Gender distractions and Recruitment

Gender distractions and Recruitment

Today was supposed to be the day that I really cracked on with either writing more of my book or at the very least reading more of ‘Flawed by Willing‘ – which incidentally is proving an exceptional read.  As is often the case I got distracted and today’s distraction was gender inequality. The distraction was reading this piece on why women feel less confident applying for roles  – and are consequently less likely to apply for roles where they don’t meet all the criteria. And less likely to apply obviously then means ‘less likely to get’.

Over the past 6 months or so I’ve been urging almost everyone I meet to read The Why Axis by Uri Gneezy. It sheds light, through proper field experiments, on some genuinely worrying trends in terms of education, gender bias and disability. For instance if you are in a wheelchair you are likely to be quoted up to 30% more for car repairs – as the garage will do an informal mental calculation that suggests you are unlikely to shop around. That simply scares me. By the way, if you are in that situation, then interestingly all you have to do is tell the garage you’ll be getting multiple quotes – they reduce the price back to ‘normal’ levels.

Anyway when we think of the gender imbalance in salary and seniority in our economy we quite often think of the ‘old boys club’ mentality and that being one of the prime barriers. It’s an invisible ceiling. I’m not discounting that as an issue, but what I hear less about are the facts surrounding recruitment processes. I won’t repeat the stats that you can find in the article above, but I was chatting to a very well respected recruiter, David Bailey, and he revealed the following stats… It made me wonder if it was about an invisible ceiling – or whether it was as much about candidate behaviour as organisational behaviour.

In the recruiters experience “On average it can take 8 calls to engage female candidates in a search versus an average of 2 calls for men. It’s not that female candidates are harder to reach, but can take longer to commit to considering a new role. Men are more likely to say ‘yes’ and assume they already posses the necessary skills to take the next step in their career. Generalisations of course, but definitely a factor that affects the delivery of diverse shortlists. Which leads neatly on to the need for headhunters to be aware of unconscious bias too….”

Women are less likely to apply for roles (in general) and then take longer to commit to roles (in general). I assume these two factors combined, if multiplied across the entire labour market, must be a reasonably significant factor in the nature of the composition of the workforce.

I’d be interested to hear from any recruiters that have a different experience to the above – I’d also be interested in hearing any bright ideas that people have for a fix for these seemingly almost entrenched issues. What would make the process more inclusive given the difference in behaviours? Or what would change the behaviours?

It’s a big issue masked by some other issues. They are the hardest issues to deal with.

It’s your career – why do you want to leave?

I wrote this in response to the coverage of Massive Monday. The busiest day of the year for people starting to look for a new role. Except I’ve now delayed this blog – as there is a great blog from Mervyn Dinnen telling everyone to to calm down. So I did.

For whatever reason over the past few months I’ve been besieged by people wanting a catch up to talk about leaving their current role. It’s the best kind of besieging – it’s the kind that makes you feel trusted and worthwhile. I’m not complaining.

Here is what I’ve told most of them – and most have said it is helpful.

If you are asking the question ‘should I leave?’ it’s normally because you already know the answer. You already think you should leave, but if I say it too you’ll feel it is validated. You are more than probably about to tell me that you like the people you work with, but that the role leaves you ‘unfulfilled’ or your boss ‘just doesn’t get’ the way you work. The answer is the grass isn’t always greener, but unless you think the current situation will improve then it certainly makes sense to look elsewhere. Not storm into the a meeting with your boss and resign, but check out other options.

I’m going to level with you – I have no idea how good you are at your role. So I’m not going to agree with you when you say your talents are wasted or your boss is evil. But I do know that’s how you feel and that counts. Your happiness isn’t something I can reason out. If you are unhappy (or you think your boss is a muppet) I’m unlikely to change that over a coffee and you are unlikely to change it without changing role.I know you’ve worked so hard to build up a reputation with your current employer, but that is only of use to you if it can get you into a position you enjoy. Otherwise what you are telling me is just a distraction. This is about you, not how others perceive you.

And I know the people are great… Nearly everyone always says that when they leave. You’ll feel the same when you leave your next place. You’ll find people you thought you shared a deep relationship with were only colleagues and not friends. It is the way of the world. There are even more cool people just waiting to be met in the next place. You rarely lose great relationships, you add to them.

If you are worried about being able to afford to change jobs or that you’ll have to take a step down in seniority. It’s your choice, I’m not going to insist you drop your income. You came to me. It’s a tough economy and these are your gambles and choices. Everything has a risk. Your current risk is that you get up each morning for the foreseeable future and don’t enjoy a large chunk of your day. Only you can decide if that is a tolerable trade off for what you see on your payslip. I’d just challenge you to imagine a different future (a real one, not one where you just suddenly become Mark Zuckerberg) and make an informed choice.

If you aren’t qualified to do whatever it is you want to do then you have three options

stay put OR get qualified OR try and find a role without being qualified.

I can’t help with the first couple of options, the third is tricky, but it is possible.Why don’t you start researching that rather than worrying about that?

If you don’t know where to start then you start by accepting you are going to leave and then I guarantee that will unclutter your brain enough for you to be able to start planning for the future. You are currently overwhelming yourself with the enormity of choices you are trying to make – just break it into smaller steps.

  • Decide to leave
  • Decide what that means for you
  • Work out what you want to do
  • Work out what you have to do to get that
  • Start moving towards it.

Then you get to go into work each day knowing that you are making progress towards something better and I can tell you that everyone I speak to who ’emotionally resigns’ finds everything just that little bit more tolerable.

So you are telling me to leave? I’m telling you that you are asking that question for a reason and the person best placed to answer it…isn’t me

Thanks to Merv for the music choice too

Why only 5% of recruitment agencies are useful

(I’m happily consulting now – this was published back in May – my experiences didn’t get better….)

I’m currently ‘looking for new opportunities’ which, apparently, together with ‘freelance’, is what you say so that people feel comfortable talking to the person who hasn’t got a permanent role. 
I’ve been lucky enough to do some consultancy work, but I’m still looking for a home. Which means job seeking. And job seeking isn’t something that I’ve really had to do before. Since it has been a hellishly unfun process I thought I would share some of my learnings and frustrations, so that if anyone else is in a similar position they can think ‘wow, it’s not just me finding that….’
So let’s approach things in a completely non sequential order 

Is this the one where you rant about not having a job?Yes. Completely. It isn’t even really a controlled rant. I’m hopeful of a new role, the market seems to be picking up, but I’m also stunningly disappointed by a whole clutch of agencies. 

So…what are you doing in your job hunt now? 

I’m going social media crazy.Twitter has been a great tool, allowing me to feel part of a community and to discuss and input on HR issues. I’m writing this blog due to people inspiring me with theirs and my first blog post attracted more views from across the world than I thought was possible. The HR community in New Zealand have been an unexpected bonus addition to my network and I hope I retain my loyal readership in Canada!

I suppose I started doing this in the hope someone might spot me online and think ‘I like the way he thinks’ – now it is more about adding purpose to my days and I’ve met some great supportive, smart people.

I do have a couple of agencies that have been absolutely great and understand what Kierkegaard meant when he said ‘if you label me, you negate me’. I mean this in a broad sense, I haven’t made them take a Kierkegaard interpretation assessment. 

They are working hard for me, but  I’m aware others have my CV gathering dust in a ‘I might have to do some work to earn commission on this, I’ll wait until someone phones me and specifically asks for a David D’Souza’ pile.
So you used social media to circulate your CV to cut out the agencies? 

Yes… I designed an online CV that hopefully does more justice to my capabilities than my normal one (more of that in a minute…). This CV has been generously shared by a few people that I am thanking here – and some others that I’ve already thanked online….I’ve thanked Neil Morrison in two blogs in a row, so I will never mention him again, in order to prevent him checking my blog every day to see a new tribute.
@recruitgal @neilmorrison @GarethMartin46 @sukhpabial

The CV has got a pretty good reception, so if anyone wants to steal the template or any advice then let me know.
So why, with such awesome award winning recruitment agencies about today did you have to rely on appealing to the kindness of strangers to tweet your CV? 
Great question, glad you asked it.Very convenient. 
It became clear to me after a short while of trudging around agencies that they fit into three categories

i) great – interested in you and prepared to be proactive on your behalf  (about5 per cent)
ii) competent – if you have a straightforward skill set and will accept anything they offer (25 per cent)
iii) abysmal – not interested in anything except  ‘HR Manager, CIPD qualified, worked in Blue Chip multinational matrixed environment in FS’ . This is to the extent that if I had walked in and declared a desire to be King of America I might have had more feigned interest (70 per cent)

I’m looking forward to my next role and vengefully striking the 70 per cent off that company’s PSL. This may seem an overreaction, but 

  • putting someone forward for a role and then not giving them a progress update  then not replying to emails and calls from the candidate to get an update? Shocking. I’ve had 3 large agencies do that. Forget business ethics, forget efficiency. Manners still matter. 
  • Travelling an hour to meet someone who hasn’t read page 2 of your 2 page CV? Done that too.
  • Another genuine exchange…’We reviewed your CV and thought you would be interested in this role as a qualified Occupational Psychologist’. ‘but I’m not a qualified Occupational Psychologist’ ‘oh, what do you do again?’. 
Maybe you are just a really poor candidate?
Possibly,even if I was, poor candidates deserve to be treated with dignity too. Agencies should be managing the candidate experience across the piece – not just for candidates that progress.
My CV, on its own, doesn’t bring to life that I’ve done and what I’ve contributed, I’m just awkward like that. Have I managed the agencies well? Probably not. Is it still reasonable to expect more from them? Yes. 

Having done a fair bit of recruitment in my time I know the questions that will be in the mind of the hiring manager  e.g. Why leave this place at this time? How big was that company? He claims to do several things – what is he actually? Why would an OD Manager have a Shared Services Manager reporting into him?  He just sounds too charismatic and good looking to be real?

So I’m smart enough to know that I probably haven’t passed the initial CV sift. I accept that, but if you met me for coffee it would be a different story,  I just don’t fit well into a box. 

In an industry where people are talking consistently about challenging the status quo, being commercial and looking for diversity that should be a USP, not a block. I do culture, data, operational and strategic – why would you want someone to do less? 

And if agencies aren’t prepared to challenge perceptions and promote my capabilities  – how are they earning a fee and what are companies paying them for?. 

I don’t want them picking up a fee for placing me if they haven’t done any work – and when I get my next role I will be resisting paying them a fee for simply shuffling paper towards me without more context. Rant over. Enjoy the video if you haven’t seen it..