17 March 2014

Employment and Re-employment Strategies and Options

Employment and Re-employment Strategies and Options

We've had more than a few requests for copies of Michael McShane's presentation to AIG members on Tuesday Night. While some details will stay just between the friends who were able to attend, we're happy to release a brief transcript for you to be a part of the discussion. Please share this information with your friends. 

Knowledge is power.

It's a dubious honour to be standing in front of you all tonight to talk about some topics that are not only critical to individual careers, but pretty bloody important to the industry as a whole and fundamental to how we evolve. It's an honour because I believe in the importance of AIG and it's work to further Geology as a profession.

It's a dubious honour because I'm the class clown in any group and am most often seen at the back of the room causing trouble for the poor sucker presenting. 

One of the most fundamental differences between when I was working as a Geologist and when I started my career in Recruitment is the sheer number of questions that I am asked EVERY day.

Now some days as I sort of struggle through towards seven at night and get home to two kids who find my exhaustion hilarious. I start to think about going into hiding and burying my phone deep in an abandoned shaft.  

But I don't do it. I won't do it. Because the questions that you ask, they're just SO important. It's important that they're asked, it's important that they're answered well and it's important that they're answered by someone who has a CLUE what he's talking about. And trust me. There's a lot of idiots out there.

The Value of using a Recruitment Agent and how to Pick One

Question one: Why would I use a recruitment agency and if I did, why would I use you rather than Joe Bloggs down the street?

Why a recruitment agency? Because this is what I do. All day every day. You think that you know the market because once a week you catch up with someone from another company over beer?

Every day I talk to people from at least 15 different mining companies. I talk to everyone. Knowing the market and predicting when vacancies are going to occur is my job. And I'm good at it.

Andrew hands in his resignation at BHP and I ask him, before he's said a word, whether he's excited about starting at Anglo.

It's my job to know the market and I can absolutely be your best friend, your source of knowledge and your ambassador when you are ready to look for work. Why me as opposed to someone else?

Well 98% of statistics are made up on the spot so I feel pretty confident in saying that exactly 79% of Mining Recruitment "Specialists" have absolutely no clue what they're talking about when it comes to mining.

Guarantee you they have a photo in a perfectly clean hi vis uniform and a website full of stock photos of a man in a hard hat pointing at a map.

And then there are some recruiters out in the market would sell their grandmother for small change and they're not afraid to damage your reputation for their potential gain.

You fall in with either of these clowns, your chances of finding employment can actually be materially damaged. They have that much power.

These people are self-professed experts at "post and pray" - posting a job on a job board and praying someone good applies that they can sell in to a company - they couldn't care less that they know next to nothing about the role, the site, or the company other than the position description, often provided by a low level HR person within a company whose level of care is not much above the recruiters!

You see, recruitment is a highly unregulated industry and any blind freddy can still walk in off the street, sit in a chair, create a LinkedIn account and email signature professing to be the 'Geology Expert" or "Mining Executive Search Specialist"!

There are two really big problems with this. Geologists are scientists are often are resumes are written in language that gets us excited, but to an arts grad would mean very little. Why should this person get to decide your future? Just because they couldn't understand your CV they don't bother to put you forward to the role? That's unacceptable.

The other is that there is so much more to a job than what is in a PD or a 200 word ad. If you ask them about budgets, the geology, the operation, to whom the position reports, or what specific problems you'll be working on, they'll refer back to the job description, umm and ahh, stall you and attempt to baffle you with bullshit.

But enough about them. There's a really simple solution.

Don't work with them!

Pet Rock

Some interesting facts:

  1. Over 75% of all vacancies are never advertised - Are YOU missing out?
  2. Over 50% of our vacancies are not advertised and not known to market.
  3. Over 50% of our candidates are placed through referral or repeat business.
  4. Using a reputable recruiter to do all the leg work and research for you can unlock multiple opportunities and secure your dream role that will match or exceed your expectations

Recruiters are important to your career. But you are just as important to theirs.

I need you to know that you deserve respect. That you are a valuable commodity and that you deserve information. Before you send anyone your resume, ask questions. Who is the client? Don't accept bullshit about I can't tell you yet. It's just not true. Sure there is the rare occasion where there is an incumbent who doesn't know and it can be sensitive. There's still ways to give you the information you need.

