feedback the truth depressed man

Feedback. The Truth

By Recruitment

I’m not scared of speaking the truth, however, today I am. We’re living in a world where every word spoken or written can be construed politically incorrect. But I feel it’s my duty as a seasoned recruiter, to tell the truth about feedback. If you are easily offended or sensitive, please don’t continue. This post is not too upset you, but to shed light on many possible reasons why you are not getting feedback.

To start with the obvious. Declining a candidate is awful. Possibly the worst part of any recruiter/HR’s duties. Sometimes we get really attached to the candidate, form a bond and even friendship and then we must decline. But in saying this, how selfish. It isn’t our career, it isn’t our future plans, it’s yours. We need to stop putting our emotions above the candidates and deal with rejection as it is. It’s life.

Most good recruiters, when interviewing a candidate knows if the candidate will fit in from a cultural point of view. There are occasions I meet arrogant people. I’m not here to judge who you are, but I am paid to put the best person forward to my client. So now I know without a doubt in my mind I cannot submit the candidate’s CV, but what do I say? I cannot tell the truth, so maybe a little white lie, or silence?

How about age? We can’t discriminate but there are companies where an older or even younger person just won’t fit in. But we’re not allowed to say that. So we keep quiet.

Language / Religion. Yes I know I’m walking on hot coals here but to give a true example of what happened to me might put this in better context. The candidate I was working with was very religious (I didn’t know because you aren’t allowed to ask) and I sent him to a company neutral to religion. They were swearing in the office and had pictures up that the candidate did not approve of. (Game of Thrones). No-one is wrong or right here but the fact is that I put my candidate in an extremely uncomfortable situation and my client. So for political correctness, we can’t ask about religion, but how would I decline someone or even a client because my candidate felt they weren’t in line with his religion? Or better, how can I avoid this?

Language. An infrastructure company that works for the government in rural areas and only wants Xhosa speaking technicians. Although not illegal, it is discrimination, but it is also impractical to put someone in a job where the majority of his clients won’t be speaking his home language. Or working for an outsourced call centre company needing English speaking consultants and must have fluent English. How would you decline? You think you’ll just tell someone their language isn’t up to scratch, but tell a desperate person that. I think there could be grounds for a legal case in South Africa.

There honestly are so many reasons why you could have been declined, but you forget we live in an extremely sensitive country, where the divide is rife, discrimination is raw and political correctness is taken to court.

I know we all have to do better, but if I told you that your attitude wasn’t right for my client, would you work with me again? If I told you that my client declined you as he felt your personal presentation, smell of tobacco and unwashed hair didn’t leave the right impression, would you still work with me? If I told you that you were too old for the company culture, would you work with me again?

My candidates will know that I do ask about religion and if they are ok working in alcohol, tobacco companies and if they are allowed to work weekends. It’s not something you must answer, but we’re forming a partnership and in order for me to do my best work, I need to know what will work for you. I am also extremely honest with my feedback, which might have left a few people with a bad taste in their mouths, but would you prefer silence?

In the end, it’s all about the relationship. Let’s remember we are not here to hurt each other but to be honest and helpful.

And to the companies not giving feedback, DO BETTER!

handle telephonic interviews graffiti rabbit holding telephone

How to handle telephonic interviews

By Recruitment

Prepping for a telephonic or face-to-face interview is pretty similar.

What I send my candidates before attending an interview:

  • Research the company on the web, social sites, and other mediums.
  • Research the Directors / Management / Investors.
  • Dress appropriately – First impressions always last.
  • If you do smoke, ensure you don’t smell like cigarettes before going in.
  • Arrive on time. Not early and not late.
  • Firm handshake always starts the meeting well and make eye contact.
  • Listen and listen well. Ensure you understand what is being asked of you and don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat the question.
  • Ask appropriate and well thought out questions
  • Ideally don’t bring up salary. (I’ll cover this next week)
  • Make sure by the time you leave your interview; you have all your questions answered and you can ascertain if you want the position and it is the correct career move for you.
  • Always be honest.
  • And my last piece of advice is TO BE YOU! There is no better you than you ?

If it is a telephonic interview,

  • Ensure you have a quiet, secure and uninterrupted space to receive the call.
  • If it is via the internet, ensure your internet is connected and high speed.
  • Find out before the call what the intentions are. Is this a technical chat, casual discussion or information briefing? The more information you have, the better prepared you can be and in turn, the less nervous you’ll be.

