Blog Archives

R U Really OK?

Imagine this: You witness one of your colleagues, a solid performer in their area of expertise, become so overwhelmed with their workload, that they break down during a team meeting (on camera, because we are meeting virtually), when asked, “How’s your week looking?”

What an eye opener. Yet, this is the reality for many of us, working from home, during the current lockdowns in our major cities in Australia.

It made me think we really need to reach out and take some of the pressure off those we work with, whether colleagues, clients or candidates.

When asked, we have a tendency to reply automatically and say, “I’m good”. So here are some of the things I’ve heard those in my professional network trying to say:

Clients:

“I’m feeling isolated WFH. I’m usually a homebody, but I’m getting lonely.”

“It’s hard to stay focussed. I feel like there’s no purpose to my job.”

“There are only so many walks I can go on for exercise or to get fresh air.”

“So tired of all the virtual meetings!”

Candidates:

“I’m feeling uncertain about finding a job during the current restrictions.”

“I’m nervous about what future lockdowns will mean for my career.”

“My self-esteem is suffering, even though I know I’m highly capable.”

Coworkers:

“I am missing my work colleagues and the social face-to-face interaction. I have no one to vent to.”

“I have plenty of work to keep me going, but I am lacking motivation because of the uncertainty.”

“I just want to come back to the office to have a sense of purpose.”

“It’s hard to stay focused and concentrate on my job requirements due to lots of stop-starting.”

“I’m so sick of looking at the same four walls.”

Carers:

“Home schooling is so hard with young children. My kids are missing the mental stimulation of the classroom and having their friends to play with.”

“I just want to cry!”

Often lending an ear is enough to give someone we care about a leg up. R U OK Day this year is a timely reminder that a conversation could change a life, but starting the conversation at work isn’t always easy. We’ve partnered with Prima Careers to include a helpful infographic below.

R U OK infographic

For more information, go to ruok.org.au or contact Lifeline on 131114 if you or someone you know needs urgent assistance.

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Posted in Interchange Bench, The world @work

Our push for better mental health. Are you up for the challenge?

Did you know that one in five Australians will experience mental ill health this year, yet only 46% of people seek help? It’s a complex challenge – for our loved ones and ourselves, but most of all, for the nine Australians who die by suicide every day.

That is why I will be getting behind our resident fitness instructor, Bill Sakellaris, who is taking part in The Push Up Challenge. Not sure what that is? Well let me tell you a little bit more about it. The Challenge is an initiative that was started by the Push for Better Foundation. They aim to engage and educate people in mental and physical health, and raise awareness of the mental health issues affecting everyday Australians. Their focus is on the prevention and early intervention of depression, anxiety and suicide.

So how many push-ups do you need to do? 3,318 over 25 days! A huge effort, but not impossible (and if that’s a lot for you, they’ll take 75%, 50%, 20% or a donation). Bill has committed to doing 133 push-ups per day starting 1 June. We know he can do it, but you can absolutely do less, or more. A push-up is a push-up and supporting is support!

I am proudly supporting Bill and I would love to be able to support anyone else who decides to join the challenge.

So, will you be joining us? Head to thepushupchallenge.com.au or click here to register. You can participate as an individual, a group, as a workplace or help fundraise. There is even a handy app you can download to track you progress. Follow the Push Up community on #pushforbetter and don’t forget to let us know you’re participating, so we can get behind you too!

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Posted in Interchange Bench, The world @work

This International Women’s Day, Australian businesses can lead on domestic violence crisis

Domestic violence is a critical issue for the workplace, especially as COVID-19 continues to blur the line between home and office, whilst also driving a documented spike in violence against women.

But what are workplaces doing to address the issue? And is it really an issue for workplaces at all?

The questions come on the back of a new myth-buster from Diversity Council Australia (DCA) and Our Watch.

The resource – released in the lead up to International Women’s Day – challenges the myth that domestic, family and intimate partner violence is not a workplace issue, despite Australian business losing a staggering $1.9 billion a year due to this ‘shadow pandemic’.

Without a change of perspective, Australia’s economy may lag – when COVID-19 dictates it can least afford to – and many more women will be seriously harmed. Some will ultimately lose their lives.