What is their relationship with that client? Who are they dealing with within the company? What is the budget? How big is the team? Try to stump them. Ask them about the geology. How can someone sell you accurately if they don't know what they're selling you to do?

Send your resume after your recruiter has earned your trust and after 5 very important steps

  1. Instruct them to NEVER send your resume to anyone without your approval and telling you WHO the client is.
  2. Ask if they are specialist/technical or generalist recruiters? Their background. Get them to be specific. "Why" are you a specialist in this field? How did you become "specialized"?
  3. Does everybody love them/are they reputable? Are there testimonials to support this? Ask around.
  4. Do they demonstrate a committed to helping you? Do they listen to your ideals?
  5. Do they have an expansive network? Really..........? Check them out.

Choosing a Recruiter - For Clients

We receive a lot of feedback on articles we write in our 6 weekly "Rock On" newsletter, in particular from my "Bogan Rants".

Our clients are frustrated by the very same things that frustrate you. Inspired by our blog, the Director within a gold organisation in WA, who is a geo by trade, assumed his own pseudo identity "Curly Mullet" to provide this feedback on recruiters:

"I think your article has touched on an even bigger issue that our industry faces. I've noticed that we've been invaded by charlatans that have no respect for the values of our trade.

True, some of our values are tricky to understand; some examples are: get the ute bogged in the bush, pay a carton; Miss a flight, pay a carton; indulge in some wet mess biffo, have a permanent holiday. I know, there are countless others.

More importantly our industry has developed a general sense of fairness and integrity that most people in our game have grown to understand.

I remember years ago there was a fairly small group of companies that specialised in mining recruitment, usually run by guys and girls who had been in the game themselves and appreciated the values of the industry. But encouraged by the boom times of 2005 - 2007, every two-bit Johnny thought they could get into the mining recruitment game and make a fast buck. You know who these companies are - and they're ripping us off, pulling a big fat fee for piss poor service. Worse, some of them are using unscrupulous tactics to generate that fee (trust me people - check your Terms & Conditions!). I can only imagine what they're doing to the poor punters who get sucked into applying for their jobs. Us mining people must be mugs for letting them get away with it for so long."

Many clients, well HR professionals, seem to often believe that partnering with the larger recruitment firms means they're partnering with "the best". They'll say they have the biggest database, are partnered with all blue chip companies and have multiple office locations - plus many more.

Yes, they are big, they do have big databases and their consultants have slicked back hair, ties and pointy shoes - but you'll often find you're dealing with a different consultant every 6 months (who has never set foot on a mine site and couldn't pick an RC rig from a coffee machine), their database is huge but not up to date and their consultants are more driven to make placements to earn their bonuses than truly generate long term partnerships.

Clients can ask the same questions of recruiters as candidates. Why not!? Put them under interrogation - screen them! You are asking them to partner with your organisation! They're going to be an extension of your marketing function! Are they going to say the right things, promote you the right way, have the reputation and networks to have their voices heard? What other clients do they deal with?

Will there be any conflict of interest with other clients you compete with for candidates? So many questions and it's imperative to partner with a recruitment company that delivers, than put it out to 5+ and hope for the best! Dealing with 5 agencies at once doesn't increase your chances - it decreases them! 

JOB APPLICATIONS TO CLIENTS

The dreaded company "black hole recruitment portals". The feedback I get is that they are a waste of time, rarely get a personal reply, you get lost in the system and sit there waiting, festering and wondering whether you are a shot at this role along with the other 211 applicants.

Bulk recruitment is impersonal by definition. It is keywords and numbers. You could be a week short of that seven years experience and I guarantee it will throw you out of the race.

This is where we can kick in as recruiters!!! We spend all day connecting with clients, developing long term relationships. 

Leverage off your contacts, find a recruiter you trust who can genuinely connect you with real people, real roles!

RESUMES

The biggest tool in your job hunting kit is your resume. They're an art form in themselves. This is the document that needs to sell you, differentiate you from others, concisely summarise what you have done, what you have to offer and what you have achieved!

I see A LOT of resumes and often get asked what a resume should look like! Is there a set rule? There are companies out there that'll help you prepare yours and make it look like thousands of others. Is that what you want? Is that what will work? Does it work?

