Tag Archive: recruiter


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

 

For those of you who are as yet unaware of glassdoor.com, it is a US based site whose aim is to create a community providing a source of information about prospective employers, job roles and salaries based on anonymous reviews from employees. They have recently launched their UK site, glassdoor.co.uk .

The format of each review comprises Pros and Cons and Advice to Senior Management along with star ratings given for the following criteria: Compensations & Benefits, Culture & Values, Career Opportunities, Senior Leadership, Work/Life Balance and CEO Rating.

It is a simple format and undoubtedly can prove a useful resource when researching companies or preparing for interviews.

Under each company profile, it includes a Recent News section which is useful for ensuring you are up to date with latest Press Releases, results or general news.

Understandably, the large, global businesses have the most reviews (often in their thousands) with some sectors being more broadly represented than others, particularly the Management Consultancies, Technology companies and Financial Services. I would guess therefore that reviews on these businesses are a pretty accurate reflection of working life within those companies.

Within Retail, the major UK brands are represented although many have a limited numbers of reviews – I’m sure this will change as more people in the UK become aware of its existence. Until there is a significant body of material on each company, I think it will be a while before it provides enough insight to accurately reflect what it is like to work for a particular company.

In their Community Guidelines, glassdoor are clear that participants should write balanced reviews without reverting to bitter or overly personal accounts of their own experience. Reviewers must be current or former employees of that business within the past 3 years and so there is reason to assume that the integrity of the reviews is good.

As always with reviews, you must take each contribution in context and look at the overall theme which emerges from a number of reviews. Other factors to bear in mind are the level of the person reviewing (junior candidates will have a different perspective than senior managers although their opinion is no less insightful or valid). Equally with the Interview section, where people provide sample interview questions and insight into their application process, it is wise to be cautious. Interview processes can change and your preparation still needs to be thorough enough to deal with any unforeseen eventualities.

We are all becoming increasingly reliant on reviews whether that is before booking a holiday or buying something and they can be an incredibly powerful tool. Recently, before leaving on holiday, I accidentally stumbled upon some Tripadvisor reviews on my destination. They were so bad that I was tempted to cancel, however I kept an open mind and sure enough, I had a lovely time albeit with my eyes wide open and expecting the worst! With something as important as your career, the more research you can do the better, and as long as you keep an open mind, glassdoor.co.uk should prove to be a useful addition to your ‘career toolbox’.

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By Sophie Mackenzie http://uk.linkedin.com/in/sophiemackenzie , AdMore Recruitment http://www.admore-recruitment.co.uk Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.

I was lucky enough to attend Smart Resourcing 2013 last week – an event organised and hosted by Recruiter Magazine. The conference is aimed at in-house recruitment professionals however, following our recent shortlisting for Best Newcomer at the Recruiter Awards to be held in May, we were offered the opportunity to attend with one of our clients. Despite being significantly outnumbered by my in-house opposite numbers (and feeling like the proverbial fox in the hen coup as a result!), I thoroughly enjoyed the event and found much of value to learn and to take back to the agency environment.

The event was introduced by the charming Editor of Recruiter Magazine, DeeDee Doke and after a ‘seductive’ opening statement by the chairman, Roopesh Panchasra (which is difficult to do justice to on the written page but suffice to say involved Barry White!) the keynote speaker, John Vlastelica, took to the stage. Making his UK speaking ‘debut’, John shared his significant experience and numerous amusing anecdotes about recruitment and the challenges of influencing successfully in a recruiting role. I strongly urge you, if you have the opportunity to hear John speak, to seek him out – he provided a highly energetic and inspirational start to the day.

Chris Bogh, the Founding Director of Eploy presented with one of their key clients, Matalan, represented by their Head Office Recruitment Manager Paul McNulty. Paul described the benefits they have seen following the implementation of their web based candidate management system which has seen a reduction in agency spend of 87%!

