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Topic # 191777 16-Feb-2016 10:23
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Well, I had previously started a thread focused just on the pain of being a hiring manager. Here goes some further random thoughts on this and experiences/thoughts as someone who is casually looking for opportunities as well. Feel free to vent your spleen - I heard it's good for one's health :)

 

 

 

Being a hiring manager/dealing with corporate HR (mostly idiots)

 

a) I get the need for JD standardisation and the need to get across our values blah blah but when I am hiring for a relatively beefy professional role where the usual applicant is either a lawyer or chartered accountant, please don't insult their intelligence by putting in all these "feel good" drivel about living our values and so forth into the JD. I know I'll never win this battle. And JDs for team-member roles that are 6 to 7 pages long? Oh please spare me.

 

b) If some HR/"talent acquisitions" muppet insists on pre-screening applicants and producing the interview shortlist (mercifully I have somehow either become too difficult for HR to deal with or my manager has made enough noises that I am now left alone to do this for my roles), at least extend the applicants the courtesy of reading their CVs properly. Don't waste people's time with routine phone-screening stuff that requires them to repeat what is already on their CV.

 

c) Can I appeal to those people who have wild fantasies of themselves being capable of doing almost 90% of all advertised roles: you're dreaming. Apply only for jobs where you can honestly demonstrate most of the competencies and essential skills. Idiots who apply for everything is one of the reasons why everyone has to suffer the pain of modern recruitment practices.

 

 

 

Employers continue to dehumanise applicants and rarely do what they preach

 

a) I just cannot believe that employers here routinely believe it acceptable to take two weeks to tell someone whether they might be offered an interview. People get sick and take holidays blah blah, I hear? Make sure you plan your hiring so that the decision makers are around and actually making decisions ASAP after closing date. I determine my interview shortlist within 24 hours of closing date.

 

b) HR departments especially bang on about how unprofessional it is to have mistakes in your CV. What about this from my own employer? The standard form rejection e-mail to anyone not offered an interview has the usual drivel: "large number of applicants.....", "others more closely matching current requirements", and ends with a line saying that "I" am happy to discuss and offer feedback and is signed off as "[company] recruitment team". Three issues: most of our ads do not identify the recruiter, there isn't any general recruitment hotline that people can ring, and the sign off doesn't match the body of the text. A large number of hiring managers have complained about how unprofessional this is. Does anyone at HR care? Nope.

 

c) "We value transferable skills; 21st century workplaces require agile employers with a wide range of experiences blah blah blah". Don't make me laugh. Most people continue to make selections solely on the bases of (depending on the stages of hiring) keyword hits, whether someone has worked in the same industry before, and so on.

 

 

 

Dealing with recruitment agents

 

I am interested in exploring (potentially) leaving the banking and finance industry and working in risk/compliance roles elsewhere. I recently expressed interest in a role that largely manages the dealings with the relevant regulatory body on behalf of what the recruitment agent described as a large, reputable corporate in another field. To cut a long story short, after suffering the usual rubbish involving the agent not reading my CV properly, he said I didn't quite match what the company required. I relayed my experience to an acquaintance who managed to find out that it was his company that was hiring for this role.

 

My CV eventually went to the hiring manager, who was appalled that the agency's ad clearly referred to his company, despite the company terminating their relationship with the agency due to perceived poor performance. I have since learnt that it is common for some agencies to put up ads without authorisation in the hopes of getting good applicants (in their eyes) and then trying to leverage their way back into the good graces of the employer through dangling the candidates.

 

And the hiring manager has offered me an interview. I can frankly write a book about how much I hate recruitment agents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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  Reply # 1493096 16-Feb-2016 10:44
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My wife could write screeds about this, based on her experiences.

 

The most typical thing she has found is that managers (of which there are too many usually) decide they have a vacancy. Instead of filling in a request for HR to recruit someone, they bypass HR and go straight to an agency or advertise themselves, do all the interviews etc and then instruct HR to appoint. Only to be told at that point that there is no budget, the Board has a moratorium on new appointments, the project is canned already or whatever.

 

Countless times has that happened to her with even large organisations.

 

She also finds that HR departments are usually filled with people who have no HR experience, no HR qualifications and who have just 'ended up' doing HR. She recently worked for a large bank (no names, no pack drill) whose new GM of HR for all of New Zealand was a former branch manager with no HR experience or qualifications but who had "run a few branches". In the 6 months she was there, she said that the lack of experience became abundantly apparent...!

 

She has also decided that the word "urgent" has no meaning in NZ. If she wanted to employ someone to start "urgently" that would mean she wanted them on deck within 7 days or so. She now no longer believes any recruiter or employer who claims their need is "urgent" because it rarely takes less than a month and sometimes much longer before any paperwork appears and as she says, no job exists until they send you paperwork.

 

Also odd is the fact that you can have a 6 month contract where the 6 months is more or less irrelevant - it may as well be 20 years - because they can let you go often with no notice at all but usually 10 days or so at any time. At least two government departments tried to terminate her contracts after the projects she was working on got canned WITHOUT notice or pay in lieu. If government departments can't manage the most basic HR principles, what hope do the rest have?

 

One company she worked for was very decent - they paid her $20,000 when they terminated an 18 month contract after 5 months due to budget cuts but that is the only time she has ever seen more than the legal minimum I think.






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  Reply # 1493103 16-Feb-2016 10:55
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Isn't that how the old saying goes? Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. Those who can't do or teach, recruit.

 

(apologies to all y'all teachers and trainers out there)


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  Reply # 1493109 16-Feb-2016 11:04
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Recruitment agents/companies drive me nuts.

 

The "come in for a chat" line they use and then expect you to go into the CBD for an "interview" yet offer no free parking, make you wait around for them and then you are only there for 10 - 20 minutes.

 

When I was younger I was invited in for one of these "interviews" and it ended up being for a role I had no experience in.  Only to find out later that the recruitment company needs to send a minimum number of CV's for each role to keep their contract with the hiring company, it was just a waste of my time.

 

I still have them ring me about roles that are not even suited to my skill set and just going for a shotgun approach to hiring and hope they hit someone with the right skill set for the hiring company.

 

 

 

I have found 90% of recruitment agents are just a waste of space, charge way to much for their "service" and are on the same par as real estate agents.




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  Reply # 1493139 16-Feb-2016 11:36
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Geektastic:

 

The most typical thing she has found is that managers (of which there are too many usually) decide they have a vacancy. Instead of filling in a request for HR to recruit someone, they bypass HR and go straight to an agency or advertise themselves, do all the interviews etc and then instruct HR to appoint. Only to be told at that point that there is no budget, the Board has a moratorium on new appointments, the project is canned already or whatever.

 

That's just unforgivable. Not hard to work out whether there is a hiring freeze etc.

 

She also finds that HR departments are usually filled with people who have no HR experience, no HR qualifications and who have just 'ended up' doing HR. She recently worked for a large bank (no names, no pack drill) whose new GM of HR for all of New Zealand was a former branch manager with no HR experience or qualifications but who had "run a few branches". In the 6 months she was there, she said that the lack of experience became abundantly apparent...!

 

Gotta say, this hasn't been my experience, at least insofar as "no HR qualifications" is concerned. Of course, that these people might have qualifications rarely made them any good. But I think you bring out a valid, wider point. As an early 30s senior manager (most people at my work who are at this level are well into their 40s or 50s) reporting to a GM who is just under 40 (rare as heck at my work), I have repeatedly observed how under-skilled and under qualified many of the babyboomer managers are. Most of them simply got there by virtue of tenure. Once they get there, they have no hesitation in becoming monsters who demand things of people that they never, ever would/could have managed or possessed at the same stages of their careers.

 

 

 

Also odd is the fact that you can have a 6 month contract where the 6 months is more or less irrelevant - it may as well be 20 years - because they can let you go often with no notice at all but usually 10 days or so at any time. At least two government departments tried to terminate her contracts after the projects she was working on got canned WITHOUT notice or pay in lieu. If government departments can't manage the most basic HR principles, what hope do the rest have?

 

One company she worked for was very decent - they paid her $20,000 when they terminated an 18 month contract after 5 months due to budget cuts but that is the only time she has ever seen more than the legal minimum I think.

 

 

Prior to working where I am now, I was on fixed term contracts for all my other jobs (some were legit; others were just the perils of working for scummy private equity firms). Yeah, all the contracts had similar termination terms although I have never been/seen anyone terminated before the end of the contract. I sure love it when I see HR people getting judgmental about people who seem to be constantly in fixed term roles. The fact that employers these days often have zero interest in offering job security seem to matter not a bit to them.

 

On another wider point, I truly salute hiring managers who battle against all the tide of HR BS, focus on people's potential, and look past the surface. Were it not for my GM, for example, I almost certainly would not have had the career that I have now and I know I try to do similar things when I hire. I have no doubt whatsoever that some people at HR will be delighted when I am gone.

 

 

 

 

 

 




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  Reply # 1493162 16-Feb-2016 11:51
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Other bugbears of mine: managers/HR that starts looking at applications before closing date and start doing up informal shortlists. NO! NO! NO! This isn't consistent with what we promised the applicants and in my experience it's almost always done to justify decisions to offer the role to an internal applicant.

 

Also, can we please have some formal policies (that are adhered to) regarding whether we are required to hire internally first. Because what I often see is JDs being jiggled (ha, it's about the only time that happens) to make it close to impossible for any external candidates to meet the criteria. All this just reinforces the usual BS to do with the advantages of "getting in" and prevents my work from getting the best candidates, except when hiring managers really push back at great personal cost and risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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  Reply # 1493163 16-Feb-2016 11:58
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I run a consulting business with 110 staff. Most of my recruitment is done by word of mouth and staff referrals of their contacts; and it takes 4 interviews and about 6 weeks for me to decide on an offer or not. It's tough to get a position with me.

Recruitment agents are 95% salespeople. Salespeople are lazy. 5% of recruitment agents are good though and if you can establish a relationship with a good one, it's worth dealing with the other 95%. Recruitment fees are outrageous, as are real estate agent fees.

I can't believe how many cv's I get that have spelling errors and no cover letter, or worse a cover email! If you can't do a quality job on your cv, how good is your daily work, quality-wise?

HR is a tough gig, I have worked at corporates and govt departments. I think it's fair to say that the majority of HR people are there because that's the job they could get. 20-30% of HR staff are valuable and worthwhile, and added value to my day.




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  Reply # 1493167 16-Feb-2016 12:05
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I don't have much time, but I'll summarise in that I hate all agents.  Recruitment is akin to people trafficking, less bold would be skills trafficking.

 

Real estate, used cars, etc, there's a whole market in getting producers to customers and skilled people to employers etc. 

 

Job Descriptions all tend to have 25% content relating to the job, what it is and what you'd be doing, and a mountain of fluff around the company, it's values etc.

 

I get that employees need to fit into the company culture, but they're there fundamentally first and foremost to fulfil a roll.

Why in NZ do we still have this massive thing about stating the salary band up front.  There's a vibe that I'm supposed to work for free because of my love for the role and company, and that anything I get paid is a bonus.  Utter bollocks that wastes a lot of time on both sides.  It's a band, be honest, let me screen on that when I'm searching and discuss it without frowned expressions back. 




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  Reply # 1493180 16-Feb-2016 12:24
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Jaxson:

 

I get that employees need to fit into the company culture, but they're there fundamentally first and foremost to fulfil a roll.

 

The trouble (again) really is that many companies and hiring managers frankly have no self-awareness. I love how companies and managers bang on about how they value differences, teamwork and blah blah. But "teamwork" really often comes down to very particularised, "command-and-control" notions of top-down, directive management, i.e. "Do what I say and be what I like". I have always worked in roles where I provide specialist advice to, well, non-specialists and operational staff or people in very senior positions - without fail I always get feedback that once people get to know me (i.e. go past first impressions and work with me for an hour), they find me open, helpful, willing to explain complicated things simply, and willing to go well out of my way to help.

 

Yet when I interviewed to get into this company, my (now) GM was then repeatedly dissuaded from hiring me by an HR person. My GM showed me the notes/observations the HR person made, stating how I was essentially unpleasant, introverted (I dared to say that one of my favourite activities is reading and analysing things - would have thought that's a pleasant attribute to have for a compliance role) and won't fit in. Luckily she looked past all that. When I applied to be promoted into my now senior management role, I also knew that there were people who guaranteed that my style would never fit/work with the execs.

 

Undoubtedly, the types who expect everyone to be like them usually won't like me, since I am not the sort who enjoys producing an Anthony Robbins-esque smile every 20 seconds, don't care to know every minutiae about people's lives, and generally prefer quiet and thoughtful 1 on 1 discussions as opposed to loud noise-making. Thankfully, I have run into enough open-minded people to survive. Not everyone is so lucky.

 

 

 

 


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  Reply # 1493181 16-Feb-2016 12:27
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Jaxson:

 

I don't have much time, but I'll summarise in that I hate all agents.  Recruitment is akin to people trafficking, less bold would be skills trafficking.

