People Power: Attract your Tribe

Written by Kaia Vincent
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Kaia Vincent chats to Maxine Hart, director of recruitment consultancy Wote Street People. Maxine is also regional director for Team, which is a recruitment agency association, a trustee for M3 Job Club and Basingstoke iTec and an enterprise advisor supporting students across Hampshire with apprenticeships and career choices.

How effective recruitment contributes to an organisations success
People Power is the second petal in Brevity’s Mandala Marketing Principles. We believe that the core values and insights from your DISC profile (identified in the Personality stage) allow you to start attracting the right customers and staff – or ‘tribe’ as we like to call it at Brevity. The second stage of our mandala marketing principles – people power – delves deeper into how to best communicate with your audience, be this customers or candidates, in this case. Read our case study about how we helped a client attract top talent.

KV: We are going to talk about ‘people power’. ‘People are our strength’  is your company motto, but shouldn’t this be the case for all organisations?’

MH: Definitely – if you think about it, no matter how good your product or your service is, it’s the people who deliver it. And that’s the message we try and get across with our recruitment process. Your staff are a walking, talking advert 24/7, 365 days of the year. Whether it’s to people who are going to join the business, or what you sell; it’s absolutely key.

KV: Many industries are experiencing candidate shortage issues. Where are companies going wrong in terms of their recruitment and should they be looking at a wider environment? It’s not just about the job role. Often, hiring managers think that they can contact a recruitment agency, give them a job spec and that’s it.

MH: There’s a perception that the ideal candidate is out there, and the recruitment industry doesn’t always help itself by saying ‘Oh, we’ve got the just right person’ I have banned superlatives when it comes to describing candidates because they don’t necessarily describe the skill set!

There’s a term within the recruitment industry and we call the dream candidate a ‘unicorn’ candidate. Your client will come to you with an idea of what they think they want to fit the company at that moment in time.

That ideal may or may not exist, but if companies look at the broader spectrum and maybe do a SWOT analysis of where the weak spots are, you can start to take the blinkers off and look at that wider pool of candidates.

If you need somebody now, you’re limited to the pool of candidates who are either looking or who are available immediately.

If you constantly have in the back of your mind that you might recruit and have some budget set aside, then you’ll have your pick of the crop and be able to approach people to bring them on. That’s how head-hunters work; they’re constantly looking for the best talent that may or may not be available now. That then ties into your inclusivity and diversity because you’re not having to do tick box exercises. You accidentally have this much wider, diverse population that should reflects the population that you sell to. 

KV: How have the candidates needs changed over the last ten years?

MH: We’ve seen rise in people who don’t just take a job because of the job and what the job spec says. It’s about the environment, the people working there and the culture within the organisation.

KV: What’s the most important element to a job for candidates now?

MH: It can still vary, but in the last ten years, we’ve seen a lot of change. We’ve gone from the financial crash through to a pandemic. And everybody talks about millennials and Gen Z. To be honest with you, I don’t know where they merge and where they separate. I’d just like to try and treat people as people but more so as a society, we understand self-worth more.

We understand that work is a business transaction and hopefully we’re long gone for being grateful for the job mindset. How it’s changed for candidates is that they’re more confident in negotiating what they want. In particularly over the last two years because they’ve had time with their families and at home to rethink the commute and location as they know they can do all that from home and more.

I think it’s this reassessment and the confidence to say ‘well, I’d quite like to work for you, but here’s my shopping list. Here’s what I want from you.’ It’s not just about what the employer wants from then. This is much more transactional now.

KV: So employers need to be a lot more open, rather than the employee having to ask if flexible working an option?

MH: Yes, especially as there are so many rules around interviewing and what you can and can’t ask around family situations and care situations. But the more open and honest that companies are and back it up, the better. There’s no point in saying you’re going to offer flexible working and then decide that flexible working is that you can finish at 4.30pm instead of 5pm on a Friday.

That’s not flexible work. It’s about being honest and open and having that adult conversation.

KV: Should employees be looking wider than the interview process when trying to attract candidates? For example the aesthetics of their premises, location and the message they are portraying to the outside world?

MH: When we coach candidates, we tell them to research who you’d like to work for and look at the website and Google News stories about them. Have a perception option of a company before you apply.

We also coach candidates to always arrive in reception early, and if there’s anybody manning reception, chat to them because they’ll know everything about the company and we know the interviewers will often come back down and ask what they thought of you, what did you chat about? Did they seem nervous? It’s that first impression, isn’t it?

KV: So,  if you do have a receptionist,  it would be a good idea to include them within the recruitment process? Provide training to ensure they understand what your company values and what your mission statement is and means, where the business is going, and who the top people are within the company?

MH: Exactly. Well, even if you’re walking, people through a department, ask your team to give their opinion. Involve the team because let’s face it, they’re the ones that are going to be working with the candidate.

KV: There is a high cost to taking on a new employee, which can include their salary, training time recruitment, fees. So how does an employee ensure they have chosen the right person?

MH: It’s difficult because, for example you don’t always choose the right person when you marry for the first time. So, how can you guarantee that you’re going to choose the right person when you employ them? It’s about making a robust process as much as you can. And that might mean that you have several meetings and maybe even different types of meetings.

Do your research around one another. Look at people on social media and LinkedIn. If they’re going to have access to your customer base, think about how they sound on the phone? How do they perform in a Zoom interview? There’s also trade tests – if you’re a hairdresser and you go for a job, part of your interview will be performing a haircut or a colour. Can you do something similar in the corporate world?

More and more companies hold assessment days because you’ll see how somebody interacts with other people, how they prioritise their workload and to see how well that person fits into your team. Interviews can be very false environments.

Let’s be honest, we spend time with work colleagues than we do with our friends and family at home. Make sure that the process is robust and align it to your business model. So, if your business model is all about people, make the process about people. If it’s all about process and innovation, then explore that through the interview process.

KV: In an interview situation, you must remember that you’ve got one mouth and two ears. You need to use them in that order. Listen to the candidate and what they’re saying, don’t take over the conversation too much because you want to have those questions in place so you can extract the information that you need as well.  Do you agree?

MH: When we train our consultants on recruitment interviews as in registrations and exploration interviews, we say that the candidates should be doing 70% of the talking. And it’s the same in a work interview as well. It’s one of the reasons why we’re going to be looking at providing interview training for our clients.

Now, that might sound a little bit daft from a recruitment agency, but ultimately we don’t make the final decision. What we do is we provide a shortlist for our clients to interview. We want to make sure that they’ve got all the tools at their disposal to help them make that right decision the first time.

KV: What about tools like DISC profiling? What’s your thoughts on that?

MH: We like profiling, whether it’s DISC or 16 Personalities. There’s a whole range on the market, and can give you a base to start from, particularly if you’re looking for somebody who’s very interactive and good at building rapport with people and their CV looks a little bit beige, but their job title suggests they may not be.

The profiling is good prompt to start asking questions from so that you’re asking those right questions. And, if there’s something that looks counterproductive, to what you’re recruiting for, often that conversation can give you far more information than somebody saying ‘oh, yes, I can do that and I’m very good at it.’

KV: I quite like DISC in the fact that it can show different working behaviours. It can show the working behaviour under stress as well and how somebody’s personality can change. Because obviously, if somebody’s personality is very placid, for example, and then when they get stressed, they become a lot more dominant, that then have an impact within the team as well.

MH: We use DISC internally as well and for recruitment, but also for appraisals because the nice thing about DISC is some of this profile will change over time. You can start to manage their expectations in the company and that works well.

KV: What three tips could you provide to an organisation that they could implement before hiring your recruitment services that would increase the probability of attracting top talent?

MH: My first tip would be to make sure you need somebody. Look at your organisational chart. What are the gaps? What are you looking to fill? If Janet’s leaving, why is Janet leaving? The fact that Janet’s been with you for 15 years, is she still doing the same job?

Once they’ve made sure that that is a vacancy, what is the vacancy? Is it a complete replica? Are you going to have a shimmy about and perhaps create a space elsewhere?

A job description is very important. We need to know the skill set that people are looking to recruit for. But a person spec can be just as important – do you need a carer within your team? Do you need somebody who is a shoulder to cry on? Or do you need a driver, somebody who is going to put a bit of a rocket up the team and really get them going. Look to see is there a requirement? What do you need to fill that?

And the third tip would have an open mind, particularly if you do go to a recruitment consultancy. Because if you say we’d like a Janet clone, and they say ‘John would be good for your business’. Don’t immediately say no if they’re not of the mould. There’ll be a reason why they’re thinking out of the box for you. And it might be that John brings a whole new bag of tools with him.

In summary, my three tips are:

  • make sure that there is a vacancy

  • tie down the skillset and the culture fit that you need

  • have an open mind

If you do have any recruitment requirements, you can contact Maxine at Wote Street People.

Brevity works with companies not only to help attract customers, but candidates too.  Read our blog about how we supported one SME to improve their candidate attraction process

If you’re a HR Manager or business owner struggling with attracting the right talent to join your team (or even attend interviews) then contact Kaia Vincent on 01256 536000 for a confidential conversation (