Tag Archives: staffing

Always a McNaker

A lot of people ask me how I got into recruitment. Is it something I had always wanted to do? Is that what I did before I joined McNak? Will I always be an agency recruiter?

The truth of the matter is that I fell into recruiting – and was wooed by everything that was (and continues to be) McNak. When I first came in to meet with McNak, I was on the hunt for a job…at that stage, a temporary job was top of mind. When the interviewer asked me what sort of work environment I was looking for, I glanced around the funky Yaletown office and answered, “Somewhere like here.” The next question was: “Have you ever thought about being a recruiter?” And the rest, as they say, is history.

I’ve been with McNak through one office move, two database conversions, three job titles, four anniversaries, countless successful job placements, and hundreds of interviews with candidates from every background imaginable. The learning opportunities have been immense, and McNak’s unique corporate culture has both nurtured my professional growth while allowing me the autonomy to develop my own style as a recruiter.

But all good things must (really, is it a requirement?) come to an end. What McNak has also given me is a true sense of where I want to go in my career. It was not my original goal, but I have recognized that my future lies in the broader realm of Human Resources. I now have an opportunity to take that to the next level with an in-house HR Generalist and Recruiter role. And I would never have gotten to this place if not for the winning team at McNak.

My thanks go out to Cheryl and Sarah, of course, but also to the amazing team of McNakers, both former and current. And although I’m moving on, you know that in spirit I will always be a McNaker! (I don’t know, Sarah – should I get the tattoo?)

~ Bradley Cuzen


Etiquette 101 for Hiring Managers

This article appeared as part of Dennis Wolff’s quarterly column in the HR supplement of Business In Vancouver (October  26 – November 1, 2010; issue 1096). To view the print version, please click here.

How applicants’ experiences during the hiring process have a substantial impact on the employer’s brand in the candidate community

In my role as a recruiter, I spend a lot of time in interview situations. Like most hiring managers, I sure have my share of anecdotes when it comes to the topic of etiquette. There are numerous examples of applicants blowing their chances by ignoring the simplest rules of first impressions, ranging from being late to casually bringing along a cup of coffee to the job interview. However, basic etiquette (or the lack thereof) is not only a pet peeve for employers but also a hot topic in the candidate community. When asking job seekers about their experience applying for jobs, many are disillusioned and frustrated after having had poor experiences. The recessionary climate has put some hiring managers in a deceivingly comfortable spot where opportunities are scarce and applicants are plentiful. Qualified candidates complain about companies not responding to their applications, about poor interview experiences or a breakdown in communication after having gone through a formal interviewing process with a company.

What many employers seem to forget is that the interviewing and hiring process speaks volumes of the company’s brand as an employer. Smart companies know how important it is to treat every applicant respectfully and to offer an interviewing experience that reflects the company’s brand and values. It’s not just about courting the best candidates; job interviews can still be tough, intense situations. In fact, high potential applicants will expect a tough interview process which enables them to display their accomplishments and abilities which will make them stand out from the pack. A high performing, no-nonsense producer will want to feel reassured that the company they are interviewing with shares their sense of professionalism, respect and effectiveness. Here are a few ideas how your company can improve their brand in the candidate community:

