Would you hire someone that says they can do everything?

You can do everything? umm… right… Ever been in that situation? On the receiving end of a candidate that overstates what they can do. Maybe they can and maybe it’s all fluff, but how do you find out before hiring them?

As a recruitment agency we see this all the time and it’s our job to weed out those that actually can do what they say as opposed to those that believe that they can do it. We really like interviewing people (you have to love your job!) and regularly come across those that undersell their skills and those that really oversell what they have to offer and have the ego to match it. You also have to put into context what the role is; if it’s a sales role you would like the person to demonstrate some ability in their chosen career and what better way to do it then selling themselves, as the actual product, to you.

To find out if the person is all fluff or the real deal, some straight forward steps should include:

  • Looking at your role before even advertising it. What we mean by this is, looking at the technical skills required, having a position description with key competencies outlined to assess applications and having input from decision makers on the type of person that would fit the role
  • Advertising the role well – this is where you should not oversell the company or the role – take time to write it and be clear on what you want candidates to address
  • Develop a list of questions for screening and then for interviewing. The first may be a checklist against competencies stated in a resume or letter (remember that resumes can be just as inflated) and the second, your behavioural (example) based questions to find out real examples of a candidates knowledge/experience. It is also a good idea, and not often done, to create a range of acceptable answers to each question – if a candidate runs off on a tangent, they may be avoiding answering the actual question – bring it back to what you need in the answer
  • There is a really big difference between the word “can do” and “have done”  – depending on what you need or are happy to train, assess their experience carefully
  • When a candidate is describing their experience or projects, listen out for the word “WE”. What you may find is that a lot of people talk about tasks that they undertook as part of a team rather than the actual component that they worked on. Find out what their contribution was – sometimes you may be surprised
  • When a candidate states blatantly that they have done it all, come back to your competency list and walk them through it – don’t take their word for it. Start with the first competency, ask about what they know/did, ask for an example and mark off if they actually can do it or do know it
  • Good reference checks. There are reference checks and then there are reference checks. You have already made the effort to write out checklists and formulate specific interview questions so why not have specific questions for the reference check? Look again at what competencies you need answered, look at notes that you took about projects – was their uncertainty about their involvement? Now is the time to find out what they do and don’t know and find out about team fit, personality and other traits to help with your decision

People are people and sometimes you follow all of these processes and the new employee doesn’t work out – it just happens. Feel safe though in the knowledge that if you follow these processes well, you are increasing your chances of hiring some really great new employees that will add value to your business as they have actually proven the skills and experience that you are seeking for your role.

If a candidate states to you that they can do everything – pull out your new selection tools and find out. If they actually can, and have a great attitude, you may be onto a winner!

Generation Y and why we should close the recruitment debate

Following on from yesterday’s front page write-up in the Gold Coast Bulletin about ‘Generation Y’ being lazy and arrogant and unemployable, as researched by a team at Gold Coast City Council, we actually believe the opposite. We were asked to comment for the article and gave a positive response, stating that times have changed over the last few years and so have candidates in that category (our “edited” response was on page 4).

We believed the research to be somewhat outdated as today’s ‘Gen Y’ candidates that come through our agency for interview are quite skilled, are happy to negotiate salary and have shown their worth to our clients. Whilst some employers may have experienced some poor performers both in attitude and value for money through their own recruitment efforts, we have seen and placed some exceptional ‘Gen Y’ candidates that far exceeded those of ‘Gen X’ or ‘Baby Boomer’ categories.

Looking at the negatives that some of those against ‘Gen Y’ had experienced included:

  • High expectations of salary or wages
  • Disrespectful to their peers and managers
  • Poor work ethic (not hard workers, late to work, not goal driven)
  • Hard to manage
  • Hard to retain

What are the solutions?

From our experience in the recruitment space, a lot of these negatives are actually standard responses we receive from employers about people of all ages in their workforce, excluding the ‘hard to retain’ reason for more mature workers. Our job is to screen these candidates out before presenting them to you anyway. The best way for you to beat this is to actually look at your recruitment methods – how do you recruit, what are you actually looking for, what type of person fits your work culture, are you writing an attractive job advertisement, how do you interview, what questions do you ask, what questions do you ask their referees, are you judging character properly, what are you offering, is the salary/wage offered relative to the current market or just your opinion, what will be the status of their employment (casual / permanent / full time / part time / contract)? If you can answer these questions and recruit well, chances are that you will be screening out those that don’t meet what you want, irrespective of age or generation.

Retaining staff

We certainly agree that some ‘Gen Y’ candidates and employees differ from those before them and can be hard to retain – there is, unfortunately, no magic pill for this. ‘Gen Y’ have more of a sense of ‘now’ and needing to move up quickly through the ranks to make good money to be part of the ‘have’ generation. They are more self aware in the fact that they assess who they are and where they are going more often than we do – this is something significant that we have seen during our recruitment campaigns.  ‘Gen Y’ sometimes have the tendency to get bored in their role as they are used to technology, can pick up things a lot quicker than some of us  and may be attracted to other roles in the organisation that seem more detailed – by seeing them stagnant in their role it can raise the assumption of laziness rather than what it really is – an urge to learn and move to the next thing. Our thoughts on this are to look at their learning and communication styles. You most probably differ in your learning style and may assume that is how they learn, which is not necessarily the case. You don’t need to hold the hand of ‘Gen Y’ employees, just sit down with them more regularly, ask them how they are going, ask for ideas to improve current processes, and ask them if they feel they are being paid well. You may be surprised with the responses and ideas that they bring to the team and their insight on their worth, which you can debate openly. They will feel more involved, respected and have the recognition that this generation craves. It may also improve their focus on the business, helping you to retain someone that could be a future supervisor or manager.

At the end of the day, it’s about your business and how a person fits what you require for it to run well. Yes, things can go pear shaped however having the right processes at the beginning can have a huge impact on whether you continually have issues arising in your workforce. If you say no to ‘Gen Y’ then quite frankly you are missing out on some really good candidates that could help you attract a new market, steer your business in a new direction, offer new ways of doing what you have been doing, and ultimately, help lead to the survival of your business in a new economy.

Now, let’s put the debate to bed once and for all and recruit some great candidates!

Companies are still employing in South-East Queensland – believe it or not!

We hear so many mixed messages in the media and throughout our networks of the doom and gloom out there at the moment and never any good news for candidates and employers. Stories of job losses followed by company closures… and the list goes on. However, among all of this hype, and some real stories of hardship… we are still recruiting and filling some great new roles on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane!

We have some really good news stories of companies that have struggled through the last few years and are coming out the other side, not just needing one new staff member but a number of new staff members. It is so refreshing to sit down with a new or current client and for them to map out the role that we are recruiting for and their plans for future roles as their business grows. If you are in this situation as well, sit back for just a moment and have a quick smile to yourself and feel proud of your achievement.

Candidates are certainly knocking on our doors due to redundancies however employers are also knocking so that they can obtain new staff. There are still shortages in some industries and there probably always will be, meaning a demand for skilled workers in specific roles. We filled a very specialised role a week ago where we had been on the case for almost 3 months attempting to fill it – a recent redundancy from a large company provided the solution for a local employer and delivered an exceptionally talented candidate that will help move his business forward and provide further growth opportunities. Another employer changed the way they did business over a year ago and are now reaping the benefits, with another 6 staff coming on board in the next few months.

As far as jobs / careers go, we have seen a rise in the number of HR opportunities on the Gold Coast as employers grow to that next level and require a specialised person to reign in all of their policies, streamline processes and ensure compliance with legislative requirements. We have also seen a good rise in administrative (general administration / reception / accounts), sales, marketing roles and a slight increase in IT locally.

On the candidate side, we have met with some impressive candidates across a number of industries that we are currently assisting to find their next career move and also some that we have successfully placed. At the moment we are busier than we have been in quite a while. Just like you, it is great to be doing what we love.

Who said that it was all doom and gloom? We don’t think so!

Are you becoming unemployable? Would you employ you?

After seeing the collapse of Hastie Group this week and a raft of job losses it stirred up some interest in the question of future employability for business owners, Directors and long term employees.  If you are a business owner, partner, senior manager or a long term employee, what would you rate your chances of getting another job quickly if everything went pear-shaped?

Would you employ you? How would you sell your skills and experience to a potential employer and would you work for someone again? What is your intention in the new company? Will you stick around? Basically these are things that we often have to assess at application and interview stage for candidates that are in this situation. Some are very clear on these things and some really leave us guessing.

A few months ago we interviewed a senior manager that was responsible for business development and sales who approached us for a similar role that was advertised. When asked why that person wished to leave the role, their response was due to the lack of new business coming in and they could now see “the writing on the wall” for the company. If you take a step back, it was this person’s responsibility to seek new business and create opportunity so that this didn’t happen! Our big question: employable or unemployable?

Getting back to you. Hypothetically, if something happened to your business whether as an owner, senior manager or long term employee what would you do? We all know that the world won’t end, that’s for sure. You may however, be in a sticky situation if you don’t realistically look at who you are and your value to the next company. We are all proud of our individual achievements and you are definitely skilled in your workplace however, how do you sell that? Some points to consider based on feedback that we get from our clients:

  • As a Director, Entrepreneur, Partner or business owner the first thing we look at is your reason for moving on. You may have fulfilled your goals in your own business, a family member may have become ill, your industry may have changed or has been affected, a partnership may have dissolved and the list goes on… Be clear in what that is and most importantly what you want to bring to the role. You can be considered a high risk placement or even a threat to the next employer. What would you think of a rival business owner coming to work for you – would you be scared that they may spend 12 months with you, gather your information and your database, leave and start again back in competition with you?
  • As a long term employee – basically, you appear safe, as you have showed the tenacity and dedication to stay at a job or career for a period of time greater than 3 years (yes, we now consider “long term” greater than 3 years – shocking isn’t it?). However, the big question is what did you do whilst you were there? Did you work in a company for 10 years and have just 1 job that entire time, or did you progress your career in the company? Suddenly you may appear unattractive and questions start getting asked about your ability to learn and adapt, your motivation level and performance levels.
  • For both groups, salary is the biggest question – where do you fit? what are you comfortable with, can you take a cut and start again. This is one of the biggest hesitations that we experience on both sides of the fence. We all have a “personal worth” that we need to consider however you also need to consider what the market is paying (with some flexibility for your added skills). You sometimes have to leave the ego at the door and listen to what the job is worth to the business. Just remember, at the time of budgeting for the role, the company did not know you and were certainly not considering your perceived worth to assign a salary range to it.

What you need to do is to plan your attack. The first thing is to focus on your intentions and think of why you are looking at a new role and what your intentions are for the next business. Second to that, create a resume or CV (a great exercise to do even if you are in your own business) to see exactly who you are on paper – write down your achievements over the years, your qualifications and professional development and group the jobs or tasks that you are most skilled in. To us at New Point, the perfect candidate is clear on who they are, have the right intentions for the job, know and can give examples of their skills pertinent to the role and have a likeable character to fit with the team. Do you fit that profile?

Would you employ you?


Are you a workplace bully? Have you ever been bullied at work?

Bullying can have a profound effect on you whether in the workplace or personally. Focusing on the workplace, I have worked alongside bullies, been bullied myself and  found a way to cut through what they are trying to achieve (which is generally not very much at all). What led me to write about this subject came from a candidate interviewed the other day that was wanting to leave their current role due to a bullying work environment. If you have been bullied before, you could understand why.

What needs to be distinguished is whether you are actually being bullied or not. Sometimes you may just not fit a work culture that enjoys having a bit of fun at each other’s expense or you may feel victimised by a manager that is micro-managing you due to your lack of performance in the role. It’s a matter of stepping back and assessing what is happening and removing your emotion at the time. Speaking with others that have been bullied and from my own experiences, we found that bullies generally had a number of traits:

  • They presented as strong characters in the workplace however often had a weak link to their life outside of work
  • Career bullies (you know the ones) are experts at bullying a person covertly and make it very hard to prove that they actually were doing it
  • The best ones usually have a number of other staff that “report back to” or encourage them
  • They have a “set of unwritten rules” that others in the team must follow – step outside that and you will soon know what they are
  • They have nothing of substance to contribute at team meetings (hmmm… fancy that!!!)
  • They love the terms “just kidding” or “just having a joke” or “don’t be so serious” to cover for what they are doing
  • The colleagues that they generally attract to their group are victims themselves of this person’s bullying and are generally relieved that the “heat” is off them now, would rather not “rock the boat” and just let it happen
So… how do you tackle it? That’s the big question! The first thing is to not let this person (and possibly their group) prevent you from excelling in what could be a really good role or career opportunity. An excellent role model for this is my wife who proved that you can beat them. She entered a workplace for a career opportunity in a senior role only to find that almost 25% of the staff (in a 56 staff workplace) were bullying other staff and being covert, the owner was unaware of this. She stood up to the main aggressor only to be harassed twice as hard and it certainly took its toll over a 12 month period as she tried to cut through. She had thoughts of just throwing in the towel, a tear was shed here and there and I know that she was nervous going into work some days – it really hit her confidence hard. Moving into a management role and gaining the support of the owner by having a record of bullying occurrences, they managed and removed every single person that was responsible for bullying in their workplace. They now have a very strict policy on bullying so that it does not rear its ugly head again. What happened to this business? It is now very successful, bucking the current trends in their industry and it has a team that works very well together and encourages growth.
Work through bullying, make people aware of it happening and talk to your supervisor or manager as it is their legal responsibility to address it. As a manager or business owner it is your responsibility to take action if this is occurring and to have policies in place to deter people. You have to remember that no-one knows about it until you bring it to everyone’s attention and act on it.
The one or two people that are bullying others in your workplace could cost you excellent staff that just needed the chance to shine, as well as a lot of lost sales as they were deliberately held back from performing.
Remove bullies from your workplace and reap the rewards!

Lying on your resume – have you ever done or would you ever do it???

Yahoo Inc CEO Scott Thompson recently handing in his resignation over a lie on his resume, highlights the problem with fabricating or “beefing up” your resume to look better for a position that you are applying for. Taking from the story, the worst part about his case is that he wasn’t hired for the Science Degree that appeared on his resume, it was stated that he was hired based on his experience as an executive, which begs to ask the question – why even do it?

Working in the recruitment industry on behalf of our clients, our task is to find the most suitable candidate. It is our screening processes that are the buffer between letting that person through the gates and stopping them before they move to the next stage.

We all know what a lie is but what is considered as lying on your resume?

Basically lying about qualifications, actual workplaces, dates of employment and job titles that you’ve held are the major things that stick out. Good, strong screening processes should catch people out in that regard.

…but what about the other side of the coin, “beefing up” or “padding up” your resume?

This is the more common thing that occurs on a resume and the question is – is it a lie or is a person just trying to get ahead of other applicants by over-selling their skills? You get told more and more these days with a competitive job market to sell, sell, sell so that you get noticed but, can it also harm your chances? We asked some clients regarding this and their opinion was as follows:

“In our experience we have seen some resumes that are just fantastic, have called the applicant in to meet us and have been disappointed with their performance at interview… they just didn’t reflect what they had written in their resume”.

Another stated:

“We have changed our recruitment process now to doing phone interviews first after receiving applications. We ask a few set technical questions to understand their experience as most of the people in our industry state that they can do everything. By asking those questions we usually find that only a few actually have any real experience.”

Looking at these responses as well as interviews that we conduct ourselves, the main questions that you should ask yourself when stating your experience are:

  • What have you actually done throughout your career?
  • What have you got the ability to do?
These are some of the main things that we focus on when interviewing and screening applicants and you will often see them in selection criteria for Government based roles under the words “demonstrated” and “ability to”. Basically, when we speak with candidates a lot of people tell us “I can do this” and “I can do that” however our response is “have you actually done it and where did you do it?” In stating that you “can do” a task, is still of interest to us as you may be able to give examples of similar programs or tasks that you may have learned and your capacity to learn a new task.
Coming back to your resume – look at what you have written on your resume and ask yourself whether it reflects who you are and what you do, your work experience and your qualifications. If it doesn’t, you should make a few changes as someone, somewhere, sometime, may find out – just ask ex-CEO of Yahoo Inc Scott Thompson.

If I looked at your Facebook profile what would I find out about you?

Just over a week ago I posted a story that I found about recruiters and potential employers using Facebook and other social media sites to screen applicants out. Yes, we actually use social media as a tool in the process of finding out more about you. Remember at interview when we would ask about your hobbies or what you do in your free time? Well, most of that is now said in what you write and post on Facebook in your public profile!

I came across a graphic from a recent post by a company called Reppler (http://blog.reppler.com) that I would like to share with you. It was from research that they conducted on 300 hiring companies in the US and gives you a clear indication of what those companies do during the hiring process when social media is concerned.

Reppler (http://blog.reppler.com/) recently conducted a survey of 300 professionals who are involved in the hiring process at their company to understand the use of social networks for screening job applicants. The results of this survey are shown in this infographic.

To be really clear, this has become part of the screening process and why not? It gives us an impression of who you may be. At the end of the day the perception of who you are is in the eye of the beholder and you need to take that into consideration if you have a public profile for all to see. We have seen some crazy stuff on Facebook that I just can’t print here and clearly states “Do not hire me!!!” You may be a fantastic and professional worker that hits target after target, but you also like to work hard and play hard at the same time – just keep in mind that what you post can reflect on your chances of being called for an interview.

Just think for a moment… if you are looking for a new job and posted “I can’t stand my boss” or “taking a sickie today he-he” which we have actually seen posted, how does that look to a potential employer or recruiter if they are doing a simple check on Facebook?

What does your Facebook profile say about you? 

Thank you. New Point Recruitment turns 3 this week!

Hello past and present clients, candidates and my network. I really want to say – THANK YOU!

Your trust in us to deliver quality candidates, the referrals that we have received for new business and your engagement in the recruiting space has made the last three years as New Point Recruitment an enjoyable one.

Yes, we have made it past the terrible two’s, ok it wasn’t that terrible, we had some great support along the way! The event also marks my ninth consecutive year recruiting on the Gold Coast and in that time we have met some really interesting businesses that are moving forward in their industry and some candidates with great aspirations and interesting backgrounds.

Reflecting on the last three years and where we, as Gold Coast businesses are now, some interesting points really stand out:

  • Innovation has been the key – Those that struggled in 2009 when the effects of the GFC really started to take hold, chose to review their business, planned new ways of doing what they do, and implemented changes are now finally starting to reap the rewards for their efforts
  • Calculated risks – Some businesses that I have worked with recently went against some of the trends, took a risk and started new arms of their business when others were pulling out. As outsiders they could see what others weren’t doing well and saw an opportunity to offer something more… and it’s worked for them
  • Networking – Whilst this has always been happening, we have noticed a larger group of people networking at selected events. Yes, some events aren’t for everyone, but the consistency of being seen has increased their profile and business dramatically – it beats cold calling by a long shot. We highly recommend networking events that have an educational element to them.
  • Online presence – those that have embraced social media (and have done it well), made their website engaging, introduced shopping carts for products and introduced data capturing on their websites have seen a high increase in leads generated and also an increase in ‘sleeper products’ being sold without them having to do anything
  • Recruitment has changed – With the number of business closures in the Gold Coast and Brisbane regions and tightening of budgets, quite a number of recruiters (and businesses) left the market – up to 60% left the industry! Personally we have also seen a change in the type of businesses using recruiters due to the innovative process that we took in creating a range of packages to suit varying budgets. When we introduced our screening service and mid range “Deluxe” service, we saw an influx of smaller businesses using us to recruit for them. Whilst they had always wanted to use a recruitment agency, they had previously been ‘locked out’ of the market due to the large fees historically demanded in the industry. We found that our range of services opened an opportunity for you, as a smaller business to benefit from using an external recruiter
  • Candidates – With business closures, redundancies and tightening of budgets, we saw a large increase in candidate numbers. The most important issue that we found was that even with the increase in job seekers, it did not necessarily mean that the market was flooded with exceptionally skilled candidates. Yes, there were definitely some great ones out there that we placed and the good ones were, and still are, getting snapped up fast.
Once again, thank you. we hope that you have enjoyed working with us, our insights and our weekly blog created for you. We look forward to working with you again in the future.
Best regards,
David Ford
New Point Recruitment

Exit interviews – why are your employees leaving you?

