Monthly Archives: April 2014

Green shoots feed jobs confidence

Recruiters are capitalising on the rise and rise again of jobs. If the number of assignments retained by our firm and new vacancies are anything to go by, there is a strong case to support a resurgence of Australian jobs growth in the Executive market.

Despite closures of household names in the manufacturing sector – Ford, Toyota, Holden and SPC (until the Federal government stepped in), as well as job losses within Qantas, we are now seeing an improving trend since job ads recorded a three year low in December 2013. Most ‘top down’ leading indicators are positive, reinforced by this month’s NAB Survey, ANZ Job Index, ABS job vacancies and ACCI Westpac Survey.

Job advertisements – a great forward indicator – show growing business confidence, with hiring managers looking to expand their workforces. UBS reports in its Australian Economic Comment, 10 April 2014 that there was a jobs lift of 48,000 month on month in February and a further 18,000 month on month in March. This has improved markedly from the flat trend seen for most of last year. In addition to rising job vacancies, March unemployment dropped from 6.1% to 5.8%.

Dun and Bradstreet’s latest Business Expectations Survey shows capital investment and employment intentions have rebounded from negative territory in the previous quarter to sit above their 10 year averages. D&B’s economics adviser Stephen Koukoulas observes, “Expectations for employment are particularly encouraging and should allay some people’s concerns about job security.” “While we’re still not quite at the very strong levels for employment and hiring intentions just yet, it’s clearly lifted over the last 9-12 months or so,” he said.

So, after reviewing the array of economic surveys conducted across Australian businesses, the resounding feeling is that 2014 will be a year for positive growth. Australian employers are also reporting encouraging signs for jobseekers in the first quarter of 2014, with 20% expecting to increase staffing levels; the expectation is we will see sales, profits, investment and employment increasing to their highest level in twelve months.

At international level, executives appear optimistic. More than half of all respondents in a recent McKinsey global survey, Economic Conditions Snapshot, March 2014, indicated that conditions in the world economy have improved in the past six months, and will be even better in six months time.

So expect to see a spring in the step of candidates and hiring managers as we eagerly await more positive sentiment and renewed vigour in key economic indicators.

What’s your point of view?

Posted in Slade Executive, The world @work

The truth is out there – Google it

As the new saying goes, online is forever.

Some people have become quite sophisticated at hiding or diverting attention from their past, and embellishing their education or career, so the need for due diligence in the hiring process is becoming ever more important.

I was recently handling a very senior recruitment assignment for one of my clients. We had run parallel advertising and search campaigns, and were developing a very good long list. Candidate response had been high quality, but one of the respondents just looked too good to be true…

The media loves to follow the downfall of a high profile person, especially one where if someone in the hiring process had googled the candidate’s name, a costly hiring mistake, as well as months of ensuing negative publicity, could have been easily avoided. Generally it’s something very obvious, such as the loss of registration for a professional or a criminal conviction, which gives the game away.

But sometimes it’s what you don’t find that is even more telling.  A candidate who claims to have held a director role in an organisation that requires statutory reporting, but has no internet presence at all, raises a few questions: Was that really their role? How long were they actually there? Does this person even exist?

Or perhaps there was an article in an obscure publication or on some unsubstantiated website about the star candidate, indicating a scandal, or raising questions about the way they treated co-workers. In all cases the level of trust between candidate and hiring manager or recruiter is diminished, and raises further questions about their suitability.

CareerBuilder reports, “More than two in five (43 percent) hiring managers who currently research candidates via social media said they have found information that has caused them not to hire a candidate…” What’s more, a shocking 24% of candidates lied about their qualifications!

As important as it is for you to do your due diligence on potential hires, it’s also important for candidates to google themselves to find out what might be out there and address it on their application. Your digital profile is not a hidden X-file; it’s there for the world to see.

Posted in The world @work

Stamping out rubber stamping

Have you ever lined up for a train ticket in rural India? It was as painful to watch as Rowan Atkinson packaging up that illicit Christmas gift in Love Actually… watching and waiting for that train ticket to actually make it into my hand reminded me that Australia can ill afford poor sales processes.

You, like me, have probably seen and heard of many cases of sales people doing the numbers. Doing the numbers is really no more than rubber stamping in the ticket office at Udaipur. Dr Peter Finkelstein, a Director of Barrett sales effectiveness advisors, says: “Trends in sales management show that as costs are directed out of sales, the new focus will be on outputs, rather than inputs.”

As the economy continues to flatline, a premium is placed on effective sales strategies. Finkelstein goes further in his sales forecasting:

  • Procurement must start assuming responsibility for the creation and delivery of real value, beyond price and general supply.
  • Selling is going to require an understanding of ourselves in the Asian century; our economic future will be built on Asian customers.
  • The age of the enlightened sales person has finally arrived. They understand that nothing is predictable and working with ambiguity is the only certainty. Telesales will change dramatically in order to offer solutions.
  • Greater emphasis on training the sales force will come from sales excellence management.
  • Sales training methodologies are moving online.
  • Normalisation of social media in sales is about a shift to engagement, entertainment and delivering value.

Sadly, outstanding sales people are a rarity. It may be related to cultural norms, lack of training, lack of process, or simply comfort in the status quo. How would you rate your sales teams… or account managers, consultants, business development managers, sales coordinators or whatever euphemism you use for this critical heart of any business?

Personally I think he is right on the money, particularly on the point about procurement. It is high time those in charge of procurement were held accountable for bringing real value to their organisations, instead of adopting an attitude of ‘these guys are the lowest price, so they will do!’ How often has your company suffered with the quality of supply, when decisions have been made purely on price?

What’s your Point of View?

Posted in The world @work

Sharing a shot in the arm

Just as good as my flu vaccination this week, was the recent pep talk from another Doctor. A little bit painful, but just what I needed.

Dr Jim Collins speaking at the WPO conference in LA emphasised that repeated and continuous improvement leads to greatness. It’s not luck.

Here are 5 prescriptions from the good Doctor:

    1. Strive for outstanding leadership. Personality is not leadership and leadership only exists when people follow when they have a choice.
    2. Build an enduring culture. Check in with your core values and see whether they resonate and are relevant.
    3. Do you have the right people on the bus? First ‘who’ then ‘what’ – the right people are your most important asset. Great companies have the ability to choose the right people to come on board.
    4. Have the courage to confront the brutal facts. Where are your weaknesses?
    5. The hedgehog and the fox. Originally a tale told by Isaiah Berlin who divided writers and thinkers into two categories, Dr Collins believes great businesses are like hedgehogs: they view the world through a single lens and don’t get distracted – unlike the foxes who draw on a variety of experiences and who can’t boil down their vision to a single purpose.

What prescription would you add?

Posted in The world @work