Recruitment

Unconscious Bias by Drew Stewart

Unconscious bias is a term that came into my vernacular only recently. I was exposed to it through a discussion during a Greater Vancouver Board of Trade presentation and immediately it clicked for me. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, unconscious bias refers to a bias that happens automatically, is outside of our control and is triggered by our brain making quick judgments and assessments of people and situations, influenced by our background, cultural environment and firsthand experiences.

Now, my awakening to this terminology is not one of an early adopter. The philosophy and neuroscience behind unconscious bias has been around for while, with a considerable number of high performing organizations leading the charge in addressing it within their training programs and filtering into their work culture. Perhaps being an able-bodied, straight, white male, who has not been subjected to the likes of exclusion that the disabled, visible minorities, LBTQ2 and women are subjected to daily, contributed to being unaware of this phenomenon. As part of the GVBOT presentation, we completed a quiz to see how biased we were within our work lives. Thankfully, I didn’t find out that I shove people into subjective boxes all over the place. I did however realize a few blind spots that could be improved on and I found out that I sometimes utilized unconscious bias as a decision-making/time saving process.

For the most part, my biases are innocuous and do not have serious repercussions. For instance, when I am scanning the checkouts at the grocery store, I quickly dismiss ones that I think will take the longest based on who is already in them. Senior? Nope, I know they are going to be overly chatty and maybe even pull out a coin purse. Parents with kids? I know from experience that those kids are not going to leave them alone enough so they can efficiently bag their groceries. Young couple? Bingo! They have other things to do and places to go so they will be tossing things into bags without even thinking about it. This is an extremely trivial example, of course. Unconscious bias can have much more serious outcomes and negatively impact your business and culture. A few of the known unconscious biases that directly impact the workplace include:

· Affinity bias: The tendency to warm up to people like ourselves.

· Halo effect: The tendency to think everything about a person is good because you like that person.

· Perception bias: The tendency to form stereotypes and assumptions about certain groups that make it impossible to make an objective judgement about members of those groups.

· Confirmation bias: The tendency for people to seek information that confirms pre-existing beliefs or assumptions.

· Group think: This bias occurs when people try too hard to fit into a particular group by mimicking others or holding back thoughts and opinions. This causes them to lose part of their identities and causes organizations to lose out on creativity and innovation

As you can imagine, relying on one of the above biases to make objective decisions is fraught with pitfalls. Having a more diverse team opens all kind of new possibilities and ideas that you might not have been exposed to before. Not a single one of us has all of the answers and the key to success. It requires knowledge and experience that can be found within the under represented groups of people. The time is right to stop listening to our own voices and step away from the echo chambers and hear what other people have to say.

 

 

 

 

Blind Hiring by Christina Stewart

The idea of Blind Hiring is that a Hiring Manager looks only at a candidate’s qualifications and abilities – absolutely no personal characteristics are considered. When we consider personal characteristics in hiring it leads to subjectivity and subjectivity means bias – and usually unconscious bias.  Which means that we base whether or not to read a resume/interview/hire someone on our instant gut response to a bit of information about them as a person. Information that we are unaware of and largely has nothing to do with their ability to do the job.   What?!?

Let’s use an example. In a recent study a researcher sent over 300 fake resumes to law firms to see if privilege really got people hired.  Privilege meaning: from a well-connected family, often wealthy, often elite, and of course, white. One of the most interesting tidbits from the research is that when the researcher wrote “Sailing and Polo” in the hobbies and interests section of the resume, it lead to a quadrupled call back rate for the privileged men over women.  So, yes, we can see that privilege leads to jobs – but only for men, women, not so much. (Read more here: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/10/privilege-helps-men-not-women-get-lucrative-jobs/504497/

If you have a brain you have bias.  We all do it – we make micro decisions about people when we scan a resume – we see the date they graduated (age), we see their name (gender and race), we see the school they attended (good neighbourhood or bad?), we see the clubs they belong to and where they volunteer (sexuality, intelligence, family status, athletics.)  We think we see someone before we actually do.  We have a need for blind hiring – which eliminates all the ways we might be able to identify and judge someone and focuses simply on their ability (12 years of as an Account Manager and $12M in sales year over year, as opposed to Peter Lee from East Vancouver.) 

The process of submitting a resume is an antiquated one, fraught with all kinds of pitfalls. We need a new system and we need it now – Hiring Managers spend about six seconds looking at a resume (http://www.businessinsider.com/hiring-recruiters-read-resumes-2014-5) and in that six seconds they are gathering superfluous information. It isn’t enough that we try to be aware of our biases, they will show up anyway.  I for one would rather hire an Account Manager with a proven track record than a race, gender and status.

 

December Career Spotlight

Our highlighted job for December is an exciting leadership opportunity here on the Sunshine Coast. 

Our client is an innovative, collaborative and passionate organization engaged in the economic development of the Sechelt and Sunshine Coast areas. The organization is growing quickly and embarking on a number of new business opportunities. They are seeking a Chief Executive Officer to oversee their Sechelt, BC office.

 You will provide leadership to current and future economic entities through joint strategic planning initiatives with the Board of Directors as well as the development of operational plans to support the directions set.  The major focuses are on effective management of existing business and an aggressive growth strategy for acquiring new opportunities. Your Key Accountabilities Include:

 Board Administration and Support: You support the operation and administration of the Board by advising and informing the BoD Members with up-to-date information or reasonably anticipated future events that may affect operations

 Business, Program, Product and Service Development and Delivery: You oversee the operations of the entire organization, set and achieve goals as well as oversee all design, marketing, promotion, delivery and quality of businesses

 Human Resource Management: You develop policy, manage the HR for the organization, including staffing levels, recruiting, personnel issues, discipline and the setting of goals and performance measures for all staff.

 Community, Governmental and Public Relations: You are the interface between the Board and the Community. You assure the entire organization and its mission, business, programs, products and services are consistently presented in a strong, positive image to stakeholders and you will develop strong business relationships with local governments and financing sources

 Financial Responsibilities: You are responsible at the executive level for the budgeting, proposal and implementation process and ensure that all funds are managed as authorized with the most efficient use being made of the resources.

You possess cultural awareness and sensitivity well as a Degree in Business, Economics, Finance, or similar. Equivalencies will be considered. You also have a minimum of seven to ten years of progressive leadership experience. You offer the ability to make good strategic decisions and execute on them, excellent interpersonal and communication skills demonstrated through the ability to facilitate, network, motivate, lead, research, negotiate, analyze, and resolve issues, and you possess a strong sense of personal integrity and ethical practices.  

 Our client offers a value driven work environment, very competitive compensation, the opportunity to make this role your own and to live in a spectacular community with abundant natural beauty. This is a great opportunity to join a developing organization with strong community ties and values that respect the shishalh culture, tradition, and beliefs while you build economic opportunities, aid in developing businesses and creating local employment. 

 If this sounds like the position for you, we would love to hear from you. Please respond with a résumé and covering letter to: jobs@praxisgroup.ca no later than December 31, 2016.

 

Praxis Performance Group is a Human Resource and Recruitment Firm located on the Sunshine Coast in beautiful British Columbia. With our depth of experience and our belief in the unlimited potential of a well formed team, we take the time to get to know our clients and candidates. Focused on fit, we work with organizations who know that their people come first and that their greatest resource is their team. 

Are Personality Tests Valuable? By Christina Stewart

We think so.  But there is a catch… The Results Must Always Be Used For Good!  Let me explain…

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Personality tests, such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI for those in the biz,) can give folks a super strong sense of who they are and why they behave the way they do. They can also give employers a strong sense of who the employee is, where they may naturally be adept and show the ways that someone may contribute to the team. The problem lies in taking the results at face value, and using those results as a basis for either hiring or not, because there is always more under the surface.  

A great example is with the MBTI.  I am an ISTJ – and I am an ISTJ – I like structure and order and I’m also incredibly reliable.  The risk comes in when, let’s say, an employer may be interested in hiring me to facilitate training. They may see the ISTJ, and assume that I’m too introverted to speak up and move on to another candidate who shows a stronger preference for extroversion.  But what you don’t know about me by only seeing the “I” or the Introvert in ISTJ, is that I actually love public speaking. I adore standing up in front of a group of people and sharing knowledge and having great conversations.  ISTJs can actually be extremely adept at delivering training sessions because they are always incredibly prepared and they’re also information junkies – both attributes would be positive assets to an employer’s training department.

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The lesson here is to use personality assessments to prove what you already and know about someone “Look there is an ISTJ – I knew she seemed like he would be reliable,” and to use it as a way to allow a person a vaster contribution once you do hire someone.  They can provide tremendous value for self-discovery, team building, coaching, enhancing communication, and numerous other developmental applications. But due to limited predictive validity (does this test show how an employer will perform in the future?), low test-retest reliability (will this person answer the test exactly the same each and every time?), lack of norming (can this test be held up against another person’s and show the truth?) and an internal consistency (lie detector) measure, etc., they are not ideal for use in hiring.

Employers with a role to fill who only look at a certain type of person take a big risk in missing out on someone who would be outstanding in a particular role.  Personality Tests can be very valuable when used for good – to build people up, but not to exclude potential employees from their workforce.  They may just miss out on a shining star.

Branding Yourself for a Job Hunt

It is said that a great cover letter compels a Recruiter to read your resume and a great resume ensures an interview and of course a great interview lands you the job.  But in many cases 100’s of job applicants are vying for one coveted role.  How can you make certain that you move from one step to the next? With the right brand. Branding isn’t just for organizations; we create an image of ourselves that we put forward to the world and this representation of ourselves is never as important as during a job hunt. Below are a few tips to ensure you are presenting the brand that best represents you.

