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5 reasons why I stay, and enjoy recruitment.

Over my 22-year recruitment career, I’ve been asked time and time again by people in my networks – clients, candidates, work colleagues and friends – why the Recruitment industry, what is it that keeps you engaged?

At a time when candidates have become a rare commodity and The Great Reset is a hot topic, my reply remains the same. If you have the passion to make a difference, the drive to capitalise on opportunities and a positive attitude to develop yourself and others, there’s unlimited scope to successfully impact both a client’s organisation and a candidate’s career.

As a consultant, achieving recognition as a professional, a recruiter of choice in my field and a reputation as a trusted advisor for the value I add is not only rewarding, it reinforces my decision to stay.

Here are five reasons why l chose to work in the recruitment industry, and why I believe it’s still the right career choice for me:

  1. Great development opportunities and career progression

Recruiters receive comprehensive training – not just when first starting out, but throughout their career. Learning from colleagues, applied skills training and professional development programs have helped me grow and refine my skills. With dedication and the right attitude, recruitment is a profession where one can build career progression. I have personally been promoted from Resourcing through to Senior Recruitment Consultant and Team Leader of Government and Commercial divisions.

  1. Independence, exclusivity and flexibility

It’s a tremendous career for self-managed high performers. Running a recruitment desk, whether WFH or in the office, is like running your own business. Once you’re fully trained and have all the skills to succeed, you have the opportunity to account manage your own clients and establish exclusive candidate talent pools. It’s a great match between personal responsibility and the support of a wider business. And with our new ways of living and working, the flexibility to better manage your work-life balance.

  1. Making a positive impact on people’s lives

Whether it is finding someone their dream job or helping a client hire the perfect person to grow their business, recruiters have a huge impact on people’s lives. I still get the same buzz of excitement placing someone in a job now as I did when I began my recruitment career over twenty years ago.

  1. Uncapped potential

While you make your own success, you also share in the success of placing the right people in the right organisations and helping candidates achieve their career goals. At the same time, you’re part of the success of the recruitment firm as a whole. It’s a bit like being a shareholder in the business. While there are various remuneration models, most agencies provide a base salary and performance structure that supports consultants to realise their potential.

  1. Recruitment tools are continually evolving

Like many industries, technology has revolutionised recruitment. LinkedIn, for example, has made it easier to network professionally online. It’s also now common to meet over Zoom and Microsoft Teams, which is great for those working remotely or regionally, even internationally. While digital platforms can help to connect people, there’s nothing like face-to-face contact when building relationships.

So, there it is. Five reasons why l chose the recruitment industry and have never looked back.

Are you looking for your next career opportunity after two years of COVID lockdowns and restrictions? Have you considered temporary or contract work? I’d love to hear your feedback on this story.

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Posted in Interchange Bench, The world @work

How Australia’s record-low jobless rate will impact cyber security hiring and retention

Australia’s unemployment rate could sink below 4 per cent this year, and fall further to 3.75 per cent by the end of 2023, the nation’s Reserve Bank forecast in February. If reached, that would be the lowest jobless rate in Australia in nearly 50 years. AISA communications manager Nick Moore asked cyber security recruiters, including Jim Morris from Synchro Partners, what this would mean for hiring and retaining staff in the already challenging infosec industry.

If Australia’s unemployment rate falls below 4%, how will that affect staff retention in cyber security?

Jim Morris: “With unemployment rates forecasted to fall below 4 per cent, this amplifies an already apparent short supply of accessible talent in the market and intensifies competition amongst employers, with the possibility of your staff being tempted to greener pastures.

New projects, new technologies and career growth opportunities arise every day so it is evitable that the ‘musical chairs’ in the cyber security marketplace will continue.

This is the nature of the beast as seen in the competitive market pre-GFC (Global Financial Crisis).”

If it falls below 4%, how will it affect recruitment?

Jim Morris: “Prospective, available candidates are already in low-supply, whether you are the local burger shop or a national cyber security firm. That is the brutal truth.

A key difference is, however, cyber security is a relatively niche, specialist area, with an already limited talent pool of available candidates. Couple that with the requirement for candidates in our sector to frequently upskill to keep up with constant changes and we’ve got a recipe for a different level of skills shortage.

Employers will face multiple challenges and obstacles when recruiting new staff – increased competition for talent, less overall supply and changes in candidate/jobseeker behaviour and expectations.

Now is a critical time for employers to review their value proposition to potential recruits out in the marketplace. What can you offer that the competitors in your segment can’t?

In my recent experience securing candidates within areas such as cloud security, penetration testing, incident response/threat intelligence or niche GRC (governance, risk and compliance) areas (IRAP, ISM, PCI) has become increasingly difficult for employers because of the market conditions.”