There followed a series of parallel sessions covering a range of topics from training, board level engagement and an insight into the RAF’s recruitment strategy and process. This was a great idea, enabling the audience to choose which subject was most relevant to them and their business. I chose to hear Catherine Possamai, Director of Internal Resourcing at Capita talk about the challenges of engaging the board in a business with staggering complexity and scale.

Following lunch, there was a panel discussion about Big Data, a subject which provoked a range of opinions. I have to say, I struggled to get my head around the issue and my main learning was that it’s not the size, it’s what you do with it that counts!?

In the second parallel session of the day, I heard about the significant recruitment project delivered by the Network Rail team and how they effectively managed a volume campaign and an effective onboarding programme which has positively affected retention within the business.

The final afternoon session was fascinating, opened by Paul Modley, Head of Recruitment at LOCOG. We took a visual trip back to London 2012 before Paul explained the phenomenal task faced by the team to deliver recruitment on such an immense scale against specific timescales and with the added challenge of working with an RPO and against a significant political backdrop. Through all of this, the commitment to diversity was evident and what was interesting was how Paul and his team engaged the relevant local communities to achieve the results they wanted. I certainly hadn’t fully appreciated the implications of keeping a workforce motivated when faced with the ‘cliff edge’ once the Games had taken place and clearly, the LOCOG team took the lessons from Sydney and took steps to limit the impact of this.

The final ‘slot’ fell to Ryan Broad, Head of Global Recruitment for MPC, the company responsible for visual effects on Prometheus and Life of Pi. This was a real eye opener for me, never having recruited in a creative space before, and Ryan outlined the issues involved in delivering a pipeline of creative talent and ensuring that at any one time, he knows who is available, what their skillset is, where in the world they are and at what price! Quite staggering and even more so considering the fact that Ryan manages all this information through Taleo. The key message I took from Ryan’s presentation was the importance of understanding your candidate market and what motivates them to take a role – in this case, the opportunity to work on cutting edge technology, on a cool movie and ideally with their friends!

All in all, it was a brilliant day – well organised, useful and inspirational. Although aimed at in-house professionals, I found it useful to get a greater insight into the challenges faced by my clients and got plenty of tips to take back to the office. If you get the chance to attend next year, I strongly urge you to do so.

Having this opportunity to hear some of the best recruitment minds share their experience made me reflect on the industry as a whole.

What struck me about the day was the willingness amongst the presenters, panellists and delegates attending to openly share best practice and the over-riding commitment to everyone involved to raise the profile of Recruitment as a profession both internally in their own organisations and amongst the wider business community. I couldn’t help but wonder why there are so few events of a similar nature on the agency side? Are recruitment agencies so competitive that they wouldn’t see the benefit in coming together to discuss how to improve? Surely the in-house representatives at Smart Resourcing are ultimately competing with each other when it comes to attracting the best candidates; however they ultimately consider themselves as ‘on the same side’. Equally, I wonder why the two sides of the recruitment profession are so polarised? Do both sides feel they have so little to learn from their opposite number? Adrian Thomas, former Head of Resourcing at Network Rail, spoke passionately about Recruitment as a profession and the need for it to have greater appreciation for the role it can play in delivering strategic advantage for companies.

Whether in-house or as an agency supplier, we all have a part to play in this and we should all be thinking about how we can do things better to ensure our industry gets the recognition it deserves.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about other useful industry events you have attended…

Thanks to all involved with Smart Resourcing for giving me the opportunity to attend!

Smart Resourcing 2013 http://www.recruiter.co.uk/news/2013/03/recruitment-just-got-smarter/

Smart Resourcing 2013 Speakers http://www.smartresourcing2013.com/speakers/

By Sophie Mackenzie http://uk.linkedin.com/in/sophiemackenzie , AdMore Recruitment http://www.admore-recruitment.co.uk – Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.

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

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

So, what can you do to educate candidates?

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

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

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

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

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

Join our group on LinkedIn for further updates and discussions.

