Job descriptions and role advertising

Your job description is a specific document which is drafted to be internal, but is also shared externally to prospective applicants; this is a critical juncture where the document has to pass the credibility test. 

The advert, because it is a public ‘teaser’, is more of a marketing document, therefore it is a little looser on the detail and aimed to appeal more broadly in order to invite applications.  It does require, however, some key criteria for assessing candidates, which may be provided as an addendum to the job description, this will allow internal and external recruiters the opportunity to properly assess applicants in line with the recruiting manager’s expectations.  

The recruiting manager should be open to advert responses, because of the looser parameters they may challenge original assumptions – this can better guide the job description and advert drafting in the future.   

The documents should have some key consistencies.


The tone of these documents need to:

  1. Reflect the real needs of the role, not feature corporate speak, in-house language, or acronyms
  2. Be honest – challenges are better expressed up front rather come as surprises by the appointee on day 1 of the job
  3. Be attractive and appealing – assume that you have to try hard to find the best, which is the reality – mediocrity is never in short supply. This principle is key for attraction (i.e. job adverts), but is often forgotten about in retention (i.e. in job descriptions and development reviews).  Its inclusion can rekindle the passion for the role that first attracted a long-serving incumbent to take it in the first place.


Both job descriptions, assessment criteria and adverts need to have content broken into key parts:

  1. The job role or title featured early, clearly (plainly) and prominently. It helps for this to be as consistent as possible with industry norms, individuals often check their career progress against their peers by such simple measurements
  2. Organisation, current situation and goals
  3. Role context, targets and reporting
  4. Person skill set and requirements
  5. It needs to conform to SMART principles: Specific; Measurable; Achievable; Relevant; Tangible.  It must be legally and corporately compliant (i.e. legal and not contrary to corporate policy) in the HQ country and in the operating country

Be ready with follow-up information:

  • Organisational charts
  • Specifics on number of direct reports, direct and indirect reporting lines
  • Pictures, videos, internet links, narrative on working and living environments. Often resources which are informal and online are more impactive, as they are more ‘fly-on-the-wall’ i.e. more spontaneous and transparent
  • Role targets, budgets and key goals and/or challenges
  • Full remuneration details including residency and relocation packages, fly-in, fly-out (including class of travel and whose time such travel is on), bonuses and incentives

Things to watch out for:

  1. Current: If you publish incorrect information, conduct a slow or unreasonably laborious or repetitive process and interview poorly, news will get around your pool of possible candidates and will affect the result
  2. Previous: If the previous or current incumbent has been poorly dealt with, paid late, or been badly managed, this will be known to some applicants and will affect the result.  Exit interviews can provide some very important information for recruiting replacements, while you may be in breach of contractural, legal obligations or stated corporate values by mismanaging an incumbent out of a role
  3. The reveal: the further an applicant goes through the process, they will want to be included more and more with a greater level of detail.  You must be ready to provide information which is appropriate for mutual engagement to that stage in the process.
  4. Reputations: the recruitment process has a very direct impact on corporate reputation – make sure that the tone and content of your recruitment contributes positively and is also consistent with your talent management policies and principles.

Recruitment audit

Have you ever wondered whether you are getting best value for your recruitment spend? Have you ever thought that the competition seem to find it easier and quicker to recruit than you do? Do you worry that your recruiters’ interpretation of best practice is not current or in line with business needs? If the answer is yes, you should talk to us about our recruitment audit.

We look into the two key drivers of your recruitment department and provide a report and benchmarked recommendations covering, amongst other things:


  1. Are your people the right people, focussed on the right activities?
  2. Are they properly paid, trained, managed, assessed and empowered?
  3. Are they consistent with and supportive of your employer brand?
  4. Are they really effective and value for money?
  5. Is their stakeholder management fantastic?
  6. Are they evangelists for your business?
  7. Do your recruiters genuinely have the buy-in from and dialogue with recruiting managers?
  8. Do they have good understanding of their sector and of general business intelligence?
  9. Are their networks extensive?


