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Employers warned to retain good hiring practices

Media release                                                                                                 

24 November 2009

 


Employers warned not to abandon good hiring practices


A recruitment specialist is warning employers not to abandon good hiring practices, just because of the pressures of the recession.

Megan Alexander, general manager of finance and accounting specialist Robert Half New Zealand, says more employers are cutting corners, or treating candidates with less respect because they are under pressure or believe they can get away with it.

While they might get away with it in the short term, they will count the costs once the economy rebounds, she says.

"One of the particularly worrying trends I am seeing is employers deciding to hire contract workers based purely on their CVs," Ms Alexander says. "They are asking consultants to send them three or four CVs and then hiring based on what they read, rather than listening to consultants' opinions about who will be the best fit for their organisation and their projects.

"This suggests that, under pressure, they are ignoring what they already know - that CVs are just one part of the picture and don't tell the whole story."

For example, CVs are not particularly good at revealing a candidate's soft skills, or ability to relate to the team they work with, says Ms Alexander.

"One recent hiring manager who was recruiting for a specialist role decided to interview on the basis of candidates' CVs," Ms Alexander says. "Those interviews revealed that although the candidates had strong technical skills on paper, in reality some didn't measure up in person and they were missing the strong interpersonal skills the employer was also looking for."

As a result, Robert Half proposed a candidate whose CV did not show the technical skills on paper but had the right experience and very strong interpersonal skills. That candidate got the job.

Just two years ago, employers were clear about the pitfalls of relying too strongly on CVs, says Ms Alexander. In the 2007 Robert Half Workplace Survey most New Zealand employers said they treated CVs with a degree of caution. At that time, 74% of New Zealand employers said job candidates were most likely to exaggerate the real content of their former jobs and 56% also thought candidates were very likely to exaggerate both their technical skills and managerial skills.

Employers should still apply that caution today and not try to cut corners, she says.

"Many people embellish their CVs and, conversely, many good contract workers have difficulty explaining the full extent of their experience in their CVs, so employers who judge purely on this basis are likely to miss out on the best person for their job.

"That can't be good for their business," says Ms Alexander.

"However, experienced recruitment consultants know these contract workers well, and know what they are capable of. Employers who want the most effective work and the most value for money should be listening to what recruitment consultants say about the candidates."

Another worrying trend is employers who, thinking the market is awash with good candidates and they had have time on their side, take weeks to make a decision and don't communicate with the candidates.

Even in a slow employment market, good candidates often have choices, Ms Alexander says. If they are kept waiting too long they will decide they simply don't want to work with prospective employers who treat them disrespectfully.

And those candidates who, because of financial pressure, take these assignments will remember how they have been treated and avoid those employers once the job market picks up again.

"By treating candidates badly now, you almost guarantee that the very good candidates will not be interested in working with you once they have more choice,' says Ms Alexander. "In the long run, that will limit your ability to attract top talent."

Ms Alexander says these mistakes are often being made by people who have only just taken on hiring responsibility, as a result of middle management being made redundant over the past year.

"It's extremely important that people who are new to hiring seek advice and guidance," she says. "New Zealand is a small employment market, and poor hiring practices and bad decisions will have repercussions for your organisation for years to come."
 

Ends

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