Recruiting For Diversity

It is about finding the perfect combination for everything to fall into place

Previously seen as a sop to do-gooders, diversity is now understood to be a key asset to a business by a lot of businesses. Others have not been as quick on the uptake of this understanding. If you prioritise the effectiveness of your organisation, it would be wise to pay heed to the facts.

Companies lacking diversity often fall into rote ways of thinking, treating the world as an already homogenised place, missing opportunities to grow and lacking understanding of different viewpoints.

When we talk about diversity we mean that a variety of ages, genders, abilities/disabilities, religions, ethnicities and sexual orientations are represented. Quite a few businesses still find it a struggle to imagine how these individuals may fit into their workplace.

To take this seriously, and be take seriously by your candidates, you must reckon with out-dated policies. Take religion, for example. Do you have a policy whereby those of differing faiths can take time off during the day, or during the year, in order to praise or respect their respective deities? If asked about this subject, can the hiring manager answer questions to ease any doubts that the candidates might have?

Diversity is not about ticking boxes. Diversity is about respect. Promoting inclusivity must lead from the job spec and job ad to the outreach to the interview and onboarding stages. Have you thought about the image your company projects within its commercials or website or literature?

Why go to the trouble, you ask? It is common knowledge that businesses with diverse workforces make better decisions and problem solve more efficiently. As the world becomes more diverse, the brain trust that comes with a diverse team cannot be underestimated. How much second-guessing does a business do? How many mistakes are made due to misunderstanding? How much of your resources have you poured into mistakes or fixing mistakes? Life doesn’t have to be that complicated.

Keeping a clear head and remaining focused on the important part of recruitment is paramount. Recruitment is subject to outside beliefs, which means it is not a sober and strategic mindset that is motivating the hiring decisions, but one of emotion and stereotyping.

The way to counter this is two-fold:

  1. Expertise. Engaging with a Specialist Recruitment Partner is important. They can guide you. Being from outside the business means that they can objectively assess the needs of the business and identify blind spots that those who have been within the company for a while cannot see. All you need to do it make your recruitment partner aware of the plan you have and they will be able to build diverse teams. But before you do that, you must understand…
  2. Data. Do you know what your current ratios are? How can you begin to tackle a problem if you do not know exactly how bad the problem is? HR need to be set the task of reporting back your diversity in order for you to assess and plan how you will improve.

Businesses that pride themselves on keeping that competitive edge need to embrace diversity. Enlarging the skillset of a business by exploiting the varied experiences of a diverse team means innovative ideas are brought to the forefront, cultural understandings are greater and adaptability is improved. When working with a business that is clearly committed to reflecting all walks of life, employees there are happier and more secure in themselves. And isn’t that what everyone wants?

Curious about how Zenshin Talent can help your organisation? Contact us today for a no-strings conversation about your needs and our experience.

Recruitment: Opportunity & Upskilling

Encourage upskilling to make sure your employees can climb the ladder

Whilst the role of the recruiter has always been viewed as one of seeking out and selecting candidates with the requisite hard skills needed for the role they are tasked with filling, it should now also be seen as the job of ascertaining which candidates have the requisite soft skills that aid in their interpersonal communications and problem-solving.

This is essential now that working from home has become normalised, in the wake of Covid-19. Teams need to communicate better and managers need to be able to get to the bottom of problems at a distance from their workforce. Productivity suffers otherwise.

The skills shortage is not just within the hard skills, it is within soft skills too and upper echelon management are rightly concerned about it. If you are desperately seeking the right candidate to unlock your data project and, try as you might, you cannot find one, or find one who will commit to your company, you don’t have many options open to you. The C-Suite knows this and that is why around 80% of CEOs are stressing about it.

Offering opportunities and guarantees of upskilling to prospective candidates is one way to win them over from a competitor’s offer. Soft skills have now come to the fore more than they have in the recent past and the impetus is on the honing of them, in order to prepare the workforce for the next steps in their careers.

Invention, intuition, innovation and ingenuity are major factors in the rising need for upskilling. Whereas the C-suite used to view these attributes with indifference, with a pandemic that has not yet ended, the benefits to a company’s health of collaboration and communication are now seen as important. With that comes the desire to upskill the workforce.

