Category Archives: Recruitment

Learning from epic fails and making things better next time

Last year at my work we had a handful of students join us for a summer vacation scholarship program here in Sydney and also in Melbourne. Although the students seemed to have a good time, I’ll be the first to admit that there were a number of…. let’s call them key learnings.

To start with, despite advertising 6 projects on various university websites in Sydney and Melbourne we actually only managed to fill 5 of them. 1205 people looked at the positions, but only 40 people applied.

Many of the applications were unsuitable, and one of the candidates was appointed and terminated less than two weeks later for unsatisfactory conduct. The responsibility of the recruitment and supervision of this position was handed from the supervisor to a young person who had only just arrived in Australia a few weeks before.

So what did we learn? In a nutshell:

• Our advertising strategy wasn’t very effective. The project descriptions were full of jargon and possibly intimidated applicants. As a result we didn’t receive a good amount of quality applications
• Supervisors didn’t conduct proper interviews with the students and poor selection choices were made
• We didn’t promote the program while it was happening or engage students that we hope to recruit in the future
• We didn’t have any information on the experience of the students to use as advertising material for the next year i.e. no photos, videos or accounts of what happened or why others should participate
• We didn’t promote the company as a great place to work for young Australian uni students

Sounds pretty hideous and like a bit of an epic fail. So this year, I put together a plan and my management team actually gave me a workable budget to get it going.


So here’s a bit of my plan:

PHASE ONE: Awareness

The purpose of this initial phase is raise general awareness around the Program. We would achieve this by utilising low cost channels such as contacting lecturers and university staff (we would create a flyer for them to circulate), and updating the web site to announce the upcoming program.

In addition we can set-up a Facebook fan page to enable students to post enquiries and ask questions in real time to gain insights into what they can expect during the Student Scholarship Program.

Getting last year’s participants to upload photos and their experiences from the previous year and join the group would be a great way to ensure engaging content is available to entice students into applying.

Setting up an email account and ask people to register their interest would allow us to create a database of people interested in the program who we could email with information as it becomes available.

PHASE TWO: Advertising

Phase two will focus on driving registrations for the Program. There will of course be advertising posted on the Careers site, but in addition we will utilise University Career hubs and specialised graduate recruitment sites such as GradConnection to advertise our projects.

PHASE THREE: Sharing the experience

Phase three will focus on promoting the student experience while also allowing us to engage other students interested in working in the industry. This additionally creates a supply of content that can readily be utilised in next year’s efforts to promote the Program.

Students taking part in the program will be invited to contribute to a blog about their experiences and upload video/photos through this system. These can then be viewed and commented upon (comments will be moderated) by families, friends and other students.

The introduction of a blog allows the opportunity to create additional content such as Podcasts from scientists explaining what it is like to work here and why they are passionate about their jobs. All content can be promoted through the communication channels established in phase one.

PHASE FOUR: Promoting Big Day In (presentations of projects by students).

Phase four will focus on promoting awareness of the Big Day In. A Media release will announce the event publically while the Blog can push information to the existing user base. It would be great to have a live online stream from the day’s event allowing outsiders which may not be able to make it to take advantage of the presentations. In addition users could vote for their favourite presentations online. All presentations can be filmed and posted to the blog after the event (or kept as content to advertise next year’s event). Not sure how much of this is possible, but you have to dream big sometimes 🙂

Whilst this approach hasn’t been completely smooth sailing because I’m not as tech savvy as I’d like to be and there are some restrictions and processes that need to be followed when working in government, I am very excited about what’s to come.

After just one week we have already had 502 views and 17 great applications. I hope they keep coming in because it’s a fantastic opportunity to gain real work experience. I’ll keep you posted with how we go. Fingers crossed!



Filed under Recruitment, Social Media/Technology

Thanks to Desired Hair, and Michael Specht for sponsoring HR Club Sydney

In the whirlwind that was last week, I didn’t get a chance to thank my sponsors for the first HR Club Sydney Event and I wanted to give them the recognition they deserved and get the details right.

First and foremost, I would like to thank Alex and Laura of Desired Hair (the hair extension specialists) for generously sponsoring the three lucky door prizes for the night.

Desired Hair provides high quality 100% human hair extensions at wholesale prices direct to the public. They also sell accessories (such as the hair straightener we gave the lovely Peta on the night) and you can even book a Hair Extension Party. Please visit for all the details.

Desired Hair

Secondly I would like to thank Michael Specht for his donation of the “Australian Corporate Careers Website Report” and the “21st Century Guide to Recruiting” as an exclusive free offer to HR Club Sydney members.

Michael is currently running his own consulting business, Inspecht, specialising in HR technology and the application of Web 2.0 tools and techniques for companies of all sizes, called “Enterprise 2.0“. Michael has a unique views on how social media can be used by organisations to enhance the employer brand and attract the best people to work for your organisation.

