You’ve probably heard the often spoken lament that qualified candidates are hard to find for a number of our industry sectors. Yet, this notion seems so contradictory particularly because we know there are still a large number of people actively in the job market. At the same time, we see employers aggressively utilizing social media to attract their candidates, many times without success. So, why does this situation exist and how can Legacy Bowes help?
While many urban businesses and organizations are experiencing difficulty attracting qualified candidates, organizations in rural and northern more isolated communities have an even greater challenge. Location! Whereas marketing guru’s shout out “location, location, and location” as the key message to attract business, location isn’t the winning formula when undertaking an executive search for a more isolated community. In fact, location can be very much of a detriment that could slow down a candidate search and frustrate the best of selection committee.
While the latest September 2013 employment statistics show a slight dip in the unemployment rate and a small increase in newly created jobs, the challenge inhouse corporate recruiters are having is that we are now facing a "candidate-driven" market especially when searching for highly qualified, senior professionals. Why do I make this comment and just what are the signals that we are experiencing a candidate driven market?
See how the LBG Executive Search process changes the odds
As can be expected, there's usually great excitement in the air when a senior executive starts their new job. In fact, anticipation flows out from all sides of the organization chart. Employees on hand are anxious to learn more about their new boss. The new boss is busy exploring his/her new environment by comparing and contrasting their interview discussion with the real life picture they're finding.
Are your social media channels limiting your career opportunities?
While social media and the internet have been a boon for businesses marketing to a wider audience and/or friends and families wishing to stay in touch, the same can't be said for candidates in the job hunting mode. In fact, a recent survey suggests that social media isn't doing candidates any favours at all. However, that's not because of technical glitches, a lack of sites (there are 75+) or the expense of posting a resume. Rather, it's the result of the actual content candidates post on their personal sites.
If I asked an employer to describe their ideal CEO candidate, they will typically refer to their technical skills rather than any personal attributes. Yet, success at the CEO level requires a good balance of personal as well as professional characteristics.
No matter what industry sector, we all know there's a general growing trend toward protecting the environment and recycling. And it's not just about saving the planet; it's about reusing and taking advantage of products that still have value. This phenomenon has also been a long standing tradition in the area of second hand clothing stores or consignment shops. Plus, everyone knows Manitoba is the greatest place for that summer garage or yard sale.
Creativity and creative thinking includes being imaginative, being able to generate multiple innovative ideas and being able to move quickly between fact, fiction and fantasy. Leaders and employees are confronted with work that is more complex and more challenging and where solutions may have national and/or global impact. International competitiveness requires that organizations, outthink, out-innovate and outperform in all areas in order to be successful. This requires significant creativity on the part of employees in order to introduce novel approaches but it must also be supported by a culture of innovation within the organization.
Planning an effective succession strategy
The mass exodus of baby boomers has been on the minds of business leaders for quite some time. While the exodus hasn't happened as quickly as first thought, the transition is indeed beginning to make its mark. The situation as it's now developing will create a significant dilemma for all types of corporations and organizations in general.
The last three weeks of news has been rather interesting, in particular because of the enormous focus on the shenanigans of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Watching his fall from grace and his anticipated departure from his role has almost become the viewers’ obsession. Some say it’s better than those weekly television survival dramas.
The list of executive fiascoes this past month such as Senator Duffy's $90,000 expense run-in with government auditors and Toronto Mayor Ford's alleged crack cocaine video reminded me of an earlier "avoid at all cost" behaviour list referred to as executive derailers. The term "derailers" refers to a set of inappropriate leadership behaviours and leadership styles that will ultimately result in a leader's demise.
It seems we are once again learning that the traditional saying, "what you see is what you get" is simply no longer the case. For instance, news reports focusing on the recent meat scandal in Europe identified that packages of frozen beef burgers actually contained unlabeled horse meat. While horse meat isn't necessarily harmful to one's health, eating it is taboo in some countries while in many other cultures, horse meat is just not viewed as acceptable ingredient. This incident seems to be just scratching the surface as other analyses have reporting finding pig DNA in beef burgers.
As an executive search professional, I can suggest quite strongly that there is a growing skills gap at the management and executive levels. In fact, a recent survey indicated that in spite of an increase in the number of applications per job, it remains a challenge to identify a suitable candidate. So, what are corporations looking for today? What seems to be missing?
It can be challenging in any environment to secure the budget for a capital project such as an HRIS. Our HRIS partner - Onyva HR Software - shared a few strategies that can help you earn stakeholder support and ultimately, get the investment budget you need. Read their six tips for achieving buy-in, support and budget for your project.
There are a couple of old familiar sayings that summarize some of our communication, recruitment and selection challenges in the workplace. The first is, "you hear what you want to hear" and secondly we often realize that people have a "tendency to oversell their abilities." All my years of experience allow me to corroborate these statements, as I have seen both of these communication translations create problems in the workplace following a candidate search.
