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Throughout my time in recruitment so far, I have seen many Consultants come and go, as well as sales people across a variety of companies. Sales is a ruthless and cut-throat industry, and the difference between a good and a bad sales function can make or break a company. Having spent the last year working in the Cambridge market recruiting for business development and sales people, I thought it would be useful to provide a simple guideline to hiring a ‘good’ employee who will help drive the business forward. The old saying of “the product sells itself” is far from the truth in this day and age, so you need to hire people who understand the product or have the capacity to learn it, can manage the sales cycle and are capable of closing a sale. So, it is worth starting by asking a simple question: Why hire sales people? In most cases it is because someone has left or a company wants to grow and increase their turnover. It doesn’t matter what level you are looking to hire at, all good sales people will have the same two main attributes you will need to look out for; motivation and ambition. If a candidate can display these attributes in the first meeting, then this is a strong indication that they could be a good potential fit. However, one of my biggest pet-hates is when I hear candidates say “I can sell anything!” This is not entirely true and if a candidate says this in an interview or meeting it’s a big red flag for me. The process of determining how to attract the best candidates for your company starts with selling your business and the product you have to offer. The first impression a candidate will have of the role, and of your organisation will be your website and your job description. So use the job description as an opportunity to engage with candidates and get them interested about the role on offer. Equally, if you are working with a knowledgeable and specialist Recruiter then they can do a lot of this work for you, making sure your company and opportunity are presented in the most engaging way possible. You may think this is basic stuff and you’re right; however, I have seen many job descriptions that look like they have been put together in less than 5 minutes with hardly any detail and the clients wonder why only 2 candidates have applied. The Interview Process Once you have shortlisted, I would recommend interviewing 3 or 4 candidates that you are sure will be a good fit. Some companies like to increase this to 5 or 6, but if you have a clear idea of the profile you’re looking for, then 3 or 4 will usually be enough. If you are recruiting directly then I would definitely recommend having a telephone interview as the first stage of the process. Purely because most of the time sales people will be speaking to and SELLING to clients on the phone, and if your candidate can’t articulate themselves well through a phone call why would you want to see them for the next stage? However, if you are working with a Recruiter that specialises in sales recruitment then they will be able to save you the time by carrying out this step of the process for you. Ensuring that you only interview people who have exceptional communication skills. The first face to face interview is where interviewers make mistakes; you don’t need to ask candidates what their experience is or what they have done for the past 4 years again as this should have been discussed over the phone. It is really important to ask the RIGHT questions!!! What are the right questions you say? Well, here are some questions which I highly recommend as they will indicate the level of candidate and the preparation that they have done. You will obviously look to ask questions based on your company and what they know about the product but here are a few that will help you to separate the good from the bad. 1. What methods do you use to hunt prospects and find leads? 2. Why do you utilise said method? Would you be comfortable using a different style? 3. How do you know/find out who the decision maker is and how do you approach them? 4. How do you understand what a client’s needs are? 5. How can you demonstrate our product is what the client needs? 6. How would you differentiate your sales style/method depending on the client you are dealing with? 7. What negotiations have you been proud of and why? 8. How do you handle clients who take longer than normal to make a decision? 9. Your x% off target and bonus with 2 months left of the year, how would you overcome this? 10. How important is customer service above hitting targets? There are many more questions you can use but the point I am making is that sales people need to win business and generate revenue; these questions will give you an initial indication as to how they are going to go about doing so and whether their approach would fit with the company’s ethos and style. This leads me on to the final stage of the interview process, which is my favourite, the presentation. By this point you would hopefully have kept the best candidates engaged in the process and have narrowed it down to the last two people. At the end of the first interview you would have given them a brief to prepare a small presentation to deliver in the final interview. The nature of this brief can vary according to the company but a good general example would be to pitch the company’s product or service offering to a potential client. If you're unsure of how to develop a suitable task for your company or market, then I have seen countless examples over the years and would be happy to help you put something together. Following the final interview, if you are able to decide on a candidate and would like to offer them the position, please be mindful that sales people thrive off reward and need a realistic target. You should have ascertained what salary and package they are expecting from the phone call, or from your Recruitment Consultant, so make sure you are offering the candidate what they are worth. If a candidate has indicated that they are looking for £X basic plus commission and benefits, then if you offer below that you will have thrown a spanner in the works and may well have wasted a lot of time, as the candidate will be unlikely to accept in such a competitive market. I have seen this happen many times and it is not the best situation as the candidate already feels undervalued before they have even started in the role. Of course, sales people will sometimes put forward a salary expectation that is above their market value (they are sales people after all!), but you should review their salary expectation after the first interview and, if you don’t feel they are worth that amount, then discuss it with the Recruiter or the candidate