“The main benefit from working with Challenge Consulting is the guarantee of finding the best possible person for the position required.”

Wendy Tunbridge – Uniting
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For more information:
Stephen Crowe

Managing Director

Ph: 02 8042 8907

[email protected]

Recruitment

It’s 1998, I’ve graduated from university with an Honours degree and it’s time to step out into the real world to find my first real job. Now, fast forwarding 20 years to 2018, I take a look at how things have changed for jobseekers, to a process that is now barely recognisable.

 

Back in 1998, you would have to set time aside to look for your next role. Usually, after work one evening or at the weekend and the first step was to pick up the newspaper and trawl through the adverts. Quite often this was a once a week publication, if it was a local paper, or if it was a national print, certain days were popular for advertising the latest openings. And to make things worse, there were no classifications. All jobs, accounting, engineering, plumbing, IT, or whatever were all bundled together.

 

Secondly, most people only produced one version of their resume back then. What was better known as a Curriculum Vitae, or CV, it was mostly printed and sent in the mail or even handed over to reception for the attention of the “Personnel Officer”. CVs were often quite lengthy documents too, outlining every job you’d had since leaving school.

 

If you were selected for an interview back in the day, they were fairly straight forward. Often, you’d be invited in to answer a series of questions to an interview panel including the HR team, the hiring manager and somebody from the team. The questions would be fairly straight forward, with candidates needing to demonstrate they had the previous experience and qualifications to be able to do the job.

 

So, what do we do now?

 

Technology has changed every part of the process. And not just computers, but phones too. I last heard that something like 80% of jobseekers use the mobile apps to search for their next role. People are looking at opportunities at any time of day now, on the way to work, at lunch or when they’re heading home.

 

So that part is significantly easier. However, the actual application process is now much more detailed.

 

When applying for a role these days, it is often recommended that candidates tailor their resume to the requirements of the role, rather than keeping a generic resume for every job. You need to think about what skills and experiences you have, that can be specifically applied to the role you are applying for. Another reason for tailoring the document is that many firms are now using technology as the first part of the filtering process, so candidates need to ensure that their resumes contain key words that appear in the job advertisement.

 

When your resume gets in front of a human being though, it needs to be presented in a more professional style than in the past. It should highlight your achievements and demonstrate what you have done for your employer that was above and beyond what they expected from you when they offered you the job. I read recently that some recruiters take just six seconds to review a CV. I find this hard to believe myself, as I know that when I am reading resumes, it takes me longer than that to read your name, address and date of birth. I believe most recruiters take around 30 second to decide whether to call a candidate or not, so the presentation needs to grab the eye.

 

Once you are selected for an interview, the preparation process is far more detailed. With so much information online, candidates need to research the company’s website, read up on news releases, understand the industry and know who the competition are. You need to spend time looking at the backgrounds of the people that you’ll be meeting, by viewing their LinkedIn profiles. And once you have completed the face to face interviews, we are often faced with a range of testing. Many employers now use psychometric or personality assessments and many continue to test potential employees on the IT skills with online skills testing.

 

Recruitment

When applying for a new job via a recruitment consultancy, you will typically be invited in for an initial meeting to discuss the opportunity. You may view such meetings as an inconvenience and a procedural step towards securing your next role however we would strongly advise you not to view the meeting with complacency. The recruitment consultancy has been hired to put forward their best candidates for the job. If you fail to impress at initial interview this could very well affect your chances of securing a role, especially where the consultant represents a number of organisations in their industry of interest.

Read on for our advice on interviewing with recruitment consultants including what to expect from an interview, how to prepare for it and how to make the most of the relationship so that you are on track for securing a new role.

Time keeping

If you have an appointment lined up with a consultant, turn up 10-15 mins beforehand. If you are running late call ahead to explain. If you are early, find a coffee shop and take some time to relax before showing up for interview. You may think arriving 30-60 mins early for an interview shows you are eager however it can come across somewhat desperate and indicates poor judgement.

