Skills-based hiring is an alternative hiring strategy that companies can use to assess candidates’ suitability for the role. On Episode 141 of Talent & Growth I was joined by Johnny Campbell, the CEO of Social Talent, to discuss his experiences and advice around skills based hiring. Read on to learn how you can apply this method to your own hiring process. 

How is skills-based hiring different from traditional hiring methods?

Skills-based hiring is a popular phrase that’s been used recently by lots of companies and people. For the last 25 years at least we’ve hired largely based on experience. If you want a recruiter you would look for CVS recruiters, people with recruitment experience, people who worked in recruitment organisations, etc. It’s not rocket science. However, that hasn’t been working for a lot of jobs recently. 

An example is from a customer of mine, his CEO came to him and said, “We need to have a solution for general AI in our product base, and we need people to do that.” So my client went out and tried to hire someone, but there’s nobody out there with experience in heading up the generative AI team in a company because it’s such a new thing. So, he had to go, “Okay, I can’t find people with generative AI on their CV, but who could do the job?” So he went and found people with strong numeracy, experience with programming languages, good communication skills, smart business acumen, etc, etc. That’s skills-based hiring. Rather than looking for the exact experience, you’re looking for someone who has the skills required, not the experience required to do that job. 

Why should companies move towards skills-based hiring rather than the traditional approach?

People are being forced to do it because they cannot fill jobs. Organisations are looking at their roles and realising that there aren’t enough graduates coming out of universities or working for their competitors to fill their demand. This is happening a lot in the tech field because the pandemic forced everyone to move online. Companies like H&M and Zara suddenly had to change their skillset from finding a good shop location to digital marketing, and there weren’t enough people with experience to fill those roles. And you can’t create people with that experience overnight, it just doesn’t work. 

What we’re seeing in loads of areas is an increasingly large range of skills but a shortage of experienced staff. This isn’t just about white collar skills – it’s everywhere. In the service industry people are often hired because they demonstrate good people skills, basic maths and the ability to think on their feet. That’s how most of us got into our first jobs. When you’re 36 years of age and you’re going for a job that’s paying 100k, you don’t expect someone to be hiring in the same way. Because of the way the market is at the moment, people are having to go back to that model for the higher-paying roles, because that allows them to access far more talent and find a good fit. 

What would your advice be for companies who are taking this approach for the first time?

Don’t start with everything. Look at your most difficult to find roles. Talk to those clients or hiring managers and present the data from what you’ve done so far. LinkedIn have done a good job on this – they’ve got a tool you can use that takes the sector, job, category and location and shows you the increase in talent pool you’ll get from skills-based hiring. That’s great because the talent pool is tiny and it’s going to be very expensive to hire for these roles and it’ll take a long time. Use that data to get their buy-in. 

Next, you need to go look at the requirements again, because it will probably need to change from experience to skills. You will have to dig into things like “When you said you want someone who’s from a similar sized company, why is that?” That creates more well-defined qualities like ‘scrappiness’ or ‘versatility’. But how would you assess that? Have those conversations with your hiring managers. 

It’s harder to source skills, because you can’t type in a bunch of keywords into LinkedIn for them. You can’t rely on experience-related job titles during your search. You have to build your own assessment and interview questions that probe your candidates. You’ll need a rubric to measure against to decide what is good and what is bad. There’s a bunch of processes that come from this hiring model that you might not have thought of before. The good news is that once you’ve gone through the cycle of recruiting for one role, you can apply that model to every role. Then you’ll be set up to fill the next role much faster. You’ll also have a story to tell the next hiring manager about how successful it was for the role that you were struggling to find candidates for two months ago.

To learn more about skills-based hiring, tune into the Talent & Growth podcast here

Hiring is one of the biggest challenges for companies in today’s talent shortage. This is a particular issue for startups who don’t have the same brand recognition or inherent candidate attraction that larger companies have. On Episode 121 of the Talent & Growth Podcast I spoke to Claudia Colvin, who is the Head of People at Happy Scribe. She has a really interesting background in scaling businesses and setting up processes at an early stage, so I tapped into her knowledge base on the subject. These are her insights on how to hire successfully in a startup business: 

The first thing to keep in mind is that compared to companies that have a reputation, you will receive almost no inbound applications. That’s because you’re not a company that people will have on top of their mind when they’re thinking about changing jobs. You need to rely really heavily on outbound. Most of the time it will be someone’s first time hearing the name of your company, so your outbound needs to be amazing. You can’t get away with having plain copy that doesn’t stand out, because your company name already doesn’t stand out. You really have to work super hard on having amazing copy that is very specific with no fluff words. 