themselves as quickly as possible. In conclusion, recruiting for sales people can be incredibly challenging. It is in their nature to talk a very good game and sell themselves in to the role. They are also strong negotiators and so salary negotiations can be more difficult than for other positions. As a Recruiter I try to take as much pain out of the process as possible for both the client and candidate by making sure all parties are very well informed. There are many aspects of the process that I haven’t gone into much detail on here, but I am happy to discuss further with you over the phone if you’d like to know more. As the old saying goes; if you think hiring an experienced candidate is expensive, try hiring an amateur! I really appreciate everyone who has spent their time reading this and any feedback would be greatly appreciated. This is my 1st blog and I am planning to continue to provide insightful views into the world of business development every quarter. So, look out for my next one in March. If you would like speak in more detail about anything covered above, or if you would like some consultative advice about the current market then please don't hesitate to get in touch on: 01223 948065 or firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2018 there is a growing wave of momentum around gender equality in the workplace and most organisations have placed gender diversity on their corporate agenda for this year. However, faced with growing talent shortages across nearly all of the UK's sectors, companies are struggling to recruit enough people to satisfy business needs as it is, without the additional challenge of trying to diversify their workforce. As a result, they are becoming increasingly concerned about how to address their declining percentage of female employees. As an IT & Technology Recruitment Consultancy we see this problem in companies throughout the technology sector, and it is exacerbated further when those technology teams sit within industries which are renowned for a lack of diversity, such as finance. Our clients frequently ask for advice on how they can address their lack of gender diversity, and many are looking for a quick fix to suddenly start seeing more women entering their recruitment process. However, the truth is that this issue needs to be tackled long before the actual recruitment process begins. In order to have a real impact on attracting more female employees to an organisation, the company needs to address their core values, their working culture and their recruitment process itself, before going out to market. Here are a five tips and ideas which can help any organisation enhance their employee offering for a diverse workforce. Would women want to work for your organisation? Make sure you are offering a working environment which women will want to work in. Start by addressing your office culture and working environment - stamp out any laddish / bullish culture if it exists. Look at where people sit; try to have a diverse mix of people sitting near each other wherever possible. This practice is proven to breed diversity of thought and leads to more creative teams. If you don't have a formal or agreed flexible working policy then it is best to get one in place before actively going out to recruit. A flexible working policy will be welcomed by your existing workforce, as well as being very attractive to all prospective employees, gender regardless. Genuine flexible working policies give companies a real competitive edge in the recruitment market, so it will be well worth your time getting this right. Make sure you know which roles could suit a flexible working arrangement and which wouldn't. Make sure all of the Managers / Senior Leaders in the business are bought in to the policy to avoid future problems arising. Also think about how you will interview people differently if they are going to be working remotely, to make sure you are happy that their personality and working style will suit this arrangement. Finally, you need to address your flexible working comprehensively so that you can answer questions about it from candidates at interview. There is no use saying you offer flexible working on the job advert, and then trying to blag it in an interview when asked what it consists of. 2. Use feedback from your current employees Perhaps try asking all of your employees to say how likely they would be to recommend your organisation as a good place for women to work. You can do this through an anonymous employee survey or a Net Promoter Score survey. Ask them to give specific feedback around what they think it is like for women to work at the organisation and to give some constructive feedback about what could make it a better place to work. This feedback will allow you to fully understand what your employer proposition is for prospective female employees and you can use this feedback in your job adverts and interview process. Also use the negative feedback to be honest about where you need to improve your employer offering to be a great place for women to work and succeed. Ask the women who are happy, loyal and engaged in the business to perhaps write a case study of their time in the company; how they joined, what their experience has been and how successful they have been. If relevant, have these women involved at some stage in the interview process, and ask them to share their story. 3. Understand how to pitch the job and the organisation so that it will be attractive to women. Rethink how you write your job specifications, and your job adverts. You have probably heard the statistic that women will only apply for a job if they feel they meet 100% of the criteria, whereas men will apply if they feel they met 60%. Most job specifications are a long wishlist of skills & experience, which aren't always essential to being able to carry out the role effectively. As a result, women are not applying for these roles, because they don't meet the extensive list of requirements stated in the job advert, despite the fact they are perfectly capable of doing the job. Perhaps try rewriting your job specifications to be based around what the purpose of the job is, and what the expected outcomes should be within the first 6 months / 12 months. More women will be likely to read the advert and feel confident that they can deliver on these expectations, rather than simply meeting a tick list of skills. 4. Interview fairly Ensure your interview process is fair, objective and transparent. Before interviewing, decide what the most important criteria for the role are and weight them accordingly. Then create a fair scoring matrix according to those factors so that decisions are made on ability, experience and prospects and not as strongly around "culture" or "team fit". This will lead you to making objective decisions about candidates which are not lead by any conscious or unconscious bias. If it is suitable and relevant to have female employees involved in the interview process, then I would recommend it, firstly as women will immediately see the organisation as somewhere women work, and so that they can tell their story about what their employee experience has been. 5. Think outside the box on where to go to find candidates. Only partner with organisations who take this issue seriously and who will go the extra mile to help you find the best female talent for your roles to offer you a broader range of suitable candidates to choose from. Select a recruitment consultancy who is equally passionate about gender parity, and diversity in general, who will help to drive a diverse pipeline of candidates. If diversity is something which is important to you and your organisation then I would also urge you to look at Project Include, an organisation set up specifically to help technology companies build truly diverse and inclusive teams: www.projectinclude.org DP Connect is proud to be a gender diverse organisation with fantastic flexible working policies, and strong female representation at senior level. If you would like to talk in more detail about how we can help you amend your recruitment process to attract a more diverse pool of candidates then please don't hesitate to contact us on 0208 466 5666.
Flexible working is an undeniably emotive subject. The newspapers and social media feeds are full of accounts of those who have had to leave their jobs as flexible working wasn't offered to them (over 54,000 women each year) and those who are struggling day after day to walk the tightrope of a work / life balance. Then there are those who have been given the privilege of flexible working but they are facing the resentment and scorn of their colleagues and their career progression has hit a roadblock. It seems hard to find any good news stories, or any companies who are getting it quite right. The first issue is that there is a clear disparity between the amount of people wanting flexible working arrangements and the amount of companies offering it as part of their recruitment process. According to a recent survey by Timewise 87% of full-time employees either work flexibly already, or say they want to. However, only one in ten job adverts offer flexible working and only one third of companies raise the topic throughout the interview process. Moreover, people are being actively discouraged from mentioning the "f" word throughout the interview and offer process for fear that it will negatively impact their chances of getting the job. But why is this the case? Most employers say that they are prepared to consider flexible working, but they seem incredibly reticent to bring the topic up themselves. Perhaps for fear that everyone will want it. This attitude shows that employers are still considering flexible working to be problematic. Something they will tolerate and work around if they have to, but definitely not something they'd like to see the majority benefiting from. It is also seen as something that is primarily required by women with young families, and some companies believe it can be avoided by limiting the hiring of women of such age. In fact, in a report by Slater and Gordon in 2015, 40% of employers said they would avoid hiring a woman of childbearing age. This way of thinking is so damaging for many reasons: Firstly companies are missing out on a huge pool of talented women who are willing to work incredibly hard to provide for their families and secondly, because by avoiding this particular demographic these companies are not avoiding the problem. It isn't just mums who are demanding flexible working. In fact according to the Timewise survey childcare was only cited by 3 in 10 respondents as a reason to work flexibly. With an ageing population and people working into older age there is a growing demand for employees to care for their elderly parents, which can be difficult to manage around full time work. Also, many respondents just wanted the time and opportunity to pursue their own personal interests outside of work. So why are companies so worried about this growing demand for flexible working? If anything, a more open-minded approach to flexible working could actually have a positive financial impact. According to the Government's capital and wellbeing report 2017, "the UK economy would be £165 million richer / more productive if all businesses got on board". Surely that's a good enough incentive? The one issue that I hear regularly when discussing the issue of flexible working with businesses is trust. Managers and Directors are reluctant to offer flexible working from the outset, and want an employee to gain their trust before offering it as a privilege. Personally I would question whether their hiring process was robust enough if they weren't willing to place their trust in these new employees from day one. If companies had a more stringent recruitment process, which was tailored towards identifying people who could be trusted to work flexibly, then perhaps they would feel more comfortable offering it straightaway. Psychometric tests, effective on boarding programmes and setting clear, unambiguous objectives are all good ways to ensure that employees will be productive when working remotely. Another common objection is that it is difficult to manage employees who work outside of the office. Perhaps this concern reflects more on the quality of management style than on the issue of flexible working itself. As a country we have a problem with productivity and our long working hours as a nation show our focus on inputs rather than outputs. The employee who arrives in the office first and stays the latest looks far more committed than the one who leaves at 4pm and heads to a yoga class. However, we need to change our mentality to focus not on who was present in the office for the longest, but who achieved their objectives most efficiently. This change in management style may require an investment in retraining your management team, but overall it should lead to a more results-driven and theoretically, more productive environment which welcomes flexible working. So if we trust our employees to work flexibly from day one and we are confident that we can manage them effectively, then why wouldn't we encourage a conversation about flexible working from the outset of the recruitment process? In an increasingly competitive recruitment market where talent shortages are rife, companies need to get creative to attract talent from their competitors. Considering 87% of all full-time employees either currently work