Warm Bodies – The ‘Anyone Will Do’ Syndrome in Hiring

Hire FireI’ve spoken quite a bit before about ‘Panic Hiring’ in a broad sense of how it happens and why it is bad business sense. Its incidence is so common, and the way it almost always leads to a bad hire warrant further and deeper investigation.

For any small business or micro businesses doing their first hire, the cost in a resulting bad hire from a panic-based process is steep. As a quick guide, a study from Right Management (part of the Manpower Group) found that bad hires can cost any business a minimum of 30% to more than 5 times the annual salary, depending on the role, with an average of twice times this amount. When put up against a micro or small business, we are talking costs that would render a business insolvent, purely on the basis of one bad hire. For a larger business, this is a major hit that can be ill-afforded

The thing to remember is that bad hiring decisions are not intentionally made. Nor are they inevitable. The simple thing is they are made by carelessness;  by not putting enough thought to the overall holistic approach to hiring. Predominately decisions are made far too quickly and without proper checks and balances to make it a good decision.

Far too often, though, it is a case of ‘Anyone Will Do’.

Anyone Will Do is the simplest form of hiring. It is taking the first person that fits the skills of the role, is available straight away and seems to be suitable for the role. They are a ‘warm body’; there, seemingly ready to go and available.

It is also the laziest form of hiring.

When a new employee is hired under the  ‘Anyone Will Do’, they will start, often well, but it isn’t too long before the signs suggest this decision is going to backfire. Problems arise with performance, attitude and competence. Then issues around fit appear:  Workplace morale falls. Staff turnover increases. Customers start to abandon your business. Things start to go ‘missing’. Complaints increase.

They are the sign of a bad hire and the chances of this happening under the Syndrome are greatly increased. It happens because the quality checks were discarded in favour of a quick turnaround – checks that would pick up on issues that would question a candidate’s suitability.

If any person can identify this as occurring in their business, the question needs to be asked how was the hiring done.

Hiring needs attention. It needs time. It needs care.

However, let’s be honest here, business owners, decision makers and hiring managers – in fact anyone responsible for hiring – are flat-out busy. The incidence of new work, a leaving staff member or growth often bring that sense of panic and uncertainty to hiring, trying to ensure gaps are filled quickly with as little downtime as possible. A quick hire is seemingly best and the most appropriate action that results in as little downtime as possible.

It is this combination of busyness and panic that lead to the Anyone Will Do Syndrome.

So how are we, in the times when we are incredibly busy, avoiding a fall into this trap?

It’s hard. Very hard. I won’t beat around the bush. You have to think about this: the care you put into hiring this time will mean the difference between getting a great candidate and having to repeat the process again, and again and again and…….

It is the way a business hires; the process it chooses, that determines the success of the candidate chosen. The first candidate that comes across the desk of the hirer may indeed be the best fitting candidate, but only through rigorous checking, interviews and verifying skills, experience and background will the suitability of the candidate be confirmed.

The thing is, you must focus on what is needed to make a hiring process workable and accountable. Why? Not only do you and your business require a success when hiring, your customers demand that the people you have working for you are in tune with the way your business runs and do not come across as mere Band-Aid solutions.

Remember, bad hires are not solely an internal issue, they are an outward branding one. To avoid these is to avoid external damage to your business.

The final point here is to lay out the three things all business must do to  avoid a bad hire and the antidote to the ‘Anyone Will Do Syndrome’. They are investing in:

  • Enough time to make informed decisions;
  • Quality processes that ensure all information is at hand; and
  • Planning to cover all bases and proper checks.

Add these to any hiring situation your business is placed in, and your hiring health is assured.






Start Them Out Right – The 5 Main Points That Every On-Boarding Plan Must Have

ilovemyjobThe hiring process can be a long and frustrating affair, with little room for error. So why then to many businesses fall over at the one crucial part of it – the on-boarding? To go through all that time and effort to end up with the candidate leaving or worse still, completely disengaged from the moment they start, is a waste. When you consider that candidates who are not properly on-boarded and orientated into the workplace environment are 80% more likely to leave within 6 months (with a fair majority of those leaving within 6 weeks), it is an area of vital importance that is so often overlooked.

So, how then do we make sure we properly orientated the new employee into the organisation whilst giving them the best possible chance to properly engage with the workplace immediately?

1. Lose the Day 1 Mentality

Too many on-boarding and orientation process are obsessed with ‘Day 1’. Everything has to happen on day one. All introductions, work scope, task lists, log ins and accesses have to happen on day one and it is seen as an unmitigated disaster if this doesn’t happen. That’s fine…but it forgets one thing – the poor new employee. Swamped with so much happening on their first day, their sense of the overwhelming will be prominent…and dangerous for any long-term retention.