  1. Are they properly (but not overly) documented? Does your team have a clear understanding of what best practice is?
  2. Are you outsourcing what you should and is your outsourcing effective?
  3. Is your methodology exhaustive and role appropriate in each case?
  4. Is your documentation on brand and shared at the appropriate time and with the appropriate people?
  5. Does your IT support your people and processes, is it fit for purpose (and your ambitions), or does it get in the way?
  6. Are your success criteria properly benchmarked and measured?
  7. Do you know how competitive your benefits levels and policies are?
  8. Are your suppliers managed and paid appropriately?

Our ‘Mystery Application’ service completes the finishing touches, giving you direct feedback from an applicant’s perspective by testing the communication and response provided by your internal and external recruiters from entry level onwards.

Please contact us for more information…….

Keep it simple as suggested in yesterday’s Sunday Times article about Jack Welsh

As we navigate more and more treacherous business conditions, it is worth considering the common sense practices of one of the most successful CEOs in living memory, Jack Welsh.

He was a true leader of a business (GE) which grew in stature and commercial success under his expert stewardship; he is worthy of imitation. Check out the Sunday Times article here.

If you are still feeling punch drunk from last week and looking for entrepreneurial inspiration and to re-energise, see this YouTube video by Guy Kawasaki:

All that glitters is not gold

We were well represented at the 2nd Annual Global Human Asset in Mining conference arranged by Fleming Gulf in London last month, where we spoke on the subject of maximising the benefit of relationships and dealings with external recruiters; we also contributed to a lengthy and cheerfully animated debate on ‘fly in, fly out’ and ‘drive in, drive out’ expatriate engagement choices and their operational efficiencies.

Branding and appearances

The conference was again extremely well attended, but there was a definite shift in language from the ATS systems and process focus of 2012, to a new emphasis on employer branding.  This manifested itself in a number of different ways, some cosmetic (i.e. visual branding) and some fundamental (i.e. portrayal of explicit values).  This has come about as the industry considers that good talent is becoming more and more difficult to attain, therefore the focus needs to be on keeping up the employer branding image.

There was specific disagreement of the prioritisation of the visual branding approach in isolation, particularly from the external recruiters in the audience and on the speaker register.  We and others emphasised that in fact the supply of labour is increasing, due to lay offs and project cancellations around the world, so there has never been a better time to target a preferred type of candidate.  However, it is most important that the company recruiting has a clear plan, that it is well communicated and that the recruiting process is consistent with that plan – this is what attracts quality individuals.

Applicants for roles are increasingly jaded with inefficient and pointlessly length processes – they are now much more willing to withdraw if they consider the recruiting process to be inefficient or undignified.  Companies need to enter the market with clarity and focus and ensure their reputations receive a boost, not a dent, in managing to a conclusion this very public undertaking (however secretive one believes it to be!).

Efficiency and profitability

There were also lengthy discussions on the recent fates of swathes of CEOs from the top mining companies.  It is clear that HR and recruitment in general have avoided much of the focus on commercial efficiency, but now the boom times are over, at least for now, increasing scrutiny will be placed on HR, its relationship with hiring managers, through to recruitment and retention of the best industry talent.

It is abundantly clear that inefficient hiring strategies, badly designed roles and poor recruitment execution or productivity (regardless of the involvement of external recruiters) will attract the ire of C suite executives and internal auditors – ultimately they will simply not let the basics lapse in favour of ‘glammed up’ employer branding pieces.  Gilding the lily is all very well, but if the flower is already wilting the image cannot possibly work.  Getting the basics consistently correct is clearly the way forward – it is not a mystery that any applicant wants clarity, simplicity and transparent, appropriate decision-making more than spangly, but disconnected visuals.

Being the brilliant interviewee!

