Seven things companies need to start doing if they want to win the war on talent

As skills in key industries become scarcer, here are seven things companies need to do to ensure in order to maximise their efforts in recruiting and retaining their human capital:

Website: Have a detailed, easy on the eye, uncomplicated mobile friendly website.

Candidates: Improving the candidate experience by minimising the length of time it takes to screen and review applications, speedily interviewing candidates and processing offers and taking time to acknowledge  candidates and providing appropriate and meaningful post interview feedback.

Compensation and benefits: Regularly reviewing the salary structure and benefits package by benchmarking with competitors in the same industry. Consider add – ons to offers such as issuing bonuses on early acceptance of offers, relocation allowances, support towards education.

Succession planning: The working population of the world is getting older which means that the talent pool needs to be replenished. Quality talent is spread thin, particularly in engineering so companies need to start hiring for cultural fit with a view to the long term. So when screening and interviewing, you need to be assessing whether or not the individual has growth potential.

Skills transfer: Quality candidates are finite (in engineering) so more emphasis needs to be given to considering people from other sectors where their skills can be transferable. Moreover, to hire quality people you should also consider toning down the experience requirements and consider training up those individuals to the required levels.

Employer branding: The global downturn has resulted in reduced budgets for HR and marketing in particular so that has meant less money being spent on promoting the company to the outside world. However, as economies recover and companies become cash rich again, they must invest in reinforcing the employer brand as failing to do so will have a negative impact on attracting talent. Resting on past laurels and reputation would be very naïve, and a sure fire recipe for failure.

Policies and procedures: Cut red tape, clearly define your policies and procedures and commit to following through on them if you want to hire quality hires. Anything less than this, then you will be spending a lot more time fighting fires.

Five trends that will shape talent acquisition in the years ahead

Recruiting is going to get increasingly social and mobile – with increased uptake of Smartphones and tablets, more and more candidates are going to be accessing job opportunities on the fly. This will potentially open up a new talent pool of passive job seeker.

Turnarounds are going to be the key: Hiring Managers will have to work double time to ensure that offers for potential candidates go out quickly as the escalating talent war will put pressure on hiring needs.

Quality corporate recruiters are going to be spread thin: As companies build their own dedicated in – house recruitment teams, they don’t just want individuals who are glorified salespeople but sourcing experts in their respective field who understand recruitment from a strategic perspective. According to the words of Josh Bersin, Principle and Founder, Bersin by Deloitte, “today’s recruiter must be a marketer, sales person, career coach and psychologist all in one.”

Economies rebound: As key economies such as the United States, China, India and the UK bounce back, a flood of job seekers can be expected to change jobs. This will really test the capabilities and resources of internal recruitment departments so your recruitment really needs to be geared up to deal with increased activity.

Branding: This was one of the key areas to really suffer in the global economic downturn. Companies were cutting back on advertising and fewer employees were leaving of their own accord. However, as economic fortunes improve globally, companies run the risk of being left behind and disappearing into the abyss. Resting on your laurels is not going to cut it so companies need to develop a view on employer branding.



Six reasons why you need to undertake an expat assignment in the GCC


Dubai is part of the United Arab Emirates and has witnessed modernisation on a grand scale since the 1990s. It has weathered the financial storms during the height of the financial crisis to re-establish itself as a prime destination for multinationals looking to establish a presence in the region and beyond. The United Arab Emirates is part of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) and can be best defined as a regional intergovernmental political and economic union comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Having lived and worked in Dubai for nearly four years, since coming back to the UK I have benefited both culturally and career wise. My time there was interesting, enjoyable, challenging and enriching. Having also had the opportunity to travel to other countries within the GCC, I have found that there are several common themes that are prevalent throughout the six countries. These are:

The GGC leads the way in job creation: As the economies and populations of the GCC grow, so does demand on civil infrastructure, education, healthcare, housing so this results in job opportunities across multiple sectors.

Fewer decision makers: This is especially the case with regional companies/family conglomerates where it is often the CEO and/or Chairman who is the sole decision maker so decisions are reached faster rather than going through multiple layers of approval.

Faster business cycles: Due to faster decision making, projects can take shape much faster so a company’s hiring needs can be established quicker, creating job opportunities and transactions are completed faster.