Dress appropriately

Treat the interview the same way you would an interview with a potential employer. Dress appropriately for the role you are applying for. Better to dress smart than underdress.

Treat everyone respectfully

It may sound harsh but you are being judged the minute you enter a recruiter’s office. Consultants will often enquire how a candidate has presented himself or herself to the receptionist or how they interacted with other candidates in the waiting area or prior to a group interview.

The recruitment consultant will want to know how you carry yourself in public and how strong your people skills are. So be polite, charming and smile!

Familiarise yourself with your CV

Your interview with a recruitment consultant is your opportunity to sell yourself and your experience. Know your CV inside out so that you can highlight your key skills by drawing on your relevant experience. Be open about any gaps in your CV or reasons for leaving previous roles.

Prepare yourself for interview style questions

The recruitment consultant will use your meeting to assess how you perform in a formal interview. Be prepared to answer some competency style questions i.e. Tell me about a time you had to deal with a complex problem or Give an example of a time you dealt with a difficult customer. Be confident and engaging in your answers. Also, don’t forget to take the opportunity to ask the recruiter any questions you may have. The meeting should be a two-way discussion!

Be aware of the roles you applied for previously

It’s advisable to be aware of the organisations you have applied to previously. This can be challenging when you have applied for a number of positions however, by making the consultant aware of the roles you have already applied for, they will gain a greater understanding of the roles you are interested in. In addition, they will avoid duplicating your application to an organisation that has already received your CV.

Take on board feedback & advice

Be open minded to feedback on your CV, appearance and interview technique. Recruitment consultants are there to help put you in the best possible position for securing a new role so it’s best to take onboard any feedback they give you. Good recruitment consultants will have a wealth of knowledge about the employment market, industry developments and their clients – all useful information to consider in your job search.

Keep in touch

Be pro-active and keep in contact with your recruitment consultant following your interview. It’s important to maintain a relationship with your consultant so that you are at the forefront of their mind when new positions become available. Don’t be afraid to follow up by email or telephone every week to check if new roles are available. If you were expecting to hear feedback regarding a particular role, follow up to check if there have been any developments.

We hope you found these hints and tips useful. Keep them in mind the next time you have a meeting lined up with a recruitment consultant.

Recruitment

Linkedin currently has over 500 million users in 200 countries and territories and has plans to expand its user base to 3 billion in the not so distant future. It seems that Linkedin is not going away any time soon, with the platform increasingly playing a role in the search for talented candidates.

Faced with 500 million other Linkedin user profiles it can be overwhelming to think of ways to make your profile stand out in such a huge crowd. To give you a helping hand we have pulled together some top tips for ensuring your Linkedin profile has maximum impact on the right people!

Choosing the right profile picture

Make sure you have a profile photo! According to Linkedin, profiles with photos get 21 times more profile views than those without. We would advise you to keep it simple – use a plain background to avoid distraction and ensure you are presented professionally. Make eye contact with the camera and smile! Avoid selfies or using photos with family or friends be it on holidays or on a night on the town. Whilst you might think these photos indicate how sociable and well-travelled you are, they can also serve to create a negative impression and distract from the professional image you are trying to present. You may also want to consider paying for a professional head shot to avoid the pit falls above!

Sell yourself in a brief profile

This is your chance to really sell yourself and let potential recruiters and employers out there understand who you are, what you do and where your interests lie. Very often we come across profiles containing a large number of ‘Featured Skills’. Whilst we would encourage you to complete this section to ensure your profile features in any search results for that skill, where we have 100’s of candidates with a similar background and skill set it can become very difficult to distinguish between them. This is where your personal profile comes in to play! Providing a summary allows you to put your skills in to context by giving some brief information on your background and experience to date. If you are open to new roles or changing career paths, this section also offers you the opportunity to clarify the type of roles you would be interested in hearing about. Make it as easy for the recruiters and employers out there to understand where you are coming from and where you want to be!