What advice would you give employers around staff retention? Is it possible to offer too many inducements?

Jim Morris: “First take a step back and really understand what you currently offer and how it stacks up against your competitors. Then look at adding extra value from there.

As a cyber security professional, continually developing their skills is the only way to keep up with the pace and demand of the market. What new skills are you offering your staff? What kind of programs can you offer them to be working on?

These are the key areas staff will consider against other options if they develop a ‘wandering eye’ for new opportunities as they are tangible ‘value adds’ for careers.

It can be easy to get swept up in the price/wage wars, having pinball machines, table tennis tables and fully stocked beer fridges but getting the real, measurable value propositions by way of professional development opportunities is a fundamental starting point for employers.”

What advice can you give around sourcing and hiring staff in this increasingly competitive jobs market?

Jim Morris: “Look inwards first. Have you really looked at which individuals within your organisation have the potential (and willingness) to upskill in order to fill your capability gap? Oftentimes I see clients quick to skip this step, missing real opportunities to find the capability readily available in house, and an opportunity to positively affect retention rates.

Be pragmatic about your list of requirements. Be realistic about what’s readily available out in the market. Does that candidate really exist and can you secure them within your target timeframe? If the answer is not an unequivocal yes, it’s likely time to consider where you can replace hard requirements with opportunities for prospective candidates with relevant experience to develop and upskill.

Moving fast is critical in the current market. Assess your current recruitment process, identify the bottlenecks and where the opportunities to streamline are. Much more often than not, this does not have to compromise the thoroughness of your process.

Candidates are not on the market for long and are often presented with multiple opportunities and offers at any given time.

Know your competition. What is your competition doing and offering and how does your organisation offer a compelling option as a comparison? This could be around a number of different factors – remuneration, professional development opportunities, flexible work arrangements and company culture. You need to know how you’re positioned against competing organisations to help target and secure the right candidate audience.”

Is it better to leave a position vacant than hire a substandard candidate? What strategies can employers deploy to cover for vacancies?

Jim Morris: “Look inwards first. Before going to market, which individuals in the business could redeploy into this role? Sometimes the answer lies within. Is this another opportunity to allow a team member to upskills? This can only have positive effects on your retention rates.

Consider a contingent workforce. A contractor resource has been a viable solution within our industry for years, often in a full-time capacity. Though, the working world is evolving, with the ‘Gig Economy’ seeing a noticeable boom in recent years. Many candidates in the cyber security space have started to engage with clients either on a part-time, ad-hoc or advisory capacity.”

This article was originally published as How Record-low Jobless Rate will Impact Cyber Security Hiring, Retention by the Australian Information Security Association (AISA). This abridged version is published with kind permission of the author.

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Posted in Synchro Partners, The world @work

Preparing for a Post-Covid Turnover Boom

For most of last year, many employees were in survival mode, afraid to leave their current employer in fear of not finding work due to the pandemic. But now that vaccinations are underway and things are looking up, employers must be mindful of turnover as employees are more confidently feeling they can make moves.

One in four employees plans to leave their employer after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, according to a new study from the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV).

Findings of the January study of more than 14,000 people globally included:

  • 1 in 5 employees voluntarily changed employers in 2020 – Gen Z and Millennials make up the largest portion of this group.
  • Of the 28% of surveyed employees who plan to switch employers in 2021, the need for a more flexible work schedule or location, and increased benefits and support for their well-being were cited as top reasons why.
  • 1 in 4 surveyed employees indicated they plan to switch occupations in 2021 – more than 60% of this group had already changed employers in January.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed employees’ expectations of their employers, and to retain top talent, employers need to understand employees’ motivations and needs. More than a third of respondents said they and their colleagues have asked their employer for more flexible work arrangements, improved compensation and benefits, and more physical and financial safety and security in the past year, but only about half of employees gave employers high marks on their ability to deliver this.

According to the survey, employees want:

  • work-life balance (51%)
  • career advancement opportunities (43%)
  • compensation and benefits (41%) *note: only 29% of Gen Z said this was key to their engagement
  • employer ethics and values (41%)
  • continuous learning opportunities (36%)
  • organizational stability (34%)

Some companies have rolled out Covid programs to boost employee satisfaction, offering things like free virtual healthcare, quarantine/confirmed illness pay, and a backup family care benefit. But there remains a gap – IBV found that “while 80% of executives said their companies were supporting the physical and emotional health of employees, only 46% of employees agreed.”

IBV’s Tips for employers:

  1. Proactively engage with employees to better understand what is really important to them and their careers. Employees are more likely to be their authentic selves and open up when employers have created a culture of belonging. Employees have options. They will gravitate towards employers who are listening and taking action.
  2. Foster a culture of perpetual learning that rewards continual skills growth. Most employees want to succeed and grow. Employers can either create learning cultures to nurture the skills and talents of their people, or wait for the exit interview to find out which of their competitors are.
  3. Don’t take people for granted. The pandemic has reminded us how fragile life is. Everyone has been through a lot in the past year. Employers must demonstrate empathy and care for their employees holistically—by considering their physical, mental, and financial well-being.

Priorities have shifted for employees due to the pandemic, and that means that leadership and executives must shift their thinking as well. To prepare for and hopefully stave off possible turnover, employers must create a supportive work environment, encourage open communication, embrace flexible work options, and provide learning and advancement opportunities. Employers must be mindful of how their employees are doing – burnout is running rampant as workers are attending more meetings, working after hours, and having to juggle balancing home/work life (including having children at home in remote learning situations).

This article was originally published by Liz Carey on the NPAworldwide blog.

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Posted in The world @work

Without top talent, the potential for recovery may be prolonged and painful

Around the world, employees have had nearly 9 months to assess how their employer is responding and reacting to this pandemic. Many employers have realized that human capital is the most precious asset of the organization and are working hard to retain talent. Other employers may be on belt tightening, headcount reduction and reorganizations of varying types. Top performers are watching how organizations react and recruiters are watching top performers.

Without top talent or with the loss of top performers, the potential for recovery may be prolonged and painful. The best of the best are being sought out by other companies via direct hire or with the help of an independent recruiter.

Each passing week brings new challenges. This new environment for work has brought on unexpected challenges with work from home, virtual meetings and conferences, new cybersecurity demands, and the loss of traditional revenue streams. Project work in a dispersed environment has extended timelines and made deliverables more difficult to achieve. The future rests with your top talent, yet they are facing motivation and availability issues like never before. Childcare and elder care are consuming many top producers. Motivation and morale are on wild tides rolling in and out with each new stay-at-home order or closure of daycare centers.

Retention strategies are critical in addressing and retaining top talent now, more than ever. The pandemic has employees reassessing the cities and locales where they live, friends, health, their careers and certainly their employers. If your leadership team is not growing loyalty with their actions, then they are eroding the bond to your most critical asset. Recruiters are watching and hearing how employers are responding to the challenges they face. The actions of some employers, or their failure to act, is creating targets for recruitment of top talent. Now is the time to double down on your best and brightest because if you do not, someone else surely will. Retain talent or become a source of top talent. That is the simple choice you face.

This article was originally published as “Retain Talent” by Dave Nerz on the NPAworldwide blog.

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Posted in The world @work

6 savvy Employee Retention strategies

The world of construction and engineering in Melbourne is booming, which means skilled professionals are in high demand. And in turn, they’re always being tapped on the shoulder by people like me telling them there’s a better opportunity elsewhere. The truth is, there usually is. 

With companies desperate to employ good people, they often over pay and price out the person’s current employer. Other factors play into why people move, but if you were offered a 25%+ pay increase, I’m sure you would find it hard (as I would) not to take it.

I think people entering the workforce now look at employment as a lifestyle rather than a job. It’s not enough to be financially rewarded for their work, they want to learn new skills, make new friends, have fun and experience fulfillment whilst being environmentally sustainable! So that’s what employers have to give them, if they want the person to stay at the company for many years.

So how can employers retain talent?

  1. Obviously remunerating the employee in line with the current market, which usually means a pay increase. Ask yourself what you’d be prepared to pay to replace your best employees and then give that amount to them before they look elsewhere. 
  2. Develop a years of service/rewards program that motivates your workforce to stay on with the company. 
  3. Provide your employees with challenges and make sure they experience different opportunities at work to prevent them seeing their work as ‘just a job’. 
  4. Offer flexible working arrangements. Numerous studies have shown employees are more productive and engaged when able to balance work with other aspects of their lives.
  5. The best thing you could do for the person and your company is to train them. Give them access to different learning courses. Reward them for achieving a new certificate or qualification. Not only will it benefit them personally, but your business will gain from the added knowledge. 
  6. Talk to your employees. Ask them what they want to do, what they want to achieve. Ask them if they’re happy in their current role. And if they’re not, discuss the possibility of a change in role and see if your business can provide a new career pathway.

Your people are your biggest asset (not your clients or your projects), they’ll spend more time working for you than doing anything else.

What’s working for you in your world @work?

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Posted in Technical & Operations, The world @work