“That Won’t Work Here” and Other Recruitment Myths

Over the past 10 years, I have helped roll out Recruitment Functions across to new locations/countries/business groups across the Asia Pacific region. One of the phrases that I have heard from both customers and even Recruiters when we want to look at a new way of candidate sourcing is “That won’t work here”. I have also heard “That won’t work here’s”  infamous sidekick “That’s not the way we do it” used as well.

One of my favorite writers Seth Godin published a Blog Post titled “Because it Has Always Been This Way” that I think explains some people’s resistance to change.

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I love all the different locations and people that I support in my role(s) here. There is always a local custom or way of work that I need to  respect and pay heed to when I am working with others in different locations. One thing though that rings true across the globe no matter where you are is that a solid Recruitment Plan and a good Recruitment approach is a universal trait that applies everywhere. It can be easy to say why running a direct sourcing strategy or why a social media campaign won’t work.  It can be easier for people to stay in their comfort zone and use tried and tested methods even if those approaches hurt them in the long run. When you say ‘that won’t work here’ or ‘that’s not the way we do it’ without giving ideas proper consideration you are not allowing yourself to ask the question “What if”?

What if I could find all the candidates I needed with a Recruiter working from  a remote location, what if I could source all my competitor’s best talent, what if I could hire xx number of people in xx amount of time. When you stop limiting yourself to thinking only of the ways things are done and think about the end result you can then really start to make things happen. Once you have an end goal in mind you can work backward from that goal and figure out all the things that need to happen to make that goal achievable.

I think one of the key components of a Recruiters role is to take our customers hand and help them keep improving their recruitment capability. Customers have a million things to do, recruitment is only one of them. Recruiters need to stop taking ‘job orders’ and work as business partners to help educate their customers on what the best Recruitment practices are and give them options on how they can be implemented into a business. As a Recruiter you need to be the expert bringing new sourcing approaches to the table to discuss, if you are not doing this are you giving your customer the best level of service they deserve?

What is the worst that can happen, you try something that does not work out – at least you know if it works or not instead of dismissing ideas without trying. The upside is too big to ignore.

There is always a reason not to do something, but those Recruiters who can make the impossible possible are the ones that really shine!

Managing My Work Life Balance And Being In a Very Cool Team

 

I have been with my current company (Oracle) for almost 10 years. In the Recruitment World this is an eternity – How many Recruiter Profiles do you see on LinkedIn where someone moves every 12-18 months, it is too common. Recruitment is an industry known for high attrition. I was thinking about this the other day and was wondering why then I am still here after 10 years, and it is not just me. If you look, many of our Recruiters here stay and those that leave often want to come back.

I can’t speak for anyone else but for me I have been given the opportunity here to work with great people. The sky is the limit for me in terms of work, if I want to try a new initiative or run a side project I always have the support of my management team. This doesn’t always mean I get the green light but I do get the support from them to make things happen. There is a long list of reasons why I am here after 10 years that would make this blog post very long but I wanted to focus on one of the reasons that is always a buzzword in corporate speak and that is ‘managing work/life balance’.

In my roles here I have had responsibility for regional recruitment across the Asia Pacific region. I am based in Australia and as a result my days are often anything but the typical 9-5 format. During a work day I can be on calls or video conferences anywhere between 6:00 am to 10:00 pm local time for me. I work from a home office. For those of you who still think working from home means I work from the couch or the kitchen table, this old stereotype could not be any further from reality. I have a dedicated office space that is physically separated from my house and it works very well. With all the expectations and commitments to work, I love being able manage my time for both work and my family. I love being able to wake up at 6:00 am go into the office for an hour check my emails, get my day organised and then go into the house and get the kids ready for school.

I feel very lucky to have the ability to walk them to school in the morning. As we all know many parents need to leave early to beat the commute to get into the office. There is a trade off here it is not all roses and sunshine. I work longer than I need to as work is always readily available and I don’t switch off when I leave my home office.

With the rapidly changing demographics of city life. I think the theory that many organisations follow that people work better together when they are in the same physical space has many flaws to it. I do understand many of the points but for me I would much rather work virtually with someone via video/phone/technology who is creative and innovative than have to go into an office and work with someone who is just going through the motions. I have worked with people in India, Europe, Latin America, etc…. where we have brainstormed and come up with great ideas as a group for the betterment of the work we do. Work does not have to be defined by our physical location. With the ever evolving suite of tools and technology we have access to the world is a much smaller place than it ever was.

Work/Life Balance, this is something I love. I love having the ability to give my time to my family and equally to my work over the course of 18 hours not just between set times between 9-5 that were created in a previous working day and age.

 

Recruiters Need to Keep Dreaming Big

Over the past number of years I have interviewed numerous Recruiters for a variety of positions. I have had the chance to talk to some very interesting Recruiters with a great outlook on life and recruitment and also a lot Recruiters who are just going through the motions. If you are a Hiring Manager which Recruiter would you prefer to work with – the one that is always looking for new ways to improve and source candidates or the person who sticks to what has worked in the past whether that is a Job Posting or sending 1000’s of LinkedIn messages to anyone with a keyword in their profile.

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Recruitment is an ever evolving activity I think Recruiters need to keep evolving and changing (and you can’t change just for the sake of it you need to want to) while also holding onto what works. Some of the best recruitment work practices that I have I developed happened before Google searches were available and resumes were still faxed to customers. I think a good Recruiter is a person who is always pushing themselves to not only know their market but also be involved in their space of hiring. As Recruiters we can provide a very valuable service but to do it correctly we need to be able to understand and really know our candidates. We also need to be able to effectively communicate what these candidates are looking for with our Hiring Managers. Poor communication can often be the cog in the machine that turns a hiring process from a positive experience to a not so positive one.

As a Recruiter are you always trying to learn? Before you say yes – think about all the things that Recruiters do. Have you improved your business level engagement with your Hiring Managers. Do you spend time with them to really understand their business plans and pain points or do you take a ‘job spec’ in 15 minutes without managing expectations from each other. Do you spend time talking to your candidates, finding out why people are interested in opportunities and really digging through the white noise to make sure the gems are identified. Do you figure out ways to create a great candidate experience, whether someone gets the job or not? Do you always try new ways to source, I don’t mean LinkedIn, FB or Twitter – these are not competitive advantages when everyone else uses them. What new sourcing technique have you brought to the table to your Hiring Manager to try.

It is not easy, there is a lot of work involved in a Recruiter’s day and it is tempting to take the easy approach that has been tried and tested (think Naukri in India, 51Jobs in China, etc….). I am at fault the same way that many of us are, I have ups and downs in terms of my activity and crazy ideas do not pop up out of the air every day but the best Recruiters I have met are always self driven to develop and grow their capabilities and service offerings. Keep an open mind, don’t be quick to say ‘that won’t work for me’, and try to take an honest self view of your work – is there any areas you can improve, if so think about ways to keep getting better, faster and stronger!

I think what I am trying to say is keep dreaming big and don’t worry about those who say you can’t do something, leave the haters behind and keep dreaming big. Recruitment is not a static activity, keep growing, dreaming and evolving – it will keep you ahead of your competition.

Do You Really Need to Hire a Rock Star or Do You Just Think You Do

I have worked with Hiring Managers at all levels and it is human nature to want to find the ‘best’ candidate when you are hiring – but Hiring Managers next time you are hiring for your team, quantify what the ‘best candidate’ means for your role. Ask yourself do you really want to hire a bona fide Rock Star or do you potentially really only need an X-Factor (or substitute The Voice, American Idol, or other) contestant for your role.

Many Hiring Managers when they are hiring for their team will loosely throw around the term ‘Rock Star’ and follow it up with comments like ‘I want the best in the business, I need a game-changer, I need someone who can take us in a new direction, etc……

There are 2 main things that I question when I hear someone say these statements. The first is, when I hear a Hiring Manager say statements like this, I think wait a second all I am hearing is what the Hiring Manager wants or needs. A good Recruiter will challenge the Hiring Manager and work out what is the value proposition for the candidate? It is great to hear what a Hiring Manager wants but any work relationship is a two way street. While a Manager may address what his/her needs are when they work with their Recruiter, what would this potential role give to this all star candidate that they want to hire. If your Recruiter does not ask you this or qualify this with you, I recommend looking at the service you are getting from your Recruiter.

The second thing that causes alarm bells for me is really a follow on from the first statement and that is : is the Hiring Manager trying to put a rock star candidate into a regular role or a regular company. If you are hiring and you look at your role on offer and your company – does your role or company really necessitate a rock star candidate?

rockstarA few examples of this could be you want a person to change the ‘game’ (what ever that means to you), but you look at their productivity based on how many hours they sit at a desk not by results achieved. Or for example you want the best sales person there is in your industry, but your commission structure is not competitive or your company’s management style is outdated, tired and unproductive.

In these examples why would a ‘rock star’ want to take on one of these roles? What is the value proposition or attraction for them to consider this role. If they are the best in the market, odds are that they are already in a good role and do not need to go anywhere. So what is it that you offer that would make that person you want to stand up and take notice.

Rock stars need to be able to make success happen – Eddie Van Halen didn’t create his great licks and solos following a script. If you want to hire someone who will take direction as you need and be a corporate clone of what you want, you probably want to hire an X-factor candidate that will do as they are told and follow the script to create their 15 minutes of fame. If you really want to hire the best candidates in your market make sure that you have the business need that necessitates you finding and hiring that person otherwise you will end up putting a high achieving individual into a regular role which may create a situation where you have hired the wrong person for the role you needed to hire for.

The flow on effect of hiring the wrong person has multiple implications. Not only will the relationship with your new star hire likely sour, but you will have invested a lot of time and energy to get this person on board only to have to go through this exercise again. Not every role in every company requires a rock star – before you start sourcing candidates for your next requirement, take the time to really understand what you need out of the role. It is more important to find the person who is the right fit for the role you have then necesarily just looking at the brightest student, the best sales person by $$$ booking, etc…..

Good Recruiters Know How To Close Candidates (It’s the ABC’s of Recruitment)

Luck, good old fashioned luck. How many times as a Hiring Manager have you identified a great candidate, went out and got your approvals, sent out your Letter of Offer to the aforementioned great candidate thinking the job was done, only to have your great candidate let you know ‘thanks for the job offer, but I can’t accept the offer because……… (insert reason here: counteroffer, partner not happy, can’t relocate, other offer, etc…..). If you are a Hiring Manager and this happens to you regularly you need to sit down with your Recruiter now!

Bad Recruiters, will say it was an unforeseen circumstance and just bad luck, where as good Recruiters would have seen this coming a hundred miles away and either probed the candidate further before making an offer and closed any loose ends or realised that the job you had to hire for was never a top priority for the candidate.

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Yes Recruitment has many similar traits to a good sales model. One of the classic sales lines is to know your ABC’s and Always Be Closing and this holds true in recruitment as well. I have seen both good and bad Recruiters in my 16 years in Recruitment – good Recruiters know the job they are hiring for, know the Hiring Managers needs and know the candidates needs. They always find a way to balance all these needs into a smooth recruitment process for everyone involved. To create a smooth process the Recruiter needs to always be keeping their finger on the pulse of the candidates and Hiring Manager.

‘Always Be Closing’ is not a bad thing, and I think many Recruiters are afraid to ask closing questions to candidates for fear of being seen as unfriendly maybe or fear of what the candidate may actually say. In some Recruiters minds I suppose they take the approach of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and hope and pray that the candidate they have found takes the role they have, because deep down they know the candidate is probably not happy with some part of the role/salary/responsibilities. To me this makes no sense. It does not make sense to invest the Hiring Managers time, the Candidates time and your time as a Recruiter putting everyone through a process that will not have outcome everyone wants to achieve. If you don’t have the ‘what are your salary expectations’ conversation at the beginning of the process why put a candidate through multiple interviews and get to the end of the process when it turns out they want $20,000 more than what the role you are filling pays.

Good Recruiters, will take the time to understand the candidates they are working with, they will know what they think of the role, what their salary expectations are, if it is the next natural step in their career, if they need to relocate if they are open to that and if their family is supportive of a move. They will understand and be able to address any questions or concerns a candidate may have and the candidate may have new questions come up at different stage of the interview process. If you are not talking to your candidate to help them through the process and keep them educated about the role/company so they can make an informed choice you are doing your company and the candidate a disservice.

If the role is not right for the candidate – don’t try to fit a square into a circle, it means you must go find and screen candidates who not only fit the requirements of the role but also find people where the role fits their requirements for the candidates next career opportunity.

