Blog Archives

Why you should listen to podcasts and why we’re a sponsor.

What is it about podcasts that have captured our collective earbuds? Have you noticed how at some point the watercooler chat moved from TV’s Better Call Saul to the LA Times’ Dirty John podcast? Perhaps it’s because podcasts are the better versions of the internet, screen, radio and TV that they’re experiencing the highest growth of all media. The latest figures (ABC 2017) show that 89% of us are aware of podcasts and 30% of us listened to at least one in the last month. And if we’re anything like the US, annual audiences are growing at a double digit rate.

We’re proud to make a shout out for our own sponsorship of the highly engaging Don’t Shoot the Messenger podcast.  The Interchange Bench, which specialises in temporary and contract talent for all reasons and seasons sees Don’t Shoot the Messenger as the perfect podcast partner.  Quite apart from the tremendous content, it has an AB demographic: an audience of professionals and hiring decision-makers, many of whom will consider professional contract roles at some stage in their careers.

Caroline Wilson and Corrie Perkin, the co-hosts of Don’t Shoot the Messenger, talk about everything from footy to politics, dubious characters, food, films and books, family and business are all covered in an hour, and seemingly, not much is off limits.

We could have pursued a partnership with a related HR, leadership and recruitment podcast but we’re firmly in the ‘Love Work, Love Life’ camp and believe life outside the office, the lecture theatre or operating theatre, the building site or science lab is just as important for a balanced life. (And this month, especially outside the chambers of Parliament House!)

Of course if you are interested in HR and Hiring podcasts, give these a shot: Engaging Leader, hosted by Jesse Lahey; The Go-Giver, hosted by Bob Burg; Leadership and Loyalty, hosted by Dov Baron; HR Happy Hour by Steve Boese and Trish McFarlane.  We think they’re great.

So back to the original question – why the shift to podcasts?

You may have your own reasons, here are five reasons why they’re a 21st Century thing:

We’re commuters: Walking, public transport or cars are all conducive to podcast listening.

We choose: 1000 topics, 1000 interests. Just like having the State Library on your iPhone.

Production quality:  Beautifully crafted stories, sophisticated discussions and documentaries.

Independent media: Consolidation and decimation of some media has been matched by the growth of the intelligent green shoot podcast.

Long form:  There’s been a shift from the 10 second sound grab, to a demand for deep dive discussions into topics of interest.

Listen to Don’t Shoot the Messenger now or subscribe through Apple Podcasts and let us know what you think!

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Posted in The Interchange Bench, The world @work

Myriad differences, multiple benefits: Embracing multiculturalism in the workplace

What an eye opening experience moving from Albania – an Eastern European country where 97% of the population were native born Albanians, to Toronto – one of the most multicultural cities in the world, where over 180 languages are spoken…

It was a move that exposed me to people of myriad different cultural backgrounds, which is how I came to understand the importance of multiculturalism in school, work and the wider community.

Bringing together a diverse group of people who may have different values, beliefs, traditions and family backgrounds can be challenging. However, there are many, often reported, positive benefits to multiculturalism in the world @work. Respected advisor to the Australian Government Josef Assaf AO says, “Cultural diversity confers social and economic dividends; it creates jobs and generates profits and, equally importantly, it promotes artistic exchange and connects us with the rest of the world.”[1]

Here are five reasons why I think multiculturalism is important in the workplace:

  1. Multiculturalism expands your cultural awareness
    Working alongside people from a variety of cultural backgrounds can expand your cultural awareness. Once you expand your horizon, you will improve your knowledge about the world beyond your own borders. You’ll no longer think that all of Eastern Europe is the same, or that everyone there eats potatoes! Your desire to learn and expand your knowledge about different cultures will not be solely restricted to traveling with Lonely Planet; it can be satisfied with daily chats with your colleague from Slovenia or Singapore at lunch time.
  2. Multiculturalism builds respect and better understanding of cultural differences
    Diversity in the work environment can contribute to development and positive experiences as it can lead to increased conversations. Communications and conversations that emerge throughout the organisation lead to respect among employees who have a better understanding and appreciation of their co-workers, the viewpoints they bring to the team, and appropriate interactions.
  3. Multiculturalism improves customer service
    In recruitment, our clients and candidates come from all walks of life. I am a strong believer that having a multicultural workforce shows an inclusive face to the public. Clients and candidates have confidence in someone who ‘speaks their language’. Whether that is a native speaker or simply an understanding that specific holidays, customs or familial commitments impact us at work, even a small business can demonstrate its ability to engage with global talent in the market.
  4. Multiculturalism improves your problem solving skills
    Different cultures have different ways of approaching problems. In a workplace with a diverse cultural backgrounds, people approach situations with their own unique perspectives. A variety of viewpoints brings together a wide array of ideas that enhance the capability of the team.
  5. Did someone say food?
    Last but not least, when working in a multicultural workplace, you’re likely to see a variety of edible treats, which hopefully your colleagues are willing to share. Speaking from experience, I can say that I didn’t mind all the compliments I received about my Russian salad.

What are some of the benefits you have seen from embracing multiculturalism in your workplace?

 

[1] Diversity in the Workplace, Joseph Assaf, Department of Social Services, 16 May 2018

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Posted in The Interchange Bench, The world @work

My three biggest career regrets

If you were to look at most people’s career trajectory, it generally rises over time, but zoom in a little and you’ll probably see some dips or a drop along the way. The upside to those dips is that a set-back in life can be a fantastic opportunity for learning and growth. In hindsight, you may even come to see that the valuable learning opportunities provided by the drop gave you the tools you needed to achieve something amazing, or the confidence to try something out of the box that really paid off.

Here are my three biggest career regrets to date, and the lessons I learnt from each of them.

  1. Look after yourself. I turned down a phone interview for an incredible sounding job with an arts organisation in Hobart because I didn’t think I could sneak out of work for the call. It was in my early days in the workforce and I just didn’t understand that you need to look after yourself when job hunting is at play. Of course I always advocate leaving on good terms when you do move on, but I didn’t realise in that scenario that I needed be less passive if I was ever going to get another job.

Lesson: Nobody is going to look out for you in the same way that you will look out for yourself. You need to be your strongest advocate and do whatever is in your power to make things happen. 

  1. Never under-prepare for interviews. I have done this on a couple of occasions, by underestimating the advantage of interview preparation in helping you to successfully win a role. I went in full of boundless enthusiasm and thought that would carry me through to success (and, to be fair, that has often been enough). I hadn’t really done any research on the role or the company, and I certainly hadn’t done any preparation in terms of practising typical interview questions, in order to get a feel for what my key strengths were and why I thought I would be a good fit for the role.

Lesson: You can never be over prepared. You won’t know exactly which questions you’ll be asked in an interview, but if you have spent some time contemplating the proffered role from several different angles, and how it may relate to your skills and experience, then you’ll be well placed to answer any questions on the fly that you hadn’t expected.

  1. Think carefully before turning down a job. I had just started university and in my search for work, I submitted my resume to a nearby chocolate factory (yes, really) because I had heard from a friend that if you worked there you could eat as much chocolate as you wanted. They called me up, but I had too many contact hours at uni, so I wasn’t able to take the job. It was almost twenty years ago, but to be honest, I am still heartbroken over it!

Lesson: If you have a dream/goal/vision, then chase it with every particle of your body. Perhaps I could have gone part-time, or considered dropping out of uni altogether. In any case I should have done WHATEVER it took to get that job and fulfil my dream to eat all the chocolate I wanted.

What are some of your career regrets? What lessons have you learned?

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When Temp is the Word: 5 points for a positive experience

Temp.

I often hear the word uttered in a mildly objectionable tone – and I get it, there’s some horror stories out there… I’ve heard plenty about snaky recruiters slithering their way through businesses, tarnishing the profession one careless placement at a time. They’ve done a great job of making the temporary contracting process completely exasperating for businesses and candidates alike.

Hiring a temporary resource should never be a case of simply finding someone with a pulse to fill a chair and hoping for the best. Thankfully, most of us aren’t like that. As a recruiter who cares about the talented people and the organisations I represent, let me tell you our Temps can save your butt in times of need.

Here are five things to look for when it comes to temporary recruitment to ensure it’s a positive and productive experience:

  1. Find a fantastic recruitment business partner. It’s like any relationship, if your significant other/life partner/hairdresser doesn’t take the time to get to know you, understand you and respond to your needs, you wouldn’t stick around, right? (Hair flick and walk away). Your relationship with your recruiter should be no different. So do your homework, find a provider who actually listens to you, asks the relevant questions, and understands your business and your people.
  2. Trust is everything, so be honest with your recruiter. Talk about your company culture (the real and ideal). Be upfront about your management style. Let them know the reasons behind recent staff turnover or changes to the team. A major dislike of PowerPoint? We understand, the more information the better! With this knowledge we can find a candidate with the relevant skills and experience required for the job, as well as someone who shares your company values.
  3. Go steady. Once you find a great recruiter, don’t be a commitment-phobe. Partnering with a single agency will streamline your recruitment process. Repeating your brief to multiple providers is time consuming. It’s also inefficient when you receive duplicate candidate resumes. So, put your time into making your business relationship work with someone who works well with you. Not only will you receive a more tailored approach from your recruiter, you will enable them to focus on your organisation.
  4. Keep it real. Sometimes we just have to face the facts and as much as we would all love to find the perfect unicorn/human hybrid temporary resource, available to commence tomorrow on a part time basis with relevant industry experience, with the ability to play the ukulele and work their way around Adobe Photoshop at an advanced level, unfortunately this may not always be possible. So, be open to options, let your recruiter come up with short-term and long term solutions to help fill your current gaps.
  5. Temps are people We take pride in our flexible, adaptable and switched-on temporary and contract talent. Please remember to treat them with the same respect as your permanent employees; we want them to feel comfortable in your work environment. And you never know, we often place permanent employees through a temp assignment!

There is no greater feeling in this role than matching a temporary candidate with a workplace, finding out that they are absolutely nailing it and sitting back like a proud parent, and watching their working relationship blossom.

Find a recruitment partner that you trust and communicate with them. Be straight with them and don’t be afraid to work together to achieve a resourcing solution that really works for you – not just a person with a pulse!

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Posted in The Interchange Bench, The world @work

Spoiler Alert. You can’t always get what you want.

We’re again experiencing a real shortage of capable talent at every professional level and if I could tag this post with ‘High Importance’ I would. For those who weren’t around, or who have already forgotten what it was like nearly a decade ago, here’s a story and some hot tips.

Always keen to innovate, we started Final5 as a shortlisting service in 2005; employers could brief us on a role, detail the five critical SKEs (skill, knowledge and experience) and receive a shortlist of five people in around 5 days. Five was the magical number. And it worked beautifully for around 5 years; that was until we couldn’t find 5 people who fit in five days. We couldn’t even find them in 50 days.

Embarrassingly we had to change our Terms of Business to say an acceptable shortlist from Final5 would comprise a Final 3+! And ultimately we changed our name to NextHire. Those were the years of critical shortages of capable talent. The term ‘War for Talent’ was in every second article we read.

Peeps, we think those days are back and we all have to respond accordingly.

Six Recruitment Tips for 2018.

  1. Different numbers

It may take 2x longer that than you expected to source high performers and you may only interview ½ as many candidates as you expected.

  1. Be clear up front

What are the critical capabilities and skills? What are the absolute ‘must haves’ vs what can be taught and learned?

