17 March 2014
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
But enough about them. There's a really simple solution.
Don't work with them!
Some interesting facts:
- Over 75% of all vacancies are never advertised - Are YOU
- Over 50% of our vacancies are not advertised and not known to
- Over 50% of our candidates are placed through referral or
- 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
- Instruct them to NEVER send your resume to anyone without your
approval and telling you WHO the client is.
- 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"?
- Does everybody love them/are they reputable? Are there
testimonials to support this? Ask around.
- Do they demonstrate a committed to helping you? Do they listen
to your ideals?
- Do they have an expansive network? Really..........? Check them
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
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
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
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
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
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
Leverage off your contacts, find a recruiter you trust who can
genuinely connect you with real people, real roles!
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
Put simply, you need it to be:
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
- DO summarise your experience at the top in a short paragraph or
- DO list most recent roles first
- DO keep your descriptions brief
- DO utilize bullet points over long winded paragraphs - they're
- DO aim to keep your resume <5 pages, ideally 2-3 (have a
longer version if needed).
- DO list your achievements or successes you have been involved
with. It adds depth/detail.
- DO list reasons for departing your roles - especially if it was
beyond your control (like a redundancy, mine closure, budget cut
- DO list all of your qualifications (in detail).
- DO customize your resume to the role you're applying to. Use
- 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!
- DON'T use a generic cover
- DON'T list every responsibility you had. Who reads it?
- DON'T list your referees.
- DON'T leave unexplained gaps in time! Unless you were in
- DON'T use more than 1 font!
- DON'T write a novel.
- 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.
- 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
You want to stand out and be the candidate that is shortlisted
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.
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
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
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
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!
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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?
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
Take it from someone who spends most of my life on the
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
This is where your reputable recruiter will add significant
value to help you prepare:
- They'll provide additional information on the client
- More specifics about the role (than simply what's on a useless
- Specifics on who you'll be interviewing with!
- The personalities on these people! Their likes, dislikes,
- What to say, what to avoid saying, how to impress them!
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:
- Do your homework as mentioned previously.
- Be early. Allow for delays in traffic.
- Dress to impress! Ask your recruiter what dress standards
the company applies.
- Ask questions - have them written down so you don't
forget. Shows you've prepared.
- Don't: Be negative about a former employer
- Don't: Respond with Yes and No answers
- Don't: Use your mobile phone (turn it off)
- Don't: Ramble
- Don't: Focus on the Remuneration
NETWORKING - Social Media & Protecting your Personal
LinkedIn / Social Media
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
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
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
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
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
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.