Is your hiring process HOT or NOT?

HR Search - Blog

You’ve advertised a role and have been inundated with applications, great! Surely, you’ll get strong candidates and can pick and choose who you want…right?

In an interview process, often we find that it can be the employer who feel they are in charge and leading the interview process. After all, as an employer you are giving a candidate a great opportunity…?

Unfortunately, that really isn’t the case, in an increasingly growing and buoyant candidate driven market it is easy to forget that candidates often have several different interviews in a week. These candidates who are in hot demand are being asked to sell whilst simultaneously being sold to. Whilst the interviewer can sell the perks and benefits on why your company is the best company in all the land, is your company and the people you work with selling the benefits?

Recently, we had a candidate interviewing for a role within a large, well known company. The interview process involved several stages. All had gone well and the candidate was progressing. However, at the last stage when our candidate was waiting in reception, her initial interviewer passed her, and was not only not recognised but ignored (3 interviews later!). In addition, she was asked at each stage for identifying documents despite providing the required documents on day one. For the candidate, these were deciding factors. She turned down the offer and accepted one from a much smaller company with a shorter contract, but who had a more positive, personal and friendly atmosphere.

Take a look at your company. What sort of vibe is it giving off?

Do the people you meet on the stairs or at reception seem happy and content working there? If you were to interview for a position, would you feel comfortable and at home amongst prospective colleagues? If the answer is no, perhaps you need to look at your company culture. Discuss with your colleagues what sort of vibe you want to give off collectively. First and foremost, do they enjoy working here? Why? If not, then why not?

Candidates are looking for more than just a job – they’re looking to work in an environment they’ll enjoy and that is a fit for them. Taking these small but important factors into consideration could ensure that you get those keys hires across the line every time!

Here in HR Search we happily act as a liaison between candidate and client at every stage of a hiring process. Should you have any queries or thoughts on the above article please feel free to get in touch!





HR Manager & HR Business Partner – What’s the difference?

HR typically started as a business function by having its roots in administration, filing, personnel and compliance. HR is an ever evolving value add area of a company, and presently has more impact than ever before for a core business. With this change over the past decade, has changed the nature and structure of HR teams, the titles, skills and attributes of those working in this dynamic field.

Today, I was discussing the many differences between a HR Manager Role and a HR Business Partner role with a HR professional who has held both positions within companies. After what was a very interesting conversation, I decided to attempt to outline and simplify the fundamental differences between the two titles/roles.

HR Business Partner

Human resource business partners have clients within the organization that they support. They provide resources and build relationships with focusing on the missions and objectives set forth by the organization. With the main bulk of administration being centralised, there is much less focus on compliance and administration. In addition, HRBP’s tend to be supported by Centres of Excellence eg Compensations and Benefits, Learning and Development etc. This person is seen as more of a strategic resource for the region or area that they support. Business Partners work to develop a HR agenda that closely supports the overall aims of an organisation. This process of alignment is known as HR Business Partnering, a concept that was popularised in the mid 90’s by David Ulrich.

HR Manager

HR managers are likely to be responsible for HR within a department or for the company (depending on the size). They normally have multiple HR staff reporting to them. Depending on the organisation, HR managers may be responsible for setting policy direction. They can have a wider remit of responsibility for the overall HR function – budgeting, recruitment, change management, rewards, L&D, ER/IR, compliance and HR systems administration.

It would be fair to say that some organisations have adopted the term HRBP even when the role being carried out is in fact more of a classical HR Manager. Sometimes, the lines are blurred between the two titles and that causes confusion for applicants. The attributes required to carry out a HRBP role tends to be more strategic, consultative and coaching in nature. This may or may not suit or interest many traditional HR Managers who prefer to roll up their sleeves and be involved in the full suite of HR activities.

“As the pace of change increases in every aspect of our lives, HR professionals have become change champions in many companies around the world, and this has generally been much to their employers’ advantage.” ― David Ulrich, HR from the Outside In: Six Competencies for the Future of Human Resources

To get involved in the conversation, please feel free to comment below or drop me a line on


7 Ways To Foster Your Emotional Intelligence

According to Emotional Intelligence (EI) expert and author Harvey Deutschendorf, “the realization that E.I. has become an important predictor of job success, even surpassing technical ability, has been growing over the past number of years”.