Jobs that revolve around the understanding of technology and a need for highly technical skills, are no longer immune to the need for personal skills too. As projects grow larger and more complex, so do the teams, which means that they must operate like well-oiled machines.

On top of all of this, the teams may be working at locations in different cities, or even different continents, which means that communication breakdowns will hugely inhibit a productive working environment. Empathy must be present in those who are working in that environment.

Upskilling is already having an impact on recruitment. Businesses are already starting to focus on whether a candidate has advanced organisational skills, is friendly, thrives in difficult situations. Yes, these are always on job specs, but now there seems to be a move towards profiles that display this information as equal to the hard skills that are required.

Leadership qualities, emotional intelligence and resilience are two other major soft skills needed to take these businesses into the future and that also applies to current managers. Covid-19 has exposed a soft skills gap within management, which needs to be filled quickly before it becomes a real detriment to firms. The more diverse a company becomes, the more management need to upskill to understand where employees are coming from.

A programme of upskilling within a company not only strengthens the workers but it strengthens the company. Employees who have been encouraged and helped to upskill are much more likely to respect that company and to stay with that company. While upskilling costs money, it saves money in the long run. Lower turnover, in turn, saves time and money on constantly on-boarding staff. Upskilling builds confidence and leads to heightened productivity too.

The paranoia that the C-suite execs have that they are just spending money to train the next company’s workforce must end. There is no evidence that that ever happens. Workers want to feel valued and respected and upskilling is a way both parties can win.

Curious about how Zenshin Talent can help your organisation? Contact us today for a no-strings conversation about your needs and our experience.

6 Skills You Need As A Data Scientist

The Magnificent Six

Data Science has become a very competitive field in the past few years and this year it seems that that competitiveness has reached a peak. As we know the job market has flipped to being candidate-led, and really specialised roles like that of Data Scientist are a struggle to fill.

There are a lot of candidates leaving universities with a good amount of skills but those who are most in demand have a little bit more experience under their belts and a skillset made up of seemingly disparate elements which make sense within the context of the jobs on the market.

Not only do they need to become data experts but there is also a need for them to develop development skills too. To remain competitive you should look at the following:

Cloud

Speeding up the processing on projects is a really important element of the team working cohesively. ML and its lack of proficient industrialisation can hold back data scientists. They must work together with the IT team to ensure that the cloud is optimised and the computing rates are as fast as possible. Moving the correct parts to the cloud aids in the ability for team members to work from distance, without losing the advantage that virtual servers provide.

Agile

If you aren’t already using Agile as an organisational method, you are behind a lot of teams who swear by it. It is a non-hierarchical system allowing companies to be more flexible to changes in their market. Customer-centric, it revolves around fast cycles, opens comms and autonomous teams. As more Data Scientist/ML Engineers emerge, the changing machine learning side within codebases requires agility of organisation, enabling continuous and smooth implementation.

Github

This software makes it easier to collaborate with many developers working on the same project. Data Science becoming heavier on the development side means that something like Git starts to become a prerequisite on job specs. Whilst it is likely that you will have started using it on your own when you start training on it, it is necessary to use it with other experienced users to demonstrate that you can use it in real dev scenarios.

Teamwork, Communication and an understanding of Business

Ascertaining which problems are the most important to solve in terms of business goals in the company in which you work is a really important skill, as well as finding new ways to exploit the data you already have or can gain access to.

The higher-ups within the business will need the extremely techy information to be translated so it is  easy-to-understand, so that the info can be disseminated throughout the company to departments such as sales or marketing. This is a particular skill it is very handy for data professionals.

Data science is not usually a solitary life, as all parts of the team must work together to make the data digestible, the data is coming from other parts of the business and the results are being sent to other departments, and that is before you factor in customers. You must be a team player for it to work well.

Curious about how Zenshin Talent can help your organisation? Contact us today for a no-strings conversation about your needs and our experience.

Hiring On Potential

You can do worse than focus on those looking to rise

How can you recruit leading Data Talent faster and more effectively than your competitors? Well, there are many ways and schools of thought regarding it, but one of the major factors, and it is one that many companies talk about but rarely back up with action, is hiring exciting talent by assessing the talent’s potential.