Career development: Economies in the GCC are still developing so this means better prospects to move both laterally and vertically in your career. If you are somebody with between 5 and 10 years’ experience with a good educational background, you are going to be in demand so expect calls from recruiters.

Personal and professional development: Even if you decide to spend only a few years in the GCC or commit to a longer duration, you should expect to enhance your skills set as you gain exposure to prestigious projects and working alongside a multinational workforce means a more culturally diverse experience. Many expats who have worked in the GCC go on to work in other regions such as Asia Pacific and North America as their GCC experience is considered very valuable and transferable so if you choose to go to the GCC region, you will certainly be adding value to both your life and career.

Weather: Although it is stifling hot during summer months (mainly May to October), when it does cool down there are ample opportunities to pursue outdoor pursuits. Plus, it’s really nice waking up to a sunny bright blue clear skies.

Six tweaks to make to enhance your career development trajectory

There is no golden formula that one can apply to be successful in their career but one can certainly make certain adjustments in their day to day attitude that can prove worthwhile in enhancing your skills set and worth in your career. Here are six tweaks that could help propel you forward in your career:

  1. Take pre – emptive action: Prevent things from happening before the wheels fall off. Put in place methods and procedures that will prevent a situation reaching crisis stage.
  2. Adopt a proactive mind – set: Stop reacting to things that are coming to you. Instead focus on taking positive steps to completing the task (s) at hand.
  3. Look at the bigger picture: Have the end goal in mind whenever you set out to do something. Ask yourself if the action you are about to take will generate the required results.
  4. Become solution focused: Always operate with a continuous improvement agenda. Even a minor change to a policy or process may trigger an improvement.
  5. Disconnect: When things go wrong, don’t panic and take it personally. Instead, take a step back to assess what went wrong and why and execute your solution orientated mind – set.

5 things I learnt from the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the lessons they have for business

The 2014 FIFA World Cup recently concluded and despite on and off the pitch controversies, and much public anger at the cost of the Brazilian Government’s spending on infrastructure, the tournament was one of the most successful and memorable in living memory. Here are five things I learnt from watching the tournament and the resonance they have in business:

ONE – There is no substitute for team work and attitude:

Teams such as Costa Rica and USA were a prime example of team work and attitude. They didn’t have the household names and match winning players of other teams but they proved that getting basics right, having a nothing to lose mentality and punching above their weight together with helping other team members out when they were out of position made them a force. This propelled them to the highest level of performance any team can desire at a major tournament.

Business Lesson: Go beyond your job description and keep things simple. Believing in yourself and your team members will create a positive team environment. More importantly, understand what the common goal is and be realistic in your expectations.

TWO – Don’t be afraid to take a risk:

Netherlands coach Louie Van Gall embodied this in abundance. During the Quarter Final match against Costa Rica, Van Gaal substituted his first choice goalkeeper Cillisen and replaced him with Krul when the match went to penalties. The outcome of this was that Krul saved two penalties and this put the Netherlands through to the semi finals. His greater height and reach were sighted by Van Gaal as the rationale behind the substitution.

Business Lesson: Don’t be afraid to experiment. As a Manager, next time you have a project – put an untested team member on the project. Know your teams’ individual strengths and skills to get the best out of the team.

THREE – Have a plan B:

In each of the games Netherlands played, the team adapted their style and tactics to their opponents and that proved valuable as Netherlands progressed through the tournament. Van Gaal was a thinking coach who constantly studied the oppositions every move before executing his strategy.

Business Lesson: In business, it’s important to know what you will do in a clutch situation. Something might not work as you would expect. Have something prepared that you can revert to in times of need – a toolkit etc.

FOUR – Stick with the norm and you run the risk of failure:

By the time we got the Semi Finals when Brazil played Columbia, signs were evident that Brazil was not up to the standard of other teams. When Brazil played Germany, their weaknesses were laid bare and they imploded before the eyes of their country. In the aftermath of Brazil’s disastrous exit, it was apparent that coach Scolari was heavily reliant on Neymar and Tiago Silva who were the spine of the team. Scolari kept faith with the same team as he picked in the first match to deliver but as that turned out that was blind faith. Brazil were predictable, relied on the same tactics and never had a plan B.

