Experiencing a career crisis? – 11 Questions to get you back on track

Career stagnation is one of the most frustrating experiences anybody can go through. Some people have continuous career success; some experience lulls and some end up in a downward spiral and struggle to pick themselves up.

To get around this, you need to peel back the layers to understand what is behind the crisis, and that involves a proper understanding of what inspires and motivates you. Here are eleven thought-provoking questions you need to ask yourself to help you put an action plan together to get you back on track.

1.      Am I using my time, background and experience effectively?

2.      What things can I control in my career?

3.      What is achievable?

4.      How do I come across to others?

5.      What are my weaknesses?

6.      What’s great about my career so far?

7.      What are my core values?

8.      Am I aligned with my values?

9.      What does success look like to me?

10.  Where do I want to be in my career five years from now?

11.  How can I move forward and facilitate the achievement of my goals?

In the words of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, “success at anything will always come down to this: focus and effort and we control both.” Regardless of where you are in your career, your attitude will play a crucial part in determining your career trajectory.

Photo by Prateek Katyal from Pexels

Is your recruiting function nearing extinction?

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:

Forecasting

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.

Skill sets

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.

Time-consuming tasks

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.

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8 Positive Affirmations You Need to Motivate and Energize Yourself

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 successful and visualize that in your mind, that will really help you – trust me! For me, its sports. I was a keen rugby player during my school days so I can look back and visualize my good performances to help lift my mood. However, in the absence of visual affirmations, below are eight 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

11 Career Related Movies You Need to Watch Today

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 the work-related subject matter, you may want to check out the following titles.

The Circle (2017)

The premise: The movie features Mae’s character (Emma Watson) who successfully secures a dream job at a technology 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 corrupt practices, including weak corporate governance and overbearing leadership. The company’s products pose serious ethical concerns around privacy which kind of reminded me of the Facebook privacy issues and Uber during the Travis Kalanick years.

The Intern (2015)

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 pleasing about this movie was that this was the first time a ‘talent acquisition team’ is featured in a movie set. We see the candidate experience inflow. Indeed, Ben’s first interaction and interviews are with several members of the TA team, which suggests that the company in the movie probably has a robust interview and selection process. The film also raised some critical issues about work-life balance. In the film, 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 utilize their experience. 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.

A Family Man (2016)

The premise: Dane Jensen (played by Gerard Butler) is a headhunter operating in the cut-throat world of agency recruitment. His job is, even more, challenging driven by his desire to outperform his peers, own the company while 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 shows 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.

Up In The Air (2009)

The premise: Ryan Bingham (played by George Clooney) works for an HR consulting company that specializes in terminating employees on behalf of employers. He travels 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 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 compassionate job. How happy would you be always travelling for your career?

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

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.

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 Internship (2013)

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: while critics referred to this movie as being a Google documentary, it’s really about how one needs to adapt themselves in a changing labour market that is being disrupted by technology.

Office Christmas Party (2016)

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 to persuade her to change her mind, Clay throws a lavish Christmas party 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 film, we see the client rejecting Clay’s business proposal because he doesn’t like the culture of his company. The conclusion from this is that you think you are the best company in the world, but if your culture isn’t right to those outside the company, you run the risk of damaging its reputation and profitability.

Horrible Bosses 1 (2011)/Horrible Bosses 2 (2014)

The premise: In Horrible Bosses 1 (2011), three friends concoct plans to murder their awful managers 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 relate to this movie if you ever worked for a passive-aggressive boss, a micromanager 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.

Fist Fight (2017)

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 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.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014)

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 has no childcare; he has to take his toddler son with him to the interview. His wife Kelly, who works for a publishing company unintentionally 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 the 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 favourite 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

Assessing candidate fit – 5 alternatives for assessing a candidate’s suitability

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.

Site visit

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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Candidate Experience – The Final Frontier of Effective Recruiting!

The increasing automated nature of corporate recruiting should improve the candidate experience. Still, as numerous commentators in the human resources space have noted, the process is not great and more work needs is required to make it better. There are many key players in the entire process, but most importantly, it is the hiring managers that drive everything as they ultimately make the hire. The essence of this fractured relationship between corporate recruiting and candidate experience is candidly summarised by a post by editor and consultant Deborah Branscum who remarks that “if hiring managers were doctors, half of the new patients would be dead in 18 months.” This is a stark assessment considering we are in a fiercely competitive labour market with companies fishing in the same talent pool as every other competitor. Here are some (not all) of the common ills of the candidate experience:

  • Despite ATS’s, candidates are still falling through cracks, and it is taking longer to fill positions
  • Despite the commonly held belief that candidates are flexible on location, they want to work somewhere that is within commuting distance of the office
  • Assumptions are made regarding candidates salary expectations
  • Candidates are passed between pillar and post by different hiring managers – and that is just at the CV review stage!
  • Candidates are not correctly updated on their candidacy
  • Candidates aren’t interviewed promptly
  • Candidates don’t get the feedback they are looking for – responses are not constructive but general
  • Candidate experience doesn’t rank highly on a hiring managers list and is increasingly misunderstood altogether
  • The onboarding experience is falling by the wayside with an increasing number of candidates rejecting offers after they have accepted
  • The automated nature of recruiting results mostly in communication with the candidate via email
  • The employer brand is suffering

The reality is that as technology and trends have changed over time, behaviours have not. Recruiting is evolving, so should action and with that policies and procedures to reflect the changing nature of the labour market. To get it right, companies need to develop a service orientated mindset rather than being transactional. Hiring Managers and other key players need to become brand ambassadors for their company and become invested in improving candidate experience as they are invested in their day jobs.

Be the Hiring Manager that sets an example

The role of the Hiring Manager is central to getting the entire process to work correctly, so the following improvements should be put in place for Hiring Managers:

Holiday handover – When going on holiday, put a handover plan together updating the rest of the team on candidates, delegating responsibility for interviews and offer approvals. Don’t put things on hold when you go on holiday. Recruiting is essential business!

Don’t set false expectations – If a candidate is interviewed and you promised to get back to them with feedback within two weeks, do get back to them and don’t forget about them! Treat others as you would like to be treated. Failure to do so is a recipe for disaster, and you run the risk of bringing the employer brand into disrepute.

Interview feedback – When you do get back to the candidate with feedback, be constructive rather than general – give them the good, the bad and the ugly. Whether candidates are successful or not, candidates will value your insight as it might help them improve their interview performance next time they go for an interview, or might even help them address a weakness that was not apparent to them before. If they are the excellent candidate for future roles, welcome them to reapply, and keep in touch with them.

Work in partnership – Keep your recruitment department fully updated on candidates in the interview process, work with them on resourcing needs, and be fully aligned with them so they can go to the market to deliver the key marketing message(s) of why candidates should join your team.

Interview team – Have an interview tag team in place that can pick up the baton from you if you are going to be out of the office or tied up on a project. Delegate responsibility to them to continue the interview process in your absence, and have pre-agreed interview dates in the diary so that candidates are interviewed without delay.

Get everybody on the same page – Make sure resourcing needs are filtered down to all levels. Avoid scenarios where conflicts between workload and resourcing needs occur. If you have a hire to make, ask yourself – is there physical desk space available for them, which office will they be based in, what work will they be doing, do you need to hire in the first place? Addressing these questions will eliminate inefficiency and help to increase the speed of hire.

Time management – As Hiring Managers, you do have a day job. Still, you also have the responsibility to grow the team and contribute towards profitability so set aside ample time for reviewing candidate applications, providing feedback to the candidate, conducting interviews etc.

Improved processes and procedures

A periodic review of the effectiveness of current recruiting processes and procedures will help highlight any deficiencies but to create a recruiting model fit for purpose, and the following elements should be considered:

Return to traditional communication – To counter the behaviours triggered by ATS’s, less email more phone should be the order of the day. A personal touch goes a long way to improving the candidate experience.

Be social – An increasing number of candidates are on social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook. Hence, a dedicated social media strategy is a must for companies if they want to engage with the talent pool properly and effectively deliver the EVP. The employer brand will be rendered irrelevant if there is a lack of social media presence.

Careers site – Have a dedicated career site candidates can visit to obtain information on the interview process – i.e. what is involved and how long it takes, the work the company does, interactive employee testimonials, FAQs. A careers site will also play an essential part in communicating the EVP to the external market.

Recruitment model – As companies grow, resource needs will increase too, so a fundamental discussion around the recruitment model should take place – is the recruitment model geared up for a growing business, is it set up for volume recruiting, are there enough recruiters, do processes need to change to reflect growth? Honest discussions on the recruitment model will help create an effective in – house team.

Final thoughts

Despite improvements in technology and the rise of social media, companies still strive to create a positive candidate experience. Persistent issues exist which need to be addressed, but the focus needs to be on being proactive and hiring at a faster pace. Companies can’t operate at a reasonable speed but need to react faster on candidates as competition for candidates intensifies. At the Hiring Manager level, more management training should be put in place to help clearly define their roles, responsibilities and their understanding of the interview and selection process. A negative experience will turn off candidates, but a positive candidate experience will serve as a formidable recruiting sergeant.

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