As small business owners see their companies grow, they come to the realisation that they cannot do it all, and in order for their business to prosper and expand, they are going to have to invest in an extra pair of hands to take over some of the responsibilities, or hire expert skills to help them realise their corporate dreams. Many of our clients’ first senior appointment are Lead Assessors to manage a small team, or a Quality Manager to help them work towards a higher Ofsted grading.
This can be a big step for many small business owners as they seek to attract not only a person with the skills they need, but also someone who shares similar values to you so they fit into the company culture. It can also be a bit frightening to have to fork out a salary that is higher than business owners have previously paid to employees.
Whether it is your first senior hire, or you’ve done it before many times, recruiting senior people is a risky business, but this risk can be minimised by dedicating serious time to ensure you make the right offer to the right person.
Do the maths. What will this person cost and how will they cover that cost?
Create a Job Description detailing exactly what the post holder will be doing on a day to day, week to week basis. Ask the people this person will be working with;
- What else will this person be doing?
- What skills are lacking in your current work force.
Job content is a major motivator and one of the findings within the REC’s Good Recruitment Campaign research was that candidates wanted to know more about the job content.
When you’ve created objectives and a Job Description, you can now begin to create a Person Specification – a profile of the skills a person will need to be able to perform the role for which you are recruiting. When you interview you can use this as a check list and ask for examples where they have demonstrated each skill you seek.
Is it a full time role? Sometimes when a company grows they need a senior person but there isn’t a full time role there just at the moment, but they know there will be in the future. If you employ someone full time to do a part time job, they are likely to be bored, demotivated and will ultimately leave. Consider what else they could do that would add value to the business and keep them occupied and engaged?
Senior candidates are looking for the whole package – the company, the opportunity, the role. You’ve dealt with the role by creating the Job Description so now you need to think about the company. What sells your company? Why would someone want to work there? Your company doesn’t have to be huge to have unique selling points.
Things that GPRS find candidates are particularly interested in are:
- How long the company has been established?
- Growth or stability during that period
- Plans for the future
- Ofsted grading
- Accreditations such as Investors in People
- Awards won
- Achievements – such as completion rates
- Office environment
- Holiday allowance
- Portfolio of clients – interesting companies or well known are always attractive
- Mileage allowance
- Continual professional development
- Career progression
When GPRS ask companies what sells them, some struggle, but when prompted proceed to list some great stuff – every company has something good to sell.
Create an overview of your company detailing its selling points and be prepared to send this to candidates prior to interview and also talk through them at interview.
Bonuses and commission are worth mentioning as a separate entity. Many companies ask for senior people and say there will be a bonus, but don’t actually know what the bonus or profit related pay will be. You need to get this sorted before you recruit as senior people often want to see monetary rewards for their efforts. Many senior people, particularly business development people, shy away from progressing their applications with companies if the commission structure isn’t clearly defined. A promise of commission isn’t good enough!
To help you really sell your business, at interview stage ask the interviewee the two following questions:
- Why do you want to leave your present job?
- What are you looking for in your next role?
This will tell you about their motivators and then you can match the various selling points of the role you are trying to sell, your company and the opportunity to the candidate. Then close for commitment to assess their interest – “Is this something you’d be interested in?”
Senior people don’t chop and change jobs easily, it is usually a considered process. There are far less senior roles about than there are Trainer and Assessor roles so Senior people that are gainfully employed, don’t jump ship quickly because if they make a wrong move, it may take them some time to find another suitable role. It is easy to find out about the job content, but less easy to look into the stability of a company.
The Work Based Learning and Training sector is going through turbulent times and it has been rocked to its core when household names in training have made redundancies or closed down completely. Therefore, it is important to sell the stability of your company and not be coy about your facts and figures as this can be a deciding factor as to whether a senior person accepts your offer of employment or not.
- How long has your company been established?
- What large companies are your clients?
- What has been your annual turnover for the last few years?
- What is your anticipated turnover for this year?
- What are the reason for the increase / decrease?
- How many learners do you have?
- How much funding do you have?