Recruiting in this way is initially difficult if you lack experience in it, and it is understandable why you would lack experience in it, as it is very much a ‘chicken and the egg’ situation: how can you start doing this, if you haven’t started doing it. In short, how can you prove it works, without taking the risk in the first place?

Recent research has highlighted that companies still favour academic excellence over potential, with over half of businesses polled stating they were looking for prospects with the skills already in place. Seeking the ‘ready-made’ candidates ignores potential. It ignores those who can and will get there.

Using the academic angles can exclude those outside of the highest socio-economic classes and those looking to move further up the career ladder. Cognitive ability is also an area that can trip businesses up, as that only works when the individual is measured against specific roles plus it is not always an indicator of success, just of measurability.

Intelligence is not intelligence. It is also made up of many factors, such as reason, verbal skills and memory, amongst others, so unless you are unleashing a whole suite of tests on a candidate, the confidence you have in ‘cognitive ability’ is not the answer to your problems.

You should never discount candidates for their lack of experience, but rather, grow your business with those who have the right mindset, enthusiasm and foundations. The reward for giving them the commercial exposure is that you are on at the ground-floor with a candidate that others may have discounted for the same reasons you originally did. Google took this approach when building their teams and have reaped the rewards since.

Recruitment processes that you have in place must take into account the whole gamut of behaviours the prospects can exhibit. Potential is major and goes hand-in-hand with values, soft skills and hard skills.

Many more companies are now working with Data which is creating a massive skill shortage in the marketplace for top tier candidates. By having the foresight and employing the skills to find the best of those at the early part of their career, you give them the opportunity to grow with the company. Yes, it is easier on paper to employ the candidates that everyone else is looking for but you will avoid the fight for the ‘unicorn’ candidates and the rewards in terms of saved time and saved money should not be ignored.

There are also a number of candidates from different technology backgrounds who have subsequently moved into typically Data Science focused roles. Whilst some of these individuals may be very good, a large portion of these do not have the core fundamentals to deliver cutting-edge Data Science related projects.

Gaining online certifications in Machine Learning without having the strength or qualifications or working experience of, say, Data Science, Statistical Modelling, Python etc. leaves you with candidates who, on paper, seem well-matched to the role but will reveal knowledge gaps once hired.

As the job market becomes more and more candidate-driven, and specialised candidates become harder and harder to find, and once found, harder to tempt to your company, you must engage a specialist recruitment partner who has the experience and knowledge to find the hidden gem candidates who are not yet on the market, and that includes the fully-formed and the ones with the right potential. You must be open to the possibilities for the future, if growth is your goal.

Curious about how Zenshin Talent can help your organisation? Contact us today for a no-strings conversation about your needs and our experience.

Don’t Disrespect Your Candidates

Treat every candidate with respect to get the best out of them

Since the hiring market has transformed from being a buyer’s market to a seller’s market, leaving candidates in the driving seat, it has exposed how some companies and organisations treated their prospects prior to the change.

Obviously, there have been bad apples who have treated their candidates terribly. We often see those brutal rejection emails going viral, but we are talking about a much more sedate kind of disrespect, a one that organisations do without realising.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed how interviews happen and, even during these testing times, disrespect has seeped through. Take video interviews, for example. If you were on the receiving end of a video interview, you would want those who are conducting it to be understanding of your circumstances. You would want them to put you at ease. You would want them to show respect. You would want them to give you their full attention. So why are some interviewers checking their emails while they interview? Or perhaps they have the webcam positioned in such a way where it is pointing upwards, up their nose, or at the top of their head, hindering any feeling of eye contact. If your laptop is not working properly, get IT to fix it before you do these interviews.

This blasé attitude towards interviews goes hand-in-hand with a lack of understanding of the commitment that the company is asking of the individual they are hiring. The position that the prospect should be glad we are offering them the job does not sit well with most people. Never forget that you are asking for a life changing career move. This will be a 3-4 year commitment, at the very least, if it is a permanent role.

Where will they live? Can they buy a house? Are these the types of questions you have even given the first thought to? Probably not, because you think it is not part of your job to imagine the life of a possible future employee, but it is. If you cannot empathise, the likelihood is that the candidate will not feel a connection to you or your business.