I know interviews can be extremely nerve-wracking, you might be unemployed, grossly unhappy and desperate for the job but please remember that you are interviewing the company as well. Are you interested in the industry? Did you like how you were treated? Did you enjoy the process? Can you see yourself working there long-term?

There are tons of resources online to prep for interviews, these are just my favourites and I’m going to end off by reiterating, JUST BE YOU.

write a cv laptop chalk board headphones

Write a CV

By Recruitment

It’s become apparent that writing a CV isn’t common knowledge and certainly taken for granted when working in the recruitment industry. So, I thought I’d share my opinion on what I think a CV ought to look like and what should and should not be on it. (I’ll attach an example CV free to use.)

  1. The photo debate. For me personally, I really don’t think it’s necessary, I can’t see the purpose it serves.
  2. A colorful and graphic CV? For me personally, most of the time it clouds the important information. I’m trying to read if you have the skills and experience. You can prove your creativity in the recruitment process.
  3. A skills matrix. Rubbish. How can you rate your own skills? Yes, Tim, of course you’re a 5 of out 5 and then went it gets to the technical assessment, you’re just a 2. Leave the self-rating matrix out. However, a skills matrix on your skills and years’ experience could be valuable to some industries.
  4. Do not put personal information on your CV. For example. ID number, home address, tax number. Regardless of where you are sending it, identity theft is real. No-one needs those details to start a conversation. Name, surname, contact details and location – Cape Town / Claremont / Sandton is appropriate.
  5. A short and concise biography is always helpful. A little summary of your experience and who you are. Make this personal. It’s incredibly hard to read someone from a CV, so use this opportunity for your personality to shine through.
  6. Education. I know you think the year you matriculated is irrelevant but it’s not the year we are after but more for gaps. Matriculated 1998, completed a degree in 2012, started work in 2013. There is an interesting story for that 14-year degree. Also, don’t be sneaky and put qualifications in that you didn’t complete. If you do, boldly state, not completed.
  7. List your current jobs from recent. It engages the reader faster and makes for better reading than your contract work as a pet-setter 15 years ago. Ensure you have the correct dates. Again, we’re looking for gaps, length of stay and any possible trends. A few 3-month stints look very much like probations not extended.
  8. Don’t make duties vague. This is your selling point. Don’t assume the reader knows what your skills are. Write down every single duty from 8am – 5pm (including extra’s.) The more detail here, the higher the likelihood of someone engaging.
  9. Your reason for leaving can be tricky. Be honest, but not too honest. Let me explain. You have a real piece of work for a boss and he/she is your reason. Don’t say “My boss is an A*****”. Simply put, personal reasons or even wrong culture fit. No-one wants to hire someone that can’t be professional. But NEVER LIE!
  10. Don’t put references on your CV. Your references are doing you a huge favor and the last thing you want is for them to be contacted out of the blue on too many occasions. Simply put “References on request”. Once you get to the reference stage, contact your references, arrange a suitable time and keep their admin low.
  11. PDF your CV. Looks more professional and less chance of someone tampering with it.

I’d also like to add that a big part of sending your CV is HOW you send it. Don’t purely attach your CV with nothing in the text box, people can’t read your mind and, in my opinion, it comes across rude.

I’m not a huge fan of cover letters, I think it’s very 1980’s. A simple introduction, reference to the role, possibly a brief summary of why you think you’re right for the position and a “Kind Regards” shall suffice.

And whoever spread the rumor that a CV should be 1-page needs to be schooled. How on earth are you going to sell yourself on 1 page? It’s the lazy ones who need 1 page to scan. I say make it your book of life, your story to the world, your selling pitch. 5, 10, 15 pages, bring it on, but be sure to make it an interesting read.

Lastly, this is just my opinion. After 15 years in the recruitment industry, this is my take on how to write the ideal CV. Have fun with it, after all, it is your story.

silence kills man crying silently

Silence kills

By Recruitment

Dear Woolworths, South Africa (and every other company not giving feedback to candidates.)

End of October you contacted my family member, who is disabled, desperate for work and unemployed. You conducted your first round of interviews, requested the 2nd interview at your office (which costs money for him), completed an assessment, told him he would have feedback in a week. 4 weeks later, not a word.