  1. Don’t target 100% skills fit

Skills can always be learned and even better, your new hire will be trained in the latest best practice rather than relying on what they learned 10 years ago, or picked up by osmosis. It’s as true for a Claims Clerk as it is for a CFO.

  1. Do target culture and values

Improving self-awareness is hard to achieve once we’re adults. Spend time making sure the person will fit the organisation. If they’re smart and have an aptitude for learning they’ll quickly meet their accountabilities.

  1. Follow your instinct and act fast

You’ll know when you meet a good candidate. And so will everyone else she’s interviewing with. Don’t wait until you’ve met five more candidates before you make your decision. By then she’ll have three offers on the table and as you weren’t that interested early on…

  1. For specific expertise don’t overlook contractors

A Spot Market does exist for skilled employees – but it’s an interim/temporary solution rather than permanent. Our spot market is via interchangebench.com.au which has candidates with specific skill sets for fixed periods of time across most roles and industries.

How are you managing the talent shortage in your world@work?

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3 non-business books that will improve your confidence at work

The other day I was having a conversation with someone about confidence in the workplace. I mentioned a book that I read a number of years ago on the subject which really changed the way I think about confidence, and gave me an armful of useful tools that I found incredibly helpful. This got me thinking about other books I recommend people read, so I’ve put together my top three work-and business-related books. These are not your run-of-the-mill, dry, ‘serious’ reads. They are not even books you would find in the business section of a bookshop. But they are books that are worth reading because they provide wonderful insights into the world @work, and how we can perform as our best selves at work.

The Confidence GapThe Confidence Gap, Russ Harris
Written by psychologist Russ Harris, The Confidence Gap is the perfect book for anyone who feels they are being held back by a lack of confidence.  Harris has written an approachable, easy-to-read book that explores how a lack of confidence can affect many areas of a person’s life, and looks at real, clear suggestions to work through it. It’s not an easy book to read in the sense that if you really want to make changes in this area you will have to have some tough, honest conversations with yourself. But it is easy in the sense that it is written in clear language, and breaks down complex concepts into easily understandable stories and ideas.

QuietQuiet, Susan Cain
This book explains what introverts are, how they tick, and what the pitfalls of introvert/extrovert interactions can be. I would recommend this books for introverts, extroverts and anyone who isn’t sure where they fall on the spectrum (but would like to figure this out). Cain looks at how the business world, especially in America, has for almost a century, celebrated extroverts and build a system that favours their personalities and mode of working. Cain argues that because this system is not designed for introverts, it is difficult and often tiring for them to navigate. However, this doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible for an introvert to not merely navigate, but to thrive in a world of extroverts. Cain provides tools and techniques for introverts negotiating the extroverted world of business, and for introverts and extroverts to figure out how best they can work together.

Unfinished BusinessUnfinished Business, Anne-Marie Slaughter
This book is (in my opinion) a sort of unofficial sequel to Lean In, the blockbuster work memoir written by Facebook CEO Cheryl Sandberg in 2013. It’s a look at how work-life balance is something worth striving for, but that the make-up of that balance may change over time. Slaughter says that it’s important to ‘lean in’ at times, but that it is just as important and necessary to be able to lean out at times too. She advocates for a world where we can accept a promotion and work like the devil for a couple of years, then dial things back for another couple of years, perhaps  to care for family members, or pursue study. Slaughter writes passionately and persuasively for her vision of a flexible and changing attitude to work over our lifetimes.

What are your top reads for personal and professional development?

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I get knocked down, I get up again…

Resilience
noun
1. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

Organisations want people who aren’t afraid to tackle difficult tasks – problem solvers who learn from a challenge, not folk who say “that’s too hard” and pack it in.

It has been one of those weeks for me. Everything that could go wrong… did!  What appeared disastrous, was of course, in a life or death context, no more than a hiccup. Supported and sorted, and I’m up again for the next challenge.

This made me think: How do we gauge resilience without having actually worked alongside a person?

I actively screen for resilience in candidates. During the recruitment process, we need to find out if a candidate has been tested in tough times and how they manage through tricky situations.  Psychometric testing is also useful to get a good grasp on work style and character attributes.

Two of my favourite behavioural questions that I think give me the most insight are:

How have you dealt with failure? How did it make you feel, and what did you learn?  

We are all familiar with the old adage ‘sink or swim’ and there is a reason for this. Work can be tough; and each role has its own pressure points. You will make mistakes, you may miss a deadline and sometimes you could flat out fail. Listening to candidates answer this question gives me some insight into how reflective they are about their fallibilities, if they can learn from mistakes and bounce back.

Describe a time when you kept your eye on the big picture, through a challenging situation?

Why do I like this question? It allows me to see where a person’s focus lies. It is so easy to get side-tracked with a current disaster/issue/problem and assume that it’s all too hard. I know sometimes it may feel that the end of the road is nigh, but let me tell you, after 20 years in the workforce, it’s not. Maintaining perspective provides a way forward, so I want to find candidates who can keep their eye on the ball, get knocked down… get up again, to win the prize at the end of the race.

Our fast-paced contingent workforce at The Interchange Bench regularly attend jobs in new environments. Once we’re briefed on an assignment we match the role with our ‘bench of talent ensuring capability and culture fit are closely aligned. For our candidates going out on assignment, it’s a case of getting on with the show. That is why resilience is key whether it’s a months’ long assignment or just for a day.

Often in our working lives we get knocked down. Sometimes it’s not a little stumble, but a great big fall. We get up, we dust ourselves off and we get on with it. If we are lucky, we are able to learn from the experience and we become hardier in preparation for similar situations in the future.

It certainly helps to have a supportive team to get you through tough times at work

How do you measure resilience in your world @work?

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I officially abdicate from the role of Queen of (Lazy) Small Talk

I’m currently completing a Ross Clennett Program – Leadership Coaching for High Performance (highly recommended, BTW). As part of my homework, I explored some of Ross’s previous blog articles as a little pre-reading. An article that was originally published back in 2010 immediately jumped out at me. It is called Are you still stuck in the recruitment dark ages? My initial thought was: Surely not, I am mostly Gen X with a dash of millennial thrown in… Dark ages… ppft. Upon reading it I was embarrassed to learn that one of my genial habits belongs in Westeros, without indoor plumbing or running water.

What is this bad habit, I hear you ask? It’s small talk. Well more so, my icebreaker one-liners. These are the old standards like, “Did you find us ok?”,How’s your day?” and “How’s the weather outside? Is it still sunny/rainy/windy/cold/cloudy/all of the above (I’m based in Melbourne)?” that I roll out in interviews or meetings with candidates and clients.

I’d prefer not to think I greet people with clichés, but we are all guilty of being a bit lazy when engaging with others from time to time.

Ross says why not take the time to really (I mean really) prepare for a meeting and come up with something meaningful as the ice-breaker. As a recruitment consultant, this could be looking for connections in common with a candidate, such as having worked at the same company, in a similar role or related industry. They may have some interesting interests and hobbies, (a case in point if you have ever wondered whether it is worthwhile including such information on your resume). Whatever you choose, make it PERSONAL.

I’ve made it my personal mission from now until Christmas to not utter any of those tired one-liners, and I have to say… I’m doing OK so far. Here are three of my recent cliché-free icebreakers:

  1. I see you’ve worked in Japan for two years, tell me about some of the cultural differences in the workplace?
  2. How was your time with Twitter? I’ve heard amazing things about the office and company culture.
  3. You grew up in Darwin, so did I! Do you know Fannie Bay (yes, it’s a real suburb of Darwin and I did grow up there)?

All three sparked wonderful free flowing conversations that turned into A+ interviews and unsurprisingly, the third candidate and I realised that we had friends in common (that’s Darwin after all).

So let’s not be lazy with our small talk; a little prep and a bit of thought goes a long way.

What bad ice-breaker one liners are you going to stop using?

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