  1. Prepare carefully. Research the company and the interviewers. Weave this knowledge subtly into the conversation. Try to interview at a time of day when you feel at your best and ensure that you have had a chance to take a rest from the day job beforehand. You must not seem rushed or exhausted
  2. Smile occasionally and appropriately (even if you are only on the phone) – it makes a huge difference
  3. ALWAYS talk about your previous employers positively. If they were crooks, you don’t have to call them that – understating the point and moving on is more powerful and expressive ‘I enjoyed the experience a great deal, however I felt that I had more to offer a business which prized integrity more highly’!
  4. If you are on a video conference, when speaking, look into the camera (make sure you know where it is!) and glance occasionally at your audience for your cues – it is much more engaging to attempt eye contact. Gesture and move normally, as long as you don’t move around in the frame excessively – animation is good. Think about your background (visually) and ensure there is no background noise. Remember mechanical noises particularly are amplified by AV equipment, so the washing machine quietly doing its spin cycle three rooms away may be deafening to your interviewer!
  5. Have your essentials documented simply and clearly – refer back to them when the opportunity arises
  6. Don’t shoe-horn points you want to make into parts of the conversation which are out of context, cover as a separate point, or AOB
  7. If you have something you are not proud of on your CV, find an opportunity to put it into a favourable context without highlighting it unduly. Don’t wait for the killer question!
  8. Everyone thinks they are body language experts – they are often wrong, so be positive and upbeat throughout and don’t second guess the outcome
  9. Don’t use ‘in house’ or cliquey language – it excludes others and makes you sound institutionalised
  10. Have a copy of your CV handy in case it is referred to and points need clarifying – if your CV has been reformatted by a recruitment business, make sure you have a copy of that as well, there may be mistakes
  11. Avoid using negative words. Practise talking about things you don’t like in a positive way
  12. Be clear on what are essentials or deal-breakers, but be open on the rest, you will be surprised what options evolve as a result
  13. Try to avoid referring to money face to face, but if an interviewer presses the point, be clear on your key (researched) figure or more broadly i.e. ‘I want to be valued on par with the market and other members of the senior management team’. Use you recruitment agency referrer as an intermediary if there is one
  14. In interviews, try to put your opposite number at ease, you will find out much more; show respect and be polite. Never interrupt or argue but be assertive – you are entitled to politely and gently but firmly make your point
  15. Take your time to think – interviewers appreciate you respecting the question rather than ‘shooting from the hip’. Make sure you have understood any points raised (ask if necessary), without doing so repeatedly, which can be seen as a clumsy way to play for time
  16. Make your point pleasantly and expressively – then STOP TALKING – silences are an easy trap to make you start waffling. If a silence is very long, ask if your interviewer would like you to elaborate or clarify any point you have made
  17. Use examples to illustrate your points and where permissible, figures
  18. Always respect confidentiality agreements and implied confidentiality. Gossips are useful but unpopular
  19. Understand the dress code, even for video conferences. If there isn’t one, err on the side of caution (more formal)
  20. It is critically important to RESERVE JUDGEMENT and properly evidence any opinions you develop

Super cycle or super-charged?

Cambridge House’s January conference in Vancouver in a new venue (the new and very large conference centre extension) – would it be parked in a small corner of the facility, embarrassingly tucked away? Not a bit of it. The conference was thronged with personal investors on the first day (Sunday) and hugely well attended throughout. Many reflected on the healthy cooling off of the gold price to a little over $1,200, but that has also since bounded upwards again, fuelled by depreciating major currencies and defensive buying of gold.

The bankers were out on force for Indaba, too, with brokers’ notes maligning new kids on the block who arrived with sharpened pencils and open cheque books come to take advantage of the popularity of commodity stocks. Partying in Cape Town was intensive too, with many taxing evening itineraries for most company executives. Toronto was no different, again record numbers to PDAC and the familiar jam-packed escalators into the bowels of the conference centre to partake of the feast.

Comments abounded of the lack of skills available, the momentary shortage of engineering skills and the perennial scarcity of geologists which is already increased in intensity. But let me reassure you, dear reader, that there are always the right people for the right job and it is not always necessary to pillage the competition to achieve such feats……. and yes, you do need the right partner to find them, so look no further!

Frothy or on the start of the next super-cycle? Time will tell……..

LOTS of London conferences – a summary

The silly season has started again with back to back conferences in London to celebrate uncharacteristically cold English weather for this time of year. The Canadians may laugh but averaging -5°C is cold!

The Investing in Africa conference by MineAfrica clashed with Australia Day but was nonetheless extremely well attended despite the travel disruptions caused by the weather. The outlook was considered to be excellent, with some superb prospects in some emerging provinces, with Eritrea represented strongly with speakers of ministerial rank at the conference.

