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 How to apply to a headhunter?

Article contributor: Dietmar Eis | PersonalAG® | IPTER member, Bielefeld, Germany

The headhunter is the liaison between the client company and the candidate. He often works for his clients on a long-term basis and knows the decision-makers, the company internals and the corporate and management culture. Therefore, he or she can quickly assess whether the applicant fits the job posting based on the applicant documents sent to him or her.

In over ten years of working as a recruiter, I have had the privilege of reading and evaluating hundreds of resumes. In my opinion, applicants should keep the following in mind:

The application to the headhunter should consist of three components: the letter of motivation, the CV and work references.

a) Cover letter / motivational letter

The cover letter is not mandatory, as the most important information should be listed in the resume. However, it is important for the headhunter to know the applicant’s desired salary or salary range in order to clarify whether these are compatible with the job offer. Furthermore, information about the availability/termination period and the motivation to change, why this company in particular should be considered as a future employer, should not be missing. The applicant should ask himself how close the position is to his ideal. Only if the position offered is identical to the ideal position should he or she apply and invest time and effort in the application process.

b) Resume/CV

The curriculum vitae should imperatively contain: Address, date of birth, photo, marital status, professional experience, education, language skills, computer skills, further education, private commitment and interests. A list of self-evident facts should be avoided. A curriculum vitae should be without gaps. If there are gaps, they should be explained. The most recent work experience or education should be placed at the beginning.

The resume should have page numbering and contact information in the footer.

For the stages in the professional life, the activities performed, the area of responsibility and competencies should be mentioned and furthermore with which results/successes the positions were filled and which measures and, in the case of managers, which management style were used, e.g.

  • Sales manager: Sales increases through introduction of new products, contribution margin increases, number of employees,
  • Purchase manager: price reductions achieved, out of stock decisively reduced, quality improved through supplier audits
  • Production manager: error rate reduced, set-up times shortened, sick days reduced

c) Work references
The job references can once again complement the CV, describe the activities in more detail and describe the personality and work behavior.

The resume should be sent to the headhunter as a Word document or editable PDF. He will not simply forward the documents to his client, but will edit them.

With a meaningful resume, the recruiter will quickly be able to get a qualified overall picture of the candidate and the next step of an in-depth phone call and/or an online interview will definitely follow. After that, the headhunter converts the documents and impressions sent to him into a comparable format and presents the candidate to his client. That’s the goal!

The advantage for the applicants is that it is not an unsolicited application but the client of the headhunter is really looking for competent staff and due to the pre-selection of the experienced headhunter the requirement profiles of the presented candidates are easily comparable for the client so that for the client and the applicant the interviews are crowned with high chances of success.

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Inclusion is a choreographed team dance

Author: Liisa Tapanainen | Senior Consultant of Talente Consulting |IPTER Finland

There is a clear need to increase inclusion in organizations and there are studies which show that teams who practice diversity and inclusion in action are the most successful. As diversity and inclusion go hand in hand, we need both diversity and inclusion to get different perspectives, to learn from each other, to solve problems together and to understand customer behavior. Our customers are all over the world today and to understand the global customer needs, companies need to have people with different cultural backgrounds, people who can communicate accordingly, and can solve problems effectively. The same solution may not work for all clients and in all cultures, and we might need to communicate differently with our clients in different markets. We can also see, and we definitely want to learn, how some industries have successfully solved problems and are serving customers in a way, that could easily be applied to other industries with a twist.

Many companies have already included diversity in their HR strategy, and they are “ticking the box” for these factors in recruitment: age, gender, ethnicity, religion, cultural background, disability etc. But should diversity be seen much broader, to include knowledge from different industries, educational background and different personality in teams. The recruiting strategy plays an important role in creating diversity, but it is not enough if the company culture is not accepting and valuing this through action. People will not stay with the company if they do not feel safe, accepted and valued.

According to Verna Myers, “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance” highlights the acceptance and inclusion in the team.

Inclusion is challenging as it requires creation of psychological safety in the whole organization, where diverse views can be expressed freely, without fear. Celebrating the differences; encouraging open communication; valuing unique perspectives and ideas; and understanding the
value of those quite difficult discussions where you are challenged. We do not always have a full understanding of why other people think the way they do, but as long as we respect their thoughts and are open for dialogue, there is an opportunity to learn and create something new together.