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

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Giles Gallimore – Director, AdMore Recruitment

January done. How was it? How many interviews were cancelled because of the snow? How many sledging days were taken advantage of? How many client meetings were cancelled because of the inclement weather?

February is now here, phew,  I hear you say. The mornings are getting a bit brighter – with a hint of day light appearing through the window as you down the first cup of rocket fuel of the day.

Now February, the shortest month of the year. Not good news for those of us that could always do with a few days added onto the end of the month to get those last fees in….anyway, what do we think the key foci this month should be?

Firstly, do everything you can to complete your current assignments before the end of the quarter. Do you have the right candidates in the right processes and enough of them? Have you checked everyone’s holiday dates – client and candidate? Holidays, whether they are winter skiing, sun or half term with the kids, can be a real pain when you are trying to manage a smooth process.

Candidate applications will start to become more specific and the volume will recede slightly. January and February are key bonus times of the year, either with payments being made or visibility of what the bonus is likely to be. As such candidates will now be thinking more lucidly about whether they are going to change jobs or not. They will have clarity over what bonus they will receive and when it will be paid, giving them the incentive or encouragement to accelerate their search. Incidentally – it is VITAL that you are asking when their bonus is to be paid, how much it will be and what happens if they resign before payment. I have seen many offers turned down and many a process go awry, due to these criteria not being understood, and openly acknowledged early in the process by all parties concerned.

We all know that as people do resign and move that the opportunities then become vacancies. Are you ready to replace those candidates? Do you know who is leaving where and do you have the contacts details of the client to be quick off the mark and put yourself in contention for filling the role when it goes ‘live’?

Clients will generally be more receptive this month to meeting and to explaining their longer term plans (weather permitting…). April will still represent a key cut off for financial budgets and as such the planning starts now about how and where this is going to be spent. Which key positions are they looking to strengthen in their team? What new roles are being implemented?  Where do they foresee challenges in particular ie. skill-set wise or geographically? Most candidates at senior level will be on four week to twelve week notice periods and then you need to factor in an eight to twelve week interview process so the process for that key appointment for the new structure needs to start fairly soon.

This is a good month to be really adding value to your key clients: educating them on the market, understanding their challenges over the next six to nine months and trying to get ahead of the curve. What market research have you got that would be useful to them? How did their competitors fare over Christmas? What businesses are likely to be losing talent this year and why?

The knowledge and experience that recruitment consultants have is so often under utilised, being taken for granted by the consultant themselves or not leveraged properly by the clients. Set yourself apart and actively organise meetings with key clients to show them what extra value you can add to their business. Package this information in a manner that ‘gives’ the client something they are not getting anywhere else. If you are an expert, then show people and back it up with tangibles. If you are not, then think very carefully about what they are actually buying from you and why they should continue to do so?

February is also a good month to meet candidates. Either to update since the last time you met or to assess candidates who are new to you and the market. They have more time in February and more flexible diaries and so this will be easier to organise.  At the very least you should be continuing January’s push on updating your key candidates to see what is on their agenda this year, how you can assist them with their move and give any career advice they require.

Business Development. Who else is in your sector have you not made any contact with? What is your methodology to get yourself known to them and to make them aware of your ability, knowledge and expertise in your sector?  The pointers suggest that we will have a slow economic start to 2013 with the ‘triple dip’ tag hovering over us at the moment. All the people we have been speaking to in the industry expect a steady first half of the year to be followed by a much more buoyant back half of the year. Businesses will be looking to hire as we move into a brighter economic climate throughout 2013 and now is the time to be making these ‘cold’ clients aware of your services. Well-timed introductions at this time of year may create plenty of opportunities later on. Are you devoting the time now to broadening your sector and reach and are you setting yourself up for success in the back half of the year?

February is a short month, so no more rambling. Time to get on the phone and arrange those meetings. Now where is my Business Development Diary?  I am sure there are some PSL renewal discussions coming up…

 

An ‘employer of choice’ can easily be described as one that inspires talented workers to join them and to stay with them. However, it is often difficult to ascertain whether a potential employer is one that fits this definition when you are considering a career move. There are a number of lists, awards and websites dedicated to sharing best companies to work for however there are of course many other companies that offer excellent opportunities. Here are a few points to consider when looking for your own ‘Employer of choice.’