- What are your plans for the future?
Many very senior people will ask to see your accounts so that they can not only see what you’ve turned over but also how profitable your company is.
The benefits package is also something that needs careful consideration too. Senior candidates are often interested in pensions, profit related pay, share options, etc.
Before you begin to recruit something else you need to think about is the interview process:
- Who will review the CVs?
- Who will be involved in the interview?
- Who will arrange the interviews?
- Who will give post feedback interview?
- What dates are you going to be available?
- Who has the final say – at what stage will they be involved in the interview process?
- Who will raise the offer letter and contract of employment – are they going to off on holiday at final interview stage when you are likely to want to make an offer. Many candidates, quite rightly so, won’t hand in their notice until they have an offer letter detailing their whole package.
It is vital that you remember that the best candidates on the market are going to be assessing how you manage your recruitment process. A well structured, efficient, effective, interview process with interviews held within a reasonable space of time and feedback given promptly is an indicator of the high standards a company keeps. Quality candidates only want to work for quality companies!
If candidates are unsuitable, write to them promptly and inform them they haven’t been successful and thank them for their interest. Candidates would rather have negative feedback than no feedback. It shows your company cares.
If candidates are suitable ask what they like about the role and what reservations they have? This will indicate their level of interest and commitment to the next stage. Arrange interviews with them whilst you have them on the phone and ideally the interview should be held within the next seven days if possible. If the candidate has recently applied for the role and you’ve interviewed them and sold the prospect of working for your organisation well, the candidate is likely to be excited at the prospect; the longer you keep the candidate waiting, the more the excitement you have generated will wane.
Prepare well for the interview. Read through the candidate’s CV and decide which areas you wish to explore.
Typical ones would be:
- How long they have spent at each role
- Key achievements at each role
- Reasons for leaving
- Reasons for accepting their next role
- Gaps in career history
Have the Job Description and Person Specification at hand. Compare the Person Specification to their work history. Is there anything missing? If so, make note to explore at interview stage.
2. Opener –
- Tell the candidate what the agenda will be for the interview
- Ask an easy to answer open question to get the interviewee speaking such as, “Tell me about your current employment circumstances.”
3. Questioning –
- Systematically work your way through the Person Specification
- Systematically work your way through the questions about their CV
- Systematically work your way through the questions you’ve devised
- Establish what the candidate is looking for in their next career move
4. Summarise –
Re-iterate what the candidate is looking for:
- How far they are looking to travel per day?
- What salary and package they are looking for?
- Reasons for leaving their present job?
- What they are looking for in their next role?
5. Sell -
- Based on why the candidate has told you about:
- Why they want to leave their present role and what they are looking for in their next career move
- Sell the candidates what your company has to offer that matches
6. Close for commitment
- It is important you find out just how interested the candidate is:
- What interests you about the role and the company?
- What reservations do you have about working for this company?
- What do you think your existing employer will offer to keep you?
- If you were offered the role, would you accept?
Before the candidate leaves the building, agree the next step, when will you be in touch? Thank them for their time and shake their hands.
Meet with the other interviews immediately after the interview to ascertain their thoughts. Get back to the candidate promptly with feedback or to arrange another interview.
The stumbling block can be raising the offer letter. As mentioned earlier, it is important this is despatched quickly as candidates will not resign until they are in receipt of the full offer. This needs to be raised within 24 hours of the offer. This makes your company appear to be keen to hire your new member of staff and encourages engagement.
Offers are usually subject to satisfactory references. GPRS take references for all their internal staff and we thoroughly recommend that our clients take references on their own staff. In an ideal world talk to someone personally. An HR department probably haven’t worked personally with your new employee so they are unable to give you feedback on how they interacted with colleagues or how effective they were in their role. Ask the candidate their Line Manager’s name and contact them directly by telephone. Have some good reference taking questions lined up. I’ve found that most people you speak to, unless it is strict company policy not to give verbal references will be quite truthful and this can be enlightening!
