The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” — Albert Einstein
In one of my previous corporate recruiting roles, I had the above quote from Albert Einstein pinned above my desk. For me, the quote signified two things in recruiting. One, I believed that it depicted the flawed mindset of many hiring managers and recruiters who had a key role to play in the recruitment process. Second, I saw it as a stark reminder that we absolutely cannot treat the recruiting function as static.
Sadly, the perception of the hiring manager community of an in — house recruiting function is that it should deliver the same over and over again with the same methodologies and techniques that were used previously. Recruiters then fall into this trap and then end up on the wrong side of this and are blamed for failures in the hiring process. What you then get is a perpetual cycle of finger-pointing, mud — slinging and blame. It doesn’t help either party and just creates stress and animosity. In my view, this arises because of the ineffective structure of the recruitment function and the relationship between the recruitment function and the hiring manager community that has developed over time. The recruitment function has allowed itself to become subservient and this has resulted in a master/servant relationship which in turn has created not recruitment but an administrative function — taking orders rather than spearheading the hiring efforts. At its best, a recruitment function should be the engine room for talent.
With the proliferation in the use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and machine learning in recruiting in the years ahead, companies with recruiting functions that find themselves stuck in this master/servant relationship run the risk of becoming defunct. Below are ten risks that are setting your recruitment function back:
Your recruitment function isn’t aligned with the line business (hiring managers). You are taking orders and instructions rather than providing consultative support to the business. You work reactively rather than proactively. There is no forecasting of talent requirements which means you can’t build talent pipelines and your recruitment team is always starting a search on the back foot. A modern recruitment function works collaboratively with the line business to forecast recruitment requirements so they can plan ahead of demand.
Your current recruiting team does not have the right skills to perform their tasks effectively. You aren’t investing in the right people. On a broader level, the structure of your recruitment department is inadequate to meet the needs of your internal stakeholders. The role of recruitment is changing so what you do internally must reflect that. The modern-day recruiter needs to be a trusted talent advisor to the business. If your recruitment team isn’t performing this role, then they’re just taking orders.
If your recruitment function is performing 70% of their recruitment tasks manually then they aren’t adding any real value to the business. Typical tasks include scheduling and rescheduling of interviews, sending interview reminders, booking interview rooms, capturing candidate documentation. A significant negative impact of having a manual system is that inevitably team members will suffer from burnout. Imagine running several recruitment campaigns concurrently, and then contacting all the shortlisted candidates for interview, booking rooms, etc. This is just unsustainable and is not the correct use of resources. I have personally been on the receiving end of this and can tell you that this is an extremely uncomfortable and stressful situation to be in. To be that trusted talent advisor, you need to automate the mundane tasks so your team can focus on delivering value.
Policies & Procedures
You need to be resolutely stubborn to enforce your recruitment policies and procedures to the letter. If you are constantly bowing to the pressures from hiring managers to bend the rules, you will never change the master/servant relationship. Your mantra, if you want to work collaboratively and effectively with the hiring manager community, should be, “our house, our rules.”
The above four are just baseline elements I believe that need to be addressed if you want to move away from a master/servant recruitment function to a collaborative and consultative one that delivers lasting value to the hiring manager community. The increasing uptake of artificial intelligence will put more pressure on recruitment functions to reform and restructure. Anything less than that will lead to a sure-fire path of extinction, and lead to the recruitment function being outsourced.
I’m a big believer in both vocal and visual affirmation. It’s a great way to quickly boost your mood and outlook because regardless of what type of work you do, there will always be something that stresses you out so take some time out of your day to reflect. If you can recall sometime in your life where you have been really successful and visualize that in your mind, that will really help you – trust me! For me personally, its sports. I was a keen rugby player during my school days so I am able to look back and visualize my good performances to help lift my mood. However, in the absence of visual affirmations, below are 8 statements (use whatever is relevant to you) you can use to elevate yourself.
“Nothing is that paramount.”
‘My scars show strength, not weakness.”
“I can stay positive when others are negative.”
“Going through pain will make me wiser.”
“Even when I am struggling I am moving forward.”
‘Fear changes nothing.”
“The best option is to keep on going.”
“Kick back, relax and stay focused.”
Image Credit: Bill Davenport
Besides being a passionate talent acquisition professional, I am also an avid movie fan. I’m in total admiration of the actors and actresses that portray the roles scripted for them and the directors that make the scripts come to life. Whenever I come across a movie that has relevance to me in my career, I’m always eager to see it at the first given opportunity. So, if like me you are interested in how movies deal with work related subject matter, you may want to check out the following titles.
The premise: The movie is focused on Mae’s character (Emma Watson) who successfully secures a dream job at a powerful tech company called the Circle. Things get off to a flying start in the beginning but she soon discovers that the company is up to no good and that its products may adversely impact humanity. She becomes the whistleblower and the chief architect of the company’s downfall.
Takeaway: I see this movie as a bit of an essay on the tech sector revealing the prevalence of bad practices including weak corporate governance and overbearing leadership. The company’s products clearly pose serious ethical concerns around privacy which kind of reminded me of the Facebook privacy issues and Uber during the Travis Kalanick years.
The premise: Ben Whittaker (played by Robert De Niro) is a recent retiree who quickly struggles to deal with life post retirement. He spots an opportunity to get back into work and applies successfully to become a senior intern at an online fashion company founded and run by Jules Ostin (played by Anne Hathaway).
Takeaway: What was really pleasing about this movie was that this was the first time a ‘talent acquisition team’ is featured in a movie setting. We actually see the candidate experience in flow. Indeed, Ben’s first interaction and interviews are with several members the TA team which suggests that the company in the movie probably has a robust interview and selection process. The movie also raised some important issues about work life balance. In the movie, Jules’s husband is a stay at home dad allowing Jules to pursue her career often to his frustration. The movie also reassuringly tackles the issue of ageism in the workplace. Instead of casting aside senior citizens, it proactively puts together a program of inclusivity to reintroduce senior citizens back into work and really utilize their experience. This probably suggests that the company in the movie values diversity and inclusion. In this movie, Ben helps Jules to reinvigorate both her and the company to overcome operational issues.
The premise: Dane Jensen (played by Gerard Butler) is a headhunter operating in the cut throat world of agency recruitment. His job is made even more challenging driven by his desire to outperform his peers, own the company whilst fulfilling the needs of his family – thus creating a clash of priorities.
Takeaway: Lays bare the inner workings of agency recruitment. It reveals the tactics – often underhand and unethical that recruiters use to win jobs and place candidates. A ‘win at any cost’ approach reveals an industry culture that is incompatible with work life balance. Agency recruitment isn’t for everyone. Struggling to juggle work and family life, Dane is fired from his job and then starts his own company working from home to take back control of his life.
The premise: Ryan Bingham (played by George Clooney) works for an HR consulting company that specializes in terminating employees on behalf of employers. This sees him travelling up and down the country and pleasingly collecting air miles in the process. He enjoys what he does but soon comes across issues that threaten his lifestyle by the emergence of a love interest, and a new hire which prompts him to reassess his life.
Takeaway: Firing people is unpleasant. Sadly, whenever a company goes through a rough patch, it’s human capital that has to pay the price through layoffs. This movie details that process and the issues that companies have to deal with in order to remain profitable. The movie also chronicles the life of an individual (Ryan Bingham) who seems content hopping from one city to another doing a very sensitive job. How happy would you be constantly travelling for your job?
The premise: Based on Chris Gardner’s true story (played by Will Smith). The movie depicts a struggling salesman taking custody of his son and the immense difficulties he faces in pursuing a professional career.
Career takeaway: A hugely inspiring and motivational movie that reveals in spectacular detail the struggles and stresses we face as human beings. An emotionally charged account of the worst that can happen to any capable person. Chris Gardner was a phenomenal hero of his own life facing one challenge and setback after another. In the end, he prevailed through his commitment and self- belief.
The premise: Billy (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Owen Wilson) are two salesmen who find themselves struggling in their careers because of the digital age. They somehow manage to get internships at Google where they compete against a talented bunch of youngsters to secure employment.
Takeaway: Whilst critics referred to this movie as being a Google documentary, it’s really about how one needs to adapt themselves in a changing labor market that is being disrupted by technology.
The premise: Jennifer Anniston plays a CEO of a family run company who threatens to shut down his brother Clay’s branch (played by T.J.Miller). In an attempt persuade her to change her mind, Clay throws a lavish Christmas party in order to land a big client to save the day, but things do not go as he intended.
Takeaway: Both funny and rude, this movie is about the challenges involved in running a family business. It also highlights the importance of company culture. In the movie we see the client rejecting Clay’s business proposal because he doesn’t like the culture of his company which led me to the conclusion that you could think that you are the best company in the world but if your culture isn’t good to those outside the company, you run the risk of damaging its reputation and profitability.
The premise: In Horrible Bosses 1 (2011), three friends concoct plans to murder their awful managers in order to secure their happiness. In Horrible Bosses 2 (2014), the three friends featured in the previous movie start their own business but get into problems when an investor cheats them prompting them to plot revenge against their tormentor.
Takeaway: You’ll really relate to this movie if you ever worked for a boss who was passive aggressive, a micro manager or just plain unpleasant to work for. It’s a light hearted look at how three individuals driven to despair by their managers are desperate to ensure their happiness.
The premise: Andy Campbell (played by Charlie Day) inadvertently causes the dismissal of another teacher Strickland (played by Ice Cube). This act leads to Strickland challenging Andy to an after school fight.
Takeaway: Shows the impact of weak leadership trickling all the way down to employees. You’ll end up with disharmony among your employees and a workforce that is isn’t engaged. In this particular story, the inability of leadership to manage an employee relations issue results in a fight between two teachers. Poor governance and a lack of concern for employee welfare are strong themes here.