Research the business

It is worth looking at the basics; the company mission and values. Does this match up with press statements and reviews? Talk to people in your network, what do they think? Look at awards and honours that the company has received that are linked to their ‘employer brand.’

Utilise your recruitment consultant
Recruitment consultants gather intimate knowledge of their clients’ organisational culture and values, company structure, career opportunities available, employee benefits and employment details. By working more closely with your consultant you will be able to access this knowledge. It is worth asking some specific questions:

  • How has the career of the person currently doing the position developed
  • What internal or external training is offered?
  • How would they describe the management/leadership style within the company?
  • Is the package on offer competitive with market rate?

Interviews – a two way process

This is a great opportunity for you to assess your potential line manager. It is worth trying to establish how well defined the company culture is and how this manifests itself.

  • How are employees’ contributions valued?
  • What career progression is available and is there a structured approach to succession planning?
  • How is the L&D function valued within the organisation and how does the business interact with its customers and environment?
  • Does the interviewer’s style match what you have researched?
  • What is the quality of working relationships, how do different functions interact with each other?
  • How much TRUST is there in the organisation? Are people trusted to do a good job? You can assess this by looking for signs of; openness (give and ask for feedback), honesty (what I say is what I mean), reliability (I will do what I promise to do) and acceptance.
  • Pay close attention to the environment, is the building cared for? Does the working environment provoke a positive feeling?

What is most important to you?

The reality is that few businesses will be able to deliver everything perfectly. Therefore it is worth putting a list together of what is important to you. Prioritise the key points and use this to guide you when assessing whether you wish to make an application or accept an offer.

Have we missed anything out? What would be on your list to understand what for you makes an ‘employer of choice’

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This list is geared to individuals whom are actively looking for a new position. It’s not rocket science but as with everything in life, balance is crucial. If you are able to do a bit of everything on this list you will increase your chances of securing a new position immeasurably.

  1. Create a professional, simply formatted yet interesting CV. There are thousands of books and articles available to give you some direction however in short, it should be no more than three pages, have accurate contact details and have a summary of responsibilities and achievements for each of your roles (include full details of your most recent roles and just job title and company name for positions beyond the last ten years).
  2. Keep a record of all your applications and follow up! Emails will generally suffice; however call agencies/recruiters where you are particularly passionate about a vacancy.
  3. Register with roughly 3-4 key agencies. Ask for recommendations from your network. If you want the best from an agency it is better to be introduced via a senior contact. This places a greater level of obligation on the consultant to look after you. Ensure the agencies/recruiters cater for vacancies in your job function, industry and seniority level.
  4. Meet people. Meet old contacts from your network, consultants and potential employers. Speculative meetings may seem a waste of time initially but you never know where it will take you.
  5. Work your Linkedin Profile. Linkedin can be enormously time consuming however it is essential that you spend at least 10 minutes on various activities per day. In short, make new connections and get involved in various group discussions. This will raise 2nd and 3rd degree connections’ awareness of you. The best time of the day to do this is lunchtimes; a lot of the larger agencies only allow their staff to use LI between 12-2pm.
  6. Make direct approaches and applications. Most businesses have reduced the budget for agency hires and as a result they actively look to source candidates directly, particularly at mid management level. Draw up a target list of businesses that interest you and contact their resourcing team. It is wise to check with your network before doing this to ensure you are not missing a ‘warmer’ introduction.
  7. Apply for roles where there is an obvious and direct fit. The number of applications per vacancy is currently so high that employers will tend to choose the candidates who are the closest match for the position. If you are keen to apply for a role where there is not a close fit you should write a concise covering letter explaining why you are interested. It is often better to focus on why the business interests you rather than why you think you could do the job. This will enable you to stand out from other applications and adds personality to your approach.
  8. No matter how frustrated you get do not allow this to come across when dealing with contacts. Your contacts will work a lot harder for you if you come across positively in all your conversations.
  9. Set up email alerts and ‘favourites’ lists for vacancies. Do this with job boards, agencies and a select group of target employers. Check this daily and apply the moment the role appears. I recently received over 50 strong applications for a role within 48 hours of placing an advert with a specialist job board. I closed the advert down immediately as I would have been unable to review further applications.
  10. Prepare an ‘elevator pitch.’ You never know when you will receive that all important call about an application and you only get one opportunity to make a good first impression. Keep it short, informative and structured. Ensure that when you have the opportunity, however brief, you build rapport quickly with the recruiter and ensure they leave with the best impression of your personality and attitude. They will feel more confident about representing you if you are positive to deal with.