  1. Set expectations properly: One of the major frustrations applicants experience is the complete lack of communication after an initial application has been submitted. If you are not planning on contacting every single applicant, at the very least include a disclaimer in the job posting indicating that only qualified applicants will be contacted. Ideally, you will also include a specific date by which an applicant can expect a response. At least they will know to move on if they haven’t heard anything by then.
  2. Communicate effectively: Most companies have applicant tracking or HRI Systems in place that allow them to properly track applications and to send out personalised emails to large groups of recipients. Why not set up an automated response thanking applicants for submitting their resumes and advising them of what they can expect moving forward? Even if your company doesn’t have a proper system in place, a basic email client has the ability to send automated responses or customised emails.
  3. Consider some advice from the dating world: As with any first date, a first impression is a lasting impression. When conducting the first interview, remember the basics: Be polite, be respectful, and be on time. Be an active listener but also be prepared to give an elevator pitch as to what an employee can expect from your firm. As the labour market improves, top candidates end up with multiple job offers and you want to make sure that your company is at the top of their list.
  4. Nothing trumps professionalism: I’ve heard numerous hiring managers say that they don’t really need to “interview” a candidate. They simply “know” when they see the right fit. While this may be true, the applicant is left with a disappointing experience. A strong candidate will want more from an interview than just a pleasant conversation. They want to feel that the hiring manager has a keen interest in their work history and previous accomplishments. In the worst case, a top candidate may not want to proceed after a weak interview experience as they presume it is a reflection of the company’s lack of focus on performance.
  5. Be smart when releasing applicants: At the end of the day you can only hire one person per job. It’s very tempting to focus entirely on that new hire. Sadly, taking down the job posting marks the end of the hiring process for most companies. Making an effort to not leave other applicants in the dark is more than just good karma: Those applicants who have been interviewed should receive personal feedback. Be constructive and explain your hiring decision. Thank them for their time and interest and encourage them to keep in touch should you feel that they may be of interest for future openings. Sending out an email to the other applicants who could not be interviewed offers a great opportunity for employer branding. By advising them that a hiring decision has been made and thanking them for their interest in your company, you are sending a clear message that speaks volumes of your professionalism and thoroughness not only during the recruitment process but also in how your company conducts its business.

As with any experience in an open market, negative news travels exponentially faster than positive. In a time when people can vent publicly about a negative experience, disgruntled job seekers can leverage the powerful world of social media networks by openly commenting on their experience with a particular company and an employer brand can suffer substantial damage. With every new job your company recruits for, your brand is put to the test over and over again. A lot can be gained from offering a great hiring experience. Much more can be lost by having a particularly bad one. What is the impression you think your organization is leaving in the candidate community?

~ Dennis Wolff

Is there really a talent shortage?

Is there really a talent shortage?

Things are looking up. The economy seems to be getting stronger. Hiring freezes are thawing. People are finding work.

It’s not entirely positive – both job hunters and employers are struggling. Competition for job opportunities remains fierce, and hiring managers seem to have their pick. And yet, positions remain vacant, and employers find it difficult to find what they’re looking for. We still have a talent shortage.

But do we really? With all of those people out there looking for work, perhaps we’re missing something.

With the economic downturn, many companies were forced to restructure, to make deep cuts, and to strategize new ways to remain productive while saving money. Maybe now, as the recovery continues – slowly and, we hope, steadily – employers have an opportunity to change their perspective.

Consider ways of expanding the labour pool. Here are a couple of ideas:

1) Take another look at immigrant talent. It’s a topic that has been covered many times before, but we still haven’t learned to put the ideas into practice. A recent report reveals that Metro Toronto loses over $2 billion a year by failing to integrate immigrants. Professionals from all over the globe bring skill sets and experience to rival home-grown talent – employers can consider how to put this talent to work for them!

2) Training your employees is money well spent. Dismissing candidates because they don’t have experience with a key software package, even when they are enthusiastic and ambitious, may be short-sighted. And don’t forget your current staff; a small investment in a management course could allow you to promote from within – and backfill a more junior position rather than searching for a more experienced (and, possibly, more expensive) external hire.

3) Potential over Perfection. Sometimes hiring managers are surprisingly single-minded, seeking out ‘the one’ – that person who has the ideal combination of skills, experience and personality to make them the complete package. Or maybe it’s the one who was just like the last one! There is no such thing as perfection, but there are a lot of people out there with great potential – we just need the new point of view in order to seek them out.

“There are lots of possibilities beyond just doing what we have always done.” (from Talent Shortage: Is Our Mindset to Blame?)