2. Plan Plan Plan

From this loss of the Day 1 mentality, an on-boarding plan is able to breathe a little. Put together a clear plan of work over the first day, week, month and quarter to allow the employee to ease and grow into the role. This planning should have regular updates with the employee to make sure they are handling the new role well.

3. Lose the KPIs

If you hit the new employee with a whole array of KPIs and performance targets immediately, you have failed. Simple. The introduction of these should occur much later into their employment, when settling in and comfort has been achieved. Much worse, if you set Day 1 targets that must be abided by as a basis of their immediate continued employment, get out of business – because you suck at it. No amount of ‘sink or swim’ justification will suffice. It is a policy of a rotten employer.

3. Is the Director / CEO / Owner Involved?

Speaking at a recent engagement, I was given the story of a business whose CEO refused point-blank to engage with any new employee. This wasn’t a huge multi-national, but a small 10-person operation. Ludicrous! If the top of your business does not want to meet with any new employee, it is a huge mistake. If that new employee does not feel a part of the organisation, from top down and understands their role in the eyes of greater business, then that Director / CEO / Owner has failed a basic test of employee engagement.

4. It Isn’t Just Showing Where the Bathroom and Kitchen Is.

New employees need to know exactly where they sit in the organisation and its overall strategy, what their role will do to contribute to it and how they will bring their skills to the fore. Remember this: there is nothing like losing a candidate because they did not feel a part of the overall organisation immediately

5. Think Engagement

The activities of any on-boarding or orientation process must have the central themes of employee engagement at its heart. Having a new employee feel a part of an organisation from the moment they start is incredibility vital. It will mean that employee will be productive from the start and feel a part of the team immediately. It should be the aim of any organisation with new employees.

Just as you have one chance to make a first impression, how a business handles a new employee, one they have spent time and resources finding, is incredibly vital. Stuff it up, and you will not have an employee completely in line with your culture, strategy and growth. Get it right, sow the seeds of engagement from the moment they arrive, and your chances of having a solidly engaged and advocating employee are greatly enhanced.




6 Lessons From Myer’s Bad Hire Fiasco

myerThe recent revelations of a bad hiring decision by Myer has put a spotlight on executive recruitment practices. The issue of a candidate, seemingly lying on his resume, then assuming a very senior role only to be exposed for lying and losing said role offer a clear lesson for businesses in any hiring situation to learn.

So what can the average business learn from the mistakes of Myer? These six points to take away from it will point most selection process in the right direction.

1. Background checks aren’t just Reference Checks

One of the major issues with the Myer fiasco was that the background checks conducted by both them and the recruitment firm who presented the candidate, failed basic process. The extent of background checks seems to have started and stopped at reference checks. What was lacking was suitable gauging of credential through various other means. Simple verification via publicly available business records, social media or by utilising industry knowledge that people working at that level must have would have sufficiently shown some problems with the candidate.

2. Know Your Candidate

Following on from expanding your background check, a clear picture will emerge of the candidate. Any decisions to hire must be made with full knowledge of who they are, what they’ve done and where they did it. Remember, in hiring – knowledge is power.

3. Probe and Qualify

If you are in a hiring process, a little deeper digging into a candidate’s past can really improve the abilities to make a clear decision. If the candidate has listed roles on their resume, find out more about them: why did they leave? What did they do? Who did they report to? All of which will get clear information, creating a path to confirm these details and qualify their veracity.

4. Don’t Fall For The Slick Operators

One thing to come out of this decision by Myer was the fact the candidate cam across as competent, well spoken…and slick. Inexperienced recruiters or hirers will get taken in by slick operators who can lie about their work experience and background, but do so in a way that is so unequivocally convincing. The thing to take away from this episode? If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

5. Verifiable, Documented and Relevant Proof

When candidates say they have worked for a particular organisation, or have achieved a certain level of results or can boast an impressive track record, always, always, always make sure they can back it up with hard proof. In some cases, and depending on the role, a referee will not suffice. You must be able to see the impact on a business of the candidate’s work as verified and demonstrable.

6. Don’t Assume

One of the clear problems to come out of the Myer bad hire was that a lot of assumptions were made that were not backed up by evidence. It is a clear and salient point not to assume something the candidate says to be true, unless is can be shown to be so. The higher the role, the more assumptions need to be dismissed before making a final decision.

Finally, Myer is learning a very big lesson in how the hiring process needs to be positioned in such away so that all information about candidates have been gathered and that a decision is clearly formed and made. It does, however, give other businesses the keys to make sure it doesn’t happen to them, and for that we can thank them.







How Do You Hire On Fit…When Surrounded By Panic? 6 Tips to Consider

Panic buttonSlowly, ever so slowly, the realisation is surfacing amongst some businesses that hiring with fit in mind – character, attributes, behaviours that fit the overall culture of the organisation – is paramount in ensuring not only a successful hire, but a solidly engaged employee from day one.

Yet, other businesses still fall for a panic-induced hire – overlooking the fit of a candidate for a role and instead opting for an immediate hit of skills to suffice an immediate need, without realising (or caring about) the longer-term issues that could arise. It’s like a craving for chocolate – the immediate hit of yumminess is bliss…yet the later effects of calories, weight or sugar, doesn’t enter the equation when the craving hits.

So within this, we have an impasse: on one hand, the realisation of the importance of fit is there, but there is still the overriding sense of panic and the quick fix that comes as a result of it.

So how do we do it? How, amongst the panic and stress of a vacant seat in the office or station on the floor, do we put care into the hiring process and incorporate fit into candidate requirements?

It’s not easy.

However, put these ideas in place, and it will be a lot easier (and far more successful):

1. Know Your Culture

Do you know what makes your team click? Have you properly defined how your employees are engaged? Do you know the importance of an engaged workplace? What are the behaviours, traits or characteristics that make your team cohesive? If you can’t answer these, you are not going to be able to hire against it. Not at all.

2. Time is Key

Seemingly the antithesis of panic, the fact that time creates great outcomes should not be discounted. Give yourself time to plan, source and select with care. Whilst the sense of overriding pressure to find someone will be very strong, the importance of getting it right first time cannot be undervalued.

Remember this – get it wrong, you will be doing it again…and again. The costs just in that repetitive process will be high, even before time drains will kick in

3. Plan Plan Plan

Along with allowing time to hire right comes the need to plan accordingly and to do so even before a hiring need arises. A good decision is based on proper accumulation of information about a candidate to qualify this decision. This information will only be properly attained by ensuring all step of a hiring process are carried through properly, and these steps are part of an overall hiring plan. The plan should be an integral part of the overall business plan, ready to be referred to the moment the needs arise.

4. Source Candidates Before You Need Them

Planning also caters to the times when a need to fill a role is not immediate. Using the time to identify potential candidates that may be either in the market and identifiable via social media or internal referral systems. Just like recruitment agencies have databases of potential candidates, so too can employers do the same to ensure there is a ready-made stream of candidates there who are possible ready to go when the new hiring need drops on them.

5. Get the Basics Right

The secret to any good hire is making sure the basics are covered. If you find yourself in an unplanned hiring process, at the very least get these essential points covered:

  • Define the role: what is the role that is to be filled, how it fits into the overall business and growth plans and it’s function
  • Define the Person: the skills needed and what behaviours / characteristics / cultural elements must be there. Model on a top employee if stuck
  • Define the Strategy: how you will find that person to fill the role

6. Don’t PANIC!

Yes I know it’s hard, but if you find that this gap in your workforce is giving you nightmares, step back. You are going to make a very bad hire if you go in there without a clear head and open eyes. It is simply not going to work. Think of how this is going to affect your business if you get it horribly wrong. Quality is driven by care and attention…not by panic.


The British Are Coming! The British Are Coming!

Paul RevereOn the night of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere and two others, made aware of imminent movement of the British Army on military supplies held by American Revolutionists in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, rode to these towns to warn them of the incoming British forces. This became known as “Paul Revere’s Ride”, romanticised within Longfellow’s poem as having him yell in warning ‘The British Are Coming, The British Are Coming’.

Whether Revere did shout those words is for the historians to argue, but overall, England via their armies were keen to ensure (and enforce) their approach to colonisation was done their way, no matter how much it conflicted with the new American nation’s differing approaches and desire to do things their way.


These days, recruitment has been witnessing a revolution of its own. Here in Australia, there is the unmistakable acknowledgement that those brought up in England and on English approaches are moving and have moved to Australia over the last 10-15 years and taking up a significant share of the recruitment market. This has seen improvements, profitability and some new practices to invigorate part of the industry, yet like their ancestors in the American revolutionary war, are they here to radically change the industry, or just happy to integrate their skills in recruitment within the best country on Earth (this humble blogger’s opinion, only!)?

The Facts

To put some perspective on the issues with this revolution, a few quick comparisons must be made.