He is a regular speaker on HR technology for the Australian Human Resource Institute and has been involved in their HRIS Special Interest Group. In addition to writing this blog he actively participates in the conversation around Web 2.0, social software and the impact on organisations and management practices.

If you are interested in hearing Michael speak, you can catch him at the ATC (Australasian Talent Conference) Conference on Social Media in Melbourne, December 3rd this year.

ATC Social Media

Here is a blurb about the conference:

In 2009, you are invited to join some of Australia’s most forward-thinking leaders and experts in the social media and recruitment at the ATC’s new sister event to be held in Melbourne.
The day will include first-hand insights from internationally recognised speakers, as well as hearing from real company case studies and participating in interactive workshops designed to encourage participation. The series of interactive sessions are designed to leverage the combined wisdom of the Australian recruitment industry, allowing you to learn from the experiences of industry peers.
The speakers will address issues such as, how to measure the ROI of social media; how to integrate social media into your recruitment strategy, digital branding, talent pooling and the impact of social media on graduate recruitment.
But this is no ordinary conference. What’s different about this event is that it is a hybrid between a traditional conference and an ‘Unconference’, meaning part of the agenda will be developed by the attendees. The Unconference sessions will allow you, the attendees, to influence the event program, ensuring the issues you want to hear about are discussed and the event can provide solutions for a range of workplace challenges.

Find out more about ATC on Social Media or email me for your free copy of the “Australian Corporate Careers Website Report” and the “21st Century Guide to Recruiting” by Michael Specht.

Leave a comment

Filed under Events, Recruitment, Social Media/Technology

Lessons from Atlassian- fantastic employer branding and recruitment strategy

I was on the twitter machine this week and happened to come across this:


I checked out Atlassian’s website, and I thought I might blog about them because I think they do a great job in the employment brand space. I will disclose that I know some of the guys from Atlassian off twitter but want to make clear that this is not a shameless plug for the company. I was introduced to Atlassian at a HR Conference ages ago- and was enthralled by what they do- so read on and be prepared to get excited.

I think the toughest thing to convey to potential employees is what it’s REALLY like to work at the company underneath the all the glossy brochures and marketing speak on company websites. Atlassian do a great job at this with this amazing video on their website.


I like this because its real staff talking about what the values mean to them.

You also get a sense of what the working environment is going to be like, which is so important for someone deciding whether this is the place to be for them. Even the little things can be so important like:

• What is the culture really like? (Will I fit the culture here?)
• What do they wear to work? (Will I have to wear a suit or something I’m comfortable in?)
• What will my office space be like? (Do I work better in a closed office or am I comfortable in open plan?)
• What is the vibe at the office like? (Are they heads down and serious all the time or do they like to play games?)
• What are the people like there?
• What are the company values (and do my own values align with these?)
Ultimately a video like this will either make you excited about the prospect of working there, or cringe and think it’s not the place for me. No matter what the response, the individual and organisation get the most beneficial outcome.

Atlassian also have a lot of great incentives such as a ‘holiday before you start’, ‘refer-a-mate bonus’ and even a bounty hunter for recruiters. Which reminds me, they are on the look-out for 32 Engineers! Check their website out for more details.

Stay tuned and I’ll try and get one of the Atlassian crew to do a follow up post on the success of the campaign.


Filed under Recruitment, Talent Management

Tickets now available to the first HR Club Sydney Event

I am very pleased to have secured a venue for our very first HR Club Sydney event.


The event will commence at around 6pm on Monday 24th August at the Forrester’s Hotel, which is located on the Corner of Riley and Foveaux Streets in Surry Hills. We’ll be in the Cassata Bar on level Two. Please come along with your business cards and conversation hat; for what is sure to be an exciting night.

Places are limited, so please register early to avoid disappointment.

Grab your ticket here

Leave a comment

Filed under Events, Recruitment, Talent Management

Do you Google potential employees?

With the rise of sites like facebook, MySpace and twitter people are essentially creating a permanent digital footprint for themselves which is able to be viewed by almost anyone. In adjusting your privacy settings, you can protect some of your content but realistically it’s not that hard to view photos, videos and conversations between people, and there is no eraser on the internet.

What does this have to do with HR?

Many organisations are currently using the internet to find out more about their potential employees. Some companies are ‘googling’ their names, or trying to access their facebook or MySpace accounts.


If we think about anti-discrimination legislation in NSW for example, you cannot unfairly because of your sex, race, age, marital status; or if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, homosexual, disabled, transgender or a carer. You also can’t be discriminated against because of the company you keep including relatives, friends or work colleagues.