With meetings and interviews and phone chats and tests, the candidate has a lot to schedule in and one might imagine that you think because they are probably working from home that they have all the time in the world and are free at any time. But what has been your experience of WFH? You’ve probably been working more, haven’t you? So why would their life be any different?

One of the best ways to show some respect is in trying to trim down the process. This doesn’t mean one interview and done, even though some companies have their processes refined to the point where they can do that. We mean you cut any unnecessary interviewers from the interviews if they do not bring anything important to the table. Or you double up. Or you deep dive into the CVs to make sure only the truly hireable prospects go through to the next round. And quit waiting for that perfect ‘golden’ candidate that you imagine is out there somewhere but is not anywhere within the resumes you have received. If they’ve gotten this far, they must have something going for them. It is your job to find out more.

Scaring off perfectly good candidates is not on anyone’s agenda, yet it is still happening. Of course you want to be sure but refining the stages will help. Understanding what a big deal interviews are, even if you conduct them day-in, day-out, is integral to getting the best hires. Don’t become jaded. Approach every candidate like they are a human being and they will treat you like a human being in return.

Curious about how Zenshin Talent can help your organisation? Contact us today for a no-strings conversation about your needs and our experience.

Are Recruiters Happy?

The well-being of your recruiters is the stress test of your company

Are your recruiters happy? Talent drives success. It is as simple as that. Without it, all the will in the world cannot make a business a success. Without recruiters, whether inhouse, generalist or partnership, that talent cannot be found. When it really clicks, it is the best feeling in the world.

With all of talk about and drive toward AI-augmented recruitment, what is missing from the conversation is the human side. The things that motivate dedicated recruiters to go that extra mile to find that perfect candidate. It cannot be created as an algorithm.

With long-term recruiters and those new to the industry, there are common areas of frustration when it comes to careers within the industry. Some are common in most industries but sometimes there is a perfect storm of factors within recruiting which leads to dysfunction.

Failures in communication can damage morale far beyond the obvious. Misunderstandings can pile up if they are not addressed. Paranoia can creep in that they are being left out of the loop on purpose. This can breed resentment which affects the day-to-day operation.

Constantly changing schedules, admin problems, high pressure contracts and the ‘groundhog day’ nature of constantly having similar or the same conversations can put pressure on mental health.

If a recruiter isn’t looking after themselves, how can they look after the best interests of the client? In purely business terms, it makes sense to look after your recruiters, let alone the moral imperative to support your team and make sure everyone is okay. Stressed and distracted recruiters are not going to perform at their best, so why exacerbate the situation?

If you are hiring a recruitment firm to help find great candidates, are you checking that they have suitable structures in place to find said candidates? Are they over-promising to get the contract and leaving their recruiters to pick up the pieces on sometimes unachievable tasks? Contingency recruiters can sometimes do this as they do not get paid at all if they do not supply the candidate who secures the job.

One of the things the recruitment firm can do is to offer training and support. This can be in courses to help them deal with demanding clients or to upskill to rise to the level they want to be at. Recognising achievements is also a great, simple way to boost how someone is feeling. Self-care and taking holidays that they are owed will help mental well-being too.

The simplest thing recruiters can do for themselves, is to ask themselves: why am I a recruiter? They may want to write a ‘Pros’ and ‘Cons’ list because there is no point remaining in a role you are not sure about. If there are doubts, these should be communicated. 46 percent of recruiters who were recently surveyed admitted that they don’t communicate their feelings or needs when it comes to their job and that is pretty surprising. A conversation needs to start and management must demonstrate that they are willing to listen, understand and act.

Nurturing recruiters has a knock-on effect to the client. When a recruiter feels truly connected to their company, they go out into the world and connect meaningfully with candidates and can really connect those candidates with your clients. It is a false economy to constantly push staff to work harder and harder when the point of recruiting is connecting human beings. Without that human element, it may as well be machines that are doing the work, and we all know how that can go badly wrong, especially for recruitment.

What a business, any business, should not lose track of is the fact that people are much more important than the processes you have put in place. If something isn’t working, it is likely that it is the process that needs to change rather than all of the people involved.

Ultimately, this is a people business and people do not excel if they are put under excessive pressure and not appreciated. So if you want your people business to thrive, help the people in the business thrive.

Curious about how Zenshin Talent can help your organisation? Contact us today for a no-strings conversation about your needs and our experience.