Tag Archives: recruitment practises

Brexit and Talent

Brexit and Talent Revisited

The challenges of Brexit and Talent are long term issues

In August 2016 I wrote a post on Brexit and talent focusing on a potential talent drain. It recently gained some renewed traction, so I felt it merited revisiting.

I specifically mentioned top end and skilled talent, those with strong transferable skill who were volunatarily seeking to leave the U.K. It was eerily prophetic, not because I am particularly gifted in the ways of massive economic change. But like many, this is the field I work in and have my ears to the ground and know my sector well. If anyone had asked – we would have told them. When we were asked our voices were dismissed as being the words of what had become by that time, the much derided label of “experts.”

The skill shortgage has been widely discussed. The life cycle of the recruitment and talent pipeline is not fast. It takes time to educate, train and build up workplace experience in STEM skills, languages and specialised trades. The gap, although temporary, will be around for many years and will impact growth. 

Read: Post brexit language crisis

8 challenges for Brexit and Talent 

Here is an update on the challenges for Brexit I identified 13 months ago .

  1. Uncertainty: The  Commodities Analyst with a Spanish based London bank I spoke to, has already re-located to Frankfurt. He did this before his bank, a global organisation, announced its post Brexit strategy to open up offices outside the UK.
  2. Xenophobia:  The French strategy manager with a global logistics company has resigned. His children continued to be bullied in school. Hiring managers who are pro-Brexit are actively turning down EU nationals as candidates – even the very best talent.  This maybe against company policy. International companies with HQs on other continents with business units in the U.K. have no real idea about local hiring practises unless they micro-manage the process. Which they don’t. Sadly discrimination is rife with a rise in adverts requesting applications for UK passport holders only. EU nationals are simply cut for the flimsiest reasons. Unconscious bias and prejudice play a part.
  3. Fear of housing market collapse:  or a slow down. A number I spoke to have now sold their properties and moved to rented accommodation in case they need to leave quickly. Others are still nervous especially about potential interest rate hikes. There are also reports about EU nationals struggling to secure mortgages and rent properties.
  4. Concern about new requirements:  those that are staying are worried that penalties will be imposed further down the line and they will have to jump through stringent and perhaps costly compliance, registration and visa hoops in a few years. However, most EU countries demand the same. What is exceptional for the U.K. is that they are one of a small number of countries that don’t issue compulsory ID cards.
  5. More openings now:  those that were looking for jobs internationally have already moved on, or have deepened their searches. EU nationals who are candidates in existing processes are withdrawing in high numbers. There has been a 25% hike of EU nationals leaving the UK post Brexit. Not all of this is in the unskilled demographic. The manufacturing sector has seen a 16% increase of resignations from skilled workers.
  6. Concern about reduced conditions: This still exists as doubts about zero hour contracts and short term contracts abound. For junior positions there is an increase in the number of short term contracts as employers try to keep their options open.
  7. Citizenship: is an ongoing challenge and concerns about the right to stay have increased as even long standing residents are being denied citizenship and long term residency with some even being deported.
  8. Falling pound: For EU nationals with Euro obligations the falling pound has impacted them hard. The U.K is less financially attractive than it was before.

Read: Post brexit recruitment from the pointy end

Please see the original post:

Brexit uncertainty starts talent drain (August 2016)

talent drain

The business world is trying to make sense of the implications of Brexit in a world now characterized by uncertainty. It was clear that this shock result, from which we are still reeling, was so unexpected that almost no one had a post Brexit plan. Against many unknown factors, businesses are trying to create strategies for changes which will significnatly impact the workplace. Practises related to E.U. rather than U.K. legislation, will be examined as new agreements are set up. Some experts are saying this could take up to 5 years.  One of the major elements will be the rights of E.U. workers in the U.K. and U.K. workers in the E.U. But what had not been anticipated is an immediate talent drain as skilled workers seek early voluntary repatriation or relocation to other parts of the E.U.

Yep. That’s right – some people actually want to leave now! Can you believe that?