Avoid saying: 

  • We are rapidly growing our shares
  • We’re disrupting and innovating

Instead, phrase it like this: 

  • We have grown by X% in the last quarter
  • We are using X technology to streamline our workflow

These are the specific things that will make your outbound stand out. 

Another thing to focus on is making sure that the email is about the candidate. We have a really high response rate of around 50-60%. That’s because we contact less people, but we personalise our outreach. We start the email with a sentence or two that really shows that we have read their profile, noticed a couple of things that stand out and make them a match. That really captures their attention. 

Secondly I recommend investing some time in doing PR work. Getting press visibility does a lot for hiring. Think about your strategic focus on who you need to hire, their profiles, where they hang out, what communities are they part of, what content they read etc. You can then use PR to put yourself in those places. For example, something that we did is we looked at what podcasts our target hires listen to, then pitched that our founders should go and speak on those podcasts. We got several applications coming through from that. When we were reaching out to the people after doing that, we started getting responses like ‘I heard about you on the podcast’. PR isn’t just about bringing in more inbound applications, it’s about increasing your brand recognition so that when you do reach out, they have actually heard of you. 

Another important factor in successfully hiring in a startup is getting your culture right. Building community is really important, and word of mouth is a very powerful way to get people to apply. We started hosting events and meetups for product designers, software engineers, and other people that we wanted to hire, so that they could see our space, meet our team and recognise us as a brand. We really believe that our team is amazing, and that’s a big part of what wins people over or makes them excited to join us. It doesn’t have to be people you want to hire, you can just invite people that you think are going to be cool to have a conversation with. It’s all about creating an atmosphere in the room. It helped us figure out what our ideal candidates to know about us and how we can make them aware of us. 

To learn more about how to create a hiring process in your company, tune into Episode 121 of the Talent & Growth Podcast here.

As we headed into the new year we spoke to Neil Carberry on the Talent & Growth podcast about what to expect in 2023. Neil is somebody who’s got his finger on the pulse as the CEO at the REC, and he provided us with fantastic advice for getting ahead in the next year. Read on to find out his best advice, straight from Talent & Growth Episode 98. 

How can recruitment companies keep their voices strong in the next year? 

Retention strategies are one of the main things that we need to focus on. Sensible companies are listening to their staff about the pressures that they are under. They’re not taking ownership of all of those pressures, because they can’t, but they are understanding what they can do to make a difference. Things like one-off bonuses to help with the energy bill rise will keep faith in the company. We also need to acknowledge that work is a transaction. Ask yourself what you need from your people, and what do they need? How can we mesh those needs together? People in TA should be talking to their colleagues in HR and leadership about how they can move our offers forward and make them distinctive. 

Is the climate changing for recruitment?

Candidates have got spooked by the changing market quicker than clients have. It’s more difficult to move people early in the year. Some people are saying ‘I need a 10% pay rise to keep up with inflation. These guys are only offering me 5%, so I’m looking at moving.’ Other people are seeing it differently. We’re getting feedback like ‘I like my boss, I know how to do my job and they’ll give me a 5% raise, so I’ll stay because of the security I have here.’ As recruiters we need to find the right people who are open to moving. 

Companies are never going to be able to offer everything that candidates want, but they can offer the most relevant things for their market, so it’s all about priorities. An example is hybrid working. Staff love it, as long as the company is clear about its expectations. It doesn’t matter if it’s two days at home or fully remote, they want clear guidelines. We can’t avoid our responsibility as employers, we have to make some decisions about what we need and articulate those decisions.

Are there any other challenges companies are going to be faced with in 2023?