I hope this helps. If you think I have missed anything more obvious please add to the comments below. Happy job hunting!

Jez Styles

www.admore-recruitment.co.uk

Linkedin Group

Having recently written a blog about the retail recruitment market I am now turning my attention to the hospitality sector to see whether the market is as tough for candidates looking to find new roles.

As in the retail sector, I think most candidates are often pleasantly surprised when they first come onto the market to find another position, by the volume of roles that appear to be out available matching their skills and experience.  However as has been highlighted in the recent Hospitality Employment Index statistics provided by the Caterer.com and People 1st, the competition for these roles is higher than ever.

I am afraid to say that on the surface the statistics do not make encouraging reading. The number of overall vacancies is down some 8% compared to last year and in some categories such as management roles in the restaurant sector they are down a massive 45%.  Unfortunately the competition for roles has also increased with the number of applications only falling by 2% during the same period.

However, as always we should try and put some perspective on these headline grabbing figures.  What the statistics show is that the current job volumes are some 30% higher than in 2009. To some extent during the recession we have seen a much stronger focus on retention and development in the sector. This may be an additional factor in explaining the underlying statistics. As always these statistics only show part of the picture and just reflect the volume (and level) of roles posted on the job board.

Looking at the performance of some of the key players in the market, despite the miserable weather and conflicting expectations brought by the Olympics, the market has held up well.  Looking at recent announcements, Greene King reported a like-for-like sales increase of 5.1%, Mitchells and Butler LFL of 3% and The Restaurant Group LFL of 3.25%. As always there are winners and losers however with continued growth in some areas of the market the need for high calibre individuals remains strong.

As we all know, the hospitality sector is all about people and being able to inspire, lead and motivate teams to deliver great product and great service. Many businesses continue to invest in retaining and recruiting the best people to drive and maintain that competitive edge. Being focused on recruiting middle and senior appointments we have seen strong demand for individuals since the end of the summer and are watching with interest to see how the market unfolds over the coming months.

As has been the case over the last couple of years it continues to be difficult for candidates to secure positions in different sectors, so my advice to candidates is to look at businesses where your skills and experience will be most transferable.  The expectations of clients is rightly very high as they look to drive their business by hiring candidates with experience and a strong track record of success.

Without a shadow of doubt for the vast majority of middle and senior management candidates the market out there remains tough. However, whilst the job board figures are certainly negative, as we come out of recession, the market will inevitably pick up.

Russell Adams

LinkedIn

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AdMore Recruitment – Sophie Mackenzie

They say doctors make the worst patients – is the same true for ex-agency consultants who move in-house? Sometimes, certainly. Take a recent case when one of my colleagues drove to the other end of the country (a 5 hour drive) for a client meeting scheduled at 4pm. This was a new client, there was no history, good or bad and so this should have been an amiable introduction to form the foundation for the relationship going forward. Instead he received a frosty response and a grilling for 40 minutes where he was tarred with the same brush as the agencies preceding him and left with little or no inclination to work on the account. The client was an ex-agency consultant, full of bitterness about the agency world and rather than leveraging her background to build rapport and influence the agencies to deliver for her, she has taken the other path – looking down on the very industry that trained her.

