://twitter.com/juliaerickson