Overall picture

The highly emotional and divisive referendum campaign and brexit shockthe subsequent leadership debacle, dealt a savage and damaging blow to Brand Britain on the global market. We now live in a new age of uncertainty. The CIPD reports that in general, 44% of working adults say they feel pessimistic about the future as a result of the UK’s vote to leave the EU, while one in five say they feel their job is less secure. Unfortunately, in the wake of this, we have witnessed an astonishing and aggressive xenophobic backlash against non-UK nationals studying, living and working in the U.K. Many European nationals are now reporting “feeling unwelcome” in a country which they have made their home, some for many years.

The U.K. government has made some half-hearted attempts to allay the fears of E.U. residents in the U.K. With a lack of definitive statements, many are unconvinced. Head hunters and recruiters are reporting increased numbers of spontaneous CVs and applications from individuals looking to leave the U.K, – now, or as soon as possible. This is also my experience.

The Talent Drain

What seems surprising is that no one factored in a potential talent drain before the referendum.  It should have been evident that if politicians run divisive campaigns based on hate, specifically targeting non-U.K. residents, the U.K. will be perceived as (and even become) a less attractive place to seek employment for workers who have choice. By this I mean those with strong transferable or difficult to find and attract skills.

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills’ (UKCES) Employer Skills Survey 2015 of 91,000 employers has already reported a chronic skill shortage even before the referendum.  The people who are reconsidering their positions are people who can go anywhere. In the mean time the talent drain has started.  Other E.U. nationals who might have had their eye on a U.K posting particularly London, are now re-thinking their career strategies.

Read to the end here.

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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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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. 

mindfulness in recruitment

The Value of Mindfulness in Recruitment

As someone who is notoriously mind-less (I am the person who opens the refrigerator door and has forgotten why,) it has taken a lot of work for me to become attuned to my own biases. In that process I have become especially aware of the value of the process of mindfulness in recruitment. It was heartening to hear Katrien Goossens, Global Head of Diversity and Wellness at Euroclear recently advocate the same. Getting individuals to understand that bias isn’t only found in others, is not easy.  We all have unconscious biases. It’s about all of us.

These biases are so deeply embedded in who we are, our values and belief systems that we barely notice they are there. Unconscious bias is there to protect us and to enable us to sort through the millions of thoughts that go through our heads every day and make sense of them. It is exactly the same as a Twitter hashtag system. A filing system to sort out the things that are important to us and effectively blocks out content that we don’t agree with, is dangerous, offensive or upsetting. In social anthropological terms life threatening people and situations.

3 types of workplace bias

The workplace is no different to our wider cultures. We all make decisions under pressure in the workplace and especially in the recruitment process. This is not efficient and at times illegal and especially frequently not rational. These biases relate to a number of assumptions around gender, age, race, disabilities, sexuality, appearance, BMI, height, social class, accent, nationality, schools and universities attended, political affiliation, postal codes or body art. The list is endless.

  1. Affinity bias   where we ignore negative traits of people we like and focus on the faults of those we don’t
  2. Social bias  –   exhibiting preference to P.L.U. – People Like Us  – our own social group
  3. Confirmation bias  – where we justify our existing perceptions

Even within the organisation, biases play an ongoing role in career advancement. Employees can be offered different levels of career opportunities based on any of these biases.

Backlash 

For many years, employers have used diversity training as a way to overcome biases and make their organisations less homogenous.  Millions are spent. Increasingly those involved in bias awareness training report resistance and even hostility from their programmes and workshops.  Harvard Business Review suggests that  traditional strategies are not only ineffective, they can have a negative impact and even reduce diversity. Even pioneering companies like Google have barely moved the needle in terms of the composition of their workforce.

Some companies are trying to change procedures and practises to deal with these challenges and produce better results. These include:

  • Blind CVs
  • Skill based adverts and job descriptions
  • Structured and behavioural interviews
  • A bias facilitator at interviews
  • Wide range and background of interviewers
  • Interview by text (saw that this week)

My own unconscious bias

However, unwittingly we can continue to disadvantage others, even when at a conscious level we reject those biases. These biases interfere with our rational decision-making, which impact our organisations. It was never more apparent than when I was recently trying to arrange to interview candidates on a Wednesday afternoon. In Belgium the schools are closed. One male candidate was unable to meet because he had to pick up his kids. Another female candidate also had the same commitment. I noted my own reactions to both.