This is a rare case however and I strongly support the view that the best in-house recruiters will have some experience in the agency world.

That said, it doesn’t follow that every consultant can make the move in-house. I know that there is a widespread view that in-house recruiters are failed agency consultants:  (those that can, recruit; those that can’t recruit in-house etc…) however in my experience of the industry this is certainly not the case.  Those making the move in-house generally do so for positive reasons – to find an environment where they can better employ their skills.

I’m the first to admit that I wasn’t the best agency consultant. I had colleagues who were more tenacious, competitive and better sellers. However the very skills which weren’t recognised in the target-driven agency environment were skills which I think made me a good in-house recruiter: relationship management, diplomacy, candidate control, communication skills, attention to detail and time management. Combine these ‘softer’ skills with a strong work ethic, a sense of urgency and a commercial outlook and this works really well in a challenging in-house role which can be highly pressured.

Some of my former colleagues just wouldn’t have cut it in-house – they wouldn’t have had the patience to deal with the internal politics and bureaucracy which forms the back drop for many resourcing teams. In an in-house role there is nowhere to hide –you can’t take a commercial decision not to work on a role if you feel it isn’t worth your while and your internal ‘clients’ are often high profile and incredibly demanding. This is a test of your influencing and communication skills – you need to be able to maximise your internal ‘brand’ in order to have some control over the hiring managers who left unchecked, have a tendency to hinder the process rather than expedite it!

There is increased pressure to source directly for obvious cost reasons however there is often little time to do this properly so you become adept at focusing your efforts and using agencies only on those roles where you really can’t do it yourself. There is also a massive difference in how you organise your time, driven by the incredible volume of email communication you receive in-house. Agency consultants are quite rightly encouraged to do everything on the phone and this is at odds with a corporate HR department where by definition, you are encouraged to keep an audit trail of absolutely everything.

Coming from an agency background was extremely powerful when working in-house. I knew all the tricks of the trade and so I was able to challenge agencies (in what I hope was a humorous and positive way) and ensure that our process was followed. I took a direct approach and tried to treat the agency consultant how I had hoped to be treated when I was in the same position – communicating openly about issues and time delays and trying to respond as quickly as possible to ensure they were able to manage their candidates’ expectations and therefore protect our employer brand in the market.

There were times when I could visualise some of my agencies mentally throwing darts at my Linkedin profile when I was forced to postpone an assignment due a corporate restructure or cancel an interview at short notice. It was embarrassing as I knew the work that the better agencies would have put in and the difficult position they would be in letting the candidates know.

Experiencing the ‘other side’ made me realise that there are some appalling practitioners in our industry but equally that there are some excellent recruitment professionals out there and I really enjoyed the relationships we made with these companies. I was genuinely pleased when they made a placement with us and was vocal in championing their brand internally.

My agency training enabled me to control the process and manage candidate offers effectively, negotiate to get the best commercial outcome for the business and, I hope, build genuine relationships with agencies based on mutual respect rather than disdain.

Most importantly, I never forgot what it was like to make that business development call and receive the inevitable frosty reception – this didn’t mean I tolerated the really poor sales approaches but it certainly made me treat consultants courteously and with respect.

I am interested to hear your opinion on this – what, in your view, is the best background for an in-house recruiter? Is it necessary to have experienced the agency world first-hand or are other backgrounds equally relevant?

Sophie Mackenzie

On Friday night I drove the family over to Gloucestershire to see some friends for the weekend. We decided to drive after work in the hope that the kids would fall asleep and therefore give us the most peaceful journey possible. Now, anyone who knows me will tell you that I am not a ‘man’s man’ when it comes to cars and driving. I don’t have much interest in a car other than whether it has a good radio; can accommodate twins, prams and accompanying baggage in the boot and whether it will get me reliably from A to B. So it probably won’t come as much of a surprise when I tell you that I also don’t know the UK road network particularly well either and as such, have come to be utterly reliant on our beautiful, life saving and occasionally very frustrating  Satellite Navigation System. Embarrassingly, I don’t even have a map in the car.