Companies are placing a high value on E.I. in new hires for many important reasons. People with high E.I. understand and cooperate with others, they are exceptional listeners, open to feedback, have more empathy, and make thoughtful and thorough decisions.

In work, we all regret a time when we have all reacted too quickly to a situation or person and not given ourselves enough time to breathe, think and work out the best possible response. The good news is that we can all work on our level of EI – we can all become more emotionally intelligent and less volatile in the workplace (and in life generally)

Here are a few simple tricks to help you on your way

1.   Pause. Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings. Clear your mind.

After pausing and acknowledging your emotions, your mind will already feel much clearer. Nehad Tadros

2.   Breathe

Set aside two minutes – relax and breathe deeply. Then write down a couple of potential solutions to your problem.

3.   Focus on what you can change

When you hit a setback, separate the parts of the situation you can control or influence from the parts you cannot. Focus on what you can influence, and notice how much more confident you feel about overcoming the setback. Dawn Cook

4.   Be Friendly and open and smile

Chat to people, smile, ask them how they are and listen to the answer. Be naturally engaged.

5.   Find something impossible to do and practice it

It sounds corny, but it’s a profound mental switch. Just try saying, “I can’t,” and then “I can’t yet” – the emotional experience is dramatically different. The first is a wall. The second, a door. Joshua Freedman

6.   Be Open and Honest

Create opportunities to informally share what you feel and ask for feedback. This may seem daunting at first particularly if you are naturally reserved person but with practice is will become more natural and hopefully put you in a happier and more relaxed space.

7.   Be self-aware

I think it is very important to be able to acknowledge the areas in which you are weak and not be scared to verbalise it. You would be surprised how happy people are to give you a dig out and assist when you ask.

From time to time, I forget to follow my own best advice and go onto regret it later. However, the good news is that I really want to and enjoy trying to improve upon my skills in the whole area of EI. Realistically, it is always going to be a work in progress for me but hey-ho honesty is always the best policy!

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on ways you too can foster emotional intelligence!


What’s your mindset?

Recently I attended a really thought provoking event hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce which was on the topic of the role of Life Long Learning & Business Growth. The speakers on the day were of equal measure witty & informative which kept the audience refreshingly alert and engaged. All of the topics and findings from this day have stuck with me still, but it was Philip Matthew’s talk on the Mindset for growth that I find myself coming back to and resisting the urge to speak about at every given chance … clearly my willpower hasn’t held up on this occasion!  In keeping with the day’s theme of lifelong learning, Philip’s speech focused mainly on the research and workings of Carol Dweck a highly respected and published psychologist who lectures in Stanford University. Dweck proposes that people’s learning style/mindset can be categorised into two, a fixed mindset and a growth mindset which in summary can be described as follows:

A fixed mindset are those who believe that their talents and achievements in their career and indeed their personal life are innate in them and that they are essentially born with their strengths and talents. Those with a growth mindset are “individuals who believe their talents can be developed through hard work, good strategies and input from others.” The see failure not as evidence of unintelligence but rather as a foundation and springboard to learn and grow from. People with this mindset not discouraged by failure, but they don’t actually see themselves as failing in those situations — they see themselves as learning.”

So what does these mean? And what does it mean to a recruiter? For me, it really got me thinking, (a very dangerous thing)!  It made me wonder how far rooted these mindsets reached? What affect would this have in terms of my candidates thought process and outlook; surely this must have some bearing on their approach to their job search as well as their approach to learning. After all Deck found that traits of these mindsets were found in research with candidates of the age of 4. And also, if this mindset was so prominent within people, could these same principles be as clear cut in companies too?

After further happy digging, it turns out Deck got tickled by this question far before me. After again conducting several diverse sample tests on a number of fortune 1000 companies, Dweck and her team of researchers found that like individuals, companies too could be seen to be either of a fixed or growth mindset. And like people, companies suffered from the negative effect of a fixed mind set. For example; Employees within firms with a fixed mindset had a focus on “star workers” and teams were reported to be more worried about failing and thus had fewer innovation projects.