The assembly was honest about the challenges, with continuing difficulty for foreign investors in Zimbabwe and South Africa featuring less than usual because of commercial and political challenges – however, the delegates at Australia Day probably said the same of the recently blunted federal super-tax from Canberra.

There were some illuminating presentations not only from some excellent resource companies, but markedly from TMX, who highlighted their bullishness and their marked competitive successes over the last year or so; the UK Bribery Act and its equivalents threw up some interesting and heated discussions, with interesting country corruption ratings scales aired.

Mines & Money was the busiest for several years, with Canadian and Australian companies leading the charge with some great stories and distinctly bullish sentiment – their UK based colleagues were carried on a tide of optimism. The level of development and renewed exploration is already highlighting intense shortages of expertise – exploration geologists are particularly in demand with experienced mine developers closely following on the shopping lists. Watch this space for soaring salaries, particularly in the mining hotspots and compensation to offer the most sympathetic non-financial incentives! Overall some great business done, even better sentiment and collectively optimistic for 2011 – but ready for a holiday after 2010!

The third London conference of the week was Canada Day, which again was affected by the weather but reiterated the bullishness of the Canadian companies and the positive support given by the TSX investors for endeavours all over the world. Some juniors have demonstrated massive resilience and magical timing, pulling great prospects out of the bag to catch the market upturn.

Best wishes to one and all for a safe journey home, a restful Christmas and a fantastic 2011 – and to all those that brought that breath of great sentiment from abroad into London this week… you hum it, we’ll sing it.

Talent mapping – an overview

Talent mapping is thought of as being one in the same (in the context of a single role) as the candidate identification and initial contact stages of an executive search (head hunting) assignment.

Your talent map is the identification of a group of individuals for one or more specific (normally key) roles in the business; there are always multiple options for each role and therefore it is important to identify  a large quantity of good quality candidates as well as the means to quickly communicate with them once the need arises if there is no immediate need.

It firstly requires a business to understand how to measure and define (generically and role specifically) what a good prospective employee is.  It then seeks to understand where the best talent is working.  It establishes which businesses tend to have the best individuals and what working conditions and remuneration attract them to those businesses and keep them there.

In some cases the individuals who are identified as prospective employees by this process are kept in contact with on a speculative long-term basis, in other cases the person exists as a referral from a third party or from desk research which the company does not act upon by contacting the individual.

This means that the business has a talent pipeline and therefore the basis to build their succession plan whatever its future demands, whether through significant growth or organisational change.

Talent mapping has the following peripheral benefits:

  • Organisations that talent map are proactively managing their reputation as employers in the market – this improves reputation and provides excellent responsive feedback
  • It seeks to understand what the industry’s top quartile is and its relationship to the business’s measurement of what is the best (they may not be the same)
  • It is a great snapshot of competitor and market activityIt benchmarks compensation and benefits packages
  • It encourages all employees to keep a ‘watching brief’ for future employeesIt makes sure that the company is clear on its message regarding prospective employees and because that message is being used and therefore being tested constantly, it remains under open review by the company
  • The company and its employees are proactive in communicating that messageIt is able to act decisively and quickly when a need arises

Before you consider a talent mapping exercise consider:

  • It is indeed a specialist task to undertake talent mapping and many companies do outsource to search companies.  However, it should not be underestimated that talent mapping is a desk research and initial contact exercise and much of the hard work is undertaken after the talent mapping is done, i.e. the proactive contact of all likely candidates to attract them together on a timely basis to a series of interviews with the business.
  • This is proactive reputation management – a poor message or one that is portrayed inconsistently by executives using it can have very damaging effects
  • The logistics, administrative backup and tone of communications must match the overall message

Women in Mining at Mines and Money

The representation of women in mining and exploration is among the lowest in primary industry categories, yet as forecasts point to a re-emergence of skill shortages within the next decade, attracting and retaining women is one of the keys to sustainable growth in the mineral sector. The UK network of Women in Mining (WIM) aims to support this evolution by promoting the employment, retention and professional development of women in the mining sector.

Founded in 2006, the network has grown to more than five hