9 Steps To Writing A Great Job Ad

The Job ADVERT. Not Job Description. ADVERT.

This to me, means we need to create something that sells to our target audience (candidates) and has the potential to create a feeling of missing out if they don’t apply.

Whilst, of course, remaining honest, authentic and in line with the job itself.

So on a special 99th episode of Talent & Growth, I shared my philosophy in transforming job specifications into talent-attracting ads.

Your job advert is the first step in converting talent into customers, so it’s essential to get it right if you want to attract the best (or any!) people.

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But before we get to my 9 steps, does your business need a hiring health check? As we head into 2023, are you looking to understand the health of your hiring and talent acquisition function?

The Animo Group have put together a Talent Acquisition Health Check which is FREE to use.

Developed by experts, this tool will benchmark your ability to find, engage and hire the best talent and compare this to your peers and competitors.

Get the report right here:

https://animogroup.scoreapp.com

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Now, the 9 steps to job advert success!

1) Get candidates hooked with a purpose

People want to know that what they’re working on matters. Put the purpose of the business in your advert’s headline and share how the company is changing things for their customers, sector or industry to align candidates with their mission. You’re inviting candidates to be part of something bigger. It’s all about tapping into the motivation that gets your candidates up in the morning.

2) Advertise potential achievements

Once you’ve aligned candidates with the company’s purpose, it’s time to tell them what the role will allow them to achieve. When they look back on their time with your client, what could they be proud of? Ask the hiring managers, ‘What would people be able to say they did here?’ That is a selling point. Promote development when you talk about the role, and tell candidates what new skills they’ll gain, who they’ll be learning from and how it will advance their career.

3) Prioritise progression

Talk about the progression path for the role. Be transparent about the process, such as ‘If you do well for this amount of time, and we set the clear deliverables, then you’re going to end up here.’ You’re not just selling candidates the next six months; you’re offering them a future with the company.

4) Clarify your requirements

Once the candidate is interested in the role, it’s time to talk about what the company needs from them. Data shows that the more requirements there are on an ad, the fewer people are going to apply, so keep it concise. Ask the hiring manager, ‘What must this person have done in their past or be able to do for you to be interested in them?’ Usually, they give me no more than three things. There’s a skill shortage; you can’t afford to give capable candidates reasons not to apply. The trick is to make your positions accessible and then hire people who show an aptitude for learning, collaboration and adaptation.

5) Outline the responsibilities

Putting a list of the day-to-day responsibilities of the role helps candidates establish if this is something they’re interested in doing straight away. Make it sound exciting! Talk about the opportunities they’ll get by working in particular areas and what level of accountability they’re going to have. You’re selling the experience of working for the company here.

6) Shout about your values

A big part of companies’ branding is their values. Whether it’s your collaborative work style or inclusive culture, put them in your ad because you want to see if candidates’ values align with yours. Remember that you’re selling to candidates in your ads, so you need to tell them why they should apply to your jobs and engage with you specifically. Mention your commitment to diversity and inclusivity. Your goal should be to make sure that everybody is as comfortable as possible to apply to your jobs. Make sure that the companies you’re advertising live by their ED&I policies as well because it needs to be completely authentic if you’re going to have a positive talent retention rate.

7) Offer Transparency

Salary transparency is really important. You’ve got to be pragmatic here because if you haven’t got salary transparency in your business (which is something you need to look at, but that’s for another day), then it could be tough to advertise it. Where you can, put salaries on your ads. That shows that you’re valuing the skills this position needs rather than chasing years of experience or low-balling people for other reasons. Even if it’s a range like £80-90k, give people a ballpark. It helps stamp out inequality and gender pay gaps, so including it is the right thing to do.

8) Lay out your process

You should also include an outline of the interview process. This goes back to ensuring that this is an inclusive process and that everybody will be treated the same. People also want to know what to expect. Having 25 rounds and 17 technical tests along the way will make your candidate experience suffer, so hone that process and put details on the advert. Be proud of it.

9) Promise feedback

Finally, could you give feedback to your candidates? Whatever they’ve done, however, they’ve engaged with you, whether it’s good news or bad news, you should be giving them some sort of feedback. Committing to feedback in your advert is another good selling point because people think they’ll get ghosted by TAs or companies, or recruiters. Following through will help you maintain an inclusive and transparent process that people will trust.

Finishing touches

When it comes to writing a job ad, my best advice is to throw out the specifications and start again. You need to be making sure the requirements are coming from the hiring manager and sticking to two to three (maybe four things for really high-level or technical positions) things that that person has to have to get this job or to be considered for this job. Transparency in all areas of your hiring process will also help you attract people, so be clear about the way you work. Write it all up in an informative and engaging way, and you’ll have the perfect job ad. 

Check the podcast here –

And what are you doing at midday today GMT? Joining me for a big talk about DATA! Sign up right here – https://www.linkedin.com/video/event/urn:li:ugcPost:7017777792075366400/

Building an Excellent Candidate Experience

A topic that often pops up in the recruitment world is candidate experience. In Episode 97 of the Talent & Growth podcast we spoke to Mary Strebinger, who is the Global Talent Acquisition lead at Who Gives A Crap?, about how they ensure that their candidate experience is amazing. Read on to find out how Mary’s team is pushing for a great candidate experience. 

How do you deliver on your company’s mission to provide a positive candidate experience? 

Candidate experience is just as delightful for us as it is for the candidates. We make sure each and every touchpoint is absolutely delightful, inclusive and equitable. Everything from our application process to our talent communications is peppered with everything from toilet humour to information on what to expect from us when you start working here. We welcome you to push back. The candidate experience is really about a two way street, so we want to hear what you’re thinking about, what you’re curious about, what you need from us or if you have any concerns. There’s a lot baked in there about expectation setting and transparency. 

We’re all about uplifting the gold standard of what it is to be a good business. We put purpose, the planet and people next to a profit, if not a little higher. We want to do the same thing in our candidate experience, because that’s really what it’s like to work with us. Even the interview itself is really a series of conversations for candidates to get to know us. Most of our team grows with us for years because we have a lot of internal mobility. Our hiring process is a little bit longer, but it’s a really intentional process. Every moment that you have with us is a two-way street where you can get curious with us, meet all our people and peek under the hood to see if it’s a good opportunity for you.

How do you make sure that the candidate is getting the right experience with you?

We have really intentional hiring processes. The standard process is about five touch points. It’s all a series of conversations, not interviews, for you to get to know us as much as we’re getting to know you. We assess everybody at the start, and then the first step is a phone screen with a talent rep who talks about our people and culture. After that we do a hiring manager screen, and they’re going to be diving a little deeper into the function of the role. After that is the middle stage where you meet some peers, whether it’s within a function that you’re going to be working elbow to elbow with, or some hyper cross functional collaboration partners. After that, we have something called homework, which is a paid project. We give candidates anywhere between a week to two weeks to work on it with us. Finally we pull together an offer and give you an executive interview. 

We also have something on our job board called ‘dream job’. It’s an opportunity for you to put in your general application or tell us what your dream job is. Instead of just putting in your resume and a little cover letter saying how much you love Who Gives A Crap?, you’re telling us ‘Here’s what I love to do, and here’s how I think we can partner up’. We look at those and do an exploratory call. We’ll decide what working together could look like, whether it’s a full time or it’s an ongoing role. Sometimes it starts as more of a consultancy, but we’ll design a process together with those dream job candidates. 

What we look for with every application is the intentionality of it and the level of care and curiosity that someone is bringing to the table. That’s something we always reciprocate. 

What does candidate feedback look like in terms of the feedback which you’re delivering to candidates and the feedback you’re gathering from candidates on the experience they’re getting?

I’m at the intersection of feedback from both sides. When you interview with us, we’re training your hiring managers and teammates to be delivering real time feedback. When you’re with me I’ll tell you about what the next steps look like and prepare you for your next interview. I’ll be directly or indirectly providing you with feedback to set you up for success with the manager. I cover some of the questions that we tried to dig into, but we just couldn’t quite understand and help you get more clear and concise with your answers. We’re also offering emails or texts or phone calls in between meetings so that candidates have the opportunity to reach out if they’ve got questions or feedback for us. 

We definitely want to know how your experience was at each touchpoint. We ask ‘how are you feeling? Do you have any further questions? How is that interaction? Was it prompt? Did they show up on time?’ We’re asking it more in an open ended form, but I’d like us to get a little bit more standardised. We do reviews internally with our hiring managers and our teams, but we haven’t been doing that with candidates. I always want to hear from candidates, and I don’t know if I’ve gained a reputation or if what I’m doing is working, but candidates are providing feedback to me unprompted, which I really love. 

We also get a lot of feedback from our rejections. I make sure that anytime we reject someone that we provide really constructive, valuable feedback and let them know what the decision really weighed on. What that does is help someone upskill, puts them back on the job market and gives them a sense of direction. I have definitely provided feedback that’s either changed someone’s job search or helped redirect the career path that they were looking for. It’s helped provide them with interview prep and allowed them to move on in their journeys, even if it wasn’t with us. Our feedback is always based on core skills and behaviours. We get great feedback from candidates who say ‘Hey, you’re right. I could have answered that more clearly. I did feel like it was a bit too senior for me.’ That way it benefits both of us. 

To hear more of Mary’s insights on creating a great candidate experience, tune into Episode 97 of the Talent & Growth podcast here.

On Talent & Growth we speak to talent leaders about the challenges they face and their solutions for attraction and retention. If you’re interested in hearing about how companies are building a more diverse talent pool, how you can attract top people from the big players, ways to create a more inclusive interview process or learn about the latest and greatest automation software to make your life easier, then this is the podcast for you.

How to Put Culture at the Centre of Your Hiring Strategy

On Episode 92 of The Talent & Growth Podcast we were joined by Isabel McParland, the People and Talent Acquisition Partner at BVNK, who have been on a real growth journey during the last couple of years to the last four months. We were fascinated to hear about how they have managed to maintain their integrity around putting culture at the centre of their hiring process. Isabel shared her insights on how culture-centred hiring can develop your business and grow it in the right way. Read on for the highlights of that conversation. 

What do you mean by putting culture at the centre of hiring?

Throughout the entire process, it’s been very apparent from day one, that having the right skills is important. There’s no two ways about that; you have to have the right skills to do a job, but having the right attitude is also essential. That’s something that we prioritise over everything else. We’ve managed to grow a culture that’s very fast paced and allows the people who work for us to really thrive. In order for that to happen, we have to have the right people come into the business in the first place. 

At every interview stage, culture is assessed by every single individual who does the interviewing. In order to be a successful candidate, you have to pass all of those cultural things that go on throughout the interviews. We either have like absolute yeses, where we cannot wait for individuals to start, or unfortunately they don’t come and work for us. We explain that we don’t just want culture fits, we want culture ads. Those are people whose first question is, ‘What is the culture?’ That automatically tells us that culture is important to them. In order to build a healthy culture, you have to have people who see culture as equally important to them. 

How are you implementing culture in the hiring process?

Our hiring process is structured towards culture. Candidates will always speak to a member of the talent team first. I never like to use the word interview, I always just call it a chat. It’s just so we can understand them a bit more, and they can equally get to know us a bit more.  Then they will speak to hiring managers, and then they’ll speak to me as a member of our executive team. But they always speak to a diverse range of employees, whether that’s people from all around the world, a mix between males and females, etc, we make sure that we are giving a whole view of the business. 

They will always speak to an executive at the end, that’s always the last stage. That’s something that we implemented about six months ago and we’ve seen great results. I think it’s really nice for candidates have buy-in from the executives, and it shows the importance that BVNK places on our talent and the people coming into the business. The flip side of that is that our executives have an opportunity to meet people before they come into the business. The executives also get a say in whether they think they’re going to fit into our culture correctly or not. It really shows that we have buy-in from every stage of the business.

How do you maintain solid and understandable boundaries around our culture, yet still make sure your hiring process and environment inclusive?

We put in good processes that allow us to do things quite quickly. For example, when a hiring manager says they like who they just interviewed, we know what the next step is, without even having to think about it. That does speed things up. I think the next thing is bringing on the right hiring managers who are inclusive, who have the right vision, who know the type of person they want to bring into the team. Outside of a culture-based system we do reference checks. All of our offers will be subject to reference checks, which is to make sure that their previous companies have also seen the traits that we’re looking for as well. We try to be efficient and make sure we haven’t missed anything while being quick.

To hear more about putting culture at the centre of your hiring process, tune into the full episode of The Talent & Growth Podcast here

On Talent & Growth we speak to talent leaders about the challenges they face and their solutions for attraction and retention. If you’re interested in hearing about how companies are building a more diverse talent pool, how you can attract top people from the big players, ways to create a more inclusive interview process or learn about the latest and greatest automation software to make your life easier, then this is the podcast for you.

How To Use Feedback To Improve the Candidate Experience

Recruiters are reporting being ghosted by candidates. While this is frustrating, it’s entirely possible that we’re part of the problem. On Episode 87 of The Talent & Growth Podcast we were joined by Helen Murdoch, the Talent Acquisition Manager at MPB, who explained the importance of feedback in building healthy relationships with candidates and improving their experience of the hiring process. Read on to level up your own recruitment practices. 

Why is improving the candidate experience through feedback so important? 

People want to do better. Giving candidates feedback feels like a really awkward thing to do, and asking them for feedback can feel uncomfortable too. There’s an element of the time that it takes. Without that, though, you don’t have the power to make changes. People get stuck in this cycle of doing what they’re doing and hoping for the best. Talent teams are stretched, talent partners are stretched, recruiters are stretched. It’s this constant cycle of not having enough time, but what feedback does is provide knowledge that saves me more time down the line.

When you’re gathering feedback, you need to get it from all of your candidates. If you get your feedback from the people that you’ve hired it’s always going to be positive, because they’ve got the job. What you’re missing out on is the person who was the runner up, or who you interviewed in your first cohort who didn’t get the position. Ask what they think of that process. It’s insightful to know that. I’ve been able to give solutions to candidates who want more personalised feedback, or for the process being faster. It’s about looking at that whole candidate journey, not just your successful people.

How can we use feedback from candidates to improve and impact the service we’re delivering? 

Feedback is powerful. I’ve been using a lot of the comments to understand what’s going well. People like the fact that we’ve got a real human touch to our process. They want more personalised feedback, so I’ve changed my automated email to include more information and give more personalised feedback whilst prioritising time as a factor. It’s been a rewarding experience to get the positives and turn the negatives around. It’s improved the service that I deliver, because I can engage with candidates as a human being. Feedback helps me develop as a person, and it’s giving candidates a voice. 

Understanding what your candidates want changes everything. It gives me an understanding of what they want when I’m posting a job. What it is may not be obvious to someone who doesn’t have the knowledge of the business that I have. When you’re in a job search it’s emotive because you might be living paycheck to paycheck, struggling mentally or things like that. When you get a rejection it feels awful, but if you have the opportunity to talk to someone and get some tips on how to improve, that can be a really positive thing. That’s why feedback is so important, because it helps us make the system better for the people who are going through it. 

What are your top rules for feedback?

Always be open to what candidates say. If you’re kind of scared about going on this journey, know that it will pay off in the long term, because you’re going to learn from it. Don’t take it personally, like I did. You have to step back and realise that it has nothing to do with you. Recruiters are massively empathetic people and we deal with people in a difficult transition of their lives, who do often give very emotional feedback. We are naturally scared of those negatives because we always want to secure someone that dream job that they want, we want to help our candidates achieve their goals. When they don’t secure it though, giving them feedback and asking how you can do better will either improve your process or reconfirm that you’re actually doing a good job, they just weren’t the right fit. It’s all about improvement, just remember that. 

To hear more about how Helen has implemented feedback to improve her own process as a recruiter, tune into Episode 87 of The Talent & Growth Podcast here. 

On Talent & Growth we speak to talent leaders about the challenges they face and their solutions for attraction and retention. If you’re interested in hearing about how companies are building a more diverse talent pool, how you can attract top people from the big players, ways to create a more inclusive interview process or learn about the latest and greatest automation software to make your life easier, then this is the podcast for you.

How Events can Attract Talent to your Business

On Episode 80 of The Talent & Growth Podcast we were joined by Michael Carter, the Talent Acquisition Manager at Warner Brothers Discovery. We talked specifically about how to use events for sourcing talent. Running events can be a great way to attract new talent and get new eyes on your business and your product, if done correctly. We asked Michael for his insights into the process ahead of our own live event, which is happening at the Warner Brothers Discovery offices where Michael works. 

Read on to learn more about how you can utilise events to attract talent to your business or recruitment pool. 

How effective do you find events are when it comes to attracting new talent to your brand?

I think it’s very effective. To be completely honest, for the talent acquisition team it’s a really fun and engaging way for your teams to grow as well. I think there’s three main points where its effectiveness can be measured. One element of events is that you can really bring in a really diverse range of talent, not just from a geography standpoint, or a coach perspective, but from a neurodiversity perspective. You can get people who are working on different products and in different pockets of the world with different goals in mind and bring them together. You can target separate areas and really work across that. 

The second point of effectiveness is you can test a lot of the stuff that you’re doing within the events. So for example, there’s three ways in which you can source these events. One, you can run a recruitment event where the goal is to hire people at the end of it. Two, you can just host a meet up that gives you a sourcing map afterwards. Three, you attend events yourself, and try to spread like oil in those and network as much as you can. In the second one, if you’re doing an event specific to recruitment and hiring, you can A-B test a lot of strategy, you can change things up, try different interview teams or panels, test structures – it’s pretty cool. The third way is useful if you’re trying to scale up a specific team very quickly and you need to reach more talent. Those are the three main effective ways to utilise events to find or attract talent. 

How can teams use events to leverage engagement with potential new candidates? 

There are a couple ways. One is when the marketing of the event is purely down to recruitment. Obviously, you lean on a comms team and a marketing team and a branding team to create the assets and the content that you’re pushing out, like you do with any recruitment project. The actual marketing and the gathering of an audience is done by recruitment though, because we have the LinkedIn licences, we have the reach, so that’s a predominant reason why you’re involved. We all do LinkedIn messaging, multi messenger threads, the follow up, and this can really build out a different strategy. 

If you have two sources in one region, one sourcer has tapped out engineers in Budapest for example, you can lean on the other’s LinkedIn to send messages to a similar group about an event for a change. It gives you a rejuvenated avenue of search and conversation so you can talk about this event. You want to market it as an engineering focused event with a recruitment advantage, that is the whole point of these things generally. It just gives you a different discussion point, and more importantly, it gives you something to provide these engineers and these people that you’re speaking with. You’re not just knocking on the door going, ‘Hey, look, come work for us’, again. You’re offering them value and saying ‘Hey, this is what we do. What do you reckon if we have a chat after you’ve been to the event?’ A lot of the time, people who are already looking for work will shortcut it and just ask you straight away, but they like having that asset and some reflection of what the work is actually like. 

The other way that you can leverage engagement is with attendees for generic meetups. You can search their companies and that gives you a whole market map to see where they’ve come from and where they’ve gone without that much interaction. It gives you a whole matrix of sourcing materials. We’ve found that from one person who comes to an event, there’s four companies that they will have worked for or interacted with who then become part of our wider market matrix, so you can just tap into that as you go.

Follow up is key, so how do we make that work?

That depends on your tools. If you’re using Eventbrite, for example, you have a signup page, which asks people to tell you their first name, last name, job title and current company, which you can set up to give you an excel sheet of at the end. That gives you all your people or your companies with emails or contact details or whatever they want to add in. That gives you a list for messaging and networking afterwards. One note I would say on this is when you do the sign up, make sure the sheet reflects who attends, because I have done it before where I’ve run an event, then you’ve messaged everyone and said ‘Hey, thanks for coming’ and I got replies saying ‘I didn’t come, what are we talking about?’ Otherwise, the follow up is pretty simple. From a recruitment perspective, that follow up message is really just about giving people the access to knowledge about what’s going on and access to you. As long as it’s fast (within 48 hours), it’s relevant. Follow up actions in terms of whoever spoke on this topic, you can find their LinkedIn here, or you can contact them on their email. You can give them follow up resources and then just reiterate at the end ‘Hey, obviously, as you heard, we’re recruiting. Give me a shout if you can’.

What advice would you give to somebody who’s looking to start using events for sourcing talent?

Just have fun with it. We all have ideas and stuff that we want to try. Doing it in one project that has bookends on either side and a goal can sound quite restrictive, but there’s so much freedom within that. There’s so much interconnection with the group that you’re recruiting for that you really need to dig deep to give you an idea of the culture that you’re bringing people into. It gives you access to employer branding, marketing, columns, relocation… It’s really fun. I think as long as you have the support of the leadership, it can’t really go wrong. My other bit of advice is, even if you think you know something, ask and check it anyway. Just double triple check. At the end of the day, the company will realise it’s at least a good bit of employer branding or product, so even if you don’t make hires out of it, there’s so many intangible benefits that you can do for these things.

To hear more of Michael’s insights on how to create great events and tips for running successful recruitment campaigns at them, listen to the full episode of The Talent & Growth Podcast here!

On Talent & Growth we speak to talent leaders about the challenges they face and their solutions for attraction and retention. If you’re interested in hearing about how companies are building a more diverse talent pool, how you can attract top people from the big players, ways to create a more inclusive interview process or learn about the latest and greatest automation software to make your life easier, then this is the podcast for you.

Six lessons after 100 Episodes of Talent and Growth

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Last week we dropped our 100th Talent & Growth episode, a review of 2022 and look forward to 2023 with Hung Lee.

I began the series to help give my new business, The Animo Group, a little bit of momentum and figured we would run out of steam after 6 or 7 episodes.

There can’t be THAT much to talk about in talent acquisition.

Wrong.

T&G took on a life of its own, and I am incredibly proud of the journey we have been on and thankful to the people who have listened, liked and shared our pod.

Most of all, I am grateful to the guests for spending time with me and allowing me to learn so much from them!

I am better at my job because of the conversations I have had on these pods this year, and I hope if you have listened, then you are better at your job too 🙂

There are countless learnings from these hours of conversations, but I wanted to share some which jump out at me as I reflect on the year.