Encourage head hunting by making your profile public

We live in an age where we are increasingly wary of the risks of putting our personal details online. However, if you want to attract the attention of employers and recruiters out there it really is essential they be able to view your profile. You don’t need to include personal details like addresses or phone numbers but by making your profile public, employers and recruiters have the option to decide if you’re a good fit for any potential roles and approach you via InMail. If for whatever reason you are reluctant to mention in your summary profile that you are looking for new roles, you could make use of Linkedin’s relatively new functionality which allows you designate yourself as ‘Open to new opportunities’. This functionality is only available for premium users of Linkedin such as subscribers of Linkedin Recruiter which is typically used by recruiters and human resource professionals and is therefore unlikely to be visible to your current employer or Linkedin connections.

Personalise your profile

Create a multi-dimensional profile by including information which sets you apart and makes your profile memorable. Make sure to include any voluntary experience you have completed, memberships of organisations or committees as well as any major personal accomplishments. Endorsements and recommendations from previous employers will also help your profile stand out from others. Connect with Linkedin groups of interest to you which will not only expand your network but also give potential employers and recruiters an idea of your outside interests.

Linkedin has become something of a game changer in recruitment. It is a platform that is being utilised like never before by recruiters and employers alike who are using it frequently to source talent particularly in areas where there is a skills shortage. If your Linkedin profile is not up to scratch it may be overlooked! Give yourself the best chance of obtaining a new role by following our top tips to reinvigorate your profile!

For information on Linkedin Statistics see: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/linkedin-numbers-2017-statistics-meenakshi-chaudhary and https://press.linkedin.com/about-linkedin?#

Recruitment

We all like to think that we are open-minded, objective and non-discriminatory. However, the truth is that every day we are fighting our natural tendencies to be just the opposite. Unconscious bias underlines so many of our decisions and nowhere is this more prevalent than within the context of recruitment. Research has shown us time and time again that diversity is good for business , with diverse organisations consistently outperforming their competitors. But how do we create diverse organisatons when our natural tendency is to maintain the status quo and base our hiring decisions on deep seated prejudices and stereotypes?

What is Unconscious Bias?

The first step to tackling unconscious bias is understanding it and its various guises. Essentially unconscious bias occurs when our brains make sweeping judgements or assessments about a person or situation without us realising. These judgments are heavily influenced by our background, experiences, culture and education. In an effort to raise self-awareness, we have outlined some of the most common forms of unconscious bias below.

Key Forms

 

Conformity Bias –This is the view that as individuals we have a tendency to be influenced by the values or behaviours of others rather than exercising our own independent judgement.  For instance, we may be swayed by the strong opinions of more dominant characters on a hiring panel and fail to voice our true thoughts and opinions on a candidate. In these instances, good candidates may be overlooked if for instance one interviewer takes a dislike to a candidate.

Affinity Bias – Arguably one of the most common forms of bias within recruitment, affinity bias essentially stems from our comfort with the familiar. Research suggests that we have a natural tendency to favour those that we share some commonality with. Perhaps we attended the same university or we share a common hobby or personality trait. We are naturally drawn to what we know and by implication can end up in a position where we are hiring candidates in our own image something which has a huge impact for organisations seeking to establish a diverse workforce.

Beauty Bias – Whilst the majority of us would deny that we makes judgements on a person’s looks, research would suggest that we are pre-disposed to unconsciously favour candidates we find aesthetically pleasing. Whilst this can be based purely on our perceptions of attractiveness, more often it stems from our unconscious need to select a candidate who meets our pre-conceived idea of what someone in a particular role ought to look like. Research has identified that we naturally favour height in applicants for leadership roles. We may consider a beautiful woman to be a bad fit for a truck driving job but a good fit for a front of house position.