Put simply, you need it to be:

  • CONCISE
  • STRUCTURED
  • SPECIFIC

Yes, there is a basic format you can follow and content that should be included/excluded.

Here are some basic DO's and DON'TS for your resume:

  1. DO summarise your experience at the top in a short paragraph or bullet points.
  2. DO list most recent roles first
  3. DO keep your descriptions brief
  4. DO utilize bullet points over long winded paragraphs - they're not read.
  5. DO aim to keep your resume <5 pages, ideally 2-3 (have a longer version if needed).
  6. DO list your achievements or successes you have been involved with. It adds depth/detail.
  7. DO list reasons for departing your roles - especially if it was beyond your control (like a redundancy, mine closure, budget cut etc).
  8. DO list all of your qualifications (in detail).
  9. DO customize your resume to the role you're applying to. Use keywords.
  10. DO customize your cover letter to the role, the client, their projects, use those key words and refer to the selection criteria. Show how you will add value!

 

  1. DON'T use a generic cover letter!
  2. DON'T list every responsibility you had. Who reads it? Not me.
  3. DON'T list your referees.
  4. DON'T leave unexplained gaps in time! Unless you were in prison…….
  5. DON'T use more than 1 font!
  6. DON'T write a novel.
  7. DON'T list all of the courses you attended back to 1989 including the "Microsoft DOS for Dummies". Only list what is truly relevant and current.
  8. DON'T fabricate, stretch out timeframes, make up responsibilities that weren't yours, claim sole ownership over successes you were involved with in a team, change your titles - it is becoming very popular lately - DON'T fall victim. You will get found out.

 

You want to stand out and be the candidate that is shortlisted for interview! 

JOB SEEKING & INTERVIEWS

Looking for work can be stressful and I am not in any way down playing that. It is your bread and butter that you're playing around with. The roof over your head. And particularly in a tough market it's easy to let it get you down.

Pressure

But it is so critical to switch your mindset from "I'm a Job Seeker", to "I'm a Marketing Weapon on the hunt for my next opportunity" or "I'm a professional in the field of X,Y and Z". Instantly you'll be leaps and bounds ahead of your competitors. You'll take ownership over your career, start acting like a "Victor", not a "Victim" and manage your career like a business!

WHICH DUCK DO YOU WANT TO BE

Have a quick look at the ducks lined up behind me. They are a snapshot and what might be a tiny glimpse of a personality, but as a hiring manager or as a recruiter, this is about as much of an impression as we are able to gather from you in a two minute phone call.

Duck

Be careful not to spend an entire conversation saying oh woe is me because that's what we will remember, when what you want us to remember is that you are a damn good geo who would make their work lives easier. Leave that impression and you will go a long way.

"A positive person is one who first designs the outcome and then designs the systems and behaviours that will achieve that outcome."

Realist

It's time to pick up our overly large, collective if metaphoric bottom lip, pack up our troubles in our old kit bag and stop being so depressingly pessimistic! 

INTERVIEWS

Over the past couple of months we've been receiving more feedback frominterviewson candidate's attitudes rather than their aptitude. A CV tells you whether a person has the skills and experience required for the role.

Biteme

The interview tells you whether you're going to want to smack your face repeatedly into a brick wall if you work with this person in a confined space. And you guessed it; the candidates with great attitudes went straight to the top of the pile.

So, here are some quick tips on projecting a more positive view of your employment glass:

  1. Your interviewer is not your therapist. When they ask you a question about a difficult time, they are asking how you handle adversity, not looking to hand you a tissue box.
  2. Walk Tall! Nothing denotes a broken spirit more than slumped shoulders. Hold your head up high and project the confidence that you might not feel yet.
  3. Choose a time to feel sorry for yourself. Seem counter intuitive? Well the sky is green. But this is actually an important step. If you bottle up a feeling it will without question fester and grow. Choose a time and place to let your feelings out in a healthy way.

The more you look into this the more obvious it becomes. If your glass is half full, people are happy to top it up. But if your glass is poorly formed and unfortunately placed, people generally prefer to put it in the back of the cupboard where they'll never have to look upon it again.

What does your glass look like?