Top performing individuals do not create success alone. It is all about teamwork, and how well we collaborate with each other. Let’s invite diversity for a team dance! The steps may change all the time, but if we learn to listen to our dance partners, understand their different perspectives (and live in action that none are “stupid”), we move to inclusion. We start to create success together, a new choreography which we would never have been able to create alone.

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Recruitment – why sifting CVs is a waste of time and rarely finds the best candidates

Author: Nik Plevan | Founder and CEO of eTalent |IPTER Scotland

In a sales meeting recently, I met a very capable and professional HR manager of a local further education college, let’s call him Mr Smith. My intention was to promote our eTalent recruitment screening system which helps companies select the most suitable people for interview by automatically generating a ranked candidate short-list using a psychometric assessment.

Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that I was unlikely to make a sale that day. Mr Smith explained that he was in the process of introducing what sounded like an “all singing and dancing” recruitment system with all sorts of sexy features, some of which I could only dream about!  Apparently, applicants’ details and CVs are stored centrally by this system, not just for this college, but for several others in the local area.  Then, when a vacancy presents itself, the HR manager selects relevant “keywords” that he wants to see in the CV and – hey presto! – the system automatically produces a shortlist of candidates who meet the criteria, ranked in order of best fit.

Doesn’t that sound great?

Well, yes it does, apart from one problem: it doesn’t work very well. Let me explain.

Mr Smith gave me an example of how well the system worked. Apparently he had recently filled a vacancy for an admin post using this very system. He identified the skills and experience he needed from the perfect applicant, produced his “keywords” and the system duly produced a ranked short-list. He then invited the top five short-listed candidates for interview and spent a minimum of one hour with each of them.

At the end of the process, he had made his decision, but that person was the least suitable according to his system. It seems that the others were either not very personable, or their skills had been over-stated in their CVs, or they had turned out to be unsuitable in some other way. Frustratingly, one of the other candidates, also unsuitable for other reasons, actually turned out to live too far away and would not have taken the job had it been offered to her.

So I asked him whether he was happy with the way the system had performed.

“Oh, yes,” he said, “the way the system was able to search through thousands of CVs and identify those with the skills I needed was just fantastic. And I can even compare two candidates by simply dragging and dropping their records on the screen. It’s just brilliant! And…”

“Yes, I can see how clever it is, and some of those features are just mind-blowing, aren’t they” I replied. “But, tell me, what was it that made you choose the particular candidate that actually got the job?”

“Ah, she was very good. She has most of the skills we are looking for. A good knowledge of Microsoft Office is a must for us, and we also use Microsoft Project quite frequently, so that’s essential too, but it was the way she behaved during the interview that clinched it.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, we really need people who don’t get flustered and can cope with juggling several balls in the air at the same time – she’ll have to work for a team of people and cope with the conflicting demands of several members of staff will be tricky. But she’ll also have to deal with the public so she has to be friendly and approachable too. And then there’s the preparation of the monthly reports – lots of figures, tables, graphs – we can’t afford to get those wrong when we present them to the management committee!”

“Yes, yes, I can see that. Does your system have any way of identifying the soft skills of applicants? I mean, from what you say, the right set of soft skills seems to be an absolute must in this job.”

“Ehrr, no, it doesn’t.”

“But, in any case, she has all the hard skills you needed, so at least you can be safe knowing that she’ll be able to handle all the IT stuff without getting into difficulties.”

Mr Smith was beginning to look less pleased with his system.

“Well, actually, no. She’s the perfect candidate for the job alright, but her knowledge of Microsoft Project isn’t very good, so we’re sending her on a course next week.”

“I see” I said. Not seeing at all to be honest, and neither did he.

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10 Tips to Onboard a Team for Virtual Work

Author: Diana Blazaitiene | Owner of Soprana International Personnel |IPTER Lithunia

Productivity, commitment, and retention are all boosted by an innovative onboarding program for the online team. With the lack of workplace visits, staff drinks, gift cards, and encounters with new colleagues, managers must find ways to make recruits feel comfortable and enthusiastic. As many organizations are trying to figure out how to build a virtual onboarding program, we came up with the 10 best strategies that could improve the welcoming process of new employees even when they have not had an opportunity to meet management in person.