Have you ever stopped to think how much staff turnover you have had in the last two years or even in the last year? If the answer is ‘Yes, we have lost a few people’, do you actually know why, and whether it was avoidable?

Losing a staff member doesn’t just end with them walking out the door and a farewell cake or drinks – what else are they taking with them – knowledge about your business, customers that they have built rapport with, and knowledge of systems and processes. Think about a time when you had been an employee and resigned from a role – what knowledge did you bring to the next role or to your own business? Although it is generally unintentional to use this information in a harmful way against your business, you can’t undo the training that the now ex-employee has gained on how your business operates. If moving on to a competitor, it is this knowledge and training that has made them valuable – that’s why they employed them – right?

At the end of the day, staff will inevitably leave you at some time. However, getting a better insight into why staff leave will help in minimising this and could possibly lead to having skilled people knocking on your door to join you as an employer of choice! Who wouldn’t love that?

Working with some great local clients and through our own research, has shown us some effective tips and processes that would actually capture this information – some organisations are really doing a great job of this, others just aren’t doing it at all. We have all heard of exit interviews or exit surveys but do you do them, or more importantly, do you conduct them 100% of the time?  An effective exit interview will show you a number of things about your business, your staff, internal communications, the role that they performed in, and the perception of the business among other things. Generally an employee leaves “for a new opportunity” but did that just disguise the fact that they really weren’t happy with a number of things and wanted to leave on good terms?

Wouldn’t you love to know the following?

  • Were they happy with their direct supervisor? (4 staff leaving in 9 months may tell you a different story)
  • Did they feel that they received sufficient training in their role(s)
  • What did they enjoy?
  • What didn’t they enjoy?
  • Have they heard good or poor feedback about the company?
  • Do they believe in your product or service?
  • Did they feel adequately paid in their role? (this is actually not the main decider for a person to leave – there is always something else that tips them)
  • Were there any internal conflicts (a covert workplace bully can often be identified over a short time – we have seen it happen!)
  • If anything had changed, would that have kept them on board?

There are so many questions that could be asked and answered however, you want to keep it relevant to your workplace. Always keep the aim of the interview firmly in your mind when designing the survey and include open ended questions to get appropriate feedback to action. If you would like to know more about exit interviews and the questions that can help your business retain valuable staff, please call David on 0414862979 to discuss this further.

Wouldn’t it be great to know why an employee has left you? It could make a huge difference to the way you manage your business… and in this economy… every little bit helps!

Photos on resumes and what really counts to get that job!

All this “controversy” about a recent study on having your photo on your resume and whether it can hurt or work for you has really got me thinking. The short answer is yes either way however, there is no really defined answer. If you have the skills and right attitude and are going to be screened out by a person judging you from a “professional” photo attached, do you actually think that you would want to work alongside that person? They have really done you a favour, not a disservice. What can appear as a great job or career could turn into the worst workplace you have been to based on having to work with that person and their circle of influence.

I mentioned the word “professional” when writing about your photo. I have seen so many people take care with their resume, format it nicely, check spelling and then… attach a really inappropriate picture of themselves. Some memorable photos attached to resumes have included:

  • The old “cropped from a group night club shot” – she is drunk isn’t she? We get quite a few of these!
  • The “pixelated” photo from a 1/2 Megapixel camera  – I didn’t know that a Lego man was applying for our role?
  • The “Guy with the fully sick Nissan Skyline”  – we will hear him coming for interview
  • The “Yes it’s cold and I’m in a swimsuit” girl – yes I really received this for a reception position. No, we did not meet!

I assist candidates with creating resumes to give them the best opportunity when applying for a new role. I often get asked whether to add a photo and I give my opinion at the time as it depends on the type of position and whether the person has an appropriate photo. Working on the client side, I actually like receiving applications with photos as it gives a personal feel and helps me picture how that person could work for the company.

Let’s really put things into perspective though, our role as a recruiter is to select the right person for the role. We are seeking the right skills and training, the right experience, right presentation appropriate for the role and the right attitude to fit with and work alongside our client and their employees. I take photos on resumes with a grain of salt, I want to know who you are, what you bring to the role and what your intentions are for the role.

This is what really counts!