28 June 2017

ATC Summary: How to avoid being AI-ed out of a job or career

The standout, among many highlights, of each annual Australian Talent Conference is the closing keynote.

ATC co-founder, and one of the most respected people in the world of recruitment, Kevin Wheeler, traditionally closes the two conference days with his Fearless Forecast presentation in which he makes predictions about the way in which companies hire and get work done.

Kevin is the gold standard by which I judge other keynote speakers. He is passionate and knowledgeable about his subject. He only selects the information of greatest relevance for his audience. He speaks using simple language yet very powerfully and concisely; there’s never any padding in Kevin’s keynotes.

When Kevin finishes talking, you know you have been listening to a true expert. Having seen Kevin speak about ten times I continually marvel at how each keynote is full of original material; he never re-bakes a presentation.

There were a number of great points that Kevin made last Thursday afternoon but there’s just one small component that I want to elaborate on.

This year, Kevin’s broad theme was about the impact of AI (artificial intelligence or robotics) on the world of work and how many routine manual and low-level technical jobs are being undertaken by AI (think self-serve checkouts, automatic tellers and online bill payment).

Kevin then answered the obvious question: ‘What does that leave for humans to do that adds substantial value and is many decades away from being AI-ed out of existence?’

His answer:

1. Emergent is networks of skills, relationships and ideas – not jobs.
2. Move from thinking about jobs and careers to thinking about issues and problems.

On the surface this sounds quite esoteric.

However it immediately made sense to me due to various conversations my wife, Michelle and I have had about the specific work she had been doing as part of her job.

At the beginning of last year, I wrote Mothers, families, work and role sharing: what I have learned about Michelle’s ascension to the Head of HR with her employer, Hallmark Cards, in the face of her lack of HR experience and lack of HR qualifications, compared to other senor HR practitioners of a similar age and seniority level.

I am sure many, if not all, recruiters, had they been responsible for the recruitment of her current role, would have overlooked Michelle as a valid candidate. It would have been difficult for her resume to adequately communicate the impact that she was able to have in her many different roles across both her recruitment agency career and her corporate HR career.

What I hear now is Michelle, in a Head of HR job, undertaking a very small amount of technical HR work each day. Instead Michelle is leveraging her problem-solving skills, her coaching skills and her wide and deep relationships across the Hallmark business to help Hallmark employees, from the Managing Director down, think about, and solve the issues and problems that they confront each day.

These competencies are ones that very, very few undergraduate or post-graduate programs can legitimately claim to teach.

Most critically these competencies are ones that AI has little or no chance of replicating in the foreseeable future. It’s these very human skills that provide the greatest protection for any person seeking to avoid their job, or career, being AI-ed out of existence.

As Kevin said towards the end of his keynote:

“Credentials are less and less important – it’s about what you can do that matters most”.
This is reinforced by the research Google has undertaken within their own company to understand what underpins high performance. Their conclusion, as documented in the book Work Rules by the former Senior VP of People Operations, Laszlo Bock:

We have found that learning ability is the leading predictor of success — No. 1 above intelligence and education.”

As I wrote on this blog over two and half years ago:

“The importance of self-directed and/or self-initiated learning via reading, coaching, mentoring, short courses etc has never been more important.
The core competency of the future (you could argue that future is already here) is the ability to learn, and unlearn just as quickly.”

What are you doing to protect your job, or career from being AI-ed out of existence?

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21 June 2017

Is that a muddy, smelly swamp I see at the end of the lowest-price highway?

In a recent conversation with a recruitment agency owner, we were discussing the latest demands for margin reductions. He informed me that one of his clients wanted to include his agency on the (ASX-listed) company’s PSA to supply IT contractors. On the surface, this would appear to be good news. However the sting in the tail was that the PSA margin being requested was $12 per day. Yes, you read that right; $12 per day. 

That’s $1.50 per hour for highly skilled professionals. The contractors did work for the client for many months but still………$1.50 per hour?

It seems extraordinary that any agency, no matter what volume of work they are receiving, would provide skilled talent at such a rate, yet clearly it is happening. How demoralising.

Another agency owner asked me whether a six month full money-back guarantee was becoming a more common request from clients, especially PSA clients. If clients are asking for this type of guarantee then you can be sure they are getting it, at least some of the time. Why would we accept 100% accountability for the performance of a candidate when we have zero control over how the client onboards and leads that new employee?

And don’t get me started on no temp-to-perm fee after three months. After completing a three month home renovation, I don’t see any builders being asked by their client to build a shed for free because ‘you’ve already earned your money’. The builder would look at the owner incredulously and respond “but this is a different job you’re asking me to complete and therefore I’ll charge you a separate amount, specific to that job. An extra service means an extra fee, that’s basic commerce”.

Of course the recruitment industry, all over the world, has seen many changes to the competitive landscape in the past two decades. Margins have declined in the face of a greater number of agency competitors, larger in-house recruitment teams and technology platforms for talent marketplaces becoming commonplace.

But as an industry where do we draw the line?

When do we say ‘no, enough is enough’?

We have all had the experience that the clients who demand, and receive, the lowest fees or the thinnest margins or the longest guarantees or the most generous payment terms are those most likely to complain the loudest when things aren’t to their satisfaction.

I am don’t know  how a recruitment agency can genuinely make a profit with contractor margins of  $1.50 per hour or provide full refunds for a departure (voluntary or involuntary) within the first six months of a candidate’s tenure or give temps away for free after three months. Why work so hard to deliver a service to then receive so little financial return?

At $1.50 per hour you couldn’t afford to have your best consultants working on the account – they would have to place a lot of long term contractors to make a decent bonus or commission.

If your service is genuinely high quality then why would you supply talent for $1.50 per hour? If you are doing so, surely you are just teaching your clients to buy on price, not value, and as sure as they decide to work with you for price reasons, they will leave you for a lower price at some future point.

As Chandler Macleod and the Australian Defence both discovered to their public embarrassment in 2010; sometimes there is a muddy, smelly swamp waiting at the end of the lowest price highway.

Do you really want to take that route?

Stand up for your service and stand up for your pricing. If you won’t, who will?

Nobody likes ending up in a swamp, because once you’re in it, it’s very hard to get out.

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07 June 2017

Interview with 2017 RI Recruiter of the Year: Matthew Cossens of Aurec


Ross: What was your background prior to becoming a recruiter and how did you come to choose recruitment as a career?

Matthew: Prior to recruitment I was working as both a Fishmonger and in Retail Sales while completing a Bachelor Degree in HR/Management. On completing my degree it was recommended that I try a career in recruitment from the Dean of HR at the University. I interviewed in the following weeks and started my career at Greythorn.

What aspects of recruitment did you find the most challenging when you started?

Time management was the most difficult part of the role when I started. There are always so many things to do in recruitment and as a junior consultant, prioritising effectively took time to get right. I think this is a constant challenge though for most recruiters.

What training did you receive when you first started as a recruiter?

Greythorn had a fantastic trainee program at the time. I was one of three trainees inducted through an 8 week intensive program focussing on the complete recruitment lifecycle. This was both theoretical and practical and involved shadowing and working with numerous specialist consultants across both their permanent and contract divisions.

Jenny Hood was a brilliant trainer and she ran the entire program.

What niche do you recruit in and what have you found to be the biggest challenges of recruiting in that niche?

I have recruited across various niche areas over my career (Infrastructure, Project Services, SAP, Telecommunications etc) in recruitment however, I would be best known in the Melbourne market for my expertise in the Utilities sector. I have built a reputation in filling large scale project teams as well as executive/niche requirements in this sector.

The biggest challenge in recruiting in this sector has been building in-depth knowledge of the value chain, regulatory drivers and change affecting the industry. I spend significant time with leading specialists to stay abreast of the key business drivers to ensure we are ahead of the curve in regards to talent.

How do you continue the development of both your recruitment and personal skills?

In brief - I am a big believer in setting goals (short, medium and long term) to drive development of both my recruitment and personal skills.

Each year I look at key areas in my life (in context of my longer term goals) including Business, Financial, Personal Development, Family, Health & Spiritual and set three goals I wish to achieve for the coming year and three habits I will change to achieve these. I also look at what I am willing to sacrifice to make these goals a reality.

I constantly review these goals, drive towards them and remind myself of what I am looking to achieve.

Who have been important influences in your recruitment career and what have those people specifically contributed to you?

