Roxanne Calder is the founder and managing director of EST10, one of Sydney’s most successful recruitment agencies and the author of ‘Employable – 7 Attributes to Assuring Your Working Future’. Recently Dr Dennis Feeney, Founder and Chair of VTG Search interviewed Roxanne about her book and the state of market.
Q: Your book ‘Employable’ has been available for a little time now. How would you describe the market response to the topics you cover in the book?
Employable turned one recently and I am extremely proud to say it is now available worldwide. You can purchase Employable in the United Kingdom; USA and it has even been translated into Vietnamese. We have received amazing feedback from all levels, senior executives, graduates and even academics, which to be honest I was surprised and so flattered by. I have also presented to both University students and school leavers who have given some incredible feedback which I am grateful for. We have recently also developed the 7 attributes of Employable into workshops. I think the subject of ‘employable’, has never been as important as it is now, given the rapid transformation of the work environment and the demand for certain skills, which the book talks about in great detail.
Q: What are the elements of “The great resignation” in Australia? How does this differ from US or UK say?
Each country has its own challenges, but what truly changed is the way people relate to work; their beliefs, attitudes and habits have shifted dramatically. “The great resignation’, coined by Anthony Klotz, started in the states and without a doubt, they saw a mass exodus from their workforce.
For Australia, it’s been different. The increase in resignations in Australia has been incremental. Higher salaries and better perks are what have been driving the increase in resignations and of course, this is due to insufficient qualified people available for skilled roles.
Q: How do you see the impact of self-confidence in the employment market? You speak about this in the older age groups. How can this be managed by the individual candidates themselves? Do you notice gender differences?
Gender differences have been apparent for a very long time, as with other inequalities and biases in our society. This issue is much bigger than just relating to employment. With the new collaborative environment and as a result of the pandemic and resignations- these topics are ones we speak about more so now. The benefit for companies is to explore previously untapped groups/talent pools.
In terms of confidence, that is a totally different subject, and the book speaks a lot about it. What makes us confident is knowing our values and believing in ourselves, our influence, and the impact we can make on any organisation.
One of the biases we experience is ageism. My experience with ageism, is you can be seen as old, even as young as being in your 40s. It doesn’t help that the Australian Bureau of Statistics describes ‘older workers’ as those aged 45-64 years.
The general feeling from businesses is that older workers will not be tech-savvy. This may be so for some, but they bring so much more, loyalty, stability, wisdom, maturity, and transferable skills. Coaching by a recruitment consultant is highly recommended in encouraging candidates to consider all opportunities on the job market.
Q: What is your prescription for managing bias overall in ourselves and others? My experience of colleague executive search consultants, clients, and candidates alike, indicates that bias is a significant issue.
The current market demands that all players remove bias. Each of us must take responsibility to reflect upon and manage our own biases, and always be transparent about these.
Mindfulness, participation, open dialogue, and conversations about these topics bring the issue to the surface and explore its effects. If we don’t address problems, we can’t find the solution. Again, the time we are in now, allows for all of this to occur. We are all biased, and this is part of human nature. But when we apply awareness, it is hard to be and stay ignorant. Companies are addressing this issue actively and making it a big part of their mission and culture.
Q: You speak about ‘losing everything’ during Covid. What are the key elements to recovering?
‘Losing everything’ doesn’t necessarily refer to the financial side of things. Everyone felt and experienced the same effect during COVID-19 and some people and companies, particularly smaller ones, never recovered. Losing familiarity with how things are done, rules and freedom, and looking at the world with all uncertainties, definitely meant- losing the ground from under our feet and therefore, the structure that keeps you safe. Being in the recruitment business when everyone is in lockdown and not hiring – was a big challenge, same as the travel, retail, and hospitality industries.
Suffering from crises of confidence can happen to all of us. The pandemic was a crisis for me, the EST10 business and our staff. We lost our jobs, I questioned my skills and felt like an imposter. My offering, and that of our business was redundant in the pandemic environment.
After a period of uncertainty, I eventually reflected on the advice I give to candidates when their roles have been made redundant. That is, to keep moving forward! By using my own advice, this allowed me to re-build my personal confidence and to feel optimistic.
Q: What is your experience in your own business and that of your clients with international hires at the moment? Are there delays and problems?
Employers are finding that the status of access to skilled visas is very difficult at the moment and negatively impacts talent attraction, slowing the arrival of appointed candidates.
It is good to remember that remote and hybrid working is here to stay, and while we still need skilled workers, a good majority can be in any country, creating a balance and benefit for many individuals and organisations.
Q: What are clients not getting right with recruitment of senior roles? How have practices changed over the past two years?
Speedy, seamless, and comprehensive processes are regarded as quality processes by candidates. Long recruitment processes negatively impact candidates and result in the loss of quality candidates to other opportunities.
Q: What is the current best practice recruitment process for clients and candidates?
Best practices include recruitment processes that are transparent and speedy with engagement of all stakeholders. We recommend headcount approval and other terms to be pre-approved for efficiency and the best experience for your candidate. The ability to conclude an employment contract on the same day the offer is made is ideal. This will maximise the opportunity of securing the preferred candidate. Businesses giving counteroffers are high in this current job market, so speed is of the essence.
My advice to businesses hiring right now is, as it has always been, a tight talent market or not: be competitive, demonstrate your value proposition, don’t have a wish list, consider diamond in the rough candidates, and ensure processes are lined up. That is, interviews to occur within three days, offer on the same day as the final interview, contracts out within 24 hours of offer and regular follow-ups with your potential employee before the start date.
Q: Anecdotes from the market are that behaviours during the recruitment processes have declined. Do you have any experience of this?
The whole employment market is experiencing this right now and at every level, senior and junior roles. The abundance of choice in the market is causing candidates to foster poor behaviour. I actually just wrote an article about this very topic, “The new Takers – A Candidate Revolution.”
The competition for talent remains strong, and job seekers are rightly taking advantage of it. However, through the influx of job choices, we are also, witnessing some systematic behaviours of concern. Cancelling interviews with no notice, reneging on job offers at the last minute, and even days before the start date are just some of the experiences we hear from our clients.
We also know these behaviours fall across all job categories, regardless of seniority, job, or level. I encourage all job seekers to be transparent with their agency and hiring managers/company and have integrity with their actions.
In her book “Employable” Roxanne describes seven key attributes which positively contribute to ongoing success in a career: a thirst for knowledge, dependability, resilience, interpersonal nous, self-awareness, self-confidence, and optimism. Roxanne believes that ‘employability’ is insurance for your future. Her motivation in writing this book was to help others discover the freedom and confidence to be gained by developing these seven attributes.
Roxanne Calder, is the author of ‘Employable – 7 Attributes to Assuring Your Working Future’ (Major Street), and is the founder and managing director of EST10 – one of Sydney’s most successful administration recruitment agencies. Roxanne is passionate about uncovering people’s potential and watching their careers soar. For more information on how Roxanne can assist you in your career visit www.est10.com.au.
VTG Search is a specialist executive search business supporting organisations in hiring decision making for senior and complex roles and supporting individuals with their personal candidacy in the market and transition in their careers.