 

Real estate, used cars, etc, there's a whole market in getting producers to customers and skilled people to employers etc. 

 

Job Descriptions all tend to have 25% content relating to the job, what it is and what you'd be doing, and a mountain of fluff around the company, it's values etc.

 

I get that employees need to fit into the company culture, but they're there fundamentally first and foremost to fulfil a roll.

Why in NZ do we still have this massive thing about stating the salary band up front.  There's a vibe that I'm supposed to work for free because of my love for the role and company, and that anything I get paid is a bonus.  Utter bollocks that wastes a lot of time on both sides.  It's a band, be honest, let me screen on that when I'm searching and discuss it without frowned expressions back. 

 

 

 

 

Oh that's another thing, people not saying what the pay is or putting in a big range and knowing the hiring company will only pay at the bottom end of it.

 

The number of times I have sent my CV away and asking in my email what the salary band is to get a reply of "let's meet first before I release this information".  No let's not waste both of our times and just be upfront about it.  I know how much I want to get paid, no I won't accept a low amount because it's "random company name" no matter how great you say it is to work there.


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  Reply # 1493207 16-Feb-2016 12:51
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That push to get past the HR front door is massive.  It's hopefully nicer at a company HR level (no guarantees though) but it's downright terrible at Recruitment companies. 

They work entirely on key words, and have little to no understanding of the actual roles they are trying to fill.  I'm normally fine if I can get to talk to a manager/other staff member in the department section I'm likely to be working in, but getting enough boxes ticked to be allowed to progress is painful.

The reality is that some fields are very niche and require specialists, but a lot of other positions can be picked up along the way and the specific details aren't that important.  A lot of project work is like this as the technical components change between projects.  At that level you want someone who's not a complete plonker, has some previous relevant experience and training -only to show that they are capable of comprehension in the field, and then has the people skills to fit in with others.  Jack of all trades/master of none. 

That really stuff's the HR crowd who think people can only apply for a job if they've previously done exactly the same job somewhere else. 

Likewise if the role calls for an understanding of the companies systems, when you've never worked there before, but which would take a month or so to come up to speed.

 

I do vividly remember one job interview where I asked them what a typical day in their office would look like, and who I'd be working with and where.  Through them off guard, but via the job position description, which I'd got an interview for, I had no f idea what it really was.

 

 


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  Reply # 1493221 16-Feb-2016 13:20
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Jaxson:The reality is that some fields are very niche and require specialists, but a lot of other positions can be picked up along the way and the specific details aren't that important.  A lot of project work is like this as the technical components change between projects.  At that level you want someone who's not a complete plonker, has some previous relevant experience and training -only to show that they are capable of comprehension in the field, and then has the people skills to fit in with others.  Jack of all trades/master of none. 

That really stuff's the HR crowd who think people can only apply for a job if they've previously done exactly the same job somewhere else.

 

That is one of my pet peeves too.

 

dejadeadnz: c) Can I appeal to those people who have wild fantasies of themselves being capable of doing almost 90% of all advertised roles: you're dreaming. Apply only for jobs where you can honestly demonstrate most of the competencies and essential skills. Idiots who apply for everything is one of the reasons why everyone has to suffer the pain of modern recruitment practices.

 

I think one of the reasons people do this is because a lot of job descriptions list between 10 and 20 competencies / skills and all of them are essential.  It is also not unusual for the competencies / skills to be quite diverse making it reasonably obvious that they've just written the job description based on the skillset of the last person doing that job instead of concentrating on the core job and the skills necessary for that.

 

Then they claim they can't find any qualified staff.

 

Another pet peeve is companies that only want to hire highly experienced staff and are unwilling to take on more junior staff and help them develop.

 

My final peeve for today is those managers who complain they can't find qualified and motivated staff for jobs that only pay barely above the minimum wage.  Why would a motivated intelligent individual want to work in an industry that pays so poorly?




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  Reply # 1493228 16-Feb-2016 13:38
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Jaxson:

 


That really stuff's the HR crowd who think people can only apply for a job if they've previously done exactly the same job somewhere else. 

 

 

Most HR departments are completely winning in relation to their attempts at confining jobs to people who have done exactly X elsewhere. The problem with this approach is that we are increasingly producing narrow-minded people who are over-specialised and unable to see the forests for the tree. This reminds me of what a friend told me about her organisation's attempts at doing privacy risk assessments in relation to all aspects of their operations. No one can agree about should be leading the project because this sort of thing is rarely done. IT people insists that they should take the lead because most of the data is stored in IT systems (nevermind that they don't understand the Privacy Act); finance insisted that they should take the lead because breaches can lead to financial damage (oh who cares about things like reputational damage or actually containing things before they get to the point where you have to pay people compensation); and on it went. In the end everyone just did their own thing in a silo-ed way and risks were hardly reduced.

 

 

 

 




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  Reply # 1493238 16-Feb-2016 13:45
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graemeh:

 

 

 

My final peeve for today is those managers who complain they can't find qualified and motivated staff for jobs that only pay barely above the minimum wage.  Why would a motivated intelligent individual want to work in an industry that pays so poorly?

 

 

I see your point but you need to distinguish between managers/employees who are (often) forced to offer ratbag salaries by their employers and employers (usually SMEs) who constantly wish to shift all training and development costs to other people by insisting that someone has to have X amount of experience. The latter group usually always consist of unmitigated cheapskates backed by the likes of the EMA and other employers' advocacy groups (I sadly have to deal with these people a lot for my job), whose apparent sole purpose for existence is to depress the employment market as much as possible and to pay as little as possible.

 

I'll also say one thing about corporates: there are plenty of things wrong with them but if you are looking at professional roles, at least most of them pay (at a minimum) a pretty fair middling salary, usually more. I have nothing but contempt for, for example, suburban law firms and accountancy firms that expect their staff to generate 300K in fees and then pay them 60K a year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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  Reply # 1493514 16-Feb-2016 23:10
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BlinkyBill: I run a consulting business with 110 staff. Most of my recruitment is done by word of mouth and staff referrals of their contacts; and it takes 4 interviews and about 6 weeks for me to decide on an offer or not. It's tough to get a position with me.

Recruitment agents are 95% salespeople. Salespeople are lazy. 5% of recruitment agents are good though and if you can establish a relationship with a good one, it's worth dealing with the other 95%. Recruitment fees are outrageous, as are real estate agent fees.

I can't believe how many cv's I get that have spelling errors and no cover letter, or worse a cover email! If you can't do a quality job on your cv, how good is your daily work, quality-wise?

HR is a tough gig, I have worked at corporates and govt departments. I think it's fair to say that the majority of HR people are there because that's the job they could get. 20-30% of HR staff are valuable and worthwhile, and added value to my day.

 

During the RWC I had a client from SA who had tickets to the semis and the finals and wanted to fill the gap in between with a NZ photo trip.

 

He is a partner in a US based firm of head hunters called Spencer Stuart, one of the really big ones. He was a former Deputy Ambassador to France and so on, and is also one of the nicest people I have ever met. That kind of recruiter is on a whole different planet from the usual run of the mill ones, who are as you say little different from real estate salesmen or car salesmen.

 

Er Indoors, who used to work in HR back in the day, says that it is very recent in NZ that they have any form of professional body and she does not think there are professional examinations required yet in order to claim any kind of HR accredited status.






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  Reply # 1493516 16-Feb-2016 23:14
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dejadeadnz:

 

Jaxson:

 


That really stuff's the HR crowd who think people can only apply for a job if they've previously done exactly the same job somewhere else. 

 

 

Most HR departments are completely winning in relation to their attempts at confining jobs to people who have done exactly X elsewhere. The problem with this approach is that we are increasingly producing narrow-minded people who are over-specialised and unable to see the forests for the tree. This reminds me of what a friend told me about her organisation's attempts at doing privacy risk assessments in relation to all aspects of their operations. No one can agree about should be leading the project because this sort of thing is rarely done. IT people insists that they should take the lead because most of the data is stored in IT systems (nevermind that they don't understand the Privacy Act); finance insisted that they should take the lead because breaches can lead to financial damage (oh who cares about things like reputational damage or actually containing things before they get to the point where you have to pay people compensation); and on it went. In the end everyone just did their own thing in a silo-ed way and risks were hardly reduced.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My wife has actually changed the title of roles she has done to match the job request. I asked why and she says that even though she has all the skills and more for a particular role, if it says "Program Manager" on and you do not use the words "Program Manager" even though your previous job was as a Program Manager but was called "Program Lead Specialist" instead, the recruiters will largely be incapable/too lazy/can't be bothered with reading the CV and determining that you actually are a Program Manager!






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