Diversity Council Australia’s CEO Lisa Annese said: “It’s a myth that domestic and family violence doesn’t have anything to do with the workplace. In reality, domestic and family violence is the workplace issue of our challenging times. If an employee is living with, or using, domestic or family violence, it will have an impact on the workplace through absenteeism, presenteeism and the costs of replacement hiring.

“While workplaces may have concerns about implementing policies like paid leave for domestic violence, research shows that they have a hugely positive impact for employees and business alike, for a relatively small cost.

“But we must remember the most important statistics of all: almost 10 women a day are hospitalised for assault injuries perpetrated by a spouse or domestic partner, and, on average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner. Supporting women who experience this kind of violence is the right – the only – thing for workplaces to do.”

Our Watch CEO Patty Kinnersly, whose organisation collaborated on the myth-buster, said: “There has been a huge shift in the community conversation about this issue in recent times.  Violence against women is recognised as the serious and highly prevalent crime that it is, and most people understand that addressing this crisis is the entire community’s responsibility.

“We know from the evidence that violence against women is driven by gender inequality, which is deeply entrenched in society through our policies, laws, systems, workplaces, attitudes and behaviours. It’s evident in language and practices that still too often ‘blame the victim’ or minimise or excuse men’s violence.

“Given workplaces are where we spend so much of our time and have such a huge influence over our lives, it’s critical they take an active role in promoting gender equality and addressing the drivers of violence against women.

“As we’ve so often heard during this pandemic: women’s lives and livelihoods are at stake.”

Continue reading on the DCA website: Myth Busting Domestic & Family Violence at Work

This article was originally published by Diversity Council Australia and Our Watch.

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Posted in Diversity & Inclusion, Interchange Bench

Project: Core Strength

Project Core Strength Report
Project Core Strength Report

It’s no longer candidates who are nervous at interview; it’s now hiring managers who are anxious about identifying the character traits they’ll need to survive and thrive beyond the impact of COVID-19. This is as true for Boards and CEOs as it is for recruiters and line managers.

In this report we provide you with the results of our Project: Core Strength study. We commenced this research in the early stages of Lockdown Mark 1, and over the course of the next four months, sought feedback from 100 trusted respondents.

Beyond simply filling in a form, many of the respondents also provided deeply thoughtful written responses, and excerpts of these are provided along with the data.

In this report you will see the break down of data, a summary of the results, an interpretation of the results by Andrea Brownlow – our highly regarded Consulting Psychologist, and then some interview and performance management questions that are designed to help us sort the talented from the less capable.

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Posted in Interchange Bench, Slade Executive, The world @work

Wear It Purple: We are the change

The theme for this year’s Wear It Purple Day, to be held on 28th August is: ‘We are the Change’.  Beginning in 2010 as a youth response to global stories of bullying, harassment and suicides of rainbow young people, Wear It Purple Day has since transformed into an international movement celebrating rainbow young people and a mainstay in the D&I calendars of leading practice employers.

With 2020 marking ten years of Wear It Purple, co-founder Katherine Hudson shared with DCA her perspectives on achievements to date, current and future priorities and how organisations can play a leading role in creating LGBTIQ+ inclusive workplaces.

While no longer involved in the day to day work, with Wear it Purple Day now run by the next generation, Katherine remains passionate about the importance of visually showing solidarity on this day: “If you come from a family, area or school, which is not accepting, but you know that other people in your environment think you’re okay – that can make so much of a difference to young people feeling accepted.”

Despite great shifts in community attitudes in recent years, Katherine explains that LGBTIQ+ young people remain at increased risk of mental illness and suicidal ideation, particularly under current pandemic conditions that create distress through directives to stay home in an environment that might not feel safe.

“I’ve heard many stories of particularly trans and non-binary members of the rainbow alphabet who are back home and those daily microaggressions like not being called by the pronouns that they use, by the name that they’ve adopted that represents their gender identity more correctly.”

Organisations can make a significant difference to rainbow youth mental health and wellbeing through creating inclusive and accepting workplace cultures. Says Katherine, “If we’re talking about gender and sexuality, it’s about how do we make an environment so that it doesn’t matter what gender you are, but at the same time we celebrate and accept your gender.”