Business Lessons: Don’t be afraid of mixing things up and when it comes to recruiting a team; do not be averse to individuals of unconventional backgrounds whose CVs may not read great on paper. Resist having similar styles of people in the same team and instead select individuals who would complement each other and a particular function and/or department. Above all, give indivuals time and autonomy and let them flourish.

FIVE – Feeling valued elevated a player:

Suarez, Neymar, Neuer, Messi, Robben, Rodriguez were all talisman to their team. Their talent is undeniable but what was even more important was that they had the support of their team, coaching staff, and when these players performed they had a domino effect on the rest of their team.

Business Lesson: Feedback and engagement are two of the most critical elements in business. Get either wrong, and you end up with a disenfranchised and de – motived workforce. To get it right, work out what truly drives your workforce and what puts them off. Move forward then by making a commitment to driving out the practices that create unhappiness in the workplace.




Lessons learnt from hardship

We are exposed to challenges at every stage of our lives. As newly born babies we come into this world totally oblivious. We are then taught by our parents to speak, walk and become independent of our parents so we can move about freely without their assistance. At school we, are exposed to our first real interactions with people. We have disagreements with other children but through the experience and guidance of our parents we learn what is right and wrong.  Then as we embark on our student lives, we are thrust into a different environment that requires a greater level of independence. We have to meet deadlines, be punctual in our attendance at lectures and seminars and learn how to manage our workload, and balancing our studies with our social lives. Here too we learn to develop the qualities that make us into the people we are going to be in our working lives. Then we enter into relationships, we get married and set up home with our partners. Here too we learn about life’s challenges and it is our very wisdom and ability to deal with change that will determine how successful we are.

Now as you are reading this you are probably wondering all this is fine well, what is the point here. The point is that this is what life’s model looks like if thing go smoothly. However, the trouble is life doesn’t always go smoothly. Unforeseen events occur that upset this model. This is where the hardship comes in. People are totally unprepared for this. People experience these unforeseen events in different forms. They could be involved in an accident and face life changing injuries, they could become ill and have to endure painful treatment and operations, loved ones could pass away, they could face bankruptcy, be made homeless.  There are people who survive this hardship then there are those people who fall at the first hurdle and fall victim to the hardship. However, the difference between facing up to the hardship and giving into it is to keep your mind intact. The human mind is a really powerful tool.  If you can keep it together you can keep everything else together. This is the starting point.

The other thing you have to remember about life is that it will not always be comfortable. There will be bumps and scrapes along the way, and you may even fall down and have to get back up. There will always be something that won’t be right. The getting up part is the hardest. In general, I believe that people who experience hardship earlier on in their lives are more prepared and mentally stronger for the challenges that hardship throws up. The mistake people make in their lives is that they don’t take it seriously until something bad has happened to them. Yes it will be scary, you will want to cry and you may just want to hide from your problems. The important thing to remember is to stand tall when disaster strikes, and be prepared for it. Mental conditioning is very important.

Sadly, it is a great concern that Generation Y in society is growing up to expect that things will be done for them automatically, that they will graduate from college and university and walk straight into a high paying job. That is simply not the case for the majority of people out there. Life’s dynamics are changing partly due to changes brought about by the global recession. Only the fittest and bravest survive and if you can become resilient in facing up to hardships you can prevail in overcoming problems.  From a personal point of view here are the things I have learnt from hardship:

  • Self –sufficiency – Being a self starter, not having to rely on anybody else but myself in my personal life. I learnt that one can complete a task quicker without having to wait for others.
  • Certainty – Having the courage and the conviction to make the call on a difficult issue when others around me didn’t.
  • Patience – When things were not going my way, allowing them to run their course and abstain from making unnecessary interventions that would otherwise jeopardize the outcome.
  • Physical endurance – I used to play rugby at school and was also part of the school’s Athletics team during which time I really developed myself physically. When I was at University, I was diagnosed with an illness which required intensive medication and corrective surgery. I had two major surgeries 7 months apart. When the surgeon operated on me and I made a remarkable recovery, he said that if it wasn’t for my physical fitness I would not have made a good recovery. So it definitely pays to be in good physical shape.
  • Mental endurance – The combination of participating in competitive sports at school and dealing with an illness really brought about the best in me mentally. I became more ambitious as a person and also resilient, motivated, calm and collected. I learned how to cope with problems and having the mental capacity to put up with stressful situations.
  • Self-motivation – While others at university and work struggled to keep themselves motivated my attitude always exceeded expectations. Nobody had to tell me to do something. For me it was a part of my everyday routine. I even tackled the most boring of tasks and viewed them as challenges that had to be met.
  • Obedience – This has a lot to do my conformity to cultural norms and values that in turn have shaped my principles when times were rough. Obedience has earned me the respect of others, and I am now seen by others in a positive light when I communicate with them.
  • Posture – A person’s posture is very important. Thanks to exercise, I was able to improve my posture because I wasn’t very tall. To improve my posture, I embarked on a series of simple yoga techniques. I did these regularly for a year and noticed a remarkable transformation. I didn’t slouch anymore and instead walked very upright, shoulders back and chin forwards. This added a whole new edge to me as a person, especially in terms on my height as it gave me a physical presence I previously didn’t have.
  • Principles – One of the most important things I have learnt in life is what I am comfortable and uncomfortable with. Some of these principles have been instilled in me by my parents, others I have developed throughout life. I essentially see my principles as my own codes of conduct that guide me through life’s many challenges.

The process of life is an evolution in itself. It would be very strange if one person spent their lives not adapting to the challenges it posed. Does a perfect life exist? I don’t think so but we do strive for it. There is always something that isn’t right about our lives. Just ask the extremely wealthy celebrities who end up in rehabilitation therapy. Learn how to anticipate the unexpected and learn as much as you can from each challenge in life whether it is minor or major. Build a solid foundation within yourself because when the storms of life hit you, you will stand resolute and emerge strong.

Working with a Recruiter: A Checklist for Candidates

Recruiters are ten a penny but quality recruiters are hard to find so before you entertain a call from a recruiter proposing a life changing career opportunity, it’s worth posing some of the following questions to make sure you are talking to the right individual who you feel comfortable working with.

Find out about their work: Find out about the company they work for i.e. what is the company’s track record, especially in relation to the opportunity they have approached you for. Also delve deeper into their relationship with their clients i.e. in what capacity are they representing their client and/or how long have they been working with their client.

Are there any other candidates in the process? Most recruiters won’t tell how many other candidates are being considered for the role but some do. Also try asking how urgently the role needs to be filled. If they respond with unclear answers, it’s probably because the role has just gone live or is difficult to fill.

What is the opportunity? Don’t be tempted by the job title alone but find out about the nature of work the successful candidate will be doing, about the reporting lines and level of seniority. Insist on receiving a job specification via email from the recruiter. Get as much information on the role as possible.

What is the salary? Instead of asking what the salary is, ask what is the ‘achievable’ salary? Don’t waste time on discussing salary in detail and cut straight to the chase by indicating to the recruiter what level of salary you currently get. The recruiter will then be in a better position to tell you whether or not the salary will be in line with your expectations.

What is their background? This may be an awkward question to ask directly but if you want the recruiter to help you land your dream job you need to know what the credentials of this person are. 9 times out of 10, recruiters will be on LinkedIn so this should be your first port of call when carrying out your due diligence.

What is the average feedback time? One of the major frustrations of both candidates and recruiters is the amount of time it takes to find out about the outcome of an application which unfortunately neither can do much about as it is controlled by the client. Nevertheless, ask the recruiter if there is an average feedback time or if there are going to be any delays in getting feedback.

What is the interview process? Most good recruiters will tell you this automatically but if they don’t, then ask them to break down the interview process step by step i.e. how many stages to the interview, what is the nature of the interview – telephone or face to face or both, who are the interviewers, where and when will the interview take place etc.

Why is the role available? This question should probably be asked in tandem with ‘what is the opportunity?’ Find out if it is a new role or a replacement. If it is a replacement, then ask why that is the case. If you don’t get a clear cut answer here, it might indicate that the client has some deeper employee engagement issue(s) that resulted in the role becoming available.

In summary, a good recruiter will know their client’s requirements inside out. Even if the role they are speaking to you about does not materialise with an offer, do make a point of keeping in touch with them. You never know there might be an even better opportunity for you later on.