Soon after it was announced my role was being made redundant (back in early December) I decided I needed some advice from an employer and a recruitment consultant on what I could expect from both in 2011. 

The reason I wanted to get these views on the jobs market is that I don't see the type of job I do being advertised so wanted to get a handle on how recruiters go out looking for newer skills (I'm thinking of the social media type skills I have).

Also, I have not been active in the jobs market for quite a while so wanted to see what, if anything, has changed.

Luckily, through social media and the ConnectingHR community an HR director and a recruitment consultant agreed to write me a post.

Today I am delighted to be running this post from anonymous blogger and HR director, TheHRD. If you are not aware of TheHRD then check out his blog My Hell is Other People or find him on Twitter.

Thanks again TheHRD for taking the time to do this for me – it's a really interesting read. Tomorrow, I'll be running a piece by recruitment consultant Mervyn Dinnen.

Taking risks with recruitment. Why different is the new black.
Last weekend I went to the opticians to replace the glasses that had spectacularly broken before Christmas leaving me literally fumbling in the dark.  I got in the door and one of the smiley happy people in there bounded up to me and asked me how they could help. Resisting the urge to say, “I’d like to buy a new car” I explained and they asked me what I was looking for, “umm basically the same as these”. They politely explained to me that fashions change and that time moves on and that I was essentially out of date.

Several years ago I took on the role of managing the Head Office HR team for a big FTSE100 organisation.  As part of my snooping around and trying to work out what was going on I sat down with the HR Assistants who were responsible for most of the recruitment. They had a list of unfilled vacancies that was long enough to make you cry.  When I asked them why this was the answer was pretty simple, “we find candidates but then the manager turns them down”.

You’ve got it…..essentially the manager was doing what I was doing in the opticians…they were asking for more of the same. And more of the same didn’t exist.

There were a number of things that were broken there. The HR Business Partners have devolved recruitment down to the lowest level and of course these guys were just eager to please the managers. No-one was having the honest conversation with the managers about their expectations versus market availability.

I remember having a conversation about replacing a candidate and saying, “So basically, you’re telling me you want to recruit the person that has just resigned?”

Is that normal? Sadly I think it is…but I also think it is human nature.  We like the known, we like the predictable. Ultimately, we like people like ourselves. Looking further afield and taking risks is harder and more uncomfortable. Taking risks…..well it is just risky.

But that is where a good HR person can and should step in. Not in terms of telling, but helping and encouraging managers to look further afield, to bring in skills and experience that will both grow and challenge the teams, whilst at the same time growing and finding challenge within the role.

We can’t expect to keep on finding off the peg talent. It is virtually impossible,  financially impractical and it is both short term and naïve. There is competitive advantage to be found in pulling together a collection of talents and talent is very different to experience.

The world is changing faster than ever before, to be successful we need to think and see differently from the pack. We need to innovate and create, we need to pioneer and lead. To do this we need to challenge existing thinking and the acceptance of collective norms. If we also recruit in our own image, if we look for the known and the understood we diminish our ability to do so.

Human beings are cautious by nature borne of our instinct for self preservation. But that doesn't mean that they can't see the benefit of change. We worked with the managers we had a few successes (and some failures) and they started to ask us to cast the net further and wider. And we weren't the only ones. Most managers are still cautious but increasingly I see people willing to think differently. Will it continue? I think so. The progression towards portfolio careers means that the accepted "normal" career histories just won't exist or will be few and far between.

As for the glasses? Well I didn't do anything radical, but they are different. A week in though, they just feel……normal.