  1. Feedback is king. In terms of the candidate’s experience, the feedback loop is crucial. Of course, candidates must receive feedback from your business if they have interviewed with you. They should be given reasons why they have not been successful. The ghosting of candidates in 2022 is criminal. But if you want that candidate experience to be on point, then you should also be generating feedback from the candidates who have been through your process – there are plenty of tools to automate this for you.
  2. The exit experience is as necessary as the onboarding experience. Creating an ecosystem of advocates will do your brand much good, and a great way to do that is to ensure that those who leave do so in a significant way so they can continue to carry the flag for you. Plus, you need that data to find out why they are leaving and see if there are any trends to help you next time. TA should also be a part of this process because who better use this data? And who better than TA to stay in touch with the exited to get referrals down the line?
  3. Stakeholder relationships are as crucial as any ability to source talent. I have found this myself this year, and it has been one of the biggest differentiators between agency and in-house recruitment. You can be the best recruitment agency in the world, BUT you cannot build as good a relationship with the stakeholder as you could if you work in-house because there is the elephant in the room – the fee attached to your placing! You don’t have the trust of the stakeholder in the same way. Working in-house, you can build relationships, influence, manage expectations, and work together better. Disagree? Come at me!
  4. Talent acquisition should be involved in Internal Mobility AND retention AND everywhere else. Gone are the days the TA is just responsible for finding CVs. TA should be EVERYWHERE! They should be focal in any internal mobility schemes, helping make them work and ensuring people know how to move to new roles within the company. And they should be involved in retention strategies and learn all about them because keeping people is more important than finding people. TA should not be siloed. They should be in the middle of everything.
  5. We must redefine our definition of talent if we want to increase diversity. There is a labour shortage—a skills shortage, particularly in tech. But to paraphrase Asif Sadiq, we need to stop asking people what they have done and ask them how they would do things. We must stop thinking people must have this qualification or background. We must look forward, not back.
  6. The Recruiter is the most critical person in the business. Big love to Chad Sowash, who gave me my favourite soundbite of the year. We are the most crucial person in the business. Without us working in TA, the company cannot grow. And if you don’t grow, you die.

What have been your biggest lessons in talent acquisition in 2022?

Catch up on all the T&G podcast episodes right here –

How to Develop a Hiring Strategy

On Episode 77 of The Talent & Growth Podcast we spoke to Jonathan Durnford-Smith, who is the Portfolio Partner at Octopus Ventures, about how to implement hiring processes in your business, particularly those which are at an early stage. He gave us some really great insights for any company who is looking to put together a strategy around their hiring, what it should look like in terms of processes. 

If that’s something that interests you, read on for some of the key points from our conversation. We hope you enjoy it! 

We’re talking about setting up hiring process processes today. At what point should this be a focus for a business? 

That’s a great question, I think you should start thinking about it from day one – that being when you’re making that first hire. I would never advise people to start to put together a really rigorous or overly structured process at that point, but you should definitely start thinking about it. The core elements for a very early stage business are to take time at the very beginning to define the roles. A lot of people have jumped to the conclusion that they need this type of person, or a VP of engineering, or a VP of sales, and that’s largely influenced by somebody who has told them that they need that, or they think they might need that because they’ve read a job spec. Actually, what you should really do is actually think about, what are the goals of the business? What do we need to achieve? What are the skill sets that we need to be able to achieve in the next year where we’re only going to have 20 people? How do we think about where they fit? And then ultimately, what does success look like? Ask yourself, ‘if any person is in this role, what will they have accomplished at the six month mark? What will they have accomplished at the 12 month mark? How is that contributing to the broader organisation?’ That’s the best way of defining the role and I think that’s really important for the early stage. 

I also think the decision making element is really important as well, a lot of bias can creep in at the early stage. There’s the old adage where you just hire people who are very similar to yourself, or you hire friends or people that you’ve worked with previously. I get why people do that, because they’re known entities and people that you know will work well with you. It’s okay to hire some of those people, don’t get me wrong, but then I also think there is a real need for difference in perspective, and bringing in some fresh perspective. I think the other thing in decision making is to remove bias from that process wherever possible, when you’re actually getting to the point of deciding between one candidate or another. Don’t necessarily compare candidates, but compare them against the role. It’s a really hard thing to do, right? But a lot of people make the mistake of saying, ‘Well, we’ve got these two candidates, let’s compare them with pros and cons’. But actually, you shouldn’t really be doing that, you should be comparing them to the role that you’ve defined clearly at the very start and seeing which one of them matches the role, not which one of them is better than the others. I think that’s a really crucial point as well. 

Later on, as you start going beyond 20 employees to 50 or 100 people, that’s when you need a bit more scalability. You now need to build a structure around things because we’re hiring 20-30 people a year and we need that consistency. That will come with time. I think once you’ve made those first few hires, that’s when you need to slow things down. And startups are afraid to slow things down, obviously, but having the courage to slow things down even for a few months to take stock and think about the point where they need to be is so important. Make sure that before you start any of that you know how you’re going to approach those situations, and you know what that process is going to look like.

What is the blueprint for putting together hiring processes? 

Something that I’ve seen over the course of my career is velocity. Velocity in the sense of not hiring as quickly as possible, necessarily, but setting out a time to hire and knowing realistically what that looks like. I think fairness and consistency are really important, in the sense of are candidates doing the same type of interview? Are decisions being made in the same way? Are we avoiding any unfairness creeping into the process? 

I think candidate experience is like one of the very core pillars that everyone should think about. There are very quick and easy things that you can implement that can improve that.  A lot of people think, ‘I’ve got to have an amazing Glassdoor rating, I’ve got to have like an EVP consultant come in and do all of this kind of stuff’. I don’t actually think you do. The other pillar is diversity and equity. Inclusion is a massive thing that everyone is thinking about, quite rightly so at the moment, and thinking about that should be wrapped up in everything I’ve just said. All of those different elements should be created alongside your D&I view, so asking ‘how are we building D&I within that process?’ as you go. I think the second part is ‘how do we build it within the culture internally’, because what I have seen done is a company whose focus is only on D&I during hiring, but they don’t actually mirror it in the final culture. People are joining and they’re kind of thinking ‘this doesn’t match what I was told in the interview process’. That’s another thing to keep your eye on. 

Those are the core pillars; velocity, consistency, candidate experience and D&I. That’s what you should apply throughout when thinking about a hiring process.

What should the hiring process workflow look like?