We set off from Surrey at 5.30pm and our trusty SatNav confidently told me that we would arrive at our destination at 7.30pm. My geography is just about good enough to I realise that when my SatNav instructed me to come off at the M3 rather than the M4, it was taking a short cut, probably across country. It didn’t really feel right though – surely driving through busy urban areas at rush hour isn’t a good idea?  An hour later, when we eventually joined the M4, the kids were still awake as the stop/start nature of the traffic hadn’t created the best conditions for toddlers to nod off. As such, my stress levels went up a couple of notches as the whining started!

We got through the slow traffic on the M4 and seemed to be making some headway until my SatNav, which historically has had a predilection for cross country driving, instructed us to leave the motorway after what felt like a premature amount of miles. My Swedish wife, utterly lacking in geographic, spatial awareness and at times common sense, was pretty direct in her response to my querying  the sense of this;  “Do what the ***** SatNav says, you don’t know what you are doing, it does!” I think this takes back seat driving to a whole new level. Anyway, against my better instinct, I complied (if you know the Swedes you’ll know this is the best adjective) fearing that if I rebelled I would live to regret it…

At this point the heavens opened and what had been gentle rain became torrential. We were deep in the countryside – no lights, no other cars and limited visibility. Brilliant. The kids had realised that they were not getting out of the car anytime soon and their whining took on a slightly more urgent tone. Due to the rain I had to slow down to what felt like a snail’s pace as I made my way through unfamiliar territory and at one T junction, atop a hill, it was so pitch black I felt like I was driving blind. Just when I thought the journey couldn’t get any worse, our SatNav lost its link due to the weather conditions. We were in the middle of nowhere and had lost our only way of finding our destination. There was only one option, I had to call our host and ask him to give us live directions. We eventually arrived at 9.30pm, bleary eyed, with two screaming (and vomiting) toddlers. The journey took twice as long and was far more stressful than it needed to be.

This trip got me thinking; the Recruitment Industry (agency and in-house) has become increasingly reliant on technology and in recent years, Social Media to source candidates. As an example, it is not uncommon now for some businesses to focus their entire candidate attraction policy around Linkedin.  Although this is undoubtedly a useful tool for recruiters, it is best used to complement other sourcing methods.

There are a number of parallels between this situation and my fateful trip. How many of these have we all experienced at some point?

  • A journey (job brief) that at first seemed straightforward that took some unexpected turns.
  • A lack of basic preparation (why bother considering what is the best recruitment strategy when Social Media has all the answers?).
  • Adverse (market) conditions affecting the usefulness of the technology.
  • Allowing other ‘stakeholders’ to influence decisions through their own dependence on said technology.
  • Wasting time on unnecessary diversions (Social Media can be a terrible drain on time).
  • Stakeholders becoming angry and frustrated at the lack of a result within an agreed time-frame .
  • Placing too great a value on the use of ONE technological tool rather than a combination of skills.
  • Eventually calling in the support of a specialist, too late in the process to rectify some of my failings (to my stakeholders I had failed, regardless of the end result).
  • … And most alarmingly, such an utter reliance on one tool that I was blinkered, thinking that just because it would get me to my final destination, it would automatically be inthe best way.  I had become used to settling for second best without even realising it.

Improvements in technology have certainly made recruitment easier but it should not be relied upon to always yield the best result. Referrals, recommendations and good old head hunting should be central to any senior level recruitment strategy.

Going forward, I will buy a map book, a car charger for my mobile phone (battery nearly died on me), I will download a decent maps function to my phone, I will check an online route planner before setting off, I will seek the advice of experts (or in their absence a suitably impressive Alpha male) and perhaps most importantly I will ensure that my wife is aware that I am doing all of this!

In short, I will not rely on only ONE tool to get the best result.

Jez Styles

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