But for genuine inclusion to occur, Katherine believes a whole organisation focus that avoids, in her words, ‘the liquorice all sorts’ effect – separate layers of diversity that are not cohesive or co-operative, is key.

Some positive actions she advocates include hiring practices that reduce biases, LGBTIQ+ awareness training, educating on respectful and appropriate language, and enabling all employees to share their perspectives, rather than just providing opportunities that privilege the dominant group.

In terms of overall progress on rainbow youth inclusion, Katherine credits Gen Z with lighting the way: “I was in a suburban Coles and I heard this girl who would have been about 15 years old. And it became very clear from overhearing that she’s out at school and dating and she’s loudly discussing what flowers to get her girlfriend. The only attitude from others I noticed was, ‘Oh, typical teenager – so loud!’.”

Ultimately, it’s the everyday acceptance of Wear it Purple Day that Katherine is most proud of: “I can walk down the street on Wear it Purple Day and see teenagers in purple and they have no idea who I am, and I’ll say ‘Happy Wear it Purple Day’ to them, and they say it back. And I just keep walking. No one’s threatening you. Everyone’s embracing you. That’s what I’m proud of from this movement.”

Support Wear it Purple Day this 28th August and celebrate the inclusion of LGBTIQ+ diversity within your workplace and community.

Resources

For more information on LGBTIQ+ inclusion in the workplace check out the following DCA resources:

  • Out At Work: From Prejudice to Pride: This report presents evidence about what it means to be out at work, and what organisations can do to make everyone feel included
  • Intersections At Work: Research into the workplace inclusion experiences of culturally diverse LGBTQ workers
  • The Art of Inclusion: DCA’s podcast episodes, ‘When Love Hurts’ on domestic violence through the lens of LGBTIQ+ relationships and ‘Out in the Open’ with a transgender executive on the business of transitioning
  • Events: recordings of past events on LGBTIQ+ topics
  • Website: the full range of LGBTIQ+ insights and resources.

If you or someone you know is struggling or having a hard time please reach out to the following organisations for help:

  • Lifeline Australia: Free 24-hour telephone crisis support such as suicide prevention, mental health support and emotional assistance.
  • QLife: Free Australia-wide anonymous, LGBTI peer support and referral for people wanting to talk about a range of issues including sexuality, identity, gender, bodies, feelings or relationships.
  • Beyond Blue: Mental health and wellbeing support to address issues related to depression, suicide, anxiety disorders and other related mental illnesses.
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Posted in Diversity & Inclusion, Interchange Bench, The world @work

3 surefire ways to stand out in a crowded job market

In the current market where unemployment is at 7.4% and underemployment is at 11.7%, as a recruiter I am constantly speaking with candidates who are looking for new roles.

At the same time, I’m speaking to our existing clients regarding their needs and building new relationships with employers who are already time poor and potentially looking through hundreds of applications.

It’s a tough time to stand out from the crowd. What can you do to help your application be seen?

Below are my top 3 tips to help you stand out, particularly at the very beginning of the application process.

  1. Re-evaluate your resume

A well-presented resume has moved beyond a list of roles and duties; employers want to see specific skills and key achievements and how they have been demonstrated in each role. And good news if you aren’t familiar with clean and simple layout styles, you don’t need to work in graphic design to create a visually appealing document!

If it has been a while since you updated your resume, re-evaluate it through the following lenses:

  • Is it concise?
  • Is it targeted to the job?

DO: Make your resume visually appealing and easy to read. Use short, direct sentences or dot points, and tweak your resume for each job application. Save your resume in a common document format, such as Word or PDF.

DON’T: Don’t exceed three pages as a general rule. Don’t assume the same resume is suitable for every job you apply for. Once you’ve established a career path, we don’t need to know about your high school job at the fish and chip shop.

WHY IT MATTERS: A good resume can be the difference between receiving an initial call or being ruled out as not suitable. Make sure that your resume accurately describes your professional skills and experience, and showcases how you tick all (or most) of the boxes for a successful applicant.

