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Recruiting calls for rhythm, routine and “business within a business” mindset

Source: Shortlist

Former New Zealand Post recruitment manager Rory Walker says overseeing the recruitment of hundreds of posties and mail sorters taught him the importance of rhythm and routine when supervising a team of recruiters. Walker worked in a range of senior roles at NZ Post and is now NZ sales director for HR software firm SilkRoad. Speaking at the RHUB conference in Auckland this week, Walker said his top tip for managing recruiters was giving them a rhythm to work by.

“At New Zealand Post, we had a team of people who were very fragmented, they were chasing around hiring managers, chasing around candidates, and they were trying to cram all of that into a fragmented week, so it was just really stressful for them.”

NZ Post was recruiting hundreds of the same types of roles over and over again, Walker says, and he realised that he could use that high-volume scenario to his advantage by breaking up each recruiter’s workload into structured parts.

“So maybe on Monday the recruiter is doing screening, on Tuesday they are doing telephone calls, on Wednesday they are doing interviews with the hiring manager, on Thursday they are doing reference checks, and on Friday they are making offers. “It sounds really simple, but when you’ve got someone who’s trying to do all of those things 10 times in one day, it’s much easier for them to do it all in one day, and get some rhythm in.”

Secondly, Walker says, companies that have a high-volume recruitment workload can also benefit from examining the patterns in their work, when they have a seasonal hiring peak or a major project.
Once they have established their business-as-usual rhythm and routine, they will have reliable data on how long it takes to get someone into a role. “Then you work backwards from your project completion dates and you know exactly when you’ve got to advertise, when you’re going to be screening, when you’re interviewing, and you let your managers know.  “Tell them they need to block out two hours or four hours… this week or next week, and it is going to keep happening. Start to get them into that culture of routine as well.”

BERNADETTE LOUGE
Teach your consultants the “business within a business” method. Business coach and former recruiter Bernadette Logue told the conference her top recruitment tip is to encourage consultants to treat their desk or portfolio as if it were their own business.

Logue, who co-owns personal and business consultancy Pinch Me Living, says her first boss in recruitment instilled in her the idea of operating “a business within a business”. Consultants needs to think of their desk as “a microcosm that depends 100% on you to thrive”, and work in such a way that if the agency around them disappeared, their mini-business would continue to run smoothly.

For the recruiter, she says, that means being proactive, and developing an individual networking strategy and marketing strategy, beyond what the larger business does. “If this was your own business, these things would be top of mind because your livelihood would depend on it on a whole different level.”

Logue says in her recruitment career she built relationships with magazine journalists and provided commentary for articles on the contracting sector. “Where you’re an expert in your area of the market, what are you doing to get your name out there and build your brand?” Managers can also encourage recruiters to champion their own professional development, look for operational improvements, and nip problems in the bud themselves rather than wait for their team leader to step in, Logue says.

“If I’m running my desk like a business within a business, I want that thing humming, so I will do what I need to do to make sure [problems] get fixed. And if that means creating my own little fixes – that stay within the rules – then I’ll do that. “And when issues come up I’ll stamp them out and get on them early. When you know you’ve done something wrong, own up to it really quickly, because when you do that you get so much respect from the client.”

Recruiters must be champions of the employer brand: Aon Hewitt

Source: Shortlist

After a six-month honeymoon, engagement among new hires drops off in most organisations, so in-house recruiters must be “internal advocates” for keeping employer brand promises, says Aon Hewitt’s Simon Rudd. Rudd, client relationship manager in Aon Hewitt’s New Zealand talent and reward practice, told last week’s RHUB NZ conference that global data from the company’s Best Employers program shows that 83% of companies that meet the Best Employer criteria have a formalised employer brand, compared to 39% of other organisations.

“No one would disagree that a compelling employment brand is essentially the promise that an organisation makes to employees about what they can expect from the organisation. “Dissatisfaction, disillusion and disengagement is what kicks in naturally when that promise is broken.” Aon Hewitt has analysed the engagement levels of employees at different stages of tenure, Rudd says, and has found the employer brand promises made during recruitment and onboarding clearly cause an early engagement boost. “Hats off to internal recruiters and agency recruiters because we’re all here creating this hype around the employment brand, but come that six-month point, you can see that engagement falls in [non-Best Employer] organisations by 20%.

“The honeymoon is over because employment branding is simply used to get people in the door.” By contrast, at Best Employers the engagement level typically stays high throughout the employee’s tenure, he says. “And that’s because they live their employment brand.” Corporate recruiters, Rudd says, should be playing a bigger part in making the employer brand stick well beyond the employee’s first six months, by championing the importance of keeping recruitment promises. “The recruiter has to be an internal advocate for the EVP or the positioning statement that is sold to the candidate at onboarding time.

“Don’t exaggerate [the EVP] in the first place, of course, but a better approach would be to really act as advocates with your HR team, to ensure that employment promise continues [into] that crucial six-month-to-two-year period.” How the best employers keep their promises, and why it matters Making engagement a priority is not just about meeting corporate social responsibility requirements or being “nice”, Rudd notes; engaged workforces produce better commercial results. (In 2012 Aon Hewitt studied 94 global employers with nine million staff, and found that for each percentage point increase in the proportion of engaged employees, the organisation would derive an extra 0.6% in revenue.) Rudd says the company has identified a number of consistent practices by Best Employers that help uphold the employer brand and maintain high engagement levels after the honeymoon period is over:

  •  They consistently deliver on the promises they make to their people.
  • They “shamelessly” pay high performers significantly more than low performers.
  • Highly-engaged employers give top performers a 13.2% annual pay rise, on average, compared to a 1.2% raise for low performers. The pay differential between high and low performers at low-engagement companies is much smaller.
  • They are more likely to present employees with an exciting vision for the future of the organisation.
  • Their executive teams and senior leaders are visible, accessible and authentic.