In emoji terms one earned

smiling_face_emoji_with_blushed_cheeks

The other was: Unconscious Bias

My immediate reaction was for the guy “too cute.” The daddy factor. For the woman “she could miss an opportunity. What a shame.” It was very fleeting, but there nevertheless. Using mindfulness in recruitment allowed me to catch and manage that one. I caught myself watching Conchita a few years ago at the Eurovision song contest and caught a definite bias then.

Read: Conchita – Overcoming unconscious Bias  

But how many have I missed? How many do we all miss?

Creating awarenessmindfulness in recruitment

The fact that we have these biases does not mean we need fixing.  When I took the Harvard-designed IAT, or implicit association test I discovered I had gender bias.

A contact discovered that she associated sciences as a male activity, which as a school counsellor she needed to be very aware of.

Another described a man with natural ethnic hair as “sloppy.”

I heard young HR woman reference an older male candidate as a “past his prime.”  Whatever that is.

Our cultures are embedded in gender expectations. This really great video from Kristen Pressner Global Head Human Resources Diagnostics Division Roche covers this point perfectly. Here she acknowledged her own gender biases. It’s a game changer for HR, heavily populated with women and one of the most important HR videos in a long time.

Mindfulness in Recruitment

The practise of Mindfulness can help make us aware of our hidden assumptions. It is about being present, paying attention with intention and not judging. It helps us focus on the experience we are in at that moment in time and creating an awareness of our reactions and making the unconscious conscious.

Becoming aware of my underlying assumptions has allowed me to observe and monitor my reactions and then to change my response if required. This is supported by research from Social Psychological and Personality Science, which suggests that mindfulness can reduce implicit bias and the subsequent negative behaviors follows.  Do I succeed every time? No. Yesterday I was called out by  a colleague for a slip. The most important thing is to be open and accepting of feedback. A senior recruiter became defensive with me when I suggested his language choice was sexist.

Essentially you can’t take the bias out of recruitment until the people involved in the recruitment process become bias conscious. If we all started to note and to become aware of why and how we react to people and ultimately judge them, then we might start to see better results.

The process starts with self. It’s just about getting started.

If you are struggling with unconscious bias in recruitment, contact me.

Tech tackles workplace bias with new apps

Apps and platforms that tackle workplace bias in job search and recruitment

Tech is considered to be one of the least gender balanced sectors. Women are difficult to identify, attract and when that does happen, the churn levels are especially high. But it is also an area which is well placed to offer support to organisations wanting to monitor or highlight their own unconscious biases for gender and other workplace bias.

Some of the apps coming out of the tech sector offer ingenious ways to identify situations where workplace bias exist. It’s clear that although they all can’t tackle the bias directly  – they do expose it and highlight it.

Apps and platforms that tackle workplace bias

Doxa

Doxascore.com is an online dating style site, with data driven tools to match women with companies that best fit them.  Doxa helps women job seekers glean how various tech start-up companies treat their female employees. Using employee sourced survey data, the software develops a view what it is like to work at various companies, and how women fare in these workplaces. The profiles examine  compensation,  hours worked and schedules, pay gap, hours spend in meetings, the number of women on the leadership team and maternity-leave policies.

Entelo Diversity

This is a recruiting software which supports companies wanting to create more diverse teams by targeting specific demographics that are under represented in their current organisations. The algorithm reviews the online profiles of potential candidates—using data from Twitter, GitHub and other sites. “Since this information is layered on top of a candidate’s skills and qualifications, the solution provides a level of objectivity as it relates to your hiring practices. It also helps organizations demonstrate good faith efforts and comply with regulations”

FairyGodBoss

FairyGodboss is a data crowd sourcing platform to rank companies for the professional experiences and conditions they offer women. They have identified top industries for “gender equality, women’s job satisfaction, and the ones women would recommend to other women.” PR, Cosmetics and Hospitality are apparently the leading industries when it comes to women’s perceptions of gender equality at work. This gives women an opportunity to research organisations and make informed decisions based on comments of other women.