What steps is your organization taking to find a new perspective on identifying talent?

~ Bradley Cuzen

Honeymoon 101

I’ve been married for more than a few years but I still remember the joy and trials of the honeymoon part of marriage. In business however, the ‘honeymoon’ period can be far more challenging and can quickly erode team synergy if the road to finding their ‘groove’ is too bumpy along the way. It has been 3 months since we “formalized” our commitment to on-boarding and retention through our complimentary McNak behavioural profile and consultation that all new permanent hires receive when they begin their new role at our client companies.  As the key Consultant on Talent Diversification and veteran McNaker, I am excited to share the start of something so very McNak!

We recognize that we can bring smiles (our Wow!) to more people faster the quicker they know each other. Normal work relationships usually develop through an awkward trial and error method that usually takes the better part of a few months. And usually it doesn’t come without some thorns along the way. This period of flux can often have a downward pull on corporate culture and team productivity. I’ve already seen the tremendous benefit of our behavioural profiling and that makes me smile!

Let’s face it. No one likes to be the new guy or the one to work with the new guy. So fast tracking through the honeymoon period is gratefully welcomed by all involved!

Behavioural profiling has such a positive influence to teams. And with the four letters D I S C,  I can selfishly say I feel the WOW. FUN. PEOPLE.  How McNak is that!


photo credit: xtheowl

The Importance of Cultural Fit – Part II

Cultural Fit Part II –  How to hire the “Perfect” Candidate

A lot of people will wish you luck in finding the perfect candidate – they will say that you need it. Not true! Employers can make their own luck by carefully selecting the right person and merging him/her with your existing team.

Like any successful business practice, a little bit of process and planning will yield huge dividends.

Start with the Details

First, you must be able to describe the position in a detailed and accurate way.  To do this, systematically evaluate why previous employees have left. Were there technical gaps? Relationships that never gelled?  Examine performance reviews for the entire team, and look for recurring themes of strength or weakness. Use this information to draw up a new, fully detailed job description that focuses equally on technical expertise and behavioural characteristics. Yes, you may want to skip this step! Persevere – this information will allow you to exactly pinpoint the person you’re looking for.

Build a Common Vision

If this is a complex role, ensure senior managers involved in the hiring process generally agree on what a “perfect” candidate looks like in terms of experience and personality. Schedule a brief meeting, and separate the criteria into “must have” and “helpful to have”. You may be surprised to hear how members of the same team view the role differently! This meeting will provide clarity once you begin the interview process, and will save valuable time and effort.

What Do You Need to Know From Your Candidates?

Select the right interview questions to screen for desired behaviours. To do this, go through the information you learned in step one, and ask for specific examples of how the candidate has dealt with similar challenges in the past. This is called Behavioural Interviewing Techniques, and it brings a great deal of clarity about a candidate’s experience and their way of thinking. Truly, it explains how they “get things done,” which is a combination of internal motivators, external motivators and communication style. If you follow this process, the top 1-2 candidates should stick out by a mile.   Click here for inspiration.

Mentor Success!

Congratulations, you’ve chosen an amazing person for your organization and your work is done. Well, almost! Research shows the on-boarding process ultimately determines whether a person succeeds or fails.  An employee handbook is no longer sufficient.  During the first ninety days, your new employee must quickly learn the unspoken and unwritten rules about how the organization operates – ie. your culture. How quickly they learn this determines their success, and this is particularly true for senior management and executive roles. As a direct manager, you are responsible for ensure they understand your culture and communicate in an appropriate style. Many managers believe the new employee should have to “prove themselves” or “establish their value to the team.” However, we believe that current market conditions, changes in business direction and competitor threats will give your new team member ample opportunity to contribute to your organization! Most importantly, ensuring your new hire feels welcomed and respected means you’ll avoid having to go back to step one.

Your ability to mentor your new hire will allow them to shine, and effectively contribute to your organization!

~ Julie Steele

photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik