Experiencing ATC2017 Through a Different Lens

This was my seventh Australasian Talent Conference (ATC) but my first as an internal Recruitment Manager.  My previous six ATCs were as a member of the ATC team. So this year I had a completely different lens – in every session I asked myself “how can we implement this at blueAPACHE?”
I started working as the Recruitment Manager for blueAPACHE in September 2015.  We are a growing (growing, growing) IT ‘Infrastructure as a Service’ provider, offering Managed Services, Networking, Cloud, Voice, Security and Procurement to the mid-market.  I am so privileged to be part of this organisation and to have the opportunity to help shape our workforce by bringing in great talent.
So here are some of my key ‘ah ha!’ moments from the ATC:

“Culture matters, culture is core”, says keynote speaker, Todd Wheatland. We need to understand, nurture and grow our culture.

Successful companies use this to strengthen employee loyalty and advocacy, which in turn can drive brand awareness to our target audience, who in our case are brilliant system engineers and network engineers.

Both NAB’s case study and Sportsbet touched on the importance of culture and values as part of their recruitment and selection processes. NAB uses a values questionnaire as part of their selection process and Sportsbet places a 45 percent weighting on cultural fit for recruitment selection.

Key takeaway: We need to leverage our existing culture, and ensure that we recruit people who are aligned to our core values, which for us are “Technical Excellence and Accountability”.

We are attracted to ‘people like us’, and more to the point we trust ‘people like us’, according to both Todd Wheatland and Sue Langley. Furthermore, according to Manpower’s “Understanding Candidate Preferences” research, the number one attraction for job seekers is the ‘type of work’. So job seekers want to know more detail about the type of work they will be doing, and they are more likely to trust the message if they hear it from someone they can relate to.

Key takeaway: Use our people to describe their role warts and all, as part of our candidate attraction campaigns, and find ways to give prospective candidates more insight into the role and what it is like to work for blueAPACHE.

Hire for potential. Mark Reilly from Indeed discussed the difference in productivity amongst top performers, average performers and under performers. According to his research, the bottom 10% of talent is responsible for 0% output, whereas the top 1% contributes 10% of productivity.

I think the key to this is assessing for cognitive ability or, what Elizabeth Waldock of Sportsbet labels, ‘learning agility’. Our employees must be able to learn new skills as technology changes. We have implemented psychometric assessments at blueAPACHE and it has really helped us ensure that we continue to recruit smart people who can achieve ‘technical excellence’.

“Diversity is not a nice to have”, Elizabeth Waldock, Sportsbet. This sentiment was also echoed by Glenn McPhee of Manpower when he presented on recruiting for diversity and inclusion for the Australian Defence Force.

Glenn referred to ABS statistics, stating that 25 percent of Australia’s population were born overseas and nearly 20 percent of Australians speak a language other than English at home. These statistics alone provide a compelling reason why diversity and inclusion are imperative.

I know that using cognitive assessment tools and video interviewing help to reduce bias and therefore increasing diversity and I have seen this in play at blueAPACHE.

Strength’ based HR: Sue Langley from Langley Group, provided some great insight into how our brains work. Specifically she pointed out that our ‘flight’ response is very powerful, and more powerful than our ‘pleasure’ response in any given situation. And so candidates and employees can easily be turned off by negative experiences where they may feel threatened and they do not feel engaged at a personal level.

Sue also pointed out that HR policies can be full of negative language. She referred to a Strengths Study undertaken by the Corporate Leadership Council which showed that when giving performance feedback to employees, focusing on an employee’s strengths rather than their shortcomings increases productivity.

Key takeaway: Utilise people for their strengths, and recognise that there are some aspects of certain individuals’ jobs which they will never be good at. In these cases, explore ways to relieve this burden – there may be someone else in the organisation who loves that aspect of the work and will shine at it.

Automation: A lot of the recruitment process can be automated, including online tests, reference checking and video interviewing, however candidate engagement throughout the process is critical.

This came out in the Breakout Session “Humane Recruitment with Video & Voice Interviewing”, run by Grant Burrall from Montage where we looked at automation from the candidate’s, the recruiter’s and the hiring manager’s perspective. At blueAPACHE, we have cut down a lot of the manual work for our Service Desk Engineer recruitment by using a short online aptitude test and a video interview to replace the phone screen. However we do have a lot of candidates drop out at this step.

Key takeaway: My ‘ah ha’ moment here was that I need to find a way to engage candidates and keep them interested enough, so they want to invest their time in this process.

Finally my main takeaway is that it is very easy to be insular in an internal Recruitment role, especially when you are pretty much the specialist in your organisation. And for this reason, attending an event like the ATC is a great way to learn and mix with other people from within my profession. I came away energised, excited and challenged.
Thank you Trevor, Kevin, Karen, Jo and the whole ATC team for putting on a great event this year. I’m looking forward to the next one!
Images: Joslin Hartley

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