As opposed to companies of a fixed mindset, Growth mindset companies are:

47% likelier to say that their colleagues are trustworthy,
34% likelier to feel a strong sense of ownership and commitment to the company,
65% likelier to say that the company supports risk taking, and
49% likelier to say that the company fosters innovation

Upon researching this topic, I found myself considering my own candidates and clients to see just how life like this mindset truly was. It turns out, it unequivocally is. I have recently had the pleasure to work very closely with a really interesting dynamic and diverse gaming company based in Dublin, where from the onset I knew that the cultural fit for this organisation would be more important than any other element to the role. In essence the culture came to have a marmite effect. Candidates would love it or hate it. It became clear early on that what I had thought to be the perks of the firm such as its view on flexi time, its flat structure, the little to no regimented HR processes as well as built in gaming time were all again feeling the marmite effect. At the time, I had thought this was down to a culture mismatch, but now I wonder is this in fact a mindset mismatch?

Upon closer inspection of the candidates in the process I found that those who progressed in the process had growth mindset characteristics. So those who embrace change, persist in the face of setbacks, see efforts as path to mastery, learn from critics, and finally find lessons and inspiration in the success of others were successful in achieving a role with the firm. Similarly, those who did not progress had very close similarities to that of the fixed mindset. What this meant on a more practical basis was that those who didn’t need a job spec or often didn’t even need a specific open role to interview, faired the best within interviews. Those who were happiest to receive feedback on themselves, who were open to discuss what their weaknesses and who were open to unusual interview competency questions or interview tasks, were those who progressed within the company. Their approach and demeanour in interview were all classic case growth mindset characteristics and as a result have proved to be a great fit within this growth mindset firm!

If the characteristics that were deemed successful for this gaming company are so blatant, and in line with the firm’s internal mantra, could it be that this growth vs. fixed mindset approach be a magic key that unlocks a better fit for both candidates and clients? Is this outlook perhaps even more trustworthy than industry background and experience? I’m left with thinking, will the fixed vs. growth mindset overtake the role of culture or are they one of the same?



HR Professionals “pining” for Part-Time

Lately I advertised a role for a part-time HR Business Partner and was inundated with applications from highly qualified, highly credible, highly personable and highly paid HR professionals.

The choice of people applying for this role was amazing and completely outstripped the number of quality applicants that I would typically get for a full-time role.

Every enquiry in relation to this role started with….”it is so rare to see a part-time role in HR at Business Partner level and above”

Most people I spoke with were comfortable to take a pay cut for the “privilege of part-time work”

In fact, one lady was happy to take a pay-cut of up to 55% for the luxury of a part-time role.

The majority of the people I spoke to wanted to continue working in their chosen profession of HR but they also wanted some flexibility and work/life balance.

You would think that in this day and age, this would not be too much to ask!


And the moral of the story…?

To all you employers out there who are planning on hiring a HR professional for your business but have a limited budget? Why not make the role part-time?

Hire someone who is more than capable, comfortable and content in this role – and to make the budget work offer it three days a week – not five!

People working part-time are often more focused and productive and have also been known to answer the occasional email on their days off!

It is a WIN: WIN situation not be overlooked

Would be keen to hear your thoughts on this topical subject….

Leadership & Gender – Navigating the Labyrinth

This morning I attended a really interesting talk by Dr Melrona Kirrane on the invitation of Hannah Carney (Carney & Associates) and Mount Anville Past Pupil’s Association (MAPPA)

MAPPA’s 2016 Network breakfast was on the very interesting topic of “Leadership & Gender – Navigating the Labyrinth”.

What is abundantly clear is that in Ireland we still have such a long way to go to ensure that women are more fairly represented at senior management levels and above within organisations.

While Dr Kirrane provided some very interesting research into the why, she also gave us some great insights into what we, as women, can do in the short term to help the situation and take more control of our careers at both an organisational and personal level.

At an organisational level: 

• Get rid of long hours’ culture

• Use hard data for managing performance

• Have less reliance on informal networks and referrals to fill roles

• Ensure that your organisation has a critical mass of women in executive positions

Remember “You can’t be what you can’t see” 

At a personal level: 

• Acquire 3 sponsors with influence and clout: have a genuine relationship based on trust and communication

• Get networking across three types of networks: operational, personal and strategic.

• Be politically astute and take credit for the work you are doing.

• Have presence, Be confident. Believe in yourself.

• Make your partner a real partner – share the load properly.

• Don’t leave before you leave

• Proceed to be BOLD.

Thanks so much for providing me with some great food for thought this morning. Thanks MAPPA, Dr Kirrane and one of my key Sponsor’s Hannah Carney.