Interview Preparation

Preparation, preparation, preparation. Whether you're calling the Prime Minister or calling your Mum, knowing what you hope to communicate is critical. If you have a lot of information to cover, try writing dot points and ticking them off once they're covered.

Take it from someone who spends most of my life on the phone.

Taking the time to prepare for an interview can be the difference between a productive conversation and a rambling mess that you remember through the bottom of a pint.

It never ceases to amaze me how often I hear clients tell me that they interview candidates who have blatantly not prepared for an interview - they have no idea about the client, their history, projects, the role specifics they're interviewing for and have not prepared for the types of questions they'll be asked.

You only have an hour or so to impress the client - 75% of the time they'll have made up their mind about hiring you by the end of the interview!

This is where your reputable recruiter will add significant value to help you prepare:

  1. They'll provide additional information on the client
  2. More specifics about the role (than simply what's on a useless PD)
  3. Specifics on who you'll be interviewing with!
  4. The personalities on these people! Their likes, dislikes, backgrounds.
  5. What to say, what to avoid saying, how to impress them!

Interview 

Interviews are never easy and it is often a daunting task to sell yourself in front of a panel of people you've never met!

The more you prepare, the easier it'll be! Trust me! You'll go in there more confident and ready for the curve balls that will be thrown at you!

Some basic tips you can apply:

  1. Do your homework as mentioned previously.
  2. Be early. Allow for delays in traffic.
  3. Dress to impress! Ask your recruiter what dress standards the company applies.
  4. Ask questions - have them written down so you don't forget. Shows you've prepared.

DON'T

  1. Don't: Be negative about a former employer
  2. Don't: Respond with Yes and No answers
  3. Don't: Use your mobile phone (turn it off)
  4. Don't: Ramble
  5. Don't: Focus on the Remuneration

 

NETWORKING - Social Media & Protecting your Personal Brand

LinkedIn / Social Media

Linked In

Social media is a great way to expand your network, but always remember it's a virtual network and we all prefer to do business in person. So, if you are looking to connect to someone, make it an experience - offer them something, some comments, an observation, a query: make it interactive.

Put it another way - would you walk up to someone random on the street, introduce yourself and walk off, never interact again and yet call yourself friends? That's exactly what you're doing by sending a generic "I'd like to add you to my network"…….

Look to make your connections work for you. Many use social media as a chest beating exercise and often advertise the fact they have "+3,000 connections". Big deal! Just because you buy a $250 pair of shoes, doesn't mean you'll finish the marathon any faster.

Look to connect with people regularly, interact in conversations, start one. Involve yourself.

The next concept might be a strange one to many of the younger generation in the room (no disrespect). Connect with someone, look at their contact details, pick up your phone and CALL them!! I KNOW - bizarre concept! Even if it is brief, it deepens the connection, makes it interactive.

Don't just break into your spiel, your story, your request for work. Ask them questions about their work, their situation, how they're finding the market/commodity/operation/living in Brisbane etc. No-one reacts well to someone calling out of the blue and going straight to the point for personal gain.

It's about developing relationships.

Look to add value to others! If you see a connection looking for specific work/opportunities and you think you could connect them up with someone - do it. Be the person who makes that introduction!

Job Hunter beware! Most clients will look you up on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc). Be careful what you post, what strong opinions or values you choose to share, photos that might incriminate!

Facebook

Pretty obvious you think? Common sense you say? Doesn't appear to be that common! Sit in my chair for a week and see what is uncovered!

Man

IN SUMMARY

The market is tight and opportunities are rare. The worst any of us has seen for a long time - the worst I have seen. Word of mouth, referrals and networking are in overdrive.

But the market is NOT DEAD.The difference between an achiever and the towel throwing excuse maker is that the achiever has a big enough "WHY" to help get through the tough times, frustration, and doubt. If you are having trouble remaining motivated - then ask yourself why you want it. The "why" is my source of motivation and I remind myself of it constantly.

We must be driven, passionate, ambitious and focused to achieve with anything, but at the same time take a light hearted approach.

I love the mining industry and thrive on providing a positive service to the clients and candidates I represent. I'm proud to be a recruiter who wouldn't sell his grandmother to get ahead. We do exist! And we're here to help.