There are so many important people (influences) I could list that have impacted my recruitment career over the journey. To name a few in the industry:

Jenny Hood: Jenny trained me as a passionate individual with limited skills and taught me the craft of recruitment. Her training still rings true today and I am grateful for all she has done for me. She took an opportunity on a very raw product and gave me a start in this industry.

Marie Barry: Marie took me under her wing as a junior recruiter and taught me some of the finer points of recruitment; how to develop/own accounts, how to build excellent relationships and how to understand your value as a recruiter/partner to clients and candidates.

Jim Harrison: Jim had a real knack in language – asking the right questions, how to probe further and craft a good email. He also helped hone my conflict resolution skills.

Heath Adcock: Heath was a strong leader/mentor throughout my time at Greythorn. His leadership style has influenced my own.

David Carman: David, as a mentor, has been a constant throughout my recruitment career. I went through numerous bespoke training courses he ran and have had the opportunity to be able to call on his counsel over the years for any issues of importance.

Jacqui Kunce: Jacqui is a strong leader. She showed me the value of strong leadership, how to run a high performing team, influence up and drive change regardless of the environment around you.

Saul Kwintner: Saul is one of the most driven individuals and entrepreneurial owners I know. His influence has been beyond significant.

Additionally, I have had the privilege of working with some of the best recruiters in the business at Greythorn, Chandler Macleod and now at Aurec. I believe you can learn from people at all levels.

There are many others I could list; particularly outside of recruitment whose counsel I respect and value - you all know who you are and I thank you.

My clients and candidates have had a significant influence on my career as well – in fact they have shaped the majority of it!

What do you attribute your win in Recruitment International 2017 Recruiter of the Year to?

In my opinion the Recruiter of the Year award was a reflection of the amazing team I lead in Melbourne, our back office support team (who won Back Office of The Year!), our clients and candidates and all those who have impacted my recruitment journey over the last 12 years.

It may be an individual accolade (which I am humbled to have won) however without the above it would not have been possible.

What are the most important things that an individual recruiter can do to maintain his or her relevance and credibility in such a dynamic and changing market?

Reputation is everything. To maintain relevance and credibility you should view each interaction (be it client, candidate or acquaintance) as important and valued.

Your word and commitment needs to be fully reflected in your actions. Say you are going to do x, deliver x.

Immerse yourself in your area of specialty. Don’t just claim to be a specialist. Become one! Understand your market, its drivers, your competitors and your customers. Build talent pools and network with the best in your space.

Add value outside of just recruitment. Be in your specialty for the right reasons.

What personal philosophies shape and motivate you?

There are many personal philosophies that shape and motivate me. I am an avid reader and have been impacted by philosophies from a range of individuals including Michael Jordan, Michael Johnson, Tony Robbins, Oprah, Eric Thomas, Les Brown, Steve Jobs, Gary Vee and many others.

“I believe you can achieve great things and that you shouldn’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice. You should have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

I enjoy hearing about other people’s success, their story and what they have overcome.

In short, I believe in:

-      Having integrity above all things
-      Being grateful and practicing gratitude
-      Being generous
-      Setting ambitious goals and having the relentless drive to achieve them
-      Being humble in success and defeat
-      A creator; through which all things are possible

How do you relax away from work?

I relax away from work with my beautiful family. My wife Simone and our two daughters (age 10 and 5) keep me busy and grounded. I love being a Dad and spending time with them all.

I am also very active physically. I train Mixed Martial Arts 5 days per week, (waking up at 4:45am each morning to get to training) hit the gym most evenings, and enjoy basketball on the weekend. This is a good release for me.

Each year I like to find a challenge to push my boundaries physically and emotionally – this has included completing the Melbourne Marathon, Oxfam Trailwalker (twice), and competing in my first MMA fight in 2016.

What advice would you give to anyone who is just starting their recruitment career?

Firstly, relationships are key; if you get your relationships right then recruitment and the sales part will work itself out.

Have integrity; call people back, always be honest and transparent, treat people how you would like to be treated.

Understand your market; immerse yourself in it. Become a true specialist; network with the best in your space; add value to your market.

Set bold goals; chase after them, understand what success looks like, find others who have done it, model them then reflect on your results so you can make changes as required.

Congratulations again on your win, Matt, and thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

No problem, Ross. Thanks for asking me.