If employers are able to freely search for you on the web, they can find out about your personal relationships such as marital status (or in some cases if you are homosexual or transgender), they could look up where you live and your house via google maps, they could find out if you are pregnant via status updates on facebook or twitter and they can absolutely make judgements about the types of people you associate with. All of this fall under categories which employers can not discriminate against.

However, an article came out today (HT @trib) from Smart Company where Harmers Workplace Lawyers state that employers must be aware of legal obligations under the Privacy Act, and employee rights under the new Fair Work legislation, because “Whenever an employer or recruiter collects personal background information on a candidate, that action triggers a raft of legal obligations under the Privacy Act. Those obligations include that an employer must inform the candidate that they have gathered personal information as well as explain the purpose for which the information was gathered and to whom it may be disclosed.”

While we in HR want to know as much about a person before we hire them, we have to make a careful distinction between what information we need to make a judgement about their on-the-job performance. I’ve known quite a few people who had to pull down blogs and protect their updates on twitter because it was suggested to them when going for a promotion or new job.

Personally, I think my social media record indicates who I am and although I wouldn’t really place anything on there that I believe would impact upon my job prospects- at the same time I wouldn’t want to work somewhere that wouldn’t hire because I like to have fun on the weekends. In saying that, I guess employers could look you up without you even knowing.

What are your thoughts?

Leave a comment

Filed under Diversity/Bullying and Harassment, Recruitment

Er… what is Talent Management exactly?

Talent management is a concept that has been around for a while particularly in response to the ‘war for talent’. But what is it exactly?

Talent management is hard to define as the processes and what it involves can vary from organization to organization. For instance, research conducted by the Institute for Corporate Productivity asserts that more than 75 per cent of the companies they surveyed don’t have an agreed-upon definition of talent management (Galagan. 2008).

They do however go as far to state that ‘talent management concerns competencies- what employees should know and be able to do- and performance processes- how to leverage those competencies by putting them in the right parts of the organization, and then measuring their impact on real goals’ (Galagan. 2008). For this reason it is important to have processes which encapsulate talent management at each touch point for employees from recruitment to employee engagement strategies.

thumbs up

This means talent management strategies should be based around recruitment, leadership development, culture, succession planning, performance management, brand or the employee value proposition, learning, career development, remuneration, and employee engagement (Gilmore, 2008; Galagan, 2008; Ready, Hill, and Conger. 2008).

Linda Sharkey who is the Vice President of people development at HP summarizes talent management as ‘about having people at the top of their game and who are able to drive the performance of the company (Gilmore. 2008). More simply it’s about ‘getting the right people in the right place at the right time for the right cost’ (Galagan. 2008).

How does your organization define talent management and what strategies are you putting in place to retain your talent in the GFC?

Leave a comment

Filed under Career Development, Recruitment, Talent Management

Lessons from Air New Zealand- HR and Recruitment

I was reading “Vendor View: Kiwi invasion of the Australian recruitment market” on Destination Talent this morning and was reminded of the great things that Air New Zealand are doing in the HR/Recruitment space (I also travelled with them to Queenstown on the weekend!).

Simon Pommeroy is the Recruitment Manager of Air New Zealand and he’s won various awards for his recruitment campaigns and strategies, and has worked closely with CEO and the Board of Air New Zealand to bring about a complete change to the way Air New Zealand recruits everyone – from aeronautical engineers to customer service.

He believes that many channels of communication (rather than just job ads) are necessary and uses both old and new communicative tools such as web pages, twitter and career newsletters to attract candidates. I think at the moment many of us realise we need to move away from just posting our jobs on typical job boards but are unsure of how to do it. Air New Zealand is a great example.

The recruitment strategy also focusses on the future needs of Air New Zealand with a big publicity campaign targeting future engineering cadetships (via a competition – How Far Can Your Kids Make It Fly). This campaign brought world-wide publicity (and was only 10% of the cost of previous campaigns). Similarly their careers newsletter was cheap to set up and has thousands of subscribers world-wide. It’s attracted over 1,000 additional resume registrations for their jobs.

Finally the most fantastic thing I believe is the ‘Would Air New Zealand Suit Me’ questionnaire. This on-line assessment, has helped Air New Zealand attract individuals more suited to their highly competitive environment (which requires resilience as well as customer focus). The CEO has received letters from would-be-applicants saying how much the appreciated the questionnaire, because it has saved them time applying for what would have been an unsuitable position. They could see that the highly competitive environment of the airline industry wasn’t right for them. Simon believes the rejection management of applicants is very important, because applicants talk about their experiences with others.

You should absolutely check them out- very impressive.

They also have a rather funny ad out now- “Air New Zealand have nothing to hide”

Leave a comment

Filed under Recruitment