Halo Bias – Coined originally by the psychologist Edward Thorndike in the 1920’s, the Halo effect was initially used to describe the outcome of a social experiment whereby commanding army officers were asked to rate junior soldiers in terms of their intelligence, leadership, character and physique. Thorndike observed that in instances where one positive dominant characteristic was identified that this tended to shape the commanding officer’s views of the individual as a whole. The implications of this phenomenon for recruitment are significant. Upon reviewing a CV or interviewing a candidate for the first time, a potential employer may quickly hone in on one particular positive attribute, experience or skill and unconsciously make sweeping conclusions about that candidate’s ability or character. It seems that first impressions really do count and can work to our advantage where we make a good first impression.

Horns Bias – The Horns effect is essentially the opposite of the Halo effect whereby we unconsciously let negative first impressions cloud our overall view of a person. For instance, where a candidate is late for an interview this may be viewed negatively by an employer who may make a snap decision that the candidate is arrogant and has poor time management. Once this negative impression is created it is very difficult to reverse this mindset even where a candidate performs excellently at interview and displays other admirable qualities.

Contrast Bias – This form of unconscious bias is extremely common within a recruitment context. For instance, where an employer is reviewing a large number of CV’s, they are more likely to compare a candidate’s CV with one they looked at just before rather than reviewing it in isolation and on its merits. The same can be said in an interview context, where an employer is likely to directly compare a candidate they are interviewing with a candidate they interviewed just before. In these instances, quality candidates may be unfairly overlooked by employers who compare them to a previous candidate instead of judging them against the requirements specified within the job description.

Confirmation Bias – This form of bias involves favouring information that affirms our existing judgements and beliefs and overlooks information which would serve to contradict these. For example, where an interview panel are interviewing a candidate who has been recommended by a senior person within the business, they may already hold this candidate in high regard and unconsciously seek out information to support this preconception. At the same time, they may ignore any unfavourable qualities if this information does not uphold their existing pre-conceived notions.

Attribution Bias – Attribution is essentially the way in which we rationalise the causes of events or behaviours. We make self-serving internal attributions when we attribute excellent test results on our hard work and abilities, however where we have performed badly, we are more likely to blame this on outside factors such as the test having not been explained to us properly. When it comes to our judgements of others, this notion is flipped on its head. Research would suggest our tendencies are the reverse when judging others. For instance, in an interview we may attribute an individual’s successes to be the result of nepotism or luck and their failures to be the result of a poor work ethic or incompetence.

Now that you have an understanding of the various forms of unconscious bias we would suggest you read our curated article “7 Practical Ways to Reduce Bias in your Hiring Process”. This article offers practical guidance on mitigating unconscious bias within the recruitment process and may help you avoid the pitfalls commonly associated with this issue.

Recruitment

Work life balance is now a double threat – it needs to be demonstrated to attract staff and delivered to keep them

A new report from best practice insight and technology company CEB has exposed another consequence of poor work life balance, – staff attrition.  Since the 2011 edition of CEB’s Global Talent Monitor work life balance has been the number one driver of attraction for employees. The latest edition (recently published) shows it is now also a key driver of attrition, i.e. employees will choose to leave an organisation that does not meet their work life balance needs.

There are an ever-increasing range of factors that are negatively affecting work life balance for employees, especially those in large cities like Sydney. They include commuting time, housing costs and child care costs to name a few.  Technology is a double-edged sword, on the one hand it is hugely invasive seeping work into every hour of every day through smart phones etc, but the other edge is that technology can also give us the flexibility to work productively from home.  I know people who used to be tied to their desks until late at night who now go home, have dinner, put their kids to bed and then log on and get their work done.

So, who is responsible for an employee’s work life balance?  What role does the employer play in the equation?  Well an old-fashioned employer might be recalcitrant, look to the past and not be willing to change.  But in a world where skills are scarce that is not a sustainable position.

I think the role of the employer is to create an environment that enables employees to be the best they can be.  That might mean providing training and tools to enable them to do their job effectively.  It might also mean providing the infrastructure to allow them to work effectively away from ‘their desk’ when it is applicable.

But the individual has a responsibility as well. They must work at being effective, to use their time productively, to make smart decisions about their priorities, so that they meet their obligations to work, family and friends.