flexibly or would like to, then a company stating on their job adverts that they are open to considering flexible working will be likely to lead to a higher volume of applications. A job advert offering flexible working is also likely to attract passive candidates who aren't actively looking for a new role, but would be tempted by the opportunity to work more flexibly. Offering flexible working is also cheaper than offering inflated salaries to attract candidates. In fact, a survey by My Family Care in partnership with Hydrogen Recruitment showed that 53% of employees would choose flexible working over a 5% salary increase. Finally, when employees have work that really works for them, and for their families, they are likely to be far more loyal to their employers. There has been much talk in recent years about employee retention and employee experience, but offering people a sensible working arrangement which benefits their health and happiness is the simplest way to ensure loyalty and reduce attrition. Sources: https://timewise.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Flexible_working_Talent_-Imperative.pdf https://www.raconteur.net/sponsored/most-people-want-flexible-working http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/work/flexible-working-not-just-mothers-says-largest-ever-study-uk/ https://jobs.theguardian.com/article/why-now-s-the-time-to-embrace-flexible-working/
In recent years economists have expressed concern that Total Factor Productivity (TFP) worldwide has weakened substantially over the last decade and, as a result, global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has also been steadily decreasing. This economic backdrop is partly the reason that the world is so excited about the recent developments in machine learning, robotics, and deep learning. It is estimated that artificial intelligence technology has the potential to increase Total Factor Productivity by as much as 37% by 2035 (source: Accenture and Frontier Economics). This increase would, in turn, lead to a likely increase in global GDP. Artificial Intelligence technology has the potential to disrupt many industries by automating manual and repetitive tasks which are currently carried out by an entire workforce. Many column inches have been written about how Artificial Intelligence will lead to vast job losses within many industries including manufacturing and retail. Jon Andrews, the Head of Technology and Investments at PwC, said: “There’s no doubt that AI and robotics will rebalance what jobs look like in the future, and that some are more susceptible than others". Recruitment is one of the industries expected to be heavily disrupted by AI technology and there is much speculation as to what extent it will affect the industry. "Does the rise of AI mean the death of the recruiter?" asks Personnel Today. (July 2016) "Your next job interview could be with a recruiter bot" speculates CNN (May 2017) This is not the first time that many have speculated about how a new piece of technology will herald the downfall of the recruitment industry. Countless articles were written in 2013 declaring that LinkedIn would see the end of the industry; yet four years later the industry is stronger than ever and has now worth a record £35 billion. Personally I don't believe that Artificial Intelligence is the threat to the industry that some perceive it to be. LinkedIn wasn't able to replace the role of the professional Recruiter; if anything it made good Recruiters even better, and I expect that Artificial Intelligence will do much the same. The reason that no technological advancement can replace the role of the Recruiter is because they can never imitate the impact that a Recruiter has on the recruitment process. Recruitment is not simply about having a network of contacts; which LinkedIn can replicate. The real talent lies in the ability to engage with and attract those contacts to a range of suitable job opportunities. The fact that your client has the ability to build a network of potential hires on LinkedIn themselves does not mean they are automatically able to hire them directly. A professional Recruiter will not only have an extensive network of contacts, but they will have spoken to and engaged with those contacts consistently over a period of time to build a detailed understanding of what their skills are, what motivates them, and what they're looking to achieve in their career. When a suitable position arises the Recruiter will know immediately which of their connections it will be best suited to, and will be able to convincingly sell the opportunity to them based on their previous experienced and their key motivators. Artificial Intelligence can most definitely impact many parts of the recruitment process; from using chatbots to engage with candidates when they initially apply for a role through to managing CV submissions and interview scheduling. However there are multiple points throughout the typical recruitment process when a Recruitment Consultant has a direct influence on the success of the process. Whenever a candidate has a concern, a question or an uncertainty, the Consultant works with them to understand and overcome the issue. If a candidate is offered a job with more than one company, then the Recruiter will work with them to decide which one is best for them based on a number of different deciding factors. These moments of influence are based on emotional intelligence. The Consultants helps them reach a decision by listening, empathising and advising the best course of action. These are skills which even the most sophisticated of computer programs is not able to replicate effectively. Admittedly there are some Recruiters in the market who work in a very process driven and transactional manner. If a Recruiter is simply posting job adverts on behalf of a client, reviewing responses, submitting CVs and arranging interviews, then it is feasible that Artificial Intelligence could pose a threat to their job, as they aren't adding any additional consultative value. However, for more consultative Recruiters, artificial intelligence should be viewed as an opportunity. It is a chance to automate many parts of the process which can be time consuming and administrative, and will free up Consultants' time to spend more of their day communicating with their network of contacts, getting to know them better, and leveraging these connections to make more placements. In conclusion, I fully believe that recruitment is a human-driven business which can never be automated or replaced. As long as Recruiters are spending their time speaking to people, building relationships, gathering knowledge and sharing insights, there will always be a successful recruitment industry.