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01 June 2017

One year on: Interview with RCSA CEO, Charles Cameron

 Charles Cameron,
addressing the RCSA
International Conference delegates
25 August 2016
Port Douglas, Queensland
Ross: Welcome Charles and congratulations on your one year anniversary with the RCSA. How different, or similar, has your experience of the role been compared to your expectations of the role when you started in May last year?

Charles: Hi Ross, to be honest, the amount of work I’ve needed to do to undertake, both inside and out, has been far greater than I could have envisaged.  I came in to the role knowing that RCSA was ‘a lovely old Victorian home in a great street, but in need of some genuine love and attention to ensure a return to grandeur’.  Like most ‘renovators delights’, there was a fair bit more structural work required, before we could focus on the design elements.  But, I’m super excited about where RCSA is at and look forward to opening her up over the next 12 months.  Sorry, I’m a shocker for a bad analogy!

I’d like to revisit some of the topics from our exchange twelve months ago when you commenced as RCSA CEO. One of the challenges you raised was stakeholder engagement. Firstly, let’s tackle stakeholder engagement with governments, specifically licensing, which has become a very big issue recently. What do you see as the key issues for the RCSA in effectively working with governments on this hot topic? What progress is being made?

This is a really tough one Ross.  Let’s keep the answer simple. 

Unions play a major part in getting the Labor party in to power.  Union membership in the private sector is now below 10% and continuing to fall.  Unions need members to remain relevant and financially sustainable.  Union recruitment models have been disrupted by flexible work where workers work for shorter periods of time in non-permanent work.  Unions need a scapegoat and blame ‘labour hire’ for disrupting their membership growth and retention model.  Unions are calling upon Labor governments in Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT to rectify the disruptions to their membership model and Labor governments are happy to oblige by using licensing as a means to collect information on how and where ‘labour hire’ workers are working, so that unions can chase down members.

Therefore, the deals have been done and there is little RCSA can do to convince Labor governments to walk away from those deals.  Therefore, we have to focus on the medium to long term implications of a ‘labour hire’ licensing scheme that will eventually be de-funded or disbanded because of the industrial corruption that will be inherent in such law.  We need to limit the short term impact for our members and the businesses that rely upon ‘labour hire’ and develop a genuine alternative that can be developed from within the licensing schemes and then continue on when the licensing schemes fall over.

You will see that the Queensland government’s recently tabled Labour Hire Licensing Bill contains provision for mutual recognition of other accreditation schemes.  This is a direct result of RCSA lobbying and our genuine commitment to the establishment of a sustainable solution to exploitation in the horticulture industry and parts of the food processing industry.

I’m frustrated with the politicisation of the ‘labour hire’ licensing issue in these States as it just won’t work in the long term.

Moving onto stakeholder engagement with RCSA members and potential members; what progress is being made in hearing from, and engaging with, members to understand and respond to their issues and feedback?

I feel like I’ve been on the road, listening to members and prospective members for 12 months straight; which is exactly what I should have been doing.  The result of that consultation has been an overhaul of the RCSA strategy.

At the Winter Ball in Sydney I will announce that the RCSA strategy, to be known as ‘Leadership 2020’, will have, at its core, a new era of ‘member centricity’ and that, through four principal channels of member centricity we will ‘lead in the world of work’.

The four channels that we have established to ensure member value and relevance, derived through member engagement over the past 12 months are to:

1.     promote and protect the industry
2.     provide pathways to professionalism
3.     provide business enablement
4.     facilitate networking and celebration

There is a lot more to this exciting new development, and a lot of detail, which will be released over coming weeks however, from early discussions with member groups, we are being told we’ve hit the mark - which is a relief!

What about New Zealand? I know in the past some of our Kiwi cousins have felt they were not much more than an afterthought for the RCSA. What progress has been made in building bridges across the ditch, so to speak?

You’re spot on Ross, and it needed to be rectified very quickly.  I was told my predecessor went to New Zealand once in five years.  Next month I’ll have been there four times in one year.  We’ve also appointed Bridgette Sinclair as our Auckland based Partnership Manager, who is doing a fantastic job and on 15 June we will celebrate the second RCSA New Zealand Ball.

There is a lot more to be done to return the grandeur, but we are committed and on the ground.  In fact, from July onward we will be piloting the new certification program in New Zealand and there is a lot of excitement there - as there should be because it is such a fantastic industry in an amazing country.