These numbers identify there may be a large disparity between the world of recruitment in London versus the world here in Melbourne or Sydney. However, what the numbers don’t indicate thoroughly is the clear and distinct difference between the recruitment industry in Australia and the UK. The English recruitment industry is highlighted by a highly sales driven environment, where dogmatic sales and the more ‘in-your-face’ approach is commonplace. Where the high-pressure, KPI-centric and churn and burn model is generally the accepted norm. The relationship model is not really concentrated on (though it is there in pockets), and is largely discounted for the quick sale, quick turnaround and quick fee service. Competition is fierce and is reflected in methodologies and approaches. Here, if clients and candidates are burnt there is not really much care held when this happens simply because the market is large enough to have a few casualties along the way. Interestingly, they have more in common with recruiters in the United States than here in Australia as far as approach is concerned, yet have more of the flair and savvyness seen in Australia than their American counterparts

The Approaches

To make it in this market, you need to be aggressive. With the incredibly large numbers of recruitment consultants in Greater London, there is a fight to get the biggest and best names on their books. Transactional recruitment is king and relationships are only a minor tool used in the overall arsenal that is skewed significantly to the aggressive side. Small clients are often ignored or given an even poorer level of service whilst the sport is in chasing those big names. It is an approach that has proved to be effective for the market and conditions there, and I am by no means examining how they conduct business nor am I opining on it. It is placing context into what then happens here.

The Australian approach with is more relationship driven, where reputations are built on the work they put in and by the response of clients and candidates alike. It is here where all clients, no matter of size are treated as if they are incredibly important to that individual consultant. So then, when consultants within the English market make their way out here either permanently or on holiday, friction is caused as two approaches, both different, seek to integrate together.  The Australian model contrasts sharply to the London model and this friction is one of the contributing factors to the decline of the recruitment industry’s reputation.

Fortunately, though, this has been seen as a definite issue in some sections and a portion of these imported consultants fit well into the Australian business approach, and have worked successfully at forging and building solid relationships. In fact, this portion go out of their way to dismiss the tactics of their old environment because they understand they will get nowhere adhering to these methods out here.

The Conundrum

However, the practice of importing overseas recruiters (primarily from the UK) begs the questions:

  1. What is it doing to the Australian industry and perceptions of it; and
  2. Why is this so actively endorsed?

Quite a number of complaints bandied around by candidates and businesses about the industry all seem to be around lack of communication and the ‘cowboy’ attitude some recruiters have. In relatively the same breath, most complainers lament that the industry is now ‘overrun with English recruiters’ (based on observation within one online forum, that focused on IT recruiters). Whether this attached comment is mere circumstance, coincidence or a genuine belief that the two are concurrent is perhaps up to individual contributors, the facts are that a lot see concurrence in the importing of recruitment talent and the poor level of service. This is an observed perception in the market, and whilst semblance to truth may be a little stretched, can there be a real issue of a clash of work practice that has left many in the Australian market put out by the imported practices and the friction that it causes? Indeed there is. However, there is no apportioning of blame here, nor does it feel like that in the market, simply because the clash of workplace cultures is the underlying issue.

However, the point here is not that the English are horrid recruiters, turning the local market into a mire of sales cowboys and poorly treated candidates. No, it is that they will come and keep coming, and it is their lot – and ours – to ensure the integration of an entrenched approached can be exchanged for another.

Today, we are seeing the recruitment industry undergoing a significant upheaval. Brought on from the effects of the GFC, there is a view that the current industry model is outdated and unworkable to cater to changes mentioned. In fact, some elements are already announcing the death of the industry as sourcing candidates internally becomes easier for the average business.

This has seen a lot of recruitment agents leave the market permanently (when you consider that staff turnover for the industry fluctuates between 45% and 48%, there is a problem – even the current figures of 39% are still almost three times acceptable turnover rates). Tenures for consultants seem to average around 2-3 years (sometimes less depending on agency or industry serviced) and there is significant backfill required at any given time. This is the number one reason why importing consultants is seen as the best-fix measure. Recruitment-t0-Recruitment agencies often advertise overseas (some solely look for candidates from the UK) and recruitment firms make sponsorship an attractive proposition for these.

Seemingly, the recruitment agent conundrum is answered, in part, by the imported brand of agent. However, is it geared to success, or merely to fill a panic-inducing hole within an agency? We have an almost boundless supply of eager agents (who wouldn’t want to come out here?!) and their methods are, apparently and according to those attracting them over, are apparently compatible with Australia’s.

In answer, it would seem reasonable to suggest that recruiters from the UK are just better at doing the job, provided they are across exactly what businesses here demand.

Thing is, the old methods of recruitment are not working. The sales approach is flawed and the disproportionately bad comments leveled at the industry increasing. Change is needed, and it needs to be conducted by those with a sway. By this, it is the imported English recruiters that will have a major say as to where the industry is heading. No use saying they are the detriment; it’s too late to question the importation policies of firms and rec-to-recs. The fact is they are here and will continue to arrive. The industry’s survival in Australia will be down to these and how quickly they can adapt to the different environment, culture and business standards expected here. Can these international recruiters sufficiently attend to a market clearly different to that which they come from and in turn bring the industry out of its difficulties and the antipathy it brings and into a return to its vitality and acceptance?

It is a question without an answer…yet.

Hiring Wisely – A Study of the Abbott Government

Abbott pic

The Abbott Liberal Government is facing a storm of criticism over what it said pre-election and what it is saying now. There have been many, many discussions about this and I’m not about to enter into a debate into if they lied or broke promises.In a hiring sense, though, it is a fascinating parallel to how getting it right is vital. If we consider that the pre-election is equivalent to the hiring process, with the election itself being the final decision on which candidate to choose, we can draw some interesting conclusions:

  1. Interviews are a  great way to find out information about candidates, but if you rely on it solely, the candidate can lie their pants off, and you as the hirer will be none the wiser.
  2. If you fail to conduct any background / reference checks, you will not be able to qualify those statements made in the interview.
  3. If you fail to ask the right questions in the interview, you will get the wrong information to base a decision on.
  4. Those with a dispensation to lie will often suck in the inexperienced interviewer, as they will say things that they will want to hear…not what they need to hear.
  5. A candidate that makes some grand promises about how they will improve the business, without understanding the nature of the business they are looking to join, will almost certainly rescind on those promises, or at the very least put off staff trying to implement them
  6. If you allow a candidate to be hired based on one interview, don’t be surprised if this candidate ends up being the exact opposite of what you were wanting.
  7. And don’t surprised if that happens almost immediately.
  8. It may be wise to gain an understanding how the candidate will back up their claims. Sometimes, testing (psychometric / skills-based) may be needed to quantify statements.
  9. Bad hiring decisions are a major cost impediment (just go through some of my past articles to garner exact costs), so getting it wrong can mean a serious hit to the finances, with staff, productivity and customers potentially suffering as a result.
  10. Make sure you have gathered every possible information available about the candidate BEFORE you make a decision. Even just one piece of missing or unverified detail can prove vital in the wash-up.
  11. Bottom line: put together a clearly defined, quantifiable, planned hiring systems to avoid these bad hires, and to allow the right information to be given and verified.This is the only way a decision can be made.

To fully complete the analogy, did the Australian people make a decision based on all the verified information available?

Budget 2014 – How Does It Affect Businesses and Hiring?

Joe Hockey handed down his first budget Tuesday evening, under the guise of repairing a mess that, according to most, evidently didn’t exist and preparing for a downturn that in all likelihood was not about to happen.

Regardless of reasons, it seemingly has a sting of brutality in a number of social reforms and assistance, yet how does it translate to improvements in employment and how businesses hire?

Firstly, it was announced that as part of the push for the lifting of the retirement age, a $10,000 payment will be made to businesses that hire a mature-aged worker. This seems fair, given that a lot more of these workers will be flooding the market over the course of the next few years. However, as anyone in hiring understands, a payment is fine, but if the skills and environmental fit do not match, that payment will be only a band-aid to the overall loss due to a bad hire. Investment in re-skilling and retraining is probably a better investment.

Conversely, people under 30 who find themselves unemployed will have to wait 6 months before receiving unemployment benefits. In one of the most controversial aspects of his budget, Hockey told ABC Radio that he wants to ‘foster a working attitude, not welfare dependency’. This is admirable, but when you consider that people under 30 have potentially started families, or are already living below the poverty line, this adds further burdens to those who could least afford it. Additionally, Hockey commented that these people will have to go into training or ‘find apprenticeships – there are plenty out there’ is significant in its complete unawareness of the real world. Apprenticeship places are amongst the most highly sought after and many, many candidates are left out of gaining one. Coupled with this is the decreases in funding for further education, and the belief that those unemployed can quickly fall into an apprenticeship or training is little more than fanciful.

Costs, too, will eat at a business’s capacity to hire. Increases in petrol excise, increases in company tax and a woefully prepared Paid Parental Leave all have lead on costs to businesses that could easily discount hiring, leave staff anxious and unhappy, and generally see businesses pushed close to the edge.

It remains to be seen if the hit to business is severe or merely a small bump on the road to prosperity. Though on initial views, there is little to improve hiring, business costs or fostering improvements. It is a tough budget, and whilst arguments as to if this toughness was indeed warranted will continue, the fact is it is here, and businesses must perform with this new paradigm.