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Cover Letter & Resume

No Errors Allowed

I cannot stress this one enough.  Spelling and grammar mistakes are unforgivable.  Even one small error represents you as someone for whom shoddy work is acceptable. Recruiters are looking for ways to shorten the daunting stack of resumes; this is an easy way to dismiss you. Don’t let them.  Proofread your documents, and then have someone else proofread them and then proof them again.  Also, don’t count on spell check and grammar check to save you.  Two of the most common mistakes I’ve seen are spelling “manger” for “manager” and the improper use of their, there and they’re which won’t necessarily get flagged in your documents.

White Space Please

Please do not cram as much information on your resume as possible.  I assure you; if your resume is hard to read it won’t get read. Leave ample space between sections and keep your margins to the standard size. A clean, clear resume and cover letter in a font large enough to actually read represent you as a professional who is confident in the skills listed.  When you stuff as much on the page as possible you come across as a braggart trying to compensate with quantity over quality.

Short and Snappy

Your cover letter should be three paragraphs; a brief intro, a brief overview of experience and a brief overview of education.  Then close with a brief line such as “I’m looking forward to hearing from you.  Sincerely…” Did you catch that I was stressing you be brief?  Don’t repeat the details that can be found on your resume. That is what your resume is for.  Any more information than a brief (there’s that word again) introduction is too much.  You want to be seen as a crisp communicator not muddled and verbose.

Buried Treasure

Make sure you highlight your strengths.  Too often I’ve seen a key piece of information hidden between superfluous details. When you first sit down to write a resume start by listing your proudest achievements and the times when you most felt on top of your game.  When you have completed your resume cross reference that list and make sure those particulars are clearly evident.  There are a few ways of doing this such as a section dedicated to accomplishments, a line outlining highlighted undertakings at each employer or within the objective (for example: I’d like to continue my award winning sales career with an employer that allows me the opportunity for creativity.”

Interview

Speak in Numbers

Whether in the public or private sector, whether in for-profit or non-profit, and whether your role will spend or save money your potential employer is thinking about the bottom line.  Don’t make them do the math for themselves. Which of the following sounds better to you? “With my last employer I was able to be creative with my HR initiatives as a result we saw productivity rise.” Not bad, but how about this? “Using a minimal budget and some ingenuity we created new team based initiatives that resulted in a 25% increase in production.”  Much better.  Arm yourself with these numerical details before the interview so you can present yourself as an asset who sees the bigger picture.

Do your Homework

I open every single interview with “What do you know about my organization?”  How a candidate answers tells me many things such as how much research they did, where they researched, and what information they took away from that research, all of which gives me clues into how they work and how they will fit in with my team. But nothing tells me more about a candidate then when they didn’t do any research at all. The bare minimum should be a visit to your prospective employer’s website but in this case more is best.  Ideas include: looking for employees on Linked In to see what has been said about the company; conducting a simple Google search to lead you to current events, press releases, awards or potential trouble the organization may be in; and my personal favourite, pick up the phone and call a customer to ask about the culture and personality of the organization.

Take your Turn

Ask intelligent questions but at the very least ask questions.  When the interviewers ask you if there is anything you want to know do not say “No, I think you’ve covered everything.” Instead ask a question; any question.  Even if the interviewer has in fact covered everything ask for more details regarding something discussed earlier in the interview, ask about last year’s Christmas party or ask about the interviewer’s tenure with the organization. When you don’t ask a question the interviewer can be left wondering if you were interested and engaged in the organization or if you are just looking for a job. Present yourself as a thoughtful and attentive candidate and you just may find yourself as their newest employee.

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Onboarding is Essential - By Christina Stewart

You have spent time, energy, money and other resources finding the right person to fill your vacancy; the last situation you want is for that new team member to leave your firm early and have all those resources go to waste.  Plus you’d be stuck doing it all over again.  But how do you bridge the gap between recruitment and retention?  Onboarding.

Make your new employee feel welcome, wanted and engaged before the first day.  Often there is a lag between signing the offer letter and the first day of employment, so a week before the start date call your new team member and say how much you are looking forward to having them onboard.   If it is an executive position call again on the afternoon of the day before they start.  This will warm any cold feet and calm any nerves.

It is imperative that when the new hire arrives on day one that they have a work space completely set up, everything from a computer with a working e-mail, e-mail signature, and any other necessary programs to pens, notebooks and business cards printed and sitting on their desk.  Plan in advance what the orientation and initial training will look like.  Know exactly who is teaching what and when.  Show a commitment to having prepped for them and they will feel important and valued from the start, thus increasing their chance of making it through the critical first three months.

One idea is to have new employees start on a Friday – this gives them the weekend to process the new environment and then they can hit the ground running on Monday.  The Friday is essentially a meet and greet anyway.  Make sure your entire team knows they are starting – send out an announcement e-mail with a brief overview of the new hire’s background and always set up their name in the phone system and on the phone directory.

The key to effective onboarding is to always appear organized and to always appear enthusiastic.  Make a commitment to your new team member before they even start and you’ll be rewarded with a team member that makes a speedy commitment to you.