The fact is that competition in business has never been fiercer and it is unlikely to ease up.  To be able to compete businesses need engaged productive employees.  To be engaged and productive employees need to be able to deliver on the demands of family and community as well as those from work.

It isn’t simple and we won’t get it right all the time.

Recruitment

Most organisations have a solid understanding of the skills a good employee needs to be successful.  But how many companies really understand the attitudes that are important for success in their organisation?  How many hiring managers or recruiters know how to determine whether a candidate’s true attitudes reflect those required to succeed in your business?

Mark Murphy, in his book “Hiring for Attitude” describes an approach to discovering the attitudes that matter in your organisation and the methods needed to uncover whether a candidate has those attitudes or not.  And the good news is that it can be replicated by all organisations, large and small.

Below is a brief summary of Murphy’s method.

 1    Define the attitudes that make a difference in your organisation

The temptation is to write down a long list of traits we want to see in all employees, including for example honesty, reliability integrity etc.  The problem though is that these traits often exist in both successful and unsuccessful employees (there are plenty of honest reliable but unsuccessful employees out there).  They do not help us separate those people that have the best chance of success in your organisation from the others.  We need to find two distinct groups of attitudes, those that only exist in the successful people in your company and those that only appear in the unsuccessful people in your company (the differential characteristics).

Murphy suggests uncovering these attitudes by questioning the people in your organisation who will have witnessed them.  But the trick is to get very specific examples of and descriptions of the behaviours.  But don’t get fooled by “fuzzy language”.  Descriptions like ‘maintains the highest level of professionalism’ or ‘leads by example’ are open for interpretation.  What you understand as professionalism can be quite different from my definition.  Murphy’s test is to ask yourself ‘could two strangers have observed those behaviours’?

The output of this phase is a table with two columns, one listing the positive differentiating attitudes (those that exist in successful employees), the other listing the corresponding negative differentiating attitudes (those that exist in employees that do not succeed).

2    Create Interview Questions that highlight the difference

Creating these questions is a four-step process:

Step 1 – Select one of the Characteristics from your table

Step 2 – Identify a differential situation to highlight characteristic

Step 3 – Begin the question by asking “could you tell me about a time you …” and insert the differential situation you have identified

Step 4 – Leave the question hanging

Seems simple enough.  But simple doesn’t mean easy, finding the right situation takes some effort and usually need you to look back at the examples you were given when you were surveying your colleagues.

And what does step 4 mean? Murphy explains that too often good behavioural questions are spoiled by leading the candidate to the solution, e.g. “Tell me about a time when you had to adapt to a difficult situation. What did you do?”  Well you have just said that they should adapt to it.  Leave the question hanging means not leading them to the answer.

3    Creating answer guidelines

Why do we need answer guidelines?  For two main reasons, to ensure we have a consistent understanding across the organisation and to give interviewers cues to listen for in the interview.

To get the full picture on hiring for attitude please consult Mark Murphy’s 2012 book; Hiring for attitude; a revolutionary approach to recruiting star performers with both tremendous skills and superb attitude.

Recruitment

Truth or fiction? When you are looking to fill a position you should look for a passive candidate – somebody who is not looking for a new opportunity – because they will be better at their job. Or you should always fill the position with a person who is actively looking for a job because they will be more motivated, ambitious and ready to make a move.

Many hiring managers and recruiters have passionately held opinions about whether active or passive candidates are best, so we thought we would look at the arguments. Is one ‘better’ than the other? As with most endeavours that combine art and science, as recruiting does, the conclusion seems to be ‘it depends’.

Here are the rather simplistic arguments made for preferring either active or passive candidates. You can probably come up with a counter-argument for each of them. For a start, active candidate does not mean unemployed candidate; passive candidates are not all uninterested in pursuing an opportunity if the circumstances are right.

They say you should employ an active candidate because…

Recruiting them is easier. They are easy to find and ready to start when you need them. Easier and available also means less expensive.

People who actively look at job opportunities are younger and better educated. Research for Indeed by Harris Polling in the US in 2015 showed that those who ever looked at job opportunities were mostly between 18 and 44, and graduates.

They are actively looking for a challenge. They are more likely to want to move on because they want to learn, work in a larger organisation or earn more, and an ambitious candidate is more likely to succeed.

They say you should employ a passive candidate because…

You won’t have to compete with other employers to get them to work for you. You know that they are not sending out resumes and attending interviews, so negotiating with them will be straightforward. Most likely, you will not have to compete with other offers.

They won’t inflate their skills or qualifications in their resume. There is no need for them to exaggerate their accomplishments or overstate their education and training, as they are not putting themselves out there.

They will be loyal and stable employees. If they are not looking, they are engaged and happy in their job, making it more likely that they are a good team player and an all-round great employee.

SEPARATING FACT FROM FICTION

None of these arguments stand up under any real inspection. An active candidate might be leaving due to a poor performance review. They might be job-hopping and take any opportunity until the right one comes along, leaving you to repeat the recruitment process not too far down the line. A passive candidate may be a great fit with their current organisation, but a lousy fit with yours, or be hard to convince to consider your organisation, take up days of your time, and then ultimately say no – proving to be no less of a gamble than an active candidate.

Other models have come up with the idea that there are four categories of active/passive candidates, or a continuum. LinkedIn reports that its 2014 research found that 75% of full time workers internationally consider themselves passive candidates, and about 15% aren’t actually applying for jobs but are preparing to move.

WHY IT MATTERS

To find, recruit and hire the best candidate for a particular role is ultimately what is important. Understanding that active and passive candidates are different, motivated and attracted in different ways, means that a single recruitment strategy is unlikely to work for all potential employees out there, ranging from 100% active to 100% passive. Active candidates can be reached through job boards, advertising and a good website; to an extent, they will come looking for you. Passive candidates are harder to reach, and you must go out and find them, wherever it may be, from social media to networking events and referrals.

In the end, these sure-fire ways to attract both active and passive candidates should be the bedrock of your recruitment strategy:

  • Promote your organisation as a great place to work (and making sure it is one).
  • Run an employee referral program, particularly to connect with passive candidates.
  • Offer video interviews (e.g. Skype), after-hours interview times and flexible, discreet arrangements for discussing the position.
  • Use an executive search practitioner to be on the lookout for senior staff.
  • Create a fast and agile recruiting processes so that good candidates don’t withdraw in frustration.
  • Work with a recruiter who will maximise your sourcing capability and ensure the process keeps moving.

Recruitment

With competition for workers in many sectors fierce and the costs of recruiting and replacing good employees growing, it makes sense for organisations to put more effort into retention. Engagement and retention are one of the top concerns for 78% of today’s business leaders, according to Deloitte. Employee engagement solutions company TINYpulse researched what really drives attrition, and recently published their Employee Retention Report.

The report surveyed 400 full-time employees in the US over two weeks in July 2015 and analysed the data. This is what the top performing organisations do to retain the best employees.

  1. They choose supervisors that respect employees’ work and ideas

When employees feel managers respect their work and ideas they are 32% less likely to think about looking for a new job – strong support for the adage that employees don’t quit their job; they quit their boss. Additionally, employees reported that they would be 13% more likely to stay if they were satisfied with the organisation’s senior management team.

TINYpulse reports that micromanagement has a big impact on team satisfaction. Those with freedom to choose how they do their jobs are satisfied and more likely to stay. But those who feel micromanaged will most likely be thinking about leaving – 28% more likely. That’s a lot of disengagement.

The next biggest factor in the manager relationship is transparency – there is a very high link between setting clear goals for the team and communicating them clearly and retention – 30%, in fact. Showing respect and appreciation has measurable results when it comes to keeping great employees.

  1. They hire candidates who show positivity, innovation and productivity

‘Colleagues have a lot of power’, says TINYpulse. High levels of peer respect mean higher levels of retention, so paying attention to the hiring process is critical and hiring people who are great to work with and are a good fit is as important as their skills when deciding whether to make the offer. Those who did not feel respected by their peers were 10% less likely to see a long-term future with the organisation.