It's been some time since I've written about the importance of assisting your new leaders to integrate into your organization. This is so critical that if specific strategies are not employed, your new employee could fail within the first ninety days. That's because if they don't quickly gain the trust of employees and key stakeholders, it will be difficult to make changes and drive the business forward.
Five years ago, the Human Capital Institute collaborated with the large consulting firm Hewitt Human Capital Consulting and published the results of a comprehensive leadership survey entitled, the State of Talent Management, Today's Challenges, Tomorrow's Opportunities. The study revealed five looming workforce challenges, including the attraction and retention of skilled professionals, developing manager capability, retaining high performers, developing succession pool depth and addressing management and leadership talent.
The past several years have seen an explosion of online assessment and psychometric tools that are designed to assess external candidates for entry into established companies. These have proven to be very powerful and accurate tools to predict employee performance as they identify strengths, areas of challenge, cultural fit and personality traits.
The importance of intuition in decision making
Let's face it; we all know that business operations require accurate accounting and numerical statements of fact. Accounting...that old, enduring historical system of checklists and rules that allows business leaders to review their current situation and predict the future. However, as business moved into the 21st century, it has come to be recognized that financial facts aren't the be-all and end-all. Many business decisions require a balance of head and heart. By this I mean that leaders need to assess their intuition, their "gut feeling," and wrap these feelings around their facts in order to make a final decision.
Have you ever been discouraged and dismayed when you found that a recent hire was not who you thought they were? Where did you go wrong? Was the problem a set of poor interview questions? Did you misinterpret the candidate’s responses? Were your interviewers not effectively trained?
Have you ever experienced a situation where you were confident that a promotion was yours, only to learn that someone else was the successful candidate? You felt slighted, angry, confused and downright dumbfounded. Why were you not successful? After all, you’ve been a success junkie all your life! In fact, you’ve had a straight upward track to senior leadership throughout your career.
If you’re a seasoned executive, being on the other side of an interview table as a job candidate can be quite the awkward experience. First of all, it’s been years since you’ve had to look for a new job. Odds are that businesses have been trying to find you, not the other way around.
Recruiters and organizations alike are more and more frequently turning to online computerized assessments to help identify the strengths and areas of challenge for their potential new employees.
As a leading executive search consultant, believe me, I’m the first to advise candidates to toot their own horn and brag about their work accomplishments. That being said, there is self-promotion and then there is overly-aggressive self-promotion! And I can guarantee this: those self-promoters who exaggerate and/or significantly overstate their abilities in job interviews will soon find themselves in trouble and probably back out on the street looking for a new job.
When speaking to clients about their recruitment challenges, they typically mention their lack of ability to find the right candidate for their job roles in a timely manner. Many clients post a job only to find a low number and/or low quality of candidates applying for the position.
Other clients have found that candidates have deliberately used the potential new company as a bartering chip to increase their salary with their current employer. Still, other clients may recruit a candidate only to find that they resign during the first year of employment due to a mismatch with the corporate culture.
For some years now businesses have been placing a great deal of focus on developing their “brand” or corporate image. This is in recognition that people carefully consider an organization’s public image when choosing whether or not to apply for job postings.
Survey after survey is showing that employee retention is a growing human resource concern for today’s businesses and not-for-profit organizations. In fact, some surveys are showing that over 50% of employees are dissatisfied with their jobs and have placed themselves back into the job market. While one might think this is good news for recruiters and employers engaged in a candidate search, it also suggests that attention needs to be paid to those work elements that will not only attract new employees but will help to keep them.
When it comes to people discussing the current job market, I can’t help but feel that April Fool’s Day is dragging on a bit too long. But who needs practical jokes when it comes to jobs and careers? Not me and not you! So… what’s happening? What are we to believe?
Are there job opportunities out there or not?
Have you ever been discouraged and dismayed when you found that recent hires were not who you thought they were? Where did you go wrong? Was the problem a set of poor interview questions? Did you misinterpret the candidate’s responses? Or, were your interviewers not effectively trained?
The answer to these questions is probably no.
Recruiting highly talented employees has become more than an art, it has now become a science. And taking a scientific approach means utilizing a number of strong measureable recruitment and selection strategies in order to attract candidates to your organization. Years ago, behavioural descriptive interviewing was introduced and has proven to be remarkably successful in helping organizations select the best candidate with the right fit. The science has grown exponentially since then and there are now several more-effective recruitment and selection strategies that are far more advanced than simply asking the right questions.
Have you ever been in a position where a recently hired candidate leaves before the probation period has lapsed? Or, on the other hand, have you been shocked at the unexpected resignation of a long term and valued employee? If so, have you ever stopped to ask your departing employee the reason why and analyze the response?
The business world remains abuzz with the trials and tribulations of the “war on talent”. There has been a shortage of workers in multiple industry sectors for some time now and, with baby boomers moving faster toward retirement than ever before, fear surrounding the war on talent is building to a frenzy.
Tuesday was Valentine’s Day, the day when loved ones share their appreciation for each other through gifts, cards, flowers, special meals and pretty poems. In other words, it’s “feedback” time for relationships. Typically, however, this celebration doesn’t ever get down to the nitty gritty of relationships... in other words, the strengths and areas of challenge for each individual. In fact, often those special strengths that attracted the couple in the first place result in problems later in life.
Being a Chief Executive Officer or any senior executive leader in today’s economy is very difficult. Leaders must demonstrate an effective combination of the so called “hard and soft” skills. In other words, leaders are expected to take responsibility, aggressively pursue business, be flexible to market changes and offer significant project leadership strengths. In addition, they must build and lead strong, collaborative teams, be creative and have good listening skills.
There is an old saying that the higher the level of success a candidate achieves in their career, the more difficult it is for organizations to thoroughly assess their skills. Why is that? The answer is this: by the time a manager rises to a senior executive position, they are typically very good communicators. Good communicators are skilled at telling a stories, selling themselves and, on occasion, embellishing their skills. It’s just what they do.
As a professional accountant and an executive search professional, I find it strange that organizations undergo their annual financial audit without a thought, yet rarely do they engage in an audit of their human resource practices and, in particular, their recruitment and selection processes.
The recent news report of 61,000 new Canadian jobs created in September is rather encouraging, particularly since most offered full-time employment. Additionally, business leaders are also starting to experience more of the baby boomer drift into retirement. As a result, many senior level positions are becoming vacant which provides new opportunities for potential candidates.
Of course, as with most opportunities, there is a catch! In this instance, the catch relates to the fact that most senior level managers and executives have little experience marketing their skills and/or being on the candidate side of the interview table. In other words, these senior leaders are simply not as well-prepared for that all important candidate interview. In fact, many senior level leaders take themselves for granted and do not do a good job of identifying or confirming the very skills they do have.
Whether or not you are “headhunted” for an upcoming opportunity or you are seeking a new role on your own, you need to adopt several key candidate preparation strategies in order to ensure your success. After years of experience as a search professional, I can offer the following advice:
Document your history – reflect on your career progression and identify industries, roles and accomplishments. Next, stand back and review your career path and determine what experiences you may be seeking with the next job. Typically, people feel an underlying sense of discomfort and restlessness when they get to the stage of looking for a new opportunity. Identify what this discomfort is and “name” it.
Research industry sectors – most senior level skillsets are transferable to other industry sectors. Determine which sectors you have an affinity for and would be comfortable in. Identify several companies within each sector and conduct further research in order to develop some priorities.
Compile data on selected firms – search the internet, business information news as well as your own personal network. Find out more about a potential employer’s business cycle, sales and market strategies as well as their strength of leadership. Identify the rationale for their change and determine if there might be a fit for you. Continue to pursue your information gathering on and offline.
Consolidate your skills – each senior level manager/executive has a number of key skills, so it can be difficult to describe these in a brief interview. Consolidate your skills into three to four themes and subsets of skills. Create a statement or “elevator speech” that you can use for introductions and those “tell us about yourself” type questions.
Prepare for behavioural interview questions – most interviewers are now asking for very specific examples of how you carried out your work. Be sure to identify issues and challenges, your role, what you did to overcome these challenges and the results. Create at least three examples for every skill so that you always appear “polished” and ready with an indepth response.
Understand and define your personal character – good interviewers today are going beyond examining intellectual and emotional intelligence and are now focusing on identifying personal character. Character is defined as the attitudes, beliefs and commitments that impact how you carry out your personal and professional life. For instance, what are your personal values and how do you apply these to work? Are you the same person inside and out?
Define success – there are many definitions of success such as fame, prosperity, power, control, prestige and/or title and recognition. What is your definition of success and what role does this play in your personal and professional goals? How does your definition of success motivate you and what is the relationship to your potential new job. Be sure to prepare yourself to address this issue in the interview.
As a senior leader, you’ve been involved in many, many interviews from the employer side of the table. However, when it’s your turn to shine as a candidate and put the “shoe on the other foot”, you’ll find the experience to be quite demanding. As a senior executive search professional, my expectations are high, so be prepared.
While many people have been busy making their own personal New Year’s resolutions, organizational leaders should also be thinking about setting some key goals for the upcoming year. One goal might be to standardize and improve your employee selection procedures.
Over the past number of years, the concept of establishing partnerships and alliances between like minded businesses and organizations has been growing as a key success strategy.
If you're in between jobs, use the opportunity to prepare yourself for the next one.
Use time off to prepare yourself for next journey.
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