“We’re out of [the GFC] but there’s still a lot of corporate change around, so that visibility is absolutely crucial.”

In-house recruiters “not as trusted as we should be”; agency roles changing

Source: Shortlist

In-house recruitment teams are constantly competing with other business units for influence and credibility with senior leadership, say top internal recruiters, who also reveal where agencies can continue to win their business.

Speaking at the New Zealand RHUB conference in Auckland yesterday, Keith Muirhead, group recruitment manager of NZ’s largest listed company, Fletcher Building, said one of the biggest challenges for internal recruiters is developing credibility inside the business.  Fletcher has about 30 internal recruiters, 19,000 staff, and expects to hire between 1,400 and 1,500 people this year.

Muirhead says in-house recruiters often have to battle with marketing and communications teams, for instance, to develop their employer branding and social recruitment strategies the way they want them. Recruiters also frequently find themselves excluded from key business discussions, he adds. “The connection with organisational development teams… is generally kind of weak; we tend to be kept away from succession discussions, and we don’t necessarily understand where high-potential talent is.

“I think, generally, we’re just not as trusted as we should be, considering that our role is the face of the business and we’re among the first people that [potential employees] connect in with. It’s a real shame and a challenge we need to fix.”

Amanda Tolley, recruitment manager at casino Sky City Auckland, says internal recruiters often find themselves asking, ‘Why didn’t you think to talk to us about that?’ Sky City has 3,000 staff, a team of nine recruiters and makes about 1,600 hires a year – some 38% of which are internal appointments, following a campaign over the past two years to increase internal mobility. Although internal recruitment leaders do need to encourage the rest of the business to see them as having a strategic role, the fight for a seat at the table doesn’t necessarily stem from the recruitment function not being taken seriously, Tolley says. “Yes, it’s a constant battle, but I think it’s because of the pressures on each business unit to perform, usually while having less resource and requiring more [output].”

What is the agency’s role?
Asked how agencies, particularly perm specialists, can keep winning business from big employers that are increasingly self-reliant when it comes to recruitment, Tolley says managing the candidate experience is something agencies can continue to offer. “It will be about how they sell the candidate on the opportunity, and how they court them through the process. For us as a business, it’s very much in a specialist skill area and we may not have the volume or the ability to manage it.”

Tolley says Sky City recently completed a search for a senior leadership role, in which it came up with its own shortlist, but asked one of its external suppliers to reach out to the candidates. “I knew we didn’t necessarily have the brand to attract them, so I engaged an agency, one of our key partners, to make that approach for us.” Referring to Andy Headworth’s comment at the conference that most big players are striving to directly recruit 80% of their hires, Muirhead says that in most large New Zealand companies with their own in-house recruitment functions, the figure is closer to 95% or 98%.

In-house teams focus on economies of scale and aim for the “easy stuff”, he says, so there will always be a place for boutique specialist agencies. “The challenge is in how they position themselves in terms of knowledge. “If the organisation is really, truly looking for the best person in the market, and that’s going to take two weeks of research, we don’t necessarily have the resources to do that. So [for recruiters] it is a case of figuring out what those roles are… that the internal models are going to struggle to fill, and focusing on those markets, because the low-hanging fruit is all gone.”

Muirhead says he looks for agency recruiters that have tenure in their niche.  “The people who understand the reputations of all those people in their market, over a long period of time, that’s the real value and that’s something internal models will always struggle to replicate.”

Recruiting outside “comfortable” channels gets results – four ideas that worked

Source: Shortlist

Recruiters need to get creative and think back to the days before job boards and LinkedIn, as there are plenty of other ways to find great candidates and make an impression on them, says ASB Bank head of talent acquisition Matt Pontin.

In an informal session at last week’s RHUB New Zealand conference, Pontin asked participants to share their experiences of successfully recruiting outside their “comfortable” channels. A recruitment marketing specialist told the group about an assignment in which he helped a large recruitment company seeking to build a pipeline of construction labour following the Christchurch earthquake.

“They came to us with an outstanding idea… They said, ‘All the people we need are around building sites in Auckland. So we’d like you to help us pimp out a ute and put a barbeque on the back – sausages are free during smoko, as long as they send us a text with their details.’ “It was just bait, in a sense, to build that initial database. Jobs weren’t on the radar at first, but it was the start of a relationship.”

Pontin said in a previous role as a recruitment manager for a major Auckland health board, he was tasked with sourcing anaesthetic technicians, who turned out to be very difficult to find. He invited all of the organisations’ anaesthetists and anaesthetic technicians to a brainstorming session, and someone suggested recriting from the army, as a large proportion of army officers were trained to administer drugs.

“I never would have thought of that! And we hired people from it,” Pontin said. Another recruiter said she was one of the presenters at a quarterly workshop for new migrants to New Zealand who were interested in careers in IT. Many in the audience were students, she said, “but a lot of them are also really, really experienced people, and they’re just new to New Zealand”.

She said her presentation covered elements of New Zealand workplace culture that might be unfamiliar, what local employers expect, and tips on interviews and CVs. “Most of them send me their CVs afterwards, and I’ve probably placed two or three really good people in quite senior roles from it. There are some real gems.

“You give something but you get something back – the first person I placed moved on from that role, and is now a development manager and a client of ours.”

A recruiter who previously worked in Australia said he knew of a clever sourcing tactic from National Australia Bank. As part of its high-profile ‘Break-Up’ campaign in 2011, it sponsored new t-shirts for employees of the window-cleaning company that serviced the Commonwealth Bank’s head office in Sydney.

“Banks are exceptionally competitive over there… so NAB had guys abseiling down the side of the building with big NAB hashtags on their t-shirts.”