The biggest challenge remains a shortage of people. The domestic labour force is getting smaller, because the baby boomers are a big generation, and they’re leaving the labour market. Brexit has tightened the market too, so labour being a scarce resource is going to stick with us now. Companies should be planning their business model for that environment. Productivity performance in Britain for the last decade has been a horror show. Companies need to put people first. If you do that, you’ll have a huge commercial impact. After a decent finance director, the next thing you need is a decent HR director. Companies need to be thinking strategically about how to lead and manage our companies to create opportunity. 

What advice would you give to recruiters preparing for 2023?

Talk to your clients. Understand where their pain points are, understand what things are shaping the company that you’re in. One of the tendencies in our industry is to throw as many hooks into the sea as you can to try and catch some fish, but a well-baited hook is always going to catch a fish better than an un-baited hook. Invest in a niche or client with some foreknowledge. The more you know about your sector, the better you’ll perform in it. 

Know where the business is going. Ask yourself, ‘Is everything I’m doing this week aligned with where I want my business to go?’ Do I know where this business is going and what skills it needs to get there? Do I know who the decision makers are? Am I hearing from them about their pain points? Am I reshaping what we’re doing to meet those needs?’ That’s the behaviour pattern that I see from the best people in the business. This is a people business, so focus on where you can make a difference and who you can make it to. 

To hear more about Neil’s work with the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

On Episode 71 of the Talent and Growth Podcast we sat down with Alia Khattab, who is the Director of Talent Acquisition at ServiceNow, where she leads all of sales hiring across EMBA. She is also the diversity hiring pillar lead in the region as well. She shared valuable insights into the importance of diversity in hiring for your organisation.  

How good or bad a place do you think we’re in right now when it comes to diversity hiring, and the importance businesses are placing on this? 

I appreciate the question, but I don’t think it is a matter of how good or bad of a place we are. It’s ‘where are you on that journey?’ Because it is an ongoing journey, there is no end destination. So where are you? What’s the level of maturity and understanding? But most importantly, how committed are you on that journey? There’s no black and white answers when it comes to dismantling systemic racism or gender inequity. It’s about really planting the seeds in your organisation to hopefully create long lasting change and impact. 

Where does the responsibility lie when it comes to hiring inclusively?  

So when it comes to hiring, my philosophy, personally, hiring is the recruiter’s responsibility, but it’s the hiring manager who is accountable. There’s a slight difference, so talent acquisition cannot do it on its own. When it comes to a diversity programme, my recommendation would be to work with your HR business partner, your DNI specialist, and the business because there needs to be a common understanding and common purpose. Now, we should not underestimate the power that TA actually has in increasing representation, enabling and educating hiring managers. So in short the answer’s no, TA cannot do it on its own, but they can actually play a critical role.  

I’m going to give you some some examples, to illustrate the fact that there’s been a push since 2020 when most businesses were under pressure from employees who wanted more representation in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. When I say TA cannot do it on its own, let’s also not underestimate the power that some leaders have. One of our senior sales directors, who attends one of the biggest LGBTQ job fairs in Berlin every year. He’s made two hires out of this job fair, hiring on competencies, which shows that everyone can play a role. When there’s a will, there’s a way, but I agree there needs to be a common understanding. Leaders also have an incredible power to make change happen.  

How do businesses make sure that they’re pushing diversity hiring for the right reason? 

I’m going to be a bit controversial now. If you ask the hiring manager why they want to increase the number of women or people of colour in their team, you’ll probably still get two or three different answers. I don’t know about your experience, but in mine some leaders will say, ‘it’s the right thing to do’. Other leaders might say, ‘I need to increase representation earlier, I only have white men on my team’. Before even thinking about pushing a diversity hiring strategy you need to bring everyone around to what the hiring philosophy of your organisation is. At ServiceNow inclusive hiring is one of the core pillars of our hiring philosophy. So how do we provide a meaningful experience for everyone? How do we engage? Most importantly, how do we assess based on personas and competencies and how we try to mitigate the bias? As with anything, that purpose needs to be shared in almost every single conversation. I think there’s a rule that says if you’re leading change, you have to say the same thing at least six times, or seven times, ‘this is always going back to the hiring philosophy’. I will say 99.9% of people have the right intention, but there is a risk of falling into tokenism and saying ‘we absolutely need the woman. We absolutely need an underrepresented and untapped talent on the team.’ The risk is that you take away the long term objective, which is why you’re hiring a diverse team, which is an opportunity for you to build a high performing team that will bring different perspectives and backgrounds, and this is key to building a healthy organisation.  

How can businesses retain diverse talent once they’ve been hired? 

That’s the biggest question. For us the answer is in our strategy. We actually never look at the hiring ratio as an isolated data, we always compare it with the workforce mix and how that percentage has evolved. It goes back to having that cross functional approach when it comes to diversity hiring. As a TA team, we don’t have the power to control attrition. However, what we can do is increase representation. At ServiceNow, we’re not just increasing hiring, we are also comparing this percentage with a workforce mix. I wouldn’t say that because the attrition is spiking you shouldn’t increase representation. When it comes to attrition there might be some trends that you can identify, but there’s also the macro environment where we know that most businesses and in particular in the US where attrition for sales reps in the tech industry has reached 30 to 40%. It’s the great reshuffle. I’m hoping that we are starting to have the great stabilisation and not a recession, but there’s a lot of elements that we can’t predict. Looking at attrition without its context can also be counterproductive.  

Ultimately what we want to do through our work is increase the representation. But the North Star is to give everyone access to the same opportunities, and that goes way beyond hiring and into promotion cycles. You need to look at your internal movement as well as your hiring policies. Ask yourself ‘are we promoting the more confident one as opposed to the most competent one?’ What’s interesting at ServiceNow is that I was promoted as a first line manager last year. When I did my first performance review with the team, I had people coming up to me, warning me about biases, saying ‘are you sure about this person, are you aware of those affinity biases when you think about promotion?’ That actually made me think because yes, I do have bias, like anyone, and it did help me to be challenged like that. So for us, the question is are we building an organisation that gives everyone access to the same opportunities, regardless of their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and so on. We have a powerful role, and this is only the very first step on that journey. 

If we’re going to diversify our talent pipeline, how and why do businesses need to rethink their view of talent? 

Someone I’m a big fan of is Joan Williams, who studied race and gender relations in the workplace for the last 30 years. I think she actually studied over 100 organisations. There’s a lot of great findings in her research around the notion of talent, which can be highly biassed. Now what does that even mean? Talent? Let’s think about that definition. Now, the research shows that when we interview, we think that past experience is going to be a predicator to future performance. Well, it isn’t, actually, so let’s spend time to dismantle what that notion of talent is. We all always encourage leaders to challenge that notion. We’ve taken a methodical approach, actually, in our company, so we have defined personas based on job level and job role. We have a clear persona for sales and we know the type of behaviour that you need to display in order to perform in your role. Those personas are aiming at mitigating biases, because no personas says you have to work for a competitor. There’s nothing in the persona that says that you have to come from the tech industries. However, they do say that you have to be a great orchestrator and you have to work cross functionally, and you have to rally a matrix team around you. By defining those personas, we have actually embedded those in how we assess, attract and retain talent. That’s a great way to rethink how you look at talent.  

Now, another example you can give, is that if you work in the tech industry, we just have a tendency to just to hire within the industry, because we think it’s a shortcut, and we believe that people will ramp quicker. If you have an example of what I call a non conventional hire, that hire often turns out to be a top performer. Sometimes it’s also the power of storytelling.  Data will help manage everything that talent. You can say ‘X person in this team actually didn’t come from the SAS industry, but they’re one of the top performers, so let’s bring that back to the personas.’ Ask yourself what are the core behavioural competencies you want to assess? And let’s try not to focus too much on previous employers or even education. That’s how you effectively assess talent.  

To hear more about how to improve your company’s culture, 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.

In episode 65 we were joined by Andrew Cross, Founder & CEO at Goosechase to discuss a very hot topic, how to make a four-day work week work. In this episode we talk about Goosechases experiences pioneering and trialling the four-day work week. 

We covered the results that Goosechase have seen from their trial, the draw backs and how a four-day work week has implemented talent attraction and retention. 

Below we outline some of the ways businesses can implement a four-day work week and still be client led. We hope you find them useful. 

When moving to a four-day week, what did you have to take into consideration? Were there any boundaries which had to be implemented to ensure that it was going to work? 