In an ideal world, you’d have this perfectly shaped funnel, where it starts wide and it comes down and every single interview process serves a purpose. That’s what you should aspire to. It’s really important to always question the workflow. Every year, if not more often, review your processes, look at whatever metrics you can gather and see what that workflow looks like and try to identify what could be the weak points or the areas that could be improved. In an ideal world, you want that workflow to be very clear in terms of every single stage should have a purpose, and you would want to be able to measure how many candidates have been at that stage, and how many have then gone through to the next stage. I could probably talk for hours on how data can help inform your hiring processes, not enough people do it, but I think that’s a super important thing as well. Ultimately, if you spend enough time in your interview process, even if those numbers are lower but you’re ensuring that they’re quality hires, I do believe that 10 amazing hires are better than 30 okay hires. 

Another thing I’d always consider is that link with your people team or your HR team is there mapping what a hire’s success looks like over the first year. It can even start with the amount of people that are passing probation, which sounds like a brutal metric, but I think is one that that gives you a good idea of how well you’re hiring. Beyond that point, you can consider promotions, ratings and performance reviews as well. If you could afford to, I would say to track those as well.

What would be your message or advice to business leaders who are just starting to hire, what do they need to stop and think about and implement?

Take a step back and take a breather. Don’t be afraid to pause your hiring, even if it’s for a week or two. That’s an uncomfortable thing to do for a lot of people, but see what you’ve done, what’s worked and what hasn’t. Start from the very basics, like what are the main roles that we need to hire for this year? Let’s just take three of those roles and think about how we are going to hire those people. Who do we have internally that can help give us a read? If we don’t have those, how do we think about external help coming in to assess those potential candidates for those roles? 

Start small. I think a lot of people put a lot of pressure on themselves. Often you don’t need all of your new hires that quickly, and you can actually get them a lot quicker if you just take a step back, take a breather and assess what you can do a little bit differently. I’m a big believer in trying to get a recruiter into the company early on if you can. Allow for that. I think it’s super important in startups because it’s often their CEO or member of leadership who’s leading recruiting until they get somebody on board. They will burn themselves out by trying to juggle that with everything else that’s going on, or they just won’t do it that well, because they’ve got so much on. Get in somebody who can own that, that’s really important to do as early as you physically can. 

To hear more of Jonathan’s insights on how to streamline your hiring process, check out The Talent & Growth Podcast here. 

On Talent & Growth we speak to talent leaders about the challenges they face and their solutions for attraction and retention. If you’re interested in hearing about how companies are building a more diverse talent pool, how you can attract top people from the big players, ways to create a more inclusive interview process or learn about the latest and greatest automation software to make your life easier, then this is the podcast for you.

How to Build a People Manifesto

On Episode 90 of Talent & Growth our guest was Eleanor Gooding, the People & Culture Director of Boost Drinks. She’s a passionate HR professional with a fascinating history in various different industries. Most importantly, she’s a mum who cares deeply about other people. During the podcast we talked about people manifestos – what are they? How do you make one? What difference do they make? Just in case you missed it, here are the answers in a handy blog!

What does a ‘people manifesto’ actually mean? 

It’s like a constitution that sits behind other HR and people policies in our company. It outlines our beliefs, our pledges to our people, and our expectations. So it’s a written piece of work, and it’s quite concise. It guides us in lots of things that we do and gives our people a sense of security about our environment. 

Where did it come from? What did the creation process look like?

It came about because I was looking at our contracts one day and I just thought they were just awful things. That’s one of the first points of contact anybody has when they join us, so I wanted to update them. I got talking to an employment lawyer who specialises in doing contracts and I explained what I was trying to do. She said it was worth doing a piece of work to identify all of the things that we really believed in, then people like her could figure out how to get those things into a contract that makes signing sound friendly. It would be written in Boost’s voice rather than that legal contract voice. 

We formed a small Working Committee, sat down and decided that this was not about the business or how we work, this was about how we wanted to treat our people. This wouldn’t be a code of conduct. This was really about the overall experience that we wanted to give to our people. We ended up putting in three sections, which were our beliefs, our pledges and our expectations. It forms a contract between our people and us. That’s how we started the process. 

What does your people manifesto look like?

The first section is what we believe. We believe that the boost spirit is unique and special, and we all have a responsibility to look after it. Your experience of working at boost should be positive and rewarding. There’s an equal give and take between you and boost. Our values and behaviours live, breathe and evolve over time according to the needs of our business. We believe that being a high quality progressive employer is worth the effort. 

We also took the time to assess where we were with things, because in some aspects we are really advanced, while other parts are still a work in progress. That translates as us identifying where we need to grow saying ‘this is important to us’. We have an energy or spirit, which, when you walk into the building, you can feel it. You can see it in the way we do business, you can see it in the relationships that we’ve made with people and so on. We’ve been trying to capture what this spirit is in our values and behaviours programme. 

The second part of the manifesto is what we strive to do. We strive to create a fun and rewarding environment where you can develop and be your best self, to treat you well, to support you and work through challenges with you and to be fair, ethical and transparent. We started with D&I training for everybody in the business to understand why diversity in every aspect is a positive, and how we’re going to benefit as a business if we all can come to the door as ourselves, not the person we think we’re supposed to be at work. As a leadership team we’re working to create an environment where everybody can develop and be the best staff. Putting all these things on paper requires work from us. That’s a manifesto that we have to live up to. 

The last section we have is what we expect from our people. We expect you to help us to grow and win and be the best it can be. We expect you to fully immerse yourself with our vision, your strategy and your job. We expect you to be accountable for your actions and behaviours, we expect you to live by the Boost values and behaviours and be a positive ambassador for Boost. If you think about all of those things, writing down ‘you’ll be a positive ambassador to boost’ means that your contracts can refer to it. If you’re having a conversation with somebody about their behaviours, you can say, this is what we’re striving for here, it’s all written down, it’s all really clear, but your behaviours right now aren’t aligned with this. You can also use it positively and say ‘here’s a medal because your behaviour is aligned with our manifesto every single day’.

What advice would you give to other businesses who are looking to create their own people manifesto?

