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Topic # 148868 3-Jul-2014 12:59
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I wonder whether anyone in team leading/management positions who work in places that have dedicated recruitment or HR teams also find that no matter what you do, your recruitment or HR people seem to just shortlist the wrong candidates for vacancies? I find this almost always the case, the same goes for when external recruitment agencies are engaged.

I work in the compliance/regulatory team of a listed financial institution. Contrary to popular belief, compliance isn't about preventing fraud/looking for IT systems-generated automated "hits" on suspicious activities but, rather, things like ensuring that our processes comply with the law/policies/guidelines issued by bodies like the Financial Markets Authority, that offer documents aren't misleading etc, and maintaining a sensible and healthy relationship with the likes of the FMA. Our team is very "flat" - it's basically normal employees ----> team leaders -----> a couple of managers ------> head of compliance for NZ who sits with the executives. Frequently even normal employees have to assist with stuff that are used in executive level discussions and even present to executives.

Because of the work we do, inevitably many of us are increasingly either lawyers or accountants with financial accounting or audit backgrounds. Junior/intermediate staff previous often came to us with banking experience but without the legal/accounting background and many turn out to be most unsuitable. Yet despite our numerous attempts at making clear in our job descriptions/scoping to HR that we value quality post-grad degrees, demonstrable intellectual flexibility, demonstrable ability to handle reading lots of and lots of boring stuff without having one's eyes glaze over and giving glib answers, and early exposure to difficult people/senior executives (e.g. having worked for judges, as special assistant on projects for executive level staff, having worked on advisory roles in the likes of Treasury or for a cabinet minister), they still tend to come back to us with candidates that have banking experience first but little else of what we want or far less than candidates that HR initially rejected.

I am not making this up -- two of our most recent hires were actually initially rejected by our HR and we ended up reading through all the applications ourselves and contacting these two. Do we just have bad HR, do people just get over-seduced by "have they done this/something similar before" excessively, and/or are supposed commitment to transferrable skills over-stated?

Feel free to chip in with your views.



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  Reply # 1079317 3-Jul-2014 13:05
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Yes and no. I find that this happens whenever anyone without a proper understanding of the required role is involved in the process, whether it's an external agent or an internal recruiter (even if they're not a dedicated recruiter). Understanding what the role actually has to do is vital to the hiring process, and this seems to get overlooked too often in favour of someone who understands the hiring process instead.




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  Reply # 1079323 3-Jul-2014 13:18
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The thing I find very difficult when it comes to getting across/past HR (both as a hiring team leader and as a job seeker) is that the "safe "candidates frequently don't work. Understanding of banking concepts, products or having been in a bank is not anything that special per se for our junior or even intermediate roles. But no matter what, almost every JD here is worded to the effect that banking experience is highly beneficial and when they shortlist, HR always points to that. We are quite lucky in that overriding them isn't too difficult but we'd rather they get things right from our perspective

 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 1079327 3-Jul-2014 13:22
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That's why in our technical environment we do the initial shortlisting and first interviews ourselves. Once the candidates then pass the usual HR checks etc, we put them through specific practical tests to weed out the people who talk a good game, but can't actually back it up.

A poor hire can be very costly!

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  Reply # 1079329 3-Jul-2014 13:27
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I work for a large financial in technology.  I've seen HR advertise positions where the applicant is required to have experience on an application we built in house LOL



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  Reply # 1079333 3-Jul-2014 13:33
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BigMal: I work for a large financial in technology.  I've seen HR advertise positions where the applicant is required to have experience on an application we built in house LOL


I suspect this is just a LOLtastic mistake but this kind of BS is frequently jointly concocted by HR and the hiring managers in local government especially to ensure that only their existing favoured pets can be promoted to managerial positions, since no one else can possibly meet some of the stated essential criteria.

 



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  Reply # 1082399 7-Jul-2014 13:28
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Arghhhhh. Anyone have any suggestions on how to handle this?

I was on the panel for a quasi-legal type role that isn't in my team but with a bunch that we work with close enough. It suffices to say that whilst the HR advisor was highly enthusiastic about the candidates that the hiring manager, I and the advisor interviewed, the two of us that are more in the know just about wanted to commit spontaneous suicide during some of these interviews in view of how little actual knowledge the candidates had and the obvious, blatant personality flaws that ought to have been apparent from a brief look at the CVs (there was no shortlisting panel - HR did that all by themselves). I am talking about things like a total absence of career focus (constantly changing jobs, some candidates seemingly being unable to secure permanent jobs etc).

I know compliance and a few related functions here have constant frustrations with our HR/recruitment's selection methods and results. There's a bit of informal pushback by us, e.g some of us doing our own shortlisting for more important roles, in the hopes of countering their "efforts". But one gets the feeling if this kind of pushback becomes too frequent, certain people will go to the executives and demand things to be done by the book, i.e. JDs being agreed with HR/recruitment, candidate profile drawn up and agreed with them etc, and HR at least having a say in shortlisting. The problem is they seem to always pick the wrong people and/or miss out on "diamond in the rough" candidates that might not have had previous experience but demonstrate massive intellect, academic pedigree, or substantial equivalent work experience.



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  Reply # 1082430 7-Jul-2014 13:52
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The fundamental problem is that hiring people is hard.  The best hires tend to come from personal contacts but that's often not enough to provide the headcount you need.

At my previous job, we hired someone who failed our coding test [Plain C; he was an Objective-C guy; what we needed was an Objective-C guy] because the rest of us developers ganged up on our boss and told him "We know this guy.  We know he failed your coding test.  He's still well suited for the job."

Our boss listened to us and hired him, and he did a great job.  When I moved on, after six months or so I persuaded him to come to my new employer, and he's one of our top developers here.


My problem with work is that I'm now massively spoilt with great conditions [4 day working week, and remote work from the provinces] and employers tend to look at you like you've grown an extra head if you ask them to match that.

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  Reply # 1082434 7-Jul-2014 13:57
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First step : Send an email to the Head of HR detailing all your points here?

But it seems like you don't want to do that for fear of creating a company wide discussion and complete change of procedures that may be worse for you?

I don't know what else to suggest thou - if the system doesn't work then change it...

Perhaps specify an exact time in years of experience for the people that apply or stop mentioning "bank experience" at all...  - I have worked in a bank for over 5 years and know for a fact I couldn't work in our compliance department...    The link between the two is very weak IMHO...





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  Reply # 1082437 7-Jul-2014 14:02
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I used to have HR then an Employment agency shortlist for me and found both ways less than successful, I developed my own system and did all my own shortlisting, usually at night at home where I could read CV's without interruption.




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  Reply # 1082445 7-Jul-2014 14:09
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Bee: Oh my gosh, at least there's one person in the world who can see that working in a bank doesn't automatically make you suitable for compliance. My manager will raise some of our collective concerns with the HR people and we have had some minor victories (hoping for more). Personally I just don't think having worked in banking or even banking compliance is necessarily that valuable for our junior/intermediate staff. If I had to pick between a person of this profile with average intellect and motivation, versus an intellectually brilliant and agile (say) ex-litigation lawyer, auditor, or policy advisor with a reputable organisation who had done high quality work but without a lick of banking experience and knowledge, I'd pick the latter every time. But experience just seems to be one of those "it just sells" properties with HR.





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  Reply # 1082482 7-Jul-2014 15:35
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My will to live has been quite seriously diminished by the experience of being on this panel today. How poor just about all of the candidates have been is beyond description. Look, if the hiring manager writes an absolutely brilliant, succinct and utterly helpful Notes for Applicants, the least you can do is read it again and again before coming to interview.



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  Reply # 1086092 9-Jul-2014 22:35
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HR have some kind of job description and competency list. They are using that to measure the candidates. This is all they care about. I'm guessing it's a large intl org so you won't get to rewrite it. If so, from HR pov this is the same replacable position all over the world. So show them where exactly on that list the candidates they are sending are not matching the core competencies already listed and discuss what is needed to improve on meeting that requirement.

Edit: It probably says specific prescriptive things like x years experience in field y, where from your pov the core competency is more important than the field. You want to move the bias the other way so you are getting candidates to consider on the core competency and not so concerned about the x and y although you will have to acknowledge x and y to some degree to keep them happy.

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  Reply # 1086112 9-Jul-2014 22:49
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It sounds like your position description or candidate profiles need some work.

HR are effectively clerks who look for round pegs to go in round holes. They don't generally get what the business needs (especially in diverse or matrix organisations) and aren't all that interested in taking risks. All they want is to fill the position with the absolute minimum of risk.

Recruitment agencies are even worse - they don't want to have to refill a position under guarantee so all they want to do is employ candidates who have done "similar" jobs before, even if they have a crap job history. If the candidate leaves after 18 month, great, another fee!

The more specialised the field the worse it is (which is why my staff and I get monthly calls from recruiters). If there is a specialised skill set and a skills shortage, well you get the idea.

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  Reply # 1086657 10-Jul-2014 19:31
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I firmly believe that the best person to do the hiring is the manager of the role in question - they know what they're after skills-wise, and can also assess the often more important "team fit".

In-house recruiters only really work for bulk recruitment - high volume/low skills roles (contact centres, retail), where it's more about running a process.

Recruitment agencies can be good - where they're specialists in a particular area, so they know the industry/function, and have an established network/database of good quality candidates.

We axed our entire in-house recruitment function about a year ago and put hiring back to managers.  They couldn't be happier.  The biggest problem with companies (usually the big ones) that run in-house recruitment is that the really good recruiters simply won't go work in-house.  They're essentially sales people, and the good ones know they can earn the money working for agencies on a commission structure, so companies end up with the "average" ones who are happy to work a 9 to 5 on a fat salary without the need to put in the hard yards.

Disclaimer: I work in HR (obviously not recruitment!)

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  Reply # 1086747 10-Jul-2014 21:13
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I don't hire in my current role, but used to in a previous life.

I was involved in hiring for a fairly specialist team. I learned from experience never to just let HR draft an ad based on my description of what I wanted, or to let them shortlist. I always insisted that I had to review and approve the ad before it was run, and invariably edited it - sometimes substantially. I always insisted on being sent all of the CVs and being involved in the shortlisting process.

Doing it any other way is asking for trouble.

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