Student Engagement + Customer Engagement = Inspiration

I have been travelling to India for the past 4 years now at the end of November/early December to visit our India Campus Team, meet with internal customers and go to the IIT’s for Oracle’s IIT hiring. This trip while I am only half way into my itinerary has been such a productive, humbling and inspirational trip for me.

I am so proud of our India Campus Team, I always wanted our team to be known for providing outstanding customer service and for leading the way in campus recruitment. There are always challenges in a large corporate environment but our team has so much positivity about them it is contagious and I see this in the conversations I have with our customers who believe in what we do and the direction we are going. From so many conversations with our team and with our customers I am very excited for the future of Oracle Campus Recruiting in India (stay tuned for more :) ).

 

Equally inspiring is getting the chance to talk to students and hear their stories and hear about their experiences here at Oracle. Earlier this week, I had the chance to meet about 50-60 of our graduates who started earlier in the year with us. In Asia-Pacific we hire a large volume of students. It was so great to be able to meet some of our recent graduate hires and hear from them the positive impact of getting the chance to work at Oracle has given the them. I also had the chance to meet a group of graduates who joined us earlier in the year, who give their time, effort and resources to help under privileged children locally in Bangalore. To see such generosity and maturity from students to give back to the community they way they do is really a humbling experience. We assisted and donated a number of Oracle backpacks that will be used and welcomed.

Our Campus Function in India has come a long way and I feel we have really matured our go to market strategy. After a few days with the team locally brainstorming we have further plans to make a bigger splash in the India Campus market next year and I am very confident we have the right people who can make this happen. Students, if you have any ideas, suggestions or comments please let me know how you would like to engage with Oracle – your inputs would be welcomed.

Any Team Members who come across this postread I just want to say – amazing job everyone, I am so lucky to have the chance to work with all of you, you all are campus rock stars!!!

Corporate Leaders…..For Every Best There Is a Worst

I have been in the corporate world as a Recruiter for over 15 years. During that time I have had the opportunity to work with a range of Business Managers and Leaders either as a direct report, an indirect report, as a consultant or in some other way, shape or form. Over that time I have had the opportunity to work with and observe Business Managers that I have really respected and learnt a lot from. Some managers have the right balance of demeanor and business capability that always seems to lift those around them. This type of Manager that I have seen is very motivated and driven to succeed but they drive success through their own actions and work well with others to get others to achieve the best they can.

They do not drive the success of the organisation at the expense of individuals. What I mean is that these Managers make time for each member of an organisation as a person and do not necessarily see others as a dollar sign or means to an end. They give the same amount of attention whether they are talking to a fresh graduate or a high level executive.  I think you would see a Manager like this trying to lift others up when they have fallen down and help people in the way they do their work. When you work with Managers like this they tend to have a calming effect on a team and they help people take a deep breath and refocus when the pressure is on to get through things whether it is quarterly results, difficult customers or incoming sales pipeline. It is easy for employees follow to these Leaders as people want to help make things work in this situation. It is easy to want to work with people who share the same values as you do.

Just as I have seen some great managers as mentioned above, I have also seen the flip side of the coin and seen some managers at their worst whether that is by trait or circumstances. Unfortunately there are some managers that rely on the old top down management approach that worked many years ago. I am certain we have seen or heard of managers with these traits. These are the folks who believe the louder they yell the better the results will be from others. It is like one of my kids when they have a temper tantrum and stamp their feet thinking this will create change. Whether this is a Manager you work directly with or a Manager in your organisation, it is hard to get behind this type of Leader. If employees provide results it is often as a result of fear which is not a sustainable long term way to manage your work force. With a rapidly changing workforce employees in today’s world not only want to work for great companies but they want to work with others (or to take a quote a word from Seth Godin – people want to be in tribes) who share their same beliefs and ideals. There is nothing wrong with being competitive in business it is what pushes us to develop ourselves out of our comfort zone but great leaders are able to demonstrate the same traits that they want to see no matter what level of person they are working with in an organisation.

Everybody makes mistakes or has moments where they do not act at their best that is part of being human. Moving forward managers and leaders need to understand that they are leading tribes who follow people based on their values. Leaders may find their tribe less responsive to them if they try to lead through fear rather than if they understand that everyone is dependent on each other to be truly successful.