Blog by Martin Blythe: My Journey to a Job Management System
It’s January 2004, having failed quite spectacularly to be a superstar DJ over in the Balearic Isles I excitedly started my new career as a Recruitment Consultant in the southern suburbs of Manchester, Cheadle Hulme to be precise. As a Wirral ex-pat I slotted in very well, just up the M56, close enough to get back for the game on a Saturday at Prenton Park but far enough away for it to feel like my next big adventure. I think it’s fair to say I was probably a little different to the usual newbie, firstly I was 28 years old, this made me a dinosaur in my office compared to the young twenty somethings. Secondly I actively moved my life from Mallorca back to the UK to forge a career in recruitment. I didn’t fall into it, I actively researched the type of role that would suit me, after all I was approaching 30. I was in danger of missing the boat career wise, it had to be the right move. But most importantly and lastly, I combined both a sales outlook with an organised ethos driven by a reluctance to dismiss, the latter which is the point of this blog – not one single person in recruitment, whether agency or client side, has an excuse not to be organised. Technology has solved this issue – or it should have done. If you haven’t implemented a Job Management System yet – what are you waiting for!
I had to learn quickly, I had approximately 7 years since my graduation to make up – I used to refer to these years as lost years, it’s only later in life I realised these were probably the most formative years. What was to be my trick, how could I steal a march and catch up lost yardage? I didn’t know it at the time but it was all about storing everything. Any little piece of information I gathered from candidates, clients, from my market – I documented. I documented in an orderly fashion, I made notes primarily in notebooks, training folders, diaries – NOTHING could be removed from my desk. The cleaner had to be bribed to stay away from my desk– absolutely nothing was to be touched. The scraps of post-it notes, illegible scribbles on the mouse-mat and hieroglyphics on the CV's all meant something. Something important – how important only time would tell.
Old-school Job Management System: My Manilla Folders
The Pièce De Résistance of all of this were the infamous manilla folders that I used to store at the back of the office - that was my old school job management system. Again the admin team had to be begged not to remove this ever growing collection of Job Roles and CV's that were starting to build up over time. These folders were not just full of qualified CV's, they were full of characters, personalities & intricacies about people’s lives & career aspirations that without adequate storage, would be lost forever. These folders were the first port of call when that call would come in asking for the dreaded ColdFusion Developer (these people were not easy to find, even in 2004!) with Agency experience based in Skipton. But as luck would have it, I remember working a role in Keighley not so long ago that was almost identical – well it was looking for ColdFusion so close enough (okay so it turns out it was 2 years ago – time flies in recruitment!) – "what was the name of that company"? It’s time to trawl through the archive and then there you have it, it was like finding buried treasure! In that particular folder were at least 20 CV's, all fully qualified with my doodles and notes that didn’t make too much sense to anyone else but triggered the conversations in my memory. In that folder contained the pure efforts that had gone into building the shortlist, the late night phones calls, the polite introductions followed by the ever increasingly warm banter that that predictably follows when you’re engaging a potential fit for a role you’ve been breaking your balls to fill! The banter may be predictable but it’s not fake – you are on this journey together and yes, as a recruiter it’s all about the money – but you know what, when the money becomes secondary and the relationship becomes your primary focus guess what? The money looks after itself, as does your own mental well being – nothing beats job satisfaction, and that trusty pile of old folders has just saved me days if not weeks of work which can only be beneficial to the client.
When you work a role, whether it be in 2004 or 2018, you build a lot of collateral along the way and this is the same client side as well as agency. I’ve lost count of the amount of times as a Recruiter I would qualify candidates who had been put forward 18 months / 2 years ago, maybe interviewed, sometimes even offered but for whatever reason offers weren’t accepted. How is it possible that this could happen, so often and within major organisations that have a job management system in place or at least a team in place that should ensure this doesn’t happen? Well, I think the reason is quite simple – wrongly the majority of companies and agencies focus on the present. Who is available now? What are they currently doing? Why are they looking? It’s all good and well but there is one major problem with this – everyone is doing exactly the same thing – I mean everyone! If you turned around to me and said you have one week to fill a React Role, you can either have access to all the job boards, CV Searching, LinkedIn license and £1K worth of Indeed PPC… or... a Manilla folder from 2 years ago that has 20 people in there who are qualified or have shown an interest in a React role, I know what I would rather take, the manilla folder hands down.
Not only do you have probably 1 months worth of blood sweat and tears on those qualification sheets, you also have £1000’s worth of advertising budget that has already been spent. Hopefully, you will have left any unsuccessful candidates with a positive feeling about you and your company the first time around, making it even easier to make the reintroduction. You will also have at your disposal hindsight – you can see what the candidate has achieved in the last two years. How they have progressed, within tech, their role and from a remuneration point of view. You will also be able to see whether there are any trends that have come out from the last recruitment campaign. i.e. have certain companies expanded their teams, are certain companies losing their staff, what is your competition paying, what are their benefits etc. The great news for you all is that you no longer need a manilla folder, you either need to invest in a new Job Management System or use your existing one better.
JobHoller: The New Improved Job Management System
When we set out to build the JobHoller platform almost 4 years ago there was one key attribute that was the main focus of our attention. This product needed to be able to allow it’s user to not only segment and bring it’s data alive, but we wanted the product to "talk" to the user. We wanted to give the manilla folder a voice! I mean, how cool would it be if when you pushed a job live your technology would hold data about similar jobs that you have recruited for previously, and that could alert you to any candidates that were once forwarded by agencies but now are past their introductory period and in essence are available to hire fee free? Very cool – and something not only will your FD love, but your hiring managers. You can give yourself the chance to get that quick win before going to market and instructing your PSL or internal marketing team to advertise.
JobHoller is just one of many products now available to assist you when recruiting internally, many of the products are free or available at a minimum cost from £2.50 per user per month so there really is no excuse not to invest, however, most of these products will focus on the candidate journey, onboarding process or GDPR compliancy as a major part of their marketing. All are extremely important but please just ensure the Job Management piece of the jigsaw is user friendly, and can store and communicate the data relevant to you in a user friendly manner. Can you easily share talent pools internally and can you differentiate agency from direct candidates, LinkedIn from Indeed applications and most importantly the potential from the poor?
So there you have it. The modern day ATS, Candidate Management System, HR Portal – whatever you like to call it – this was my BETA version, some would argue better version but I can vouch for the fact that it has a shelf life – especially in this day and age of GDPR but memories get weaker as the body gets older, people move on and their knowledge moves with them – this system as brilliant as it was needed tech to modernise it.