He has lost all hope in people, can’t see any light in his situation, fighting depression and you have now hit the nail on the head. Your decision to not give feedback could just be the last straw for him. What if tomorrow we all woke up and he ended his life?

The truth of the matter is that this happens all the time. Companies expect you to arrive at their workplace, be prepared, dress smart, make all the effort to impress and in return there is silence. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.

Telling someone they aren’t smart enough, empathetic enough, don’t have the soft skills, is hard. But that is your ego. You need to get over yourself, this isn’t about you, it’s about the person on the other end. That one call to say you’ve been declined due to your communications skills can change a person’s life. Guess what he can now work on? Yes, his communication skills.

I can’t fight everyone’s case, but if you knew me personally, you know I would want to with every fiber in my being. But for now, Woolworths, a brand that states: BEING RESPONSIBLE, IS ABOUT DOING THE RIGHT THING – ALWAYS VALUE WITH VALUES, I ask with tears in my eyes, how is not giving feedback to the human beings coming to meet with you, doing the right thing? You promote hiring disabled people yet all you are doing is disabling them further.

Silence Kills!

lets talk about your stats graph

Let’s talk about your stats

By Recruitment

Let’s address stats from the start.

1st requirement: 50 calls a day.

50 calls to who? If you need to speak to your client every week, I would assume you might have some relationship issues. If you’re calling 50 candidates a day, there is no guessing why people hate recruiters. They are working. Earning their living. Majority of the tech people I speak to is during after-hours or we’ve arranged a time. God help me if I call out of the blue – who does that anyway? Oh yes, call centre.

2nd requirement: Send 50 CV’s a week.

Unless you’re recruiting for call centre, support or junior roles, how on earth do you manage 50 CV’s a week? (Please keep in mind my experience only comes from the tech industry, so if you do send 50 CV’s a week, I’d love to hear your process) Ah yes, by skipping your screenings, interviewing, due-diligence and just spitting out rubbish to you clients, and in turn, pissing every client off. No wonder companies don’t want to use recruiters, you’re wasting their time!

3rd requirement: Arrange 50 interviews a week.

Salespeople push candidates to go meet their clients. They push clients to meet their candidates, without proper due-diligence and what does this yield? You guessed it – terrible quality. (p.s there is a difference between pushing and influencing) You’ve upset that developer that now hates recruiters and the client will never use a recruiter again.

And I’m sure there are tons of other stats.

So between these requirements, how do you expect your salesperson to deliver a consulting service? Recruitment isn’t a stat. It’s not your typical sales scenario. We not comparing computers, shoes, insurance quotes, we are dealing with humans. The whole idea that recruiters are salespeople needs to change. We are consultants. We consult to our clients and offering a consulting service to candidates. If you’re not doing this, you shouldn’t be a recruiter.

My solution? The entire recruitment model needs to change.

(I am prepared for the backlash from recruitment agency owners. This is my personal opinion and if you disagree, I’d love to hear why).

what is your worth man working office

What is your worth?

By Recruitment

There is no short answer to this, but what I would like to start off with is the whole market-related subject. I call BS on all surveys and forums where you can put your skills in and see your market-related salary. You are an individual and your worth compared to someone else can’t be a measuring tool.

Example. I meet recruiter John who has 5 years recruitment experience and a qualification, but has an arrogant attitude and hates teamwork. He is worth nothing to me. However, John could be worth double his salary in some big corporate.

There are 2 important factors here.

  1. What is the skill worth to the company? A senior developer at a HealthCare institution compared to a software dev house will have completely different values.
  2. What makes you stand-out? Are you an asset to a company? Do you have skills that your peers don’t have? Are you just an average “market-related” kind of person?

Developer A, has no tertiary qualification, is self-taught since 13 years old and loves coding. A is humble, sincere, easy to get on with, knows his strengths and weaknesses. He can put a value on his contribution. A will get what he is worth.

Developer Z, has a degree from *Rhodes (just an example), 6 years solid work experience, is fully aware that the market is short of developers so wants R90 000, current salary R55 000. He adds no extra value, has no additional knowledge compared to his peers and has an attitude that any team would despise. Z looks like a fool at every interview overselling the skills he doesn’t have. Ends up being “bought” by some mediocre company to then have his career die a slow and painful death.

So, what is your worth?

Look at what knowledge you possess.