Do it. Pick your moment, because this is the kind of thing that if you did it too early it might backfire on you. Don’t try and say ‘we’re perfect’. You should always be clear that there’s an aspiration behind it. It’s got to be transparent too. It’s got to be something people can look at and resonate with, and you have to live up to it too. Where possible, be open with people about what you’re trying to do. My advice for any company would be do it, you won’t regret it. Just be careful of your timing, because you need to be able to walk the walk once you’ve put one in place.

To learn more about people manifestos and how they have impacted the culture at Boost, tune into the full episode of The Talent & Growth Podcast.

On Talent & Growth we speak to talent leaders about the challenges they face and their solutions for attraction and retention. If you’re interested in hearing about how companies are building a more diverse talent pool, how you can attract top people from the big players, ways to create a more inclusive interview process or learn about the latest and greatest automation software to make your life easier, then this is the podcast for you.

Creating a wellness programme for your business

On Episode 76 of The Talent & Growth Podcast we were joined by Kel Hartman, an amazing chief people officer who’s got an incredible story and plenty of experience, and most importantly, she’s passionate about looking after the people in your business and she’s got some great ideas around how to do that. We asked Kel about how to promote the wellness of people in our businesses. 

We’ve seen a lot of news around a recession being touted, so the power seems to be shifting into the hands of the companies rather than the candidates. It’s very different from last year when companies were pandering to people because there was a lack of talent. With that in mind, do you see the emphasis on staff’s wellbeing taking a backseat?

I think it will, and these things are worrying employees, people are worrying now for their finances and asking if they can provide for their family. That has an impact on mental health, because there’s stress, there’s anxiety, they can’t sleep, can’t eat. I think with wellbeing, whether it’s financial, physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, they all tie in together. People are being let go, and are those companies giving them psychological support? Are they helping them with their CVs? I see a lot of CEOs making this crisis about them and not their people, it’s really crazy. This is the time where they could show the employees what type of organisation they are. How are they taking care of the people that are let go, and the people who have stayed there that will feel so guilty with remaining there, because surviving a recession has a psychological impact on people.

You have a wellness programme at Chipper Cash, could you tell us a bit more about what you created there and how it worked and how it looked?

Sure. They didn’t have a wellness programme at all before I arrived. They’d put together a proposal but it mainly focussed on budgets, it wasn’t about mental health. I really wanted the programme to be holistic, and it really changed things. For a lot of employees, like those that were dealing with work stress there was a lot of burnout. In a scale up company, there was a lot of personal stuff that was going on to people who were just coming out of COVID. There was loneliness – I think that’s a big factor – and there was a lack of connections. 

One of the first things they did is listen. I was speaking to a lot of people, just checking in, getting to know people from wherever. One of the first things I wanted to address was stress and burnout, so we had a session with a psychologist, Dr. Babb and she ran a session on stress and burnout. People were just ‘like, wow, this is incredible’. Then there was one that they wanted on having a positive mindset, where we had around 80 to 90% of attendance for the whole company, including all our senior execs. We bought Composure Psychology in and African psychologists too, because we needed to reflect our people. That was one holistic fit, so then we started running monthly workshops, where we had breath work, then Angie Cole running our male mental health programme, we had Emily Paolo who was incredible in creating within your power for women. We looked at all the different spectrums. We had the parenting programme as well, which was incredible when we did that. So the parenting programme had three cohorts, as well, so there were different programmes going on simultaneously. But you know, not everyone’s a parent, not everyone’s a male or identifies with them so we had different communities come up. We didn’t have a pride community, but now we do. We ran committed connection workshops, just for people to connect. As you can tell there were so many different elements of the programme. We had a budget for working at home stipends, that was a new one, we gave equity to all sorts of organisations. We ran a bazaar to do a boxing session with the employee. There were so many different elements that people could pick and choose from, so we had a very high percentage of take up in our programme.

What advice would you give to businesses who want to start to create a culture that allows their staff to bring their whole selves to work? 

Go out and speak to your people and really, truly listen and be vulnerable. Share something about yourself to make sure that you’re creating a safe space, because when you ask for help you share some of your stories. I think that is the best way. It’s a start if you’ve got no budget for some of this stuff as well. Another thing is making sure that everyone takes their holidays and their time out, I think that’s so important. I never used to take my holidays. I thought it was so cool, but it’s not. I’ve learned a lot and now I love my holidays. When people are on holidays, as a manager, don’t phone them and email them and slack them and message them all the time. Support people’s time off and make sure that you know that they’re having the break. People don’t think they need time off, but they do. I think flexibility is cool, too. I know some people can’t always use them to travel, they’ve got to go to appointments and things like that or have different needs. I think every individual is different, so they’re going to thrive in different ways.

What advice would you give to individuals who want to support their own well being a bit more consciously?

Set boundaries, and be really clear about what yours are. If you don’t do that (and I certainly used to be guilty of that), what happens is people just get used to it. If you just say, ‘yeah, I’ll do that’ they come to expect it, but as soon as you say no, or ‘I’m not coming to this meeting, I’m on holidays’, no one really cares. So I think really make sure that you’re setting boundaries, and doing something for yourself that relates to your well being in any way, find something that is gonna work for you. Eat properly, make sure you exercise, do neck movements everyday, get out, go on walks. I do walking meetings, so if anyone can do a walking meeting for their one on one, do that. I think getting out and moving about and not being stuck to your desk all day is really important. 

I think the boundary thing is so important. I’ve just found myself going ‘I love what I’m doing’ and just working every day. It got to the point where my brain was just ready to explode with it, so I needed to say ‘right I’m not going to do any work Sunday, I’m not going to look at anything’. You’ve got to set those boundaries with yourself as well. 

To learn more about how to promote wellness within your business, listen to the full podcast episode here.

On Talent & Growth we speak to talent leaders about the challenges they face and their solutions for attraction and retention. If you’re interested in hearing about how companies are building a more diverse talent pool, how you can attract top people from the big players, ways to create a more inclusive interview process or learn about the latest and greatest automation software to make your life easier, then this is the podcast for you.

How to Promote Equity Within Remote Working Environments

One of the highlights of The Talent & Growth Podcast is talking to people who are truly passionate about what they do. We were recently joined by Hannah Litt, the Head of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Anti-racism and Resourcing at Mindweaver. She’s really open and honest about her own experiences and journey, and gives great advice for businesses who are either looking to go on that remote journey or are wanting to go back on that office-first journey. She outlines what adjustments companies need to make in order to provide an equitable workplace. 

We’re talking about equity in the workplace with remote working, why is this a topic that you’re so passionate about?

Because if I didn’t work remotely, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. I’ve worked remotely/hybrid for the last 10 years or so, maybe a bit longer. If I couldn’t do that, then I wouldn’t be able to ever stop. There’s no way I could go into the office five days a week, and there’s no way I could work nine to five either. Having a flexible approach is something that’s really important to me. Seeing comments and posts and conversations and stuff that are taking place now that we’re ‘going back to normal’ is something that I can’t ignore because it’s really really important for me. I use my voice for people that need to have their voice represented. 

I have hidden disabilities, so if you were to look at me, you probably wouldn’t guess that I’ve got anything wrong with me. I have fibromyalgia that I’ve had since the age of 13, I’ve recently been diagnosed with ADHD and I have something called idiopathic intracranial hypotension, so I can’t sit for long periods of time. Even going into an office and sitting in a chair is agony for me. Walking more than probably 10-15 steps can be agony for me. Just sitting in my car driving is tough. I suffer from chronic migraines so I don’t know a day where I don’t wake up and have a headache. On days where I do have to go into the office I have to set my alarm for 3am to take pain relief, so I can get up and function like a human being to get into the office at 9am. 

I’m really lucky with the employer that I have now, because everything we do is centred around equity, diversity, inclusion and anti-racism. There are days where I don’t log on to attend, and that’s okay. The actual physical act of getting up and not having a headache and functioning is hard, so there were days where I would just get up and I would sit there and I would just look at a screen, I wasn’t doing anything. I would be in excruciating pain just to be there. It was pointless. I could just take my time and accept my life and identity and be a little bit more human and do what works for me. Have I ever not delivered? No. Do I just need to work in a slightly different way? Yes. Being given the flexibility to work from my sofa with my feet up or work from bed is essential for me. That’s what I need to do. I saw someone say ‘people just working in their PJs in their bed makes them lazy’, but it makes me able to do what I need to do some days. When people had long COVID and they were like, ‘Oh my God, my body hurts so much’, that’s what people with chronic pain feel like every day. For a lot of people with hidden disabilities that’s just life. Having the ability to work how I need to is so important. 

People are putting out the negatives around working from home, how does it make you feel when you see people with influence on social media talking like that?

The people that are making those comments are generally people that get to walk into rooms and feel like they belong. I don’t think that people like Malcolm Gladwell and Alan Sugar realise that they have the privilege of walking into a room – any room they want to – and feel like they belong. People from underrepresented groups, especially global majority groups, don’t have that privilege. Aside from the fact that I have hidden disabilities, I am a woman of colour, and remote working has really benefited me because I don’t have to go into an office and I don’t have to deal with microaggressions. In previous organisations that I worked in, I didn’t want to go into the office because I had to deal with microaggressions. It’s not just people with disabilities that people just don’t want to go back into the office. People just don’t want to go back. They don’t want to have to deal with the nonsense that comes with it. I don’t want to go into an office five days a week because it’s mentally and emotionally exhausting.

From a business point of view, what can the positive results be if you do promote equity using a remote first workplace?

From a cost point of view, it’s a no brainer. You don’t have to pay for travel. Your building costs go down. For anybody that’s worried about it, this isn’t an employee issue, this is a leadership issue. I never had an issue leading my team remotely, and people who have an issue because they can’t micromanage their teams either haven’t hired the right person or need to look at their own leadership style. 

There are loads of benefits from a business point of view, because you’re giving your team the opportunity to increase their wellbeing, to have more time with their family, to be able to switch off, to be able to do your household chores… All of these little things actually are a huge benefit to your employees’ well being. For me, it’s all about choice. It’s not about going, ‘we are remote’, because that isn’t for everybody. I do like to go into the office every now and again. I do like human interaction. But it’s about giving people the choice to do what works for them. It’s not about imposing an office culture or a remote culture on anybody either, it’s about asking your employees what works for them, and doing what works for them and having that balance. That’s that’s all it is, it’s about doing what’s right for your employees.

Which talent pools are we opening if we create a remote first business?

You’ve got Gen Z, disabled people, the neurodiverse population… it opens you up to everyone. I’m done giving people the benefit of the doubt. We’ve kind of gone past that. I’m here for holding people accountable. Google is free. It’s quite clear to see who we could be alienated by not doing the right thing. You can just ask questions within your own organisations to see who you would be including or excluding, because all you need to do is listen and talk to people.

What message would you like to personally send the business leaders out there who are driving back an office first culture?

Stop thinking about yourself. A lot of business leaders can walk into a room with no aids quite easily and feel like they belong. They have that privilege. There are demographics of people out there that do not have the privilege of walking into a room being physically or mentally comfortable enough to walk into a room and feel that they can belong. If I go into an office, I have to come home and sleep afterwards, and I’m unwell for days. They need to understand their privilege and recognise that privilege and understand that when they ask people to do that they are basically excluding a huge population of people and basically saying ‘you’re not welcome in my organisation’.

To hear more of Hannah’s insights into creating equitable workplaces and her tips on how to promote inclusive behaviours, listen to the full episode of The Talent & Growth Podcast here. 

On Talent & Growth we speak to talent leaders about the challenges they face and their solutions for attraction and retention. If you’re interested in hearing about how companies are building a more diverse talent pool, how you can attract top people from the big players, ways to create a more inclusive interview process or learn about the latest and greatest automation software to make your life easier, then this is the podcast for you.