  1. They pay serious attention to workplace culture and hire for cultural fit

TINYpulse’s research showed that workplace culture is not a fluffy issue. Where employees rated the culture of their workplace low, there were 15% more likely to think about leaving. Both the type of culture and how the individual fitted into it mattered, and having a bit of fun on the job, such as at office drinks, sporting events or team volunteering, makes a big difference, as does assigning new employees a mentor or peer buddy who is an ambassador for the workplace culture.

  1. They encourage employees to take their paid time off and don’t overload them with work

This one was huge – ‘Employees that are tired and burnt out are 31% more likely to think about looking for a new job than their colleagues who feel comfortable with their workload’. The survey points out that burnout is preventable if managers understand its downsides, measure it and take efforts to eliminate it, such as by taking their own paid leave.

  1. They offer professional growth opportunities to everybody, not just young employees

Those with access to professional development and skills training, either externally or internally, were 10% more likely to stay with their employer. Millennials were almost unanimous that they would consider changing employers if they did not see opportunities for professional growth with their current employer – a whopping 75% of them. The report points out, though, that the desire for opportunities for growth now applies across workforce generations.

Asking employees where they see themselves in six months’ time, next year, in two years’ time, is not just a good conversation starter; it’s an essential part of a retention strategy. Listen carefully to the answer – and do something about it. If you won’t, a competitor will. Our blog will offer some great ideas about in-house and external skills and development training in the near future.

No initiative – especially one to improve your retention – should begin without a measurement to see how your team feels about the issues, the TINYpulse research report points out. You need to know where you are now, to pinpoint the most troublesome areas that need your attention, and to know how you will measure your success.


Challenge Consulting’s Employee Retention Optimiser has been developed to identify key retention issues and priorities for your organisation; guide improvement strategies at all levels and help you to implement them; and track and monitor improvements. Find out more at Challenge People Services

 

 

 

Recruitment

We’re hearing more and more instances of candidates being offered more money or a better position when they tell their employer they have been offered a role with another organisation. Handling the counter offer is something hiring managers increasingly need to do.

It’s hard. You thought you had the person all set up to join your team. The contract was ready for their signature, but you get the call to say their manager had offered them a raise and/or a promotion to entice them to stay.

But you can make it less likely that the candidate will accept a counter offer. Here are some ways to deal with the situation.

The candidate’s present organisation will be enticing your would-be employee to stay with the promise of more money, a fancier title, or involvement in an interesting project. But that’s not all they will be weighing up; it’s also the security of staying in a familiar environment with familiar people, doing  job they have mastered. They may even feel guilty or disloyal for thinking of leaving. It’s human nature to feel this way.

You need to convince your would-be employee that moving is the right decision for them. These facts might help you persuade them to accept your offer.

  • Once they have you have signalled their intention to leave, their loyalty will always be questioned, and future promotion may be jeopardised.
  • Because most people who accept a counter offer leave within a year or less anyway, their manager is likely to be on the lookout for a replacement whether they stay or not.
  • It is easier for the manager to entice the candidate to stay than to hire a new person, particularly in the middle of a project or when there are other vacancies in the team. When the crisis is over, the incentive to keep them on is gone.
  • If the underlying reasons for their resignation have not been addressed, or if the changes have not been enough, they are likely to feel the need to leave in the not too distant future.

Stephen Crowe,  Managing Director of Challenge Consulting,  advises that during the recruitment process, you should try to find out precisely why the candidate is leaving their current job. ‘Discuss the possibility of a counter offer of more money with the candidate and reinforce that a counter offer won’t fix the underlying issues for them leaving,’ he says. If they are prepared for the possibility that there will be an attempt to ‘buy them back’ when they hand in their resignation, they are less likely to accept without thinking it through.

