C-J Green: Adapting to changes in recruitment

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Like everything else concerning the world of work, the approach to recruitment has also evolved. OrganisationsRecruitment badge have slowly reached the conclusion that adhering to the same, archaic process isn’t always the best way to find out how effective someone’s going to be in a given role. Once upon a time ago, it used to be all about the CV, cover letter and formal interview process. Nowadays, thankfully, companies are waking up to the idea that this traditional method of recruitment doesn’t necessarily unveil the true persona or aptitude of the individual in question.

Take the CV, for example. Reducing one’s entire experience and personality into two pages is a skill in itself, granted. However, not all roles require this particular ability; and some people out there have far more to offer than what they can cleverly cram into a couple of A4 sheets. The same can be said for the traditional approach to the job interview. Yes, there are some roles in business that require the natural ability to remain cool under pressure and to communicate articulately, effectively and confidently, regardless of the situation. However, there are many other jobs out there that don’t need to be filled with people who possess sophisticated, formal interview techniques. In fact, formal interviews often make people look staged and rehearsed, and I would argue that you’re not always getting to see the ‘real person’ in the room. We believe that recruitment is a two-way process so we encourage candidates to interview us during their interview!

For us, attitude and aptitude are the main considerations when we’re hiring, so we really do need to get under the skin of our prospective employees. Servest has recently implemented an ‘Insights Discovery’ programme; a basic profiling tool, used to help individuals determine their personality type. This involves having the candid conversations necessary to jointly figure out whether someone is going to be a good fit for the team. I believe this recent innovation is going to become more important in the recruitment realm, because it can be used as a tool to see whether a person will fit in with the culture of an organisation. That, for us, personality is as important as attitude and ability. Driving a desired culture always comes down to the people you recruit.

Human Resources Directors used to put a lot of emphasis on referencing. Before handing over the contract, employers’ would want to know what ex employers and personal referees had to say about the candidate. And, yes, such conversations are helpful – but it’s also important to realise that referees are restricted in what they can and can’t say. This means you won’t always get an entirely honest report. Processes like referencing have become rather procedural in nature. And when something becomes a basic tick box, it loses impact. You’re best off spending quality time with prospective candidates to get a better sense of the individual.

There’s also been a shift in employers’ attitudes concerning the things that were once deemed essential. For instance, possessing a degree used to be a prerequisite for many organisations. However, companies aren’t obsessed with qualifications anymore. There’s the general acknowledgement that a degree isn’t the be all and end all. There’s more open mindedness in business now, with leaders recognising that degrees only go so far. Aptitude and attitude count for a lot more and you can’t teach people these attributes.

Demonstrating longevity also used to matter. Whereas now employers realise that staying in the same place for however long offers no real indication of that person’s future performance or loyalty in their next job. People change. And their circumstances change. You can’t look at their past as a sort of blueprint for their future. Hopping around, in certain professions, can convey a desire to progress. To other minds, these same ‘colourful careerists’ fear stability and are, therefore, a liability. In contrast, people who have stayed in the same company for years are loyal creatures and are, in turnaround terms, safer. Others will disagree, believing the stay-putters lack drive. In short, there’s too much ambiguity concerning longevity. It, subsequently, bears little weight.
Today’s workforce is much more flexible. We do dip in and out. We do take time out. In the past, career breaks or gap years used to be sniffed at. But now, such career getaways can be explained far more easily and, what’s more, employers’ know that people work to live… they don’t live to work. There seems to be more focus on what makes a person tick, as opposed to their historiography and track record.

Servest defies the “norm” when it comes to recruitment, whether it be recruiting externally for any number of operational roles, or for our various learning and development initiatives. This year’s recruitment process for our Future Leader programme, for instance, was designed to be quite different to traditional graduate recruitment models. Rather than send a CV, applicants were asked to demonstrate that they possessed the natural skills, talents or experience required for the programme in an unconventional way. We wanted to look at each application in an unbiased way in order to judge each candidate on his or her own merit, as opposed to education or employment history. Candidates were invited to showcase their innovation by sending in videos, presentations, documents or anything that would prove they had the imagination, originality and ‘outside of the box’ thinking required for the programme. Based on the success of the FL recruitment process, there are now plans to ban the CV from the Servest Group application altogether.

This is an exciting time to work in the people profession. Organisations are no longer obsessed by policies, regimented systems or with hitting people with their HR sticks! This means that the forward thinking organisations, like Servest, that aren’t afraid of change, can start being a lot more creative and playful in the way that they approach recruitment.

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