Open mind critical with new hires
PostMedia News, November 2011
When it comes to getting the staffing job done, it's a whole new world out there, says Sharlene Massie, CEO of About Staffing Ltd. in Calgary.
Today it's not just about finding a person to fit a job, it's more about finding the right job for the person, Massie says. In some cases, that means educating clients as much as the candidates themselves.
"Sometimes you get into arguments when talking to clients," she says. "Eventually they realize you're right."
What do employers need to hear when addressing their staffing needs? Quite a few things, staffing experts say.
First, don't expect instant results. Massie says it was a lot easier in the days when information - and job descriptions - were limited. "Then organizations had a small picture in mind in terms of what they needed."
Now, she says, it's much more detailed and demanding. "Roles used to be secretarial or accounting. Now they are much more specific, which takes more time to find the fit."
Second, in a time when demand for specific skills is high, an employer has to sell themselves as much as the candidate does. When a client request comes in, Massie or a staff member meets with representatives to "ask a whole bunch of questions, like what makes that work environment unique.
"You have to sell that place to a candidate who has choices as much as sell the candidate to the client.
So it's important to know what is special about that job, the people who work there and that environment," she says.
On the flip side, candidates are also asked the same things in terms of what they are looking for.
"It used to be, can you type 80 words a minute, or are you accurate. Those are all yes and no questions," she says. "Now it's all soft stuff, like where you like working, who you like to work with, flexibility and benefits. There's a lot of talk about problem solving."
When working with a staffing professional, it's vital to keep an open mind when considering candidates. Anne Charette Tyler, president of The Burke Group in St. Catharines, Ont., has been a staffing professional since 1979. In her experience, employers can get into "tunnel thinking" and need to break away from that.
"For example, a public sector employer might only talk to candidates with public sector experience," Tyler says. "But in fact, there could be a bright new light available that might bring a new perspective to their business."
One of the critical discussions Massie has with employers centres on generational issues. Many need to relearn what it takes to get the best candidates and keep them.
"It's not a 9-to-5 world anymore. People want life-workplace balance. They want to meet their friends at 4: 30 or have time for volunteer work. The problem is employers are not always following suit," she says.
As an executive recruiter, Sylvia MacArthur, president of Madison MacArthur in Toronto, notes that management within firms needs to change its ways in order to understand these workers and work with them rather than against them.
"It's a completely different outlook, and often managers themselves need retraining. Leadership training has been around for awhile. Now it's just taken a different path."
Massie's belief is that if employers want to get the best of the best, they shouldn't look at resumes first. "Sometimes you have to fight to get an interview for someone because they're so much more than what their resume says. Employers look for the task-related skills, but what you're hiring is the whole person - so you need to look at the whole picture. After all, no one will stay in a job if it's the wrong work environment. But if they're happy and challenged, they stay."
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