We sat down with John Fleischauer, Chief Operating Officer at staffing and recruiting agency Pivot and Edge, to pick his brains on his approach to the changing recruitment landscape.
Diving into the challenges of a competitive industry, John shares with us how he helps businesses harness the power of their employer brand to attract top talent, whilst ensuring a rich and educational environment for his staff.
How would you describe your culture and what that means for the service you offer?
We’re a small and evolving team working towards two key company mottoes "progress, not perfection" and "don't shift garbage." We focus on doing the little things right, whilst having fun doing it - that’s at the heart of our culture.
We help organizations identify, amplify, and really harness the power of their employer brand to help them hire. At the end of the day we are telling stories on behalf of many businesses, and the storyteller needs passion and enthusiasm to trigger emotions in the people they are talking to and for. Candidates and employers need to be on the same page, people want to work with people who believe what they believe.
How do you approach new client challenges?
In short - in partnership with our customers.
This partnership-driven approach means we don’t operate with requirement specifics, but rather take on full hiring responsibility or a subset of our customers’ hiring needs.
When we partner with a new business, the first thing we do is set them up to succeed. We do this by understanding their employee-value proposition so that the front end of the process is driven around articulating the unique needs of that businesses.
My coaches then work directly with hiring managers to figure out what success looks like and what parameters can be set to identify the right person. It’s not enough to hunt someone “with five years' experience." I know lots of people with five years' experience that suck at their job. A better approach would be looking at what the person needs to deliver within say one year, and what applicable skills they have to achieve X, Y, and Z.
We generate scorecards for the human qualities, the mentalities, the behaviors, that person must exhibit to be a good fit. Having a structured approach we can go straight to the hiring manager with a visual representation of the person they are after, what that person has to deliver, and how we are going to identify them.
From there, we go to market, building in stages to ensure that the job seekers are engaged. By removing all easy-apply buttons, candidates have to consider, review and make a call on their suitability for the role. I'm all for making things easier for people, but when you make something like a job application too easy, it eliminates the thought on the job seeker's side.
What are your biggest hiring pain points?
I think the biggest challenge across the board is the competing mindsets. If you put ten people managers in a room they’ll all deliver a different perspective.
There are a number of businesses out there investing a lot of time and money in developing their leaders’ skill-sets, to help them objectively evaluate candidates. However, there are also many businesses that simply rely on the decision maker’s gut instinct and the candidate’s resume.
At the same time, the more recruiting technology evolves, the simpler it is becoming to connect companies to people, but that doesn’t mean it's the right people. It’s like “Tinder-ification”, where candidates swipe right until they land a job.
I think moving away from the “quick and easy” mindset, and actually walking a job-seeker through a performance-based process of selection, can help both businesses and candidates in finding the right fit.
What’s the #1 priority for your team in the next 6 months?
I think HR people, in general, are programmed to please, as opposed to coach for success.
So, one of the biggest challenges I find with my team is the "the customer is always right" mentality. When in fact, the customer often doesn't know what the hell they need to do, and that's why they're paying us to help them.
I am working towards improving the team’s "coach customers to success" mentality. We're taking a lot of steps to get there, but you have to slow down to speed up, including learning new skills and adjusting your mindset.
What one trait would you say the HR industry currently lacks?
That is a very tough question. I think what it comes down to are the two kinds of HR people in this world today.
There's the old school HR professional that enforces rules, policies and the processes - a so-called, “traffic cop”. On the other side of the coin, we have the more forward-thinking HR professionals that almost demand a seat at the leadership table.
The HR leader has to be the person that leads the charge, but I think the more progressive HR professional says, "No, no, it's our job to really create the environment that can drive the organizational culture to achieve desired outcomes.”
From an old-school standpoint, I think the business skill and acumen, and the belief that you're not just a traffic cop, needs to be pumped up. That might be through communication, business training in general, influence, or coaching.
I think the biggest skill set that's lacking within the HR community, in general, is the sales and marketing mentality that allows for a shift from the traditional to new ways of working that attract today’s brightest talent.
What industry buzzword would you be happy to see the back of?
“Disruptive” can go away immediately. The world seems to love the term disruptive, but no one wants to be disrupted.
I was in a meeting and we were trying to figure out how the HR team could help contribute to revenue. I jokingly said, “why don't we just charge applicants when they apply? Like universities charge students to apply to the university”
It was a joke.
But I pieced it together into an article. Diving into what the actual impact would be if the company charged a dollar per application.
I got a lot of feedback, a lot of people loved it. People said it was super disruptive. But when questioning who would have the balls to implement it, not a single person stepped forward. Is it really disruptive if people are not comfortable to make a change?
Disruptive, it's kinda like last year's innovative. Ten years ago it was creative.
So, disruptive to me can go away in a heartbeat.
About John Fleischauer
Regarded as one of the top talent acquisition professionals in Canada, John Fleischauer has is a thought leader, TEDx speaker, and talent acquisition expert. As the Chief Operating Officer of Pivot + Edge, John helps growing organizations discover and amplify their employer brand, so they can consistently hire awesome people quickly while reducing their overall recruiting spend.