How to keep your best staff? (Rupert Wallis)

As a recruiter, I get to hear the reasons why people leave conference firms. By extension, these reasons give an insight into how firms can therefore keep staff. Below are some observations – I have not included the less reputable conference firms in these observations, as they seem to be built on a model of high staff turnover of junior people – a cynic might say in order to suppress the wage bill – and therefore operate in a different way.

– For the majority of junior candidates (i.e. those in their first job in the industry) the top reason for changing jobs is money – maybe their current employer either hired them on a low salary or has yet to offer them a pay rise. They have heard that others with a year or so’s experience are earning more elsewhere. At this early stage in their career, a modest increase in pay can make a huge difference to expendable income. The second most common reason is lack of career progression – either they perceive a barrier to promotion, or feel they are not given enough training. The third reason is that they are unsatisfied with the company or subject area/format of the events – i.e. a core structural reason that cannot be changed. This means that either the job has not met expectations (maybe the company oversold in the interview) or they took the job because they could not secure a “dream” job elsewhere and thought it better than nothing.
– For more experienced candidates the most common reason is for career progression – again, maybe there is a perceived barrier above them or they feel that the company does not match their ambitions. The second reason is a change in circumstances – either personal, company or economic (i.e. relocation, need for flexible hours, new boss comes in above them that they do not like, company is making cut backs, their specific niche is in an industry sector that has been affected by market conditions). The third reason is a feeling of dissatisfaction with the career that the individual is in – I get a log of applicants with c. 5-15 years’ experience who tell me that they want to move out of the commercial conference industry and either join an industry association, corporate or transfer their skills into something like communications consultancy. Salary and company culture tend to be fairly uncommon reasons for leaving jobs at this stage – experienced candidates knew what they were getting into (on both counts) before taking the jobs, having been in the market longer.

These give a fairly general view on why people change jobs. A topic of discussion for another day might be how to pre-empt the above and keep the people you don’t want to leave (e.g. spotting when someone is unsatisfied, conducting effective appraisals/reviews etc).

How do you retain top talent? (Hugh Joslin)

Retaining top talent is a challenge that all companies face, even the biggest and best – losing talented employees is an expensive business. Companies must account for lost productivity and skills, re-training and customer dissatisfaction.

In all, Pricewaterhouse Coopers reckons that a valued staff-member commands a replacement cost comparable to his or her annual salary. A corporate lawyer who snags the juiciest clients on her way out is, of course, vastly more damaging to the bottom line. British companies need to be particularly aware of this, as the UK resignation rate – at roughly 10 per cent – is appreciably higher than in France, Germany or the United States. Affording staff due recognition and appreciation for their work is vital to keeping them happy, but before bosses start sweet-talking minions they must identify the best talent.

Contrary to received wisdom most people don’t change jobs for a fatter pay packet. Research by the Saratoga Institute showed that almost 90 per cent of employees cited a different reason on departing, though a similar proportion of their superiors thought better pay elsewhere was the main motivation. In fact, that disconnect reveals an underlying contributor to unwanted staff turnover – poor communication. Unfortunately, the first a company hears about personal frictions is often during an exit interview, by which time it is too late, so clear structures need to be in place for staff to air grievances before they fester. Failing that, analysis of employee turnover can show whether a glut of resignations is clustered around a single manager. Both methods are especially important in large teams, where workers can more easily be left feeling isolated, anonymous and under-valued. Apart from installing respected and likeable leaders, companies can also maintain employee satisfaction by providing the right tools for the job, sensible deadlines and the correct training. Appreciation for good work is vital, though the rewards needn’t always be financial. Promotion is a particularly useful weapon in the fight to keep your best workers from defecting to rivals.

Although there is evidence that corporate culture is increasingly important to today’s jobseekers, positions in the boardroom aren’t the only way to keep your top talent comfortable. Women in their thirties, for instance, may want to work from home sometimes to cope with childcare, while both sexes in their late twenties often prioritise pay as they seek to finance a first property. There are also generational differences – Generation Y – those born since the late 1970s – expect far more from their employers than just a salary. Macroeconomic conditions can also dictate how companies should respond to employees’ needs – when the markets aren’t good and you can’t pay bonuses then other things become important, such as flexibility in the workplace and the ability to work from home…

Relationships vs employment law. (Stuart Brill)

Although this article is concerned with US employment law I do think that there are parallels to the British jurisdiction. As a result I was wondering, in an increasingly litigious age, how should we as recruiters develop our relationships with our candidates? What is the best method when the ‘human interest’ angle is heavily restricted by legal considerations?

Look forward to hearing opinions!

Link http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/secrets-toyour-success/9-common-interview-questions-actually-illegal-201733303.html

Lying on your CV (Hugh Joslin)

Here is a cautionary tale. Keen to secure his first job, a school leaver had applied for a position with one of the biggest employers in his area. During the interview, when asked about his qualifications, he confessed that he had made some of them up. When questioned further, he admitted that he did not have the professional diploma needed to take this role, nor did he have some of the A-levels he’d listed on his CV. He then went on to explain to the interviewer that he didn’t really need those qualifications, as he knew he could do the job as well as anyone else. His prospective boss disagreed, immediately terminated the interview and asked him to leave. When the young jobseeker protested, he was escorted from the building by security personnel.

While many adjust their CV to make use of persuasive language, some jobseekers choose to cross the line between self-marketing and lying.

Indeed, according to a 2006 survey from jobs website CareerBuilder.com, more than half (57%) of employers admit to finding lies on candidates’ applications. In almost every single case (93% of the time), these applicants were rejected. A more recent survey by Callcredit Direct found that, of the people who admitted to lying on their CVs, a third said they had fabricated qualifications. Although CV deception can be missed at the interview stage, they are most often discovered when employers check references after making provisional job offers – and when references fail to check out, this almost always leads to job offers being withdrawn. These days, with many employers conducting CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) checks unmentioned criminal convictions are easily exposed – in the worst-case scenarios, conjuring up false references and qualifications can lead to conviction for deception and fraud.

To sum up, employers are getting increasingly skilled at separating fact from fiction and falsehood on CVs. By all means make the most of the opportunity to sell yourself on your CV, but don’t be tempted to drift into downright deception. While this might just land your dream job it could well lead to something much more serious…