GapJumpers

Blind CVs

Blind CVs don’t tackle the root of the problem

GapJumpers is the “Voice” for business offering what they call blind auditions. The app offers companies a platform on which they can test the abilities of job applicants without knowing their gender or race , identifiers which lie at the root of bias.  I would love to hear from anyone who has experienced this process to understand how it works in practise. Blind CVs tend not to deal with the real problem, simply defer it to late in the process. But they do get candidates through the first stages which is at least a step in the right direction.

Gender decoder Kat Matfield

Gender Decoder is an app similar to Textio, it highlights linguistic gender-coding  which appears in job adverts and other documents. Research has shown that language cause women to self-deselect from applying for jobs that are advertised with masculine-coded language.This site is a quick way to check whether a job advert has the kind of subtle linguistic gender-coding that has this discouraging effect. It’s a free app and one that works well.

I’ve used it myself.  My only comment would be that some of the words that are considered to be male coded such as “confident” and “business acumen” are more of a commentary on our culture. To replace with words which are considered to be “female” is simply patronising.

Gendertimer

meetings

Gendertimer is an app that monitors the amount of “meeting air time” participants take up. Here you can track who hogs the floor to create greater gender awareness in meetings and other social situations. Research shows that the dominant group is men! Users can manually record any speaker’s gender chart the data. This leads to self-regulation for any extroverts or  “mansplainers” and the possibility of holding more inclusive  meetings.

Includeed

I saw the pitch for this software diversity dashboard at an #HRTech conference in Paris 2015. Launching in 2016 Founder Sandrine Cina says “Includeed is an online platform which brings together employees, customers and companies around the topics of diversity and equal opportunities. Includeed allows employees and customers to review companies on their efforts towards equal opportunities, letting them know what is really needed and which solutions would be beneficial for all.”

InHerSight

Inhersight.com . Users rank their workplace across 14 criteria including maternity leave, salary satisfaction and wellness. The platform’s rating system is similar to sites such as Glassdoor, TripAdvisor Inc. and other crowd sourced feedback sites. It aggregate anonymous user-generated data to guide women to make “smarter decisions”.

Just not sorry

Just not sorry is a chrome extension app which produced an international furore in the sorry/not sorry debate. This is designed to help women neutralise their emails from “girl speak”  along the lines of sorry-not-sorry-242x300 “I’m sorry to disturb you, but I’m just trying to confirm our arrangements and could you possibly let me know your plans for xx. I know this is short notice but would you mind getting back to me by xx”

My own view is that some women (and men) may find it helpful and emails should be succinct because no one will read them!

Textio

Textio is a spell check for job adverts, highlighting word choices that show gender bias or hackneyed phrases.  It suggests alternative phrasing to stop self-de-selection by certain categories of job seekers. The program discourages corporate buzz words  such as “ ninja” or “guru”   which appeal to male applicants. Once again, my concern is words which are listed as male coded need to adapt with the culture  rather than the other way around.

Unitive

Unitive  leads to is a data driven hiring decisions and monitors job applicants and the hiring process, allowing hiring managers to visualize the information behind their decisions. The platform reminds hiring managers throughout the process when they are most likely to exhibit bias. This can be when drafting job descriptions, adverts, reviewing resumes or other written documents to recognize and avoid workplace bias. Candidates compete anonymously to solve problems related to the job.

What other apps or platforms would you recommend to tackle workplace bias? I would be happy to include them.

If your organisation needs unconscious bias training – contact me.

 

 

structured interviews

Do structured interviews overcome unconscious bias?