The world doesn’t really work on four day weeks now so our first concern is always that the clients are expecting communication – you can’t just go dark on the fifth day of the week. Upon implementing it you have to constantly be aware that there’s external considerations.  

There is also the question of how flexible you are with your team with which day they take off and whether or not you let individuals chose. We looked into some companies that had already written up their results and the one thing that we took away from that is to make sure that the day that people take off remains the same. Otherwise it’s a mess trying to collaborate with people and get together; if they all take different days off there is never going to be a day where you can get on a call or all meet. We realised early on that Friday’s would be the day off, then we had to consider the outward facing component. In our customer facing team, a couple of people every week take Wednesday off instead and will work on the Friday. That way we have a standardised schedule and make sure we still have coverage on the Friday. It’s a bit of give and take and having a flexible mindset, but those were the two main things that we had to figure out early on. 

Many companies I’ve worked with are client let and feel like if their clients want something on a Friday, then they’ve got to be there on a Friday. Is it as simple as having people swap their days? Or was there anything else which helped you have a day off when you’re client led? And do you think that it’s scalable? 

I think it is scalable and will benefit people. The more people that adopt the four day week, then the more common it will be for people to say on their website or on their email autoresponders that they work a four day week. It will eventually be acceptable, just like people don’t always expect coverage on Saturdays and Sundays. 

When you’re client led, it’s definitely a little bit trickier. We know that anybody who is creative is going benefit from not being sat down, like a robot, cranking out work for an entire five days. If you can position it in a way that lets your client know that you’re going to produce better outputs as a result of doing this, a lot of clients will be fine with this. They may not get as much response on the Friday, but the benefit and net results will be there.  

There’s some work that maybe is more hourly or time driven. We said we can’t have a two tier system internally where some people have to work a little differently due to the nature of their work. We decided that we would deal with the challenges of some work being harder, for example, sales is often very call driven with calls coming in during the day. But we made peace with that to make sure he have quality internally to be able to supercharge our creative people, who do produce quite a bit more by having a fresher mindset and not pacing themselves and grinding through the week.  

Find out more about the four-day work week and Goosechases experiences by listening to the full 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.

Episode 57 saw Jan Tegze, Author of Full Stack Recruiter join us on Talent & Growth. 

Jan gave us some fantastic insights into what a modern recruiter needs to do and be and we covered how we can better engage passive candidates, the blueprint for the perfect candidate process and experience and some advice for modern recruiters who want to be world class. 

Jan also gave us a ‘state of the recruitment market in 2022’ overview and we’ve pull together the headlines from this for you below. 

What are you seeing in talent acquisition recruitment and where are we heading? Have you noticed any trends? 

Companies and hiring managers are trying to expand their pipelines and are always pushing on team members with the same question: I need more candidates. But, companies are now moving from remote set ups to wanting people back in the office, meaning that a focus is being put on location and where they are based. Not only is their pool much smaller because of this, but people looking in the same location are probably also looking for remote talent. It will be incredible to see how this situation evolves. 

I believe that the companies who are forcing people to go back to the office will be bleeding talent which they will not be able to easily replace, especially considering their talent pool is much smaller than before. People will be actively looking for remote working opportunities. The future will be depressing for many companies and teams. 

I’m expecting there to be a new shuffle at the end of the year when there are people looking to change their jobs. There’s a chance that people will be unhappy in their new jobs because they had high expectations which were not met. I’m also expecting that TA teams will be shuffling due to the amount of pressure they are under. Lots of managers are pushing for more, but they’re not helping. It will be an interesting and challenging time for all of us.  

It’s a good time to be in Talent Acquisition in terms of being wanted. It’s a competitive market out there isn’t it? 

Yes – salaries are going through the roof. People who are working as recruiters for a year are expecting to be senior within a year – it’s crazy. I’m seeing that more and more people are entering the recruitment field but they are not getting any training which shows in how they are approaching candidates. Companies are so desperate that they’re hiring people without providing any training- but are they really expecting that those recruiters will help with their brand? In the end, they are hurting their brand, causing them to loose talent immediately as they are approached with awful messages such as “Hey, if you’re interested let me know.” Those kinds of messages are going to repel any talent on the market. So I wish more companies were providing better training.  

To listen to more from this episode click 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.