The premise: Focuses on the life of Alexander (played by Ed Oxenbould) and his family. They each face back to back setbacks. He ends up thinking if he has somehow managed to curse the family.
Takeaway: Ben Cooper (played by Steve Carell) and Kelly Cooper (played by Jennifer Garner) are both working parents who face struggles in their professional lives. In the movie, Ben has the weirdest interview experience when he’s forced to take his toddler son with him to the interview, and Kelly who works for a publishing company, accidently changes the words in a children’s book which result in the book being full of rude words. Despite their individual misfortune, Ben actually ends up impressing in his interview and gets the job whilst Kelly’s mistake actually ends of benefitting her company. The movie is a reminder that we are all not perfect at end of the day and that sometimes it’s ok to have a bad day and you can’t do anything to change it.
So these are my favorite career related movies. If you get the chance, I encourage you to watch them as most of them are comedies so you’ll enjoy them. Happy viewing!
Image Credit: Manu Mohan
ONE): “Recently, I was asked if I was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. No, I replied, I just spent $600,000 training him. Why would I want somebody to hire his experience?”- Thomas John Watson Sr., Former chairman and CEO of IBM
TWO): “Acquiring the right talent is the most important key to growth. Hiring was – and still is – the most important thing we do.”- Marc Bennioff, Founder, Chairman and co-CEO of Salesforce
THREE): “The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.”- Steve Jobs, Chairman, Former CEO and co-founder of Apple
FOUR): “If you hire good people, give them good jobs, and pay them good wages, generally something good is going to happen.”- James Sinegal, Co-founder and former CEO of Costco Wholesale Corporation
FIVE): “The competition to hire the best will increase in the years ahead. Companies that give extra flexibility to their employees will have the edge in this area.”- Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft Corporation
SIX): “Nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day, you bet on people, not on strategies.”- Lawrence Bossidy, Former COO of General Electric
SEVEN): “You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. In that process you will figure out who you really are — and you just might become the very best version of yourself.” – Sheryl Sandberg
EIGHT): “Change equals self-improvement. Push yourself to places you haven’t been before.”– Pat Summitt
NINE): “Positive thinking can be contagious. Being surrounded by winners helps you develop into a winner.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
TEN): “We all have self-doubt. You don’t deny it, but you also don’t capitulate to it. You embrace it.” – Kobe Bryant
Image Credit: AlesiaKazantceva
The interview process is getting longer according to a survey by Glassdoor. With employers faced with increasing challenges of filling hard to fill positions, lack of highly skilled candidates and other competing organisations vying for that same quality talent pool, it is prudent to consider introducing alternatives ways of screening and interviewing candidates. Below are five methods that may have a role to play in the process:
Have them interviewed by the core team
Candidates going for interview at Google are screened by several people including the potential line manager, potential colleagues, a hiring committee and the CEO. However, before they even meet these folk, the candidates have to engage with the recruitment team that includes the recruiter, sourcer, coordinator and candidate host (meeter and greeter). One may argue that this will lead to an even lengthier process but there is merit in the method as meeting many individuals gives a more comprehensive view of a candidate’s suitability, and may result in a better quality of hire as well as improving the candidate experience.
Invite them to dinner
One major multinational I know off, invites candidates to dinner a day before their interview. The rationale behind this is that as individuals we are creatures of our own environments, and during work we have a tendency to behave in a certain (controlled) manner than we would if we were at home with family and/or friends. Taking an individual out of their comfort zone will allow you to better establish how they interact in a social setting, gauge their communication skills and style and how well they conduct themselves in general.
If a company has projects in multiple locations, take the candidate out of the office and get them to visit the site and site staff. This will give them a preview of what it is like to work on site and also show the candidate the ‘work in progress or finished product and/or project’. It will also show how they interact with staff and give them the opportunity to demonstrate their attitude to work.
Social Media Profile
Find out if your potential candidate is online (on LinkedIn, Twitter etc). Their online presence may highlight their writing skills (if they blog or post regular comments), the type of content they share could indicate that they are switched on and really informed about their industry as they keep up to date with the latest developments.
Find out about who they work with/were mentored by
Focusing on who the candidates reports into and/or who they were mentored by provides a good indicator of the calibre of candidate. If they work with people who have a good reputation in the industry, this will indicate that they are working with strong people and will have probably received good on the job training – a definite plus for the hiring company! It is also worth looking into who their mentors are and/or who were the people who influenced their careers when they started out. A solid mentor may indicate a high performance candidate! Looking into these details will allow one to get a better view of the candidate’s potential suitability
In summary, contemporary screening and interviewing practices need to adapt to the growing recruiting challenges facing companies. There is a clear need to speed up the process but also to simultaneously strengthen it. The objectively ultimately is to assess if the potential candidate can do they job, will they love the job and can the company actually work with the potential incumbent.
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