It also helps to make your first offer to the candidate your best offer, in terms of remuneration, opportunities, benefits and working conditions.  If there are non-monetary benefits from working with you, such as childcare facilities, a great location, the opportunity to work from home or an in-office barista, don’t forget to reinforce them to your candidates.

If you sense their only motivation is financial, or that they are using the threat of a new position to leverage a pay increase, you will be wise to weed them out in the early stages of the hiring process with a great structured interview process and psychometric testing. Keep the focus on what the candidate is looking forward to in the new role, and talk about it often. ‘You may even mention those things in the offer letter to the candidate,’ suggests Crowe.

Finally, it is worth remembering that if a candidate accepts a counter offer they have broken their commitment to the new employer who made the job offer. That is not only unprofessional, it is ethically questionable, and burns bridges. Their current company will question their loyalty, and they are likely to be first in line when staff is cut. The prospective company is unlikely to consider them again. Word gets around the industry.

Prepare the candidate for the counter offer by coaching them to say, ‘I’m flattered, but I’ve made my decision. At this point, this is the right decision for me. I’m happy to make the transition as smooth as possible for you, and let’s stay in touch.’

Recruitment

If part of your strategy in making the new hire is to change corporate culture, grab the opportunity – and do it right. The first 90 days – that critical period for onboarding a new hire – are crucial in allowing the positive traits of the new employee to take hold in the organisation.

Stephen Crowe, Managing Director of Challenge Consulting, explains: ‘When a new person joins a team, other team member’s senses are in a heightened state. People are more tuned in to changes. This sensitivity wears off over time, and as it does, so does the opportunity to effect change.’

 Two decisions have a large bearing on how successful you will be.

  1. Choose the right mentor for your new hire

The right mentor must have more than just a good understanding of the job requirements. Pick somebody who embodies the culture you want to instil. ‘This person will have a large initial influence not just by what they say and do, and what they choose to focus on with the new employee, but also by how they conduct themselves while they do it’, explains Crowe. ‘Their vocabulary, their body language, the respect or otherwise they show for others and the emphasis they put on different aspects of the role will strongly affect the new employees’ understanding of acceptable behaviour.’

This applies not only while the mentor is working with the new hire. ‘They will be strongly affected by how their mentor deals with co-workers, clients and others in day-to-day situations.  The new employee will be watching – often unconsciously – how their mentor behaves with others when they are not with the new employee’, says Crowe.

I was told about a friend’s first day at what turned out to be a nightmare workplace. She was being shown around on her first day by her new manager, who talked up the friendly workplace culture with its breakout areas full of beanbags, Friday drinks and casual dress code. She was therefore taken aback when the manager snapped at a co-worker about preparing for a presentation and cut him off mid-sentence when he tried to respond. The manager’s body language, arrogant behaviour and disrespect was totally at odds with her words. It soon became clear this was not a friendly, laid back place to work, and she left after three weeks.

  1. Allow the positive traits of the new hire to take hold

‘Pinpoint which desirable new practices, suggestions and behaviours the new employee brings’, says Crowe. ‘Allowing their traits to take hold in the organisation is an opportunity to shift the culture, and has the highest chance of success during the first ninety days of the person’s employment.’

The change in direction is not achieved by pushing those traits on the others in the team. ‘That will more likely result in resentment, explains Crowe.  ‘It is done by not standing in the way when the person presents something new, or suggests doing something in a new way, or displays behaviour that is different but is in line with the culture you are trying to build.  By allowing the behaviour but not imposing it on others, the organisation gives the signal that this is acceptable. By not forcing it, you are allowing a subtle change of direction’, he says.

Crowe stresses that using the onboarding process as an opportunity to change workplace culture is a subtle process that comes about by a nuanced mixture of reinforcing the desirable aspects of company culture with the new hire and allowing their new, positive traits to hold sway. ‘It’s not  a game for the heavy handed, as any company culture is a complex and nuanced mixture of practices, beliefs and emotions’, he says.

Have you had any experience – good or bad – of a new hire influencing company culture in their first 90 days? We welcome your comments.