  1. Be prepared, know the job

When you apply for a role, be prepared to receive a call from the recruiter or the hiring manager. It’s frustrating on both sides speaking with a candidate who does not remember what the role is or even applying for the position!

When applying for multiple positions, write a list, set-up a spreadsheet or find another way of keeping track of those jobs and the organisations you have submitted your application to (some job boards facilitate this). More importantly, keep a record of why you applied.

Once you submit an application, add it to your list and jot down three things you liked about the role that made you want to apply. That way, when you receive a call, you will have a cheat sheet to jog your memory.

DO: Keep a record of the roles you apply for and what you liked about the role. Be prepared for a call and refer to your notes about why you’re suitable and why you want the job.

DON’T: Don’t try to wing it and hope for the best. If you’ve kept notes, you won’t be caught off guard by questions such as, “Why did you apply for this role?” or “What will you bring to this role?”

WHY IT MATTERS: This is your opportunity to really impress a hiring manager or recruiter with your level of preparation, to convey yourself as a candidate who is keen, on-the-ball and knows what they want!

  1. Communicate well – answer your phone

Even though we’re now accustomed to text messages or communicating via social apps, the first point of contact from a prospective employer will often be a phone call.

It is good manners if you don’t know who the caller is to greet them and to identify yourself when you pick up the call: “Hello, this is Hayley” or “Good afternoon, Hayley speaking” would suffice. This way the caller knows that they are (or aren’t!) speaking to the right person, and it provides them an opening to introduce themselves and the reason for their call.

If you don’t normally use voicemail, consider setting one up while you are applying for jobs. It should tell the caller who they are leaving a message for and invite them to leave their name, contact number and the reason for their call. If you already have a voicemail set up, review your message to check that it meets these criteria and that the recording is clear and easy to understand, without any background noise.

DO: Treat your phone like a business phone – answer politely, greet the caller and identify yourself, set up your voicemail message with a brief instructional message in your own voice.

DON’T: Don’t wait for the caller to speak first or answer an unknown number in a casual or rude way. It’s preferable not to use voice to text messaging services or other automated voicemail services that limit a caller’s ability to leave you a detailed message. Please don’t make a joke out of your voicemail – it won’t be funny if an important caller hangs up!

WHY IT MATTERS: This is your opportunity to make a good first impression and position yourself with a personal brand for being a good communicator. Simply being friendly and polite can set you apart from other applicants.

What are you doing to stand out from the crowd? What are some of the strategies that have worked well for you?

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Posted in Interchange Bench, The world @work

Did you fall into recruitment?

If we don’t see ourselves as Professional Services Consultants, then why should our clients?

I finished my tertiary study as an Economics Graduate with many options for a career, yet can’t imagine any other role could have given me the sense of purpose and satisfaction that my 20-year career as a recruiter and industry leader has given me. 

As a professional recruitment consultant, I use my IQ, EQ, deep questioning and listening skills and develop a sound knowledge of my sector.

I must understand the perspectives, and work in the best interests, of both my clients and candidates.

My interpersonal, negotiation and influencing skills are utilised through all parts of the job.

I must apply my analytical skills to address problems and partner with my clients to find an effective solution. 

I must use my knowledge of the market and the needs and drivers of the talent within it to truly consult.

I need to offer different solutions, have a Plan B (and C and beyond) and recognise that no two people or companies are the same. 

This is a tough gig requiring insight, creativity and originality to consistently deliver results. 

As a recruiter, I do not ‘sell’ a tangible product. I work with people, on both sides of the process; the client and the candidates.

Human beings are far more complex than any product. Unlike widgets, candidates don’t stay on the shelf whilst I negotiate a deal for them; I can’t audit a set of numbers, rely on physics, contract law, design principles of any other empirical facts.

I can’t manufacture another candidate to be just like the last candidate I ‘supplied’ to my client and we certainly can’t re-engineer a person (nor should we want to), if they don’t quite ‘fit’.

High performing people are still the critical determinant of workplace success. I clearly remember the words from a speaker at a conference I attended about 15 years ago; ‘By 2020, Executive Search and Selection will be ranked as one of the Top 20 jobs.’ Why? Because to secure high performing talent is the mission of every high performing organisation.