Be values focused, profits and wins will follow!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending DCU’s Leadership and Talent Institute Conference on the subject of “Leadership for a Sustainable World” The content of the day was insightful and provided great food for thought. Particularly interesting for me is that many of the principles and points being made were simple and very much back to basics i.e. being respectful, taking responsibility, being aware and having integrity.

There were speakers from all over the globe – and while it was great to hear from thought leaders in Darla Moore School of Business, University of Boston, Unilever, Maturity Institute, DCU and Joe Schmidt, next year it would be great to hear from Irish companies as to how we are making a difference and contributing to the Leadership and Talent discussion.

Food for thought from the day.

According to Professor Pat Wright of the University of South Carolina, Succession planning is critical to business sustainability – the risk of getting it wrong is very costly and this is well documented.

Research shows that traits of successful CEO’s include humility, willingness to accept feedback and unselfishness. On the other hand, traits of unsuccessful CEO’s are arrogance, failure to listen and selfishness.

According to Stuart Woollard of the Maturity Institute we need to think in terms of “Societal Value” ie the best quality at lowest cost (including cost to the environment & society) Companies should be managing people for value not cost. Stuart had plenty of examples to support this theory eg Costco & Toyota. They have a focus on Societal value and guess what? Their margins are a lot higher than those of their closest competitors.

Doug Baillie, ex CHRO of Unilever spoke about the Unilever’s VUCA world – volatile, uncertain, complicated and ambiguous. Unilever strives to be a giver to society not a taker, to make a positive social impact and to reconnect with individuals and communities.

And what does leadership look like in a VUCA world in 2020? Leaders will be values based with purpose – they will be authentic, adaptable, resilient, systematic thinkers and results oriented.

How do you get started in establishing sustainable leadership? You must start at the top with role models who lead from the front. These role models must be courageous and committed and help people to work out what their individual purpose and contribution might be. It starts today – what will your contribution be?

Joe Schmidt, Irish Rugby Coach talked passionately about taking responsibility and being accountable. This needs to be passed down the line, we all have a role to play. It is not what you say it is what you do! Circumstances are not always perfect, you just have to work with what you have and get yourself into a place to be useful. Always acknowledge people for their performance and contribution. No point in doing something efficiently that does not need to be done at all.

I particularly liked this point, do the ground work, build a firm foundation and then use this as a springboard. Make sure that you have a context before you embark on your bold plan. Last, but by no means least, never overlook the importance of saying good morning to your team every day. By acknowledging employees at all levels you are building engagement and confidence and buy-in. Simple, cost free but effective – just ask Joe!

According to Dr Jack McCarthy of the University of Boston we now have a triple bottom line….we need to be able to balance People, Planet and Profit? We need to move from controlling, ordering and predicting to acknowledging, creating and empowering. We need to be curious, connected and considerate!

Dr Janine Bosak of DCU finished off the day by discussing the underrepresentation of women at senior executive levels in Irish companies. Despite equal numbers of well-educated men and women joining the work force, by the time they get to senior management and above these ratios are grossly out of sync.

Everyone agreed that this needed immediate attention – what people were uncertain about it why this phenomenon exists. Discrimination and stereotyping was discussed as was women’s lack of self-confidence when it really matters. As a working mother of three, I also feel it is directly related to an-inbuilt tendancy for Irish women to feel guilt, self-imposed and societal.

Cultural change takes time, but we can all start to-day and make a difference by opening our eyes and watching out for women who are potentially vulnerable in our organisations.

So whether from Academia, Private or Public sector, NGO’s or Sports, Ireland, Addis Ababa or the USA, there were common threads throughout the day. Respect, responsibility, awareness, values, community and society.

Companies and teams should be values focused and the profits and wins will most certainly follow!


Thanks to DCU Leadership & Talent Institute

9 mistakes commonly made by people who are hiring!


  • Often lack of understanding and clarity around vision and values of the business – recruitment process not aligned
  • Lack of planning into recruitment process and time-frame
  • Poorly written job specification and advertisements
  • Poor internal communications re the new hire
  • Many companies do not have a realistic bench mark on salary package in advance of the process – this can be a huge time-waster.
  • Companies focus too much on skills and knowledge, not enough on the attributes of the person
  • Hiring process is often drawn out with too many stakeholders involved in the process
  • Lack of feedback to candidates at all stage of process
  • Many employers have a policy of not providing feedback to candidates post interview. If people take time out of their busy lives to be interviewed, then they deserve feedback to allow them to learn from the process.
  • Great recruitment processes are often followed by poor on boarding and induction. New employees need to understand the required deliverables and should receive regular and honest feedback from day 1

Ireland’s economy is in huge growth mode with increasing demand for talent at all levels.  You can have the best product or service in the world but if your employer brand lets you down word in the market spreads quickly and will have a direct impact on your ability to hire the best.

At HR Search, we partner with clients to assist in building employer brand – for further information contact Tanya Thomas or Caoilinn Taylor.


Human Resources Top Tips series

You would be right in thinking that Human Resources in Ireland over the past few years has seen the arrival of many new job titles and corresponding buzz words. Coinciding with Ireland’s return to growth and renewed focus on the importance of employee attraction and retention has seen the emergence of new specialist titles across the following areas Employee Communication, Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, Organisational Development, Organisational  Effectiveness, People and Change, HR Transformation, HR Planning & Forecasting, Early Career Talent Management, Graduate Talent Management, HR Operations Management, HR project Management, HR Analytics and HR Information Systems.

So we, at HR Search and Selection, are going to attempt to demystify some of the above by writing a “Top Tips” series.  In this series we will talk to the experts in the above areas and explore their insight as to how to be the “best in class” in their areas of expertise.

And the first that I will look at is the role of the Employee Communications Manager which is defined as “ facilitating strategic connections and conversations within your company” If done properly it should ensure that your people are committed to achieving ground breaking business results by helping to improve collaboration, productivity and performance.

Top Tips from a highly respected Employee Communications Manager

  • All companies need to start by understanding their audience, stakeholders and business objectives.
  • All companies, no matter what their size, should have a clearly defined internal and external brand purpose and value statement and these should be clearly communicated to all internal and external stakeholders.
  • This brand promise should have the full buy in of the Senior Executive team and they should wear these values in everything that they do and say.
  • Clear communication is King and should ideally be tailored for the audience in terms of medium and flavour of message. Messages should educate and inspire each employee to deliver on goals. In all cases it should link back to group values.
  • Regular meetings in all main offices should be held with the senior management team present if at all possible. As many employees as possible should attend.
  • Employees should be able to ask questions and it should be an open forum.
  • All communication needs to be genuine and respectful.
  • Keep things as simple as possible.
  • And don’t forget to measure the effectiveness of internal communications which is often easier said than done!

Background of professionals in this area will typically have been in Communications, Marketing or Journalism. People will often “end-up” in this space by chance rather than design. It will suit people who enjoy understanding and connecting with people in a relevant manner. The person will only be as good as the buy-in from the senior management team. If out of sync with each other, then you may as well flush the budget for your internal communication strategy down the drain!

If you have a background in Employee Communication and are looking for your next move or if you are looking to hire an Employee Communication specialist in this space please do not hesitate to contact Caoilinn or I.

HR Professionals – How to increase your sphere of influence

Earlier this month, DCU Business School and Professor David Collings hosted a really insightful round table on how the HR profession can go about increasing their sphere of Influence in the work place. A number of HR professionals met up to explore this topic and discuss ways of achieving optimal results and to hear the views of Shirley Kavanagh Head of Talent and Organisation Effectiveness who shared her thoughts as follows:

  • Participate in and Enable Business Strategy – HR should move from the concept of an enabler of Business Strategy to also participating in the creation of Business Strategy.
  • Ensure Organisation Effectiveness – HR needs to take a broader view of HR into thinking about the effectiveness of the Organisation as a whole. This can help to ‘land’ HR activities and make them more business relevant.  This organisation effectiveness agenda includes culture, organisation structure and design, Leadership Development and excellence in all people manager processes.
  • Build connectivity in solutions – HR must not deliver individual solutions. There should be a ‘story’, a connectedness to each solution to ensure that there are strong links to both business strategy and between solutions. Never lose sight of the objective and remind stakeholders of that objective also. Too often people get caught up in building a solution….but a solution for what?
  • HR Structure must be created to ensure collaboration, joined up solutions, and value added partnership with the Business. Build your structure based on core principles and effectiveness, this may mean making a bespoke structure that fits the culture and structure of your organisation. Remind HR Business Partners who are partnering to the Business that they must avoid going native to that culture within that business. Their strength is in ensuring alignment but maintaining objectivity.
  • For HR to influence the function must be a force of change, innovation and challenge.
  • HR must be brave!