Examine your attitude (be honest with yourself, no-one likes an Ahole).

Are you an asset or just a screaming prima-dona?

disrupt broken wall

Disrupt. Disrupt. Disrupt.

By Recruitment

The word in Recruitment for 2017 = Disrupt. I can’t be the only one getting rather bored of this word being thrown all over the place.

Definition of Disrupt:

  • drastically alter or destroy the structure of
  • interrupt by causing a disturbance or problem

My favourite definition by Urban Dictionary: “Buzzword used by Silicon Valley gurus, often in conjunction with innovation, as in “disruptive innovation”. It’s supposed to sound cool and radical – like a revolution – but it’s also terribly empty, so techniques and entrepreneurs using the term constantly have to explain why the digital world is so disruptive, compared to like the Industrial Revolution. Which is where it all falls flat.”

Facebook has been around since 2004 in South Africa, so joining the social media world is not disruptive. Creating pretty adverts or placing job descriptions on Canva is not disruptive. In fact, creating a tech job board is also not disruptive in the long term.

Why don’t we focus a little less on disrupting and rather perfecting our industry? There is nothing wrong with recruitment when executed correctly. I think taking a few steps back and making your process more human should do the trick.

However the HR industry is ready to be completely destroyed, and if the intro of the HR Tech World Summit is anything to go by, companies that aren’t re-looking their HR strategy are going to have some serious problems moving into 2018. We’ve seen more recruitment fails this year coming from the HR department than ever before. HR has now possibly become one the single most strategic hires your company can make.

importance of partnership men shaking hands

The importance of partnership

By Recruitment

I hate to say I told you so, but, I told you so.

The recruitment function is not a separate, outsourced service. You are paying a company/recruiter to promote your company, brand, and openings. In hindsight, the recruiter becomes the face of your business.

Why are companies still sending their positions out to multiple agencies?

Why are companies still working with recruiters they’ve never met?

Why are companies not partnering with recruiters?

“Throwing hands in the air”

It takes one wrong advert to be linked to your business, and down the rabbit hole, you will fall.

mention salary or not spray paint question

To mention salary or not to?

By Recruitment

Today I posted a comment on LinkedIn after reading a top interview tip:

“Don’t ask about salary, bonuses, team lunches or company massages in your first interview”.

I then commented that I felt it was old school advice and salary should, in fact, be one of the first topics discussed.

However, we tell our candidates religiously, not to mention salary and only focus on the role and company. But this is because we’ve already spoken about salary and ensured that the clients’ budget fits the candidate’s expectations.

Another reason why we ask candidates not to mention salary is that humans are emotional beings. You could have fallen head-over-hills in love with the company and role and out of desperation to get the job, blurt out that you’ll move for the same salary. (Which we all know once you get home, that’s not true). Or the interview could be going so well, you could have spotted the directors Ferrari, Herman Miller chairs and thought to yourself why not push your luck and add an extra R10K (and we all know getting greedy doesn’t get you anywhere either).

So everything is relative depending on whom you working with, how you got the interview and who’s managing the processes.

At the end of the day, recruiters have a good place in the hiring process.

whats your salary money jar

What’s your salary?

By Recruitment

There are a few active debates on LinkedIn, of course, between recruiters and candidates on why we ask for your salary.

It’s about time this gets addressed frankly.

Honestly, we don’t care to keep more personal information on file (POPI Act admin). Most of the time you are “underpaid”, haven’t received an increase in years and you’ve done your research and you know you’re worth it! Great, we got your back. If you can prove you worth it, what’s the problem?

Well most companies, when starting an HR / Recruitment contract with most agencies require these checks and documents:

ID verification

Qualification verification

Credit and criminal checks (in some instances)


A copy of payslip.

I’m not making this up. Honestly. this is the requirement from us or we don’t get paid. Do you honestly think we want to have another argument over documents when we already on thin ice with you? We want to make this process as painless as possible.

Think about it, even when you haven’t used a recruiter and you were at the offer stage, HR probably asked you for your payslip, right? And I’m not saying all companies do, but hey, if we going to charge a fee to be an extension of HR, we are going to be expected to do the work.

But we on your side. Hopefully, SA will follow soon with some States law that it is now illegal to ask for current salary. (http://www.askamanager.org/2016/08/the-first-state-has-made-it-illegal-to-ask-about-salary-history.html)