You spoke last year about potential changes to the RCSA’s organisational model to better serve member interests. What new positions have been created and what difference has this made so far? What can we expect in the next 12 months?

Ross, there were some great contributors within the RCSA staff when I commenced however, it was time for change.  In 12 months, during significant restructure, I have overseen the appointment of new staff in 80% of the roles.  I really wanted to bring in significant business acumen to the association to better align it with the needs and wants of members.

We have recruited Monica Kent-Giles as our new Events Director.  Monica worked for News Ltd and is really excited about the Conference in Fiji in September which will be really different.

We have Nina Marshall heading up our Learning and Development offering.  Nina is working on driving a new era of professional development for members.  She really knows her stuff and is very member-centric in this critical position.

Robin Shepherd is our new Operations Manager, and she has brought in a substantial experience in database management for associations.  She came across from a consulting firm that specialised in member associations.

Leah Watson is our Finance Manager. Leah has transformed our internal governance, to ensure we are using our members’ money in the smartest way possible.

Wil Wodrow is our Australian Partnerships Manager, responsible for growing membership and heralding a new era of sponsor and partner relationship development.  Wil worked for JXT and Fasttrack 360, so he really understands the industry and what value looks like to our many different stakeholders.

There are heaps of others who, with the likes of Carly Fordred and Jodie Radley, who have continued at RCSA, are really gelling to ensure members will see substantial benefits from the many changes within RCSA.

The ‘gig economy’ presents many issues for workers, organisations and the recruitment industry, not least the growth of online recruitment marketplaces. What role do you see the RCSA having in this growing area? What progress has been made so far?

Ross, I have a real problem with online freelance platforms, especially where they rely upon the ‘tech firm’ or ‘online marketplace’ tag to try and compete on an uneven playing field.  Behind every algorithm and platform are Directors and Managers making decisions.  The RCSA is built upon ethical standards and good practice, so when a ‘gig platform’ claims it is not accountable to the same standards, I don’t accept it.  They have just as much capacity to stuff up the life of a candidate or undermine professional practice in a market, so they should stand up and be just as accountable in all the ways that RCSA members are accountable.

Sitting on dozens of government and industry forums, I’m letting everyone know that ‘tech’ and ‘innovation’ is not justification for non-compliance and poor treatment.  With the RCSA’s online workforce solutions working group, having met four times in the past 6 months, to discuss this very issue, you’ll see the RCSA ramping up our activity in this field.

Where has the RCSA, as an association, made the most progress in the past 12 months?

Listening to members, listening to members and continuing to listen to members.

The development of our Workforce Services Certification Program, recently supported by Allan Fels as Chair of the Migrant Worker Taskforce, makes it easier for buyers of recruitment and on-hire services to make a smart and ethical procurement decision. 

Targeting poor procurement, as poor procurement undermines our industry and pushes some operators to cut corners.

Collecting success stories from across our industry. These stories will be used over the next 12 months to promote RCSA recruitment professionals and how they improve lives, communities and economies, every day across both countries.

What has been your personal highlight of your first 12 months in the job?

Creating new pathways for the next generation of leadership within the industry and RCSA. For example, I’ve worked closely with Matt Sampson, our new National Director who will be leading our next generation council to make sure we become even more relevant to those recruiters, leaders and owners responsible for forging the growth and reputation of  our industry over the next 20 years.

The RCSA Annual Conference is being held in just over three months, what can attendees expect?

Something really different to what they’ve experienced over the past 5 years.

Yes, there will be the industry and technical stuff that, on its own, will make attendance worthwhile however, we are also turning the traditional model on its head to appeal to a new generation.

Our goal is to attract a new audience, and that requires us to capture the hearts and minds of the great people in the industry.  As mentioned, our new Events Director is super excited about what we can do to transform what has been an amazing conference in the past, to ensure we stay ahead of the pack.

Please sign up people, early bird closes on 30 June! http://www.rcsaconf.com.au/conference2017/

What can we expect from the RCSA in the next 12 months?

A new team that is prepared to fight, fight, and keep fighting to promote and defend our great industry.

New business tools that bring great value.

A preparedness to knock out the dodgy operators using our new certification scheme, because it’s time to get serious about removing the bottom feeders from,  the labour hire sector.

Greater communication of the huge amount of work we do, and which many are not really aware of.

I think you directed Matt Sampson in to the RCSA when he started, questioning what RCSA was doing for the industry, and now he is one of our young leaders helping build the path for the next generation of recruitment professionals.  There are so many people who only realise the importance of RCSA when they see it from the inside.  We need to ensure we make the value of RCSA membership more transparent and valued.

Oh, and did I mention ‘member centricity’?

Last year you mentioned your love of 60s and 70s female soul singers. Who have you been listening to recently?

Ross, I’m going through an electro-soul phase at the moment.

Check out The Avener, whose album the Wanderings of the Avener puts a new spin on some old soul classics.

Where’s the bugling at?

Ha Ha! Being elected on to the World Employment Confederation has its advantages.  Last September I travelled to Brussels for a Board Meeting and I jumped a train to the Western Front where I played to … Georgy Boy. 

Thanks Charles, all the best for the challenges ahead.

My pleasure, Ross. Any time.

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25 May 2017

Accurately assessing soft skills: A huge opportunity for recruiters

Soft skills, behavioural competencies, transferable skills, personal attributes, employability skills, capabilities; no matter what you might know them as, these non-technical skills are important at work and becoming more so.

Deloitte Access Economics explores this topic in their recently released report, Soft skills* for business success (It's a very readable and interesting report and I recommend you read it).

Some key facts about soft skills, as detailed in the report:

  • Between 2000 and 2015 soft skill intensive occupation growth (2.7%) was three times the rate of non-soft skill intensive occupation growth (0.9%)
    The soft skill intensive occupation annual growth rate (1.6%) is predicted to grow 2.5 times faster than occupations where soft skills are less prevalent (0.6%) to 2035
  • Soft skills intensive occupations in 2000: 53% of all occupations
  • Soft skills intensive occupations in 2015: 59% of all occupations
  • Soft skills intensive occupations in 2030: 63% of all occupations (projected)
  • A LinkedIn survey revealed that 69% of HR decision makers in Australia and New Zealand find it difficult to fill leadership roles. The top reason cited for this difficulty was a lack of soft skills (45%) amongst applicants (LinkedIn, 2016).
  • A survey by the Department of Employment found that one quarter of employers recruiting for entry level positions have difficulty filling vacancies because applicants lack employability skills (Department of Employment 2016).
  • Analysing data from the US, Demming (2015) found that the employment share of occupations requiring relatively higher levels of social skills increased. These occupations were also valued more highly in the labour market.
  • A survey of over 1,000 managers and employees (Deloitte Access Economics 2014), found that employees who have and utilise teamwork skills (a proxy for soft skills) are 3% more productive, and worth almost $2,000 more per year to a business than those using less of these skills.
  • One study found that returns to investments in soft skills were equal to the return to hard skills. In a study of 1,500 employees, Balcar (2016) found that increasing soft skills and hard skills would increase the value of employees by 8.51% and 8.84% respectively.
What are the most important soft skills, specifically?

As the report identifies there is variation amongst educational institutions and governments about the number, and ranking, of the core soft skills.

The core soft skills that were most commonly mentioned were:

  • communication
  • teamwork
  • problem solving
  • digital literacy
  • critical thinking
  • emotional judgement
All of this evidence demonstrates the importance of candidates having the necessary level of soft skills to be a in the running for a majority of jobs on offer (and almost all leadership roles).

How have recruiters responded to this trend? How have they improved their capability to identify soft skills from a standard resume (or LinkedIn profile) and to then accurately assess those soft skills, and most critically, be able to provide evidence to the client that said candidate(s) possess(es) the required soft skills?

They haven't, would be my assessment.

Most recruiters still overwhelmingly assess soft skills based on the ‘four As' (articulate, affable, ambitious, attractive) of the halo effect that come into play at the interview stage of the sourcing process.

The minority of recruiters who use effective behavioural interview questions and/or assessment technology and/or evidence-based reference checking of soft skill capability are those recruiters who currently hold a massive advantage over their industry colleagues who stubbornly stick to subjective measures of (if any attempt at all is made to measure) soft skills.

To truly differentiate yourself as a recruiter, what opportunity does the continued rise in the importance of soft skills at work create for you?

*Personally I dislike the term ‘soft skills' as the word ‘soft' could be, and is, interpreted as indicating something less significant or important compared to ‘hard' but as this is the term used in the report I have used it in this article.

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