As new hires begin working online with a team, the company requires creative and inventive approaches to prepare and integrate them. It’s critical to ensure that the systems are well-organized when bringing on new hires and to keep all paperwork up to date, but it’s especially important when training remote staff.

  1.  Make sure to adjust your orientation and training plan

Develop your data flow so that you provide the most important information to your recruit right away, but don’t confuse them by revealing it all at once. Note that you should gradually provide them details over their first few weeks at your company. You must establish a coordinated procedure to onboard a virtual worker, even more so than for traditional in-person training. This is true not only for the workers’ first day of work but also for any precheck or continuing events you arrange for them.

  1. Encourage workers to communicate and ask questions

Traditionally, a boss will swing by a new hire’s desk regularly to check how the process is going. Executives today instead communicate with their employees via email, text, and web conferencing. No matter how you’re connecting with new staff, the interpersonal aspect of communication should be addressed. Humans feel uncomfortable in unfamiliar circumstances. A recruit will experience the same insecurity as a student experiencing a new school change might, asking: “How can I build relationships when all these people have already known each other for a long time?” A successful onboarding system will calm nerves and assure fears.

  1. Build a connection with new workers before onboarding

Managers should meet with recruits often from the moment they agree to their job offer.  Companies should consider increasing the pace of these interactions as we transition to online training, build comprehensive plans, and attempt to be as simple and clear in communication as possible to prepare employees for the actual onboarding sessions.

  1. First day = First video

So far, the closest option to a real-life meeting is a video conference. So, the best solution is to use simultaneous video conferencing for first-day training so there can be plenty of time for questions and multiple contacts. Always remember to schedule regular breaks. Since you won’t be in the same physical environment as the recruits, it’ll be more difficult to detect facial signals that indicate when they’re about to gloss over or need to get a coffee to refresh and reset.

  1. Provide workers with all needed equipment and software in advance

If your company provides employee’s laptops or other devices for work, be prepared to ship them to their homes and provide instructions on how to install all needed programs ahead of time. Also, prepare in advance all credentials and logins, so everyone would be able to connect to the company’s system even before the first day of onboarding. By doing this you can save the time of installing the software and go directly to training.

  1. Keep workers engaged and check how are they feeling during the meeting

“Zoom exhaustion” is real.  It’s the effect after extensively being on online platforms.  We need to quickly realize what we as employers, will have to do to maintain employees are involved in the process of onboarding. It is easy to lose attention during long online meetings and especially depending on the number of distractions that we have around us. As a manager, try to ask questions frequently to check on workers and prepare some additional time for unexpected “recharge” breaks.

  1. Promote the company’s values

A good organization must have a community founded around a collection of deeply held and commonly expressed values backed up by policy and framework. Three incidents occur when a firm’s culture is established: Workers are informed of how senior leadership expects them to behave in any case, they accept that the expected response is the correct one, and they are aware that upholding the organization’s principles is respected.

  1. Create a checklist

Through the first period of working, all recruits should be given a checklist of activities to accomplish at their own rate. Those tasks are filled with background data that will give them a comprehensive understanding of a company, namely details on the website, various divisions, and the firm’s background.

  1. Establish a Buddy program

A Buddy is a knowledgeable and committed group member who is well-versed in the workplace setting. They can devote time, be available, and collaborate with and support the new hire during their first few months of employment.

To give an additional layer of peer reinforcement and support to incoming workers, you may consider connecting all of the recruits with a current employee volunteer, possibly from a separate team or department. Colleague/Buddies will help recruits with non-position-related cultural issues, like taking them on a facility tour, presenting them to other workers and so much more!

  1. Help teams organize online coffee breaks

Since new hires won’t be visiting the workplace or greeting people in person due to online onboarding, look for other ways to recreate that experience. Ask recruiting leaders to put together a list of individuals for whom a new employee may have simulated coffee chats. This usually covers their entire staff and any cross-functional colleagues they may interact with daily. Employees can have a virtual coffee meeting and a friendly conversation with other incoming workers or the ones who already have been working for some time. This activity boosts team spirit as well as helps new hires adjust to the working environment faster.

Although online onboarding is a new concept for the majority of businesses, some well-known firms, such as Dell and Marriott, have been doing it for years and have figured out their paths to growth. Developing an interactive onboarding template helps you prepare every phase of the training and gives new virtual workers special moments. Participation, acquisition, and talent management will all improve for companies that master their onboarding process. Engaging the staff to go above and beyond to make recruits feel accepted and respected is almost a guarantee to transform each new hire into active business representatives.

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Lazy or outdated interviewing – is that you?

Author: Dan McKeown | Managing Partner of Venture Recruitment |IPTER Ireland

Most successful companies will accept the statement: “Your people are your most important asset.”

The better ones will then try and act on that statement by implementing best practice into talent attraction, employee development, staff wellbeing, benefits and flexible working conditions. Attracting the best talent you can is not an easy proposition. It takes the most-difficult to attain aspect of business – consistency!

Consistency in delivering all of the above human resource elements to your current staff, partnering with the right recruitment professionals and H.R consultants while delivering that consistent message of who you are, what you stand for, what your best at, and where you wish to be in the future, to any prospective employees.

Like I said, no mean feat…

You will need to engage your target candidates across a range of media; keep working on your branding and advertise vacancies with details including description of your company culture, team focuses and vision for the future. Once you have attracted potentially appropriate candidates, then begins the dreaded interview process! Only dreaded if your business has no plan or preparation in place.

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Before interviews take place, the business needs to think about and make decisions on the following:

  • Who will conduct the interviews at various stages, and why?
  • Have they received training on conducting a positive and engaging discovery-based interview?
  •  Have they received training on subconscious bias?
  • How do you want the interview to flow – who will ask what and when?
  • Do they need any tools to interview the candidates and have they received training on those?
  • What format will the interviews take place in – office, video, phone – and why?
  • How long should the process ideally take?
  • Who will deliver feedback to candidates and when?
  • Have you received sign off on remuneration and is there scope for negotiation?

Once interview training incorporating these elements takes place it gives the interviewers more confidence in the process; it allows them more freedom to make decisions instead of procrastinating; and it gives a positive and professional impression to the candidates.

Remember – Interviewing is a two-way street. Candidates must like what they hear and how it is delivered as much as you, the employer. This is even more at stake in the current race for talent in many qualified fields.

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Is it recruitment, executive search, personnel management, or talent acquisition? Why does it keep changing and what does it mean?

Article contributor: Casey Gilfillan | AMS Practice Managements | IPTER member, Boston, USA

The center of excellence of recruitment has evolved over time. Executive search and recruitment are terms that are familiar to individuals outside the industry but they do not provide justice to the work that our teams put into projects on a daily basis. The reason for the evolution to talent acquisition or people finder is because our scope of work goes far beyond the applicant, it goes into the chase and reward for finding the right individual for the right team.

I have been a practitioner in the recruitment space since 2004. I did not know then that there were layers outside of the world (or realm) of recruitment. When I began my career I was a full-cycle recruiter; in my day to day I reviewed applications and brought those applicants into the process of recruitment. As I grew in this role, I recognized the need to go beyond applications for certain markets and began conducting cold calls. This was my first exposure to talent research. This exercise was not frequent because of the company’s brand recognition. I realized that the coaching and feedback relationship with my hiring managers (that diplomacy is a talent in and of itself) and the researching for candidates was the connections that meant the most to me. It is not just a search or a candidate, it is the foundation built on a connection that will create a successful assimilation for both parties.

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What I am now is a talent scout, an entrepreneur and a relationship builder. We are the unicorn chaser. I am searching and researching through the depths of networking and social media sites to find that gem, the one that no one else could find. It is some of the most rewarding work because we are impacting multiple lives in each placement. Our world gets that much bigger each time we connect with a client or candidate and my partners at IPTER have allowed that world to grow exponentially with cross-border collaboration. So when someone in talent acquisition provides alternatives when you say recruiter, personnel management or executive search, the work being done behind the scenes far exceeds the transaction those labels imply.

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