Structured interviews in the hiring process

Structured interviews with data driven questioning and assessment are being touted as the “new” way forward in selection processes to avoid unconscious bias, especially in relation to gender bias. Today, most interviewers adopt a fairly relaxed approach to interviewing. There is a strong preference for what seems like casual questioning about the candidate’s background and experience. But although unstructured interviews are perceived to be the most effective from a hiring manager perspective, research suggests that they are one of the worst predictors of on-the-job performance. They are considered to be less reliable than general psychometric testing and personality tests which can be as much as 85% reliable.

So why do we continue to do it?

Cultural fit

There is a long standing reliance on the ability to identify “cultural fit.” Many managers and leaders pride themselves on having the gut instinct to recruit the best talent. It’s possibly true that some do. But most don’t. What they do is follow the tried and tested P.L.U. method of hiring  – People Like Us. As most of the decision makers are male, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the 3M approach applies: Mini- Male- Mes. An interviewer’s perception of a candidate in an unstructured interview (a normal interview to you and me) is the over riding factor.

Removing human perception

Somewhat cynically I think it’s an unlikely and unrealistic expectation that we will be able to remove human assessment from hiring decisions. A candidate maybe considered to be the best via testing, but may struggle to fit in with the team. I have seen situations where candidates come into the 98 percentile on testing scores and still are not hired because the hiring manager just didn’t like him. Is this based on a bias? Of course. One that is very hard to define. His boss decided that the relationship between the manager and job holder would have been the key driver and the candidate was cut.

Unconscious bias is set up in our DNA to protect ourselves. This is why we hire and surround ourselves with P.L.U., from backgrounds similar to our own or that don’t cause us discomfort.

What are structured interviews?

Rather than relying on ad hoc questions, where the bias of an interviewer can be imbued into both the question itself and also how she receives the answer, it is believed that interviews should be set up so that all candidates are asked questions, in the same order and responses noted down at the time.  There is usually a half way point where an anlysis of the candidates performance is assessed. Interviewers are also held accountable for any perceptions and required to defend them.

The objections to structured interviews are that the communication flow is less organic and possibly stilted, but the results are likely to be more neutral. Response can then be compared systematically.

Candidate Score cards

Candidate scorecards from structured interviews are a more objective method of evaluation in which candidates’ responses are assessed against a predefined benchmarks. Hiring managers can  allocate a weight for each answer based on the requirements of the job in terms of skills and experience, company values,

Will data based questions really overcome unconscious bias? Google identifies certain characteristics that guarantee on-the-job success and structure questions around that. Laslo Bock, VP HR  in his book Work Rules identifies questions that “are behavioral, dealing with past scenarios, and situational, dealing with hypothetical scenarios.”

Psychometric or other testing

Many companies combine testing and an interview process. Frequently candidates are asked to complete behavioural interviews with a specific assignment in line with the requirements of the job. A practical skill test also allows employers to assess the quality of a candidate’s work versus unconsciously judging them based on appearance, gender, age and even personality. Some companies do hiring weekends of “trial by sherry” when they go through a gamut of social events and behavioural assessments. This does not necessarily eliminate bias. There is that urban legend where a candidate was supposedly cut for putting salt on his food before tasting it.

Balanced shortlists 

The reality is that it is not just the nature of the hiring process and whether structured interviews become the norm. The interview procedure can be as neutral as you like, but if the rest of process is riddled with bias and coded messages then the system is set up to fail. This can be in adverts, job descriptions, self- de-selection of female candidates, and other subliminal messages projected at candidate touch points.

One issue is the number of minority candidates short listed for each open assignment. Research from University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business, although not conclusive, suggests that the key is to have 2 or even 3 female candidates (or other discriminated group) on the short list to level the odds. Psychologically it deflects the black/white approach of “do I want this candidate or not”  to either or thinking.

Companies can insist that the executive search company or the in-house recruiter meet those requirements. If they don’t have the skills to go beyond the highly visible, low hanging fruit type of candidate identification, and many don’t,  they should use specialist organisations which do. Check out 3Plus International 

 A female candidate’s chances of being hired are statistically zero if she is the only woman in a pool of finalists

The most effective way to manage unconscious bias is to make hiring managers aware of their own biases. Then start managing them at every stage of the process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blind CVs

Blind CVs don’t deal with the real problem

How helpful are Blind CVs?

There has been a recent move towards proposing blind CVs in the recruitment process. Intended to increase diversity and reduce bias in areas such as gender, ethnicity and ageism, a number of organisations are committing to this system, including the U.K. Civil Service, the BBC, the NHS, KPMG and HSBC.

But will blind applications support the reduction of unconscious bias in the recruitment process, or just serve to highlight its existence? At some point the candidate has to be called for interview.

Gender

Research from Yale has shown that when women remove their names from their resumes, they stand a higher chance of being short listed for a job than when their names are visible. Although that may help in the short listing process, it doesn’t save these women from the same bias which reappears once hired into the organisation. In a recent study of code written by women, it was noted that their efforts were more likely to be approved by their peers, than code written by their male colleagues. This caveat was based on the fact that the men didn’t realise the code had been written by a woman.

There is one argument against Blind CVs and it’s a valid one. Blind CVs serve  to get candidates through the first part of the process.  But after that point they only then serve to delay discrimination.

Ethnicity

Individuals with names that don’t match the ethnicity of the culture they are applying into have claimed for years that bias exists at the application stage. I have known many highly qualified North African and Arab candidates, adopt names in line with their target markets to avoid bias in the selection process, to increase their changes of landing an interview. This process of deception surely only serves to mask part of their unique background and experience. It also marks a shift from unconscious bias to direct discrimination.

Age  

The age of older candidates is usually clear in the career history of a candidate. I always feel that my time has been wasted when someone presents themselves as 40, when they are actually 65. If someone doesn’t put the year they graduated, it’s usual to assume that they will be over 50. Today with retirement ages being deferred until 67 or even later, a 50 year old has about 30% of a career left.  Candidates would be better advised to prove they are current.

I would also hope that a candidate should be able to embrace their age and younger hiring managers would be trained to handle generational and age differences in the hiring process.

Downsides

A person’s full career history including personal details, interests and hobbies as well as background play an important part in assessing a candidate’s suitability for a job. Resume writers such as Jacqui Barrett Poindexter, suggest that we should weave our resumes with a relatable story  to showcase our personalities and personal stories. Leaving out key elements or obfuscating in any way, will not show who we are. With the spread of online profiles it is not too difficult to match blind CVs against a real person anyway.

So the question remains is whether the blind CV process is just treating a symptom of unconscious bias, or we should seriously focus on getting to the root of it. Candidate sourcing is only part of the process. If the rest of the experience is riddled with bias, not a lot of progress will be made.

Although unconscious bias can’t be eradicated, it can be managed.

This is why all hiring managers should receive unconscious bias training. Contact me! 

 

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Hire for both attitude AND aptitude

Finding the balance between attitude and aptitude

The adage “Hire for attitude, train for skill” is frequently bandied around social media. Yet the reality is that this doesn’t frequently happen as part of a conscious, strategic hiring decision-making process, at least in ones that I’ve ever seen.

The question is would it be the right move anyway?

New hire failure

Research from the Leadership IQ’s Global Talent Management Survey, reports a very low percentage (19%) of new hires onboard successfully into their new positions. The study confirms what most head hunters already know.  81% fail. Researching 5,000 hiring managers, it indicated that interviews tend to focus on hard skills, even though a deficit of the necessary hard skills accounts for a lack of success in only 11% of cases.

So the success rate rests on a failure to correctly match the soft skills required to do the job or the fit with organisational culture.

Impact

With only 19% of new hires going on to achieve success, companies see high turnover of personnel which leads to low morale and engagement. In senior leadership roles, high levels of churn, impact whole teams or companies, with a huge impact on shareholder value.

Cultural fit tends to be assessed on interview performance, with a “hire the smile” approach often winning out. We also see PLU decisions (People Like Us) coming to the fore, as the benchmark for defining fit. Same school, same background, same gender or ethnicity, same economic demographic and even same golf club, can all be part of the final decision-making process, especially at a subconscious level. Read: PLU, who do you judge?

Research from Harvard Professor Amy Cuddy tells us that first impressions are centred around trust. This means that:

“If someone you’re trying to influence doesn’t trust you, you’re not going to get very far; in fact, you might even elicit suspicion because you come across as manipulative,”   

The high achieving specialist, who lacks soft skills can easily be overlooked. We are also more likely to trust someone in the PLU category, because they seem familiar, but they may not have the necessary hard skills. Although it might  at the time, that they have the right attitude, more often than not, that attitude lacks longevity and they don’t last the course.

Balance between attitude and aptitude

Hiring managers need to find a balance between hiring for both attitude and aptitude. Yet at the same time we have seen a corresponding decrease in skill availability. This means that companies need to search for indications of fast learning, flexibility and coach-ability.

This brings us to another sand trap. The demographic that fits the bill nicely are the portfolio careerists. Although there is a shift, many hiring managers are not open to candidates with a non-linear career path, seeing this as synonymous with restlessness and lack of commitment.

The growth of the gig economy is opening minds somewhat. But the role of any organisation and HR function is surely to foster that engagement and commitment and not expect it to come in-built.

If you need to identify and attract the best candidates for your company – contact Dorothy Dalton

 

 

 

 

The future of work debate divides HR opinion

Future of work –  is HR equipped to deal with it?

There are two concepts guaranteed to divide HR opinion around the future of work.  They are:

  • the sharing or collaborative economy
  • portfolio careers

In theory they are both fine and dandy. The reality is something different.

The sharing economy

Listed in WIRED as one of the main topics we must stop talking about in 2016, the discussion on the sharing economy will continue unabated for sure. For some this development is seen as a marvellous antidote to abusive corporate exploitation, where individuals can take charge of their own careers and work schedules. CIPD in a survey of 1000, suggests that individuals working on zero hour contracts are at least as happy as full-time employees and that they “experience greater life satisfaction, are more satisfied with their jobs and enjoy better work-life balance than those on more traditional employment contracts”

Employers can benefit from an immediately available, agile workforce, thus relieving the organisation from the need to do most forms of planning.

WIRED calls this situation “on-demand services ”  Because “They offer a new approach to meeting customer and worker demand without the pretence that we’re engaging in anything other than capitalism.”

Most people I have discussed this with are anything but content. Read: Dickensian: Zero Hour Contracts  Perhaps I should put them in touch with CIPD. They complain of continued exploitation, uncertainty regarding hours worked which leads to irregular revenue, impacting long-term security and  financial planning.  They are fast becoming a way for organisations to circumvent statutory employer obligations. Although officially associated mainly with unskilled labour, anecdotal evidence would suggest that this is no longer the case.

This brings us neatly to topic #2.

Do HR practitioners know how to identify the best talent from a portfolio career talent pool with their linear career recruitment approaches?

Portfolio careers

Herminia Ibarra in an article for the FT ponders the question whether portfolio careers are  normally for the older employee. “In the world of linear progression — learn, earn, return — the appropriate stage for portfolios is late life.” At one time, this might have been the case, with older workers going down this path as part of a pre-retirement transition strategy. A bit of consulting and a few non-exec Director roles are always great to keep the mind active and revenue stream flowing.

Today, portfolio careers in my experience, are no longer the exclusive domain of the older employee. Post 2007, with the increase in unemployment and reduction in entry-level jobs a rising number of younger employees are being forced into portfolio careers, rather than choosing them. This is what causes many to seek additional academic qualifications, thinking/hoping that they will gain the skills and gravitas needed to impress corporate recruiters.

The challenge they have, is that hiring managers still have a linear career progression mind-set and are locked into job titles and traditional career paths. Hiring for attitude rather than aptitude, is something you are more likely to find bandied around on Twitter than in the workplace. Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg et al, are hailed as system disrupters, but their ideas are taking a while to filter out of Silicon Valley into mainstream recruitment thinking. Most companies look for “plug and play” hard skills and they associate portfolio careers with uncertainty and restlessness. This fills them with horror. HR does not do horror.

However, frequently, deep experience is accompanied by rigidity and resistance to change. It is probably easier to train new talent, than re-educate existing staff to unlearn a lifetime’s worth of experience and deconstruct their unconscious biases.

The real challenge is when those requiring that re-education are responsible for hiring decisions and policy. As Ibarra says what we need now is to learn “what it takes to thrive in a portfolio career, rather than simply touting its virtues with a few anecdotes.”

Although claiming that the collaborative economy and therefore portfolio careers suit the new lean and agile organisations, I’m not convinced that hiring decision makers know what they should be looking for in the portfolio career talent pool to make successful hires.

Career managers understand the art and science of recruitment

Job search, like it’s counterpart, recruitment, is both an art and a science.  It needs to be a successful combination of the strategic leveraging of technology (the science,) with advanced influencing skills, via personal branding and networking (the art.)  Like the planets, when these elements are in perfect alignment, then hey-ho mission accomplished for both sides.

The universe can’t help you

But neither end of the spectrum can work on a one-off opportunistic basis. If recruiters invest time and energy learning their craft and developing both deep and wide networks, it makes sense that a job seeker would need to do the same.  But in so doing, it means that job seekers have to actually stop being one-off job seekers and shift to becoming longer term career managers. Most job seekers seem to trust the universe to kick in. If a job seeker is sending out 100s of CVs with no response, the answer is that they will certainly be doing almost everything wrong.

Today’s career managers, like recruiters, have to be sophisticated influencers, with more than decent levels of  digital and social savvy. This is why many job seekers struggle and some fail. It’s also why career managers rarely need to become job seekers and when they do it’s generally easier for them.

The art

The art of career management is rooted in soft skills, in those intangibles that are the cement to the hard skill bricks. It’s about relationship building and branding both on and off-line.

Career managers are on the ball. He/she will have and understanding of at least their medium term goals and their strengths and personal development needs. Plus, they will have a complete and even strong online presence, an updated CV ready to go on their smart phone and be an active and skilled on-going networker, both on-line and actually.  Yes, this will mean going to events and interacting with network connections. They will have their 30 second commercial and 15 word intro practised to perfection, suitable for use in a wide range of different situations.

Career managers will not be panicked into spamming total strangers in desperation telling them they are now on the market. They will already have a good reputation and high visibility in their network and a few well placed calls or mails will suffice.

The science

Recruitment assignments are usually set up and structured on the basis of hard skills and key words. I have personally never worked on a search where the preliminary triage is based on soft skills. They tend to come in later down the line. After a sweep through an immediate and known network, candidates are identified via tech-based online searches, including LinkedIn and other professional and social platforms, using complex Boolean search strings. Key words would include education, professional, and sector skills and terms, plus location. In addition we look for the scope of a job, so metrics are important, budget and team size are helpful, plus the scale of any big wins.

If job seekers fit a very specific profile then the chances of appearing in searches for their industry, sector and location are high. If they have a hybrid background, or are career changers, then it’s going to be more challenging. This is when the science really kicks in and job seekers will need to position themselves for a specific type of opening, using transferable skills.

Career managers will have been situating themselves strategically over time and in advance, with network connections in their targeted field. They may even have worked with a coach.

Wheat and chaff

With millions of job search tips on the internet it is easy for job seekers to get confused. Some of it is misleading and other stuff is truthfully just complete nonsense, written using click bait headlines. If a job seeker has the right skill set, trust me, a career will not tank because of certain vocabulary choices on a CV or LinkedIn profile, provided they are spelt correctly. CVs don’t get people jobs, but they do get interviews.

If job seekers are competing against career managers, candidates who have better resumes or a stronger online presence, then the likelihood of the hiring manager having an unconscious preference (in addition to any pre-existing unconscious biases) are stronger. This means the interview performance has to be spot on, which is a pressure a job seeker could avoid.  Career managers understand this, and have it in hand. Why make a difficult life, even more difficult?

To shift from being a job seeker to a career manager, means taking a longer term view and combining the art and science of career management to meet individual goals.

The less that is left to chance the better.