What we do may not be ‘rocket-science’, but sometimes it seems like it’s more difficult than getting a person to the moon.

To build and maintain a career in this industry, I’ve had to have a genuine interest in the long-term success of the people I am working with; my colleagues, my clients and my candidates.  

The best recruiters make it look easy. Underneath it there is a huge amount of skill and effort and when the deadlines roll in it can become stressful very quickly.

As our understanding of human psychology, workplace culture and performance have evolved, so have the challenges and skills of a recruiter evolved.

As a naïve graduate I couldn’t possibly know how my career would turn out.

I’m grateful that it’s turned out the way it has, even in the face of what the COVID-19 shock has delivered to recruitment, and the workforce, in 2020.

I don’t know what’s ahead in the next few months, or years, but I am confident that everything I have learned from my career as a recruiter has given me the best possible chance to thrive and to help my colleagues, clients and candidates thrive as well.

Bring it on. 

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Posted in Interchange Bench, Slade Executive, The world @work

How facing off against the unknown led me to certainty

Standing at a sheer 1986 metres tall and casting a shadow over the Alpine National Park, Mt Bogong (the local Aboriginal name for the mountain roughly translates to The Big Fella) holds the rugged crown of the highest mountain in Victoria, Australia. Mt Bogong proved its status as a Grade 4 hike back in 1936 when it took the life of Cleve Cole, a pioneering skier who attempted the first winter crossing of the Bogong High Plains. Along with two others, Clove skied across the High Plans from Hotham to Bogong, and after reaching the summit ridge, fell into the trap of unforgiving weather conditions. Although Cole met a grave ending, his legacy lived on through his showcase of absolute grit, determination and a sense of freedom to achieve the impossible – in his mind, no mountain was too big.

What we’re dealing with right now is a ‘Bogong’ of catastrophes on an economic, financial and human scale. COVID-19, an invisible foe, is triggering headlines and push notifications that are sending our minds into overdrive while putting enormous pressure on governments, employers and health services to cope. We’re in the midst of a pretty scary time facing the unknown, made harder by not being able to see the mountain, but like those early explorers, we’re also keeping on keeping on.

Large organisations are pivoting, smaller businesses are finding innovative ways to operate and communities are rediscovering the locals at work in their own patch. People are staying active, families are still connecting, birthdays are celebrated (online). You name it – we’re trying it: How to videos on making your own face mask, bingo evenings in suburban streets, supermarkets opening early for the elderly, random acts of kindness and dance parties via Zoom. Everyone is doing their part to remain optimistic, comply with the State directives and #flattenthecurve. There’s a global sense of connectivity – We’re all in this together, which some of us have never felt before.

In Temporary & Contract recruitment we’ve definitely taken a hit, but I know I can speak on behalf of my team, the broader business and the industry that we have not lost faith. We’re continuing to help candidates find work, investing more time in professional development, focusing on staying connected and nourishing our client customer relationships. It’s been an opportunity for many to use isolation time in positive ways.

Back in February, which now seems such a long time ago, Slade Group announced a bushfire relief initiative that gave me the opportunity to visit one of the affected areas within Victoria, meet with members of the community and directly give back to small businesses through our spending (Slade absorbed our travel and accommodation costs). After some Google searching, I decided on Bright, a quaint town in Northern Victoria nestled near the base of the Alpine National Park. From a quick search I was sold; it’s picturesque Main Street, colourful flora and beautiful backdrop of the National Park really sparked an interest to experience this for myself. What I didn’t factor into the equation, was that my partner would somehow persuade me to take a 45 minute drive to the base of Mt Bogong and complete a gruelling 9 hour hike up the tallest mountain in Victoria!

Yes, it was tough. And I did look at my watch every 5 minutes, calling Harrison every obscene word under the sun. But after the first couple of hours I was so thankful to him for persuading me to go on this hike, and thankful to myself for having the sheer determination to achieve the goal and complete the climb. Looking back on this day and where I am now, it’s true, I was facing the unknown and struggling, but I didn’t back down and I eventually reached the summit.

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Posted in Interchange Bench, The world @work