Make sure the workstation and IT are set up well in advance and that someone has been designated to spend time with the new employee. A formal induction into the company looks professional and will help the new employee feel at home. Within the first few days it is also important that you go through the Job Description and agree key objectives for the forthcoming weeks and agree meeting times to catch up and discuss progress. This will help to ensure the new employee knows exactly what is expected of them and it sets the scene for how they will be managed in the future.
Recruitment often comes as a result of a knee jerk reaction due a need to extra help and like most knee jerk reactions, it is reactionary and little planning is involved. The risk can seriously be minimised by just taking some time planning.
If you would like advice on how GPRS can help you minimise the risk, please call Helen Wilson on 01785 430513.
We are VERY excited to have been shortlisted for Gold Employer of the Year (2-49) at the Investors in People Awards 2017!
Recognising the best workplaces
The Investors in People Awards recognises the people and teams that make the difference every day highlighting excellence from across the Investors in People global community.Investors in People Awards 2017 Shortlist IIP Awards 2017
By this time the candidate has joined your company and has received a sound onboarding, which has increased their engagement into your company by creating a positive first impression of your company.
The next step of the process is to ensure that the candidate meets the pre set criteria for the job. This is known as performance management.
In my experience, one of the reasons why new employees don’t live up to their new employer’s expectations is because they don’t know EXACTLY what the new employer’s expectations are!
Often performance management comes into force when the employer finds out that the new employee isn’t living up to their expectations so they tackle them about their shortfalls. If the new employer thinks they are doing an OK job, then they are likely to be demoralised by it. Performance management should begin before the candidate joins the company so they know upfront what is expected of them and how they will be managed.
Timekeeping and attendance
KPI’s or activity levels
What good looks like in your company
How someone behaves that demonstrates your company values.
These are often the things that the employer is unhappy with a new employee. On many instances over the years when asking why companies have had to replace a member of their staff shortly after the new employee joined, they will state one of the reasons above as to why the employee didn’t work out. When asked at what point they tell the new employee what is expected of them, they frequently tell me that the employee should know what is expected of them.
Therefore, if you talk the prospective employee, at interview stage, through what your expectations are, you are making it clear to them what is and what is not acceptable behaviour, and they will be under no illusions before they join the company. Once these have been gone through the prospective employee needs to be asked if they are happy with each point or if any of the points causes them a problem.
Ideally, this should be in a document form, such as a Job Description. The person who the inductee is going to be reporting to should go through this with them. It should be gone though duty by duty, emphasising exactly what is expected of them and what 'good' looks like to your company. There should be no room for misunderstanding. The inductee needs to be asked if they understand what is required of them.
Remember, today’s candidate is assessing the company throughout the recruitment process so this upfront approach will demonstrate that your company as efficient with high standards. If a candidate isn’t keen on what your expectations are, then they probably aren’t the right person for you. If the inductee isn’t going to be doing the whole role initially, then they need to know EXACTLY what they should be doing, this needs to be put in writing via email as confirmation.
The new employee can then be checked against this criteria. I check GPRS’s inductees against their objectives weekly for the first month and then monthly as part of their appraisals. This allows you quickly to identify any performance or training needs. Research shows that within 24 hours of being told something we often forget 75%. Ongoing evaluation ensures that bits of information that have been forgotten are highlighted and steps can be taken to make them habitual.
If you wait until the inductee has been with your company a while before evaluating their performance you risk then finding things that need to be put right, or a candidate that isn’t performing for months and has been allowed to continue which puts your reputation in jeopardy. Do not assume because someone has done the job before it will be to the standard you require. Double check for peace of mind.
Also, wait too long and then find that the candidate isn’t right for you company means you may have paid their salary for several months, when in reality if you’d have managed their performance sooner and more efficiently, you would have identified problems and would have been able to deal with them. This may mean providing additional training, or going down the disciplinary route if you are not happy with progress.
GPRS have a checklist that we work through which is based on the new employee’s tasks they need to perform and to what standard. Some of the criteria included are:
Timekeeping and attendance
KPI’s or activity levels
The standards we expect
How someone behaves that demonstrates your company values.
Weekly evaluations are taken so any areas I am not happy with are dealt with quickly and appropriately.
New employees are praised on areas where they have hit the criteria provided and given action points on where they can improve. Showing a person where they can improve isn’t just about performance management; it means you are constantly stretching them and improving their skills and abilities.
All conversations about where improvements can be made, or about areas of their person’s work or output that you are dissatisfied with, must be put in writing in the form of an action plan. The next time you meet you can go through this and praise them for improvements they have made.
If improvements haven’t been made, then you need to decide the reasons for this and what to do – it is a training need or a disciplinary issue. Judge each person separately and if your company doesn’t have a disciplinary process in place, take legal advice to ensure you act within the law.
Research also shows that new employees that have been inducted properly feel positive about the company and are more likely to perform to the best of their ability.
The first month or so that the employee joins your company is like the honeymoon period. The employee is likely to want to make a good first impression. After their first month they may feel more at home and they may begin to drop their standards in some areas of their work. It is important to maintain your high standards, and any areas of their performance with which you are not happy are dealt with immediately.
Good performance management just takes a little planning and putting some simple processes in place. It can often mean uncomfortable conversations, which I’m afraid that comes part and parcel of the role of manager. Some investment in putting together a performance management process in your company will make your company appear professional and well organised and will save you time and energy overall.
Applying for a new job is like eating a pie. You may be tempted by the first thing you see – a golden buttery pastry crust, shining glaze or sparkling sugar crown. But will the pie live up to its initial visual promises with a delicious content that will make your mouth water, your eyes close in sheer delight whilst you savour its yumminess, or will what lurks beneath the delicious looking crust be really quite disappointing?
A pie itself is a bit of an illusion. The first thing you see with a pie is the outer, golden pastry crust. You imagine that it is probably made with real butter and when you bite into it the first thing that touches your taste buds is that slightly salty, rich, buttery pastry that dissolves on your tongue and heralds the arrival on your taste buds of the filling.
If you don’t know already, you may suspect the filling to be sweet or savoury – maybe the sweet sharp combination of blackberry and apple that brings back memories of the autumn and its special seasonal offerings, or the sumptuous richness of high quality, British Hereford beef and ale, that was probably lovingly brewed by hand in a quaint little micro brewery in one of our beautiful English counties. Your mouth waters at the very prospect. However, it isn’t until you’ve committed to eating a slice that you really find out.
Applying for a new job is like eating a pie. What you initially see can be an illusion. Advertising works on the following principles known as AIDA:
And they all lived happily ever after. The pie was delicious. The job was fantastic...
Well, not exactly. Applying for a new job doesn’t take much in the way of commitment. You can do it online really easily, or you can speak to an agency and they will submit your details for you.
However, just like the pie, the job may not be quite as tasty as it initially seemed. Many people go for an interview and take the old fashioned approach of the interviewer being in the driving seat. They, the candidate, are there to be interviewed by the Hiring Manager so that the Hiring Manager can assess if the candidate can do the job they are looking to fill and will fit into the company for whom they work.
With a pie, once it makes its way from plate to mouth you and your little taste buds will jump into action and quickly decide whether or not you like it. It’s quite a quick decision made in nanoseconds in some area of your brain with a fancy name – I believe it is called the parietal lobe (but don’t quote me on it as I only got my GCSE grade B in human biology).
It always surprises me how many people go for an interview and have no questions planned. This is potentially going to be the venue where they will spend the greatest part of their working day and with people they will probably see more than their significant others. You need to make sure it is the right place for you with the right people.
Therefore, have a list of questions planned. Here are some suggestions:
Think about why you want to leave your present job. The most common ones recruiters are given as reasons for leaving are:
Once you’ve done that, design yourself some questions to find out what this potential employer has to offer or is different, such as:
So, don’t get tempted by the look of a delicious job to the point you are blinded by its golden exterior, plan your interview so you can make sure that the content really lives up to your initial expectations.
Remember, the job market is buoyant at the moment, so good candidates like you are hard to find! So make sure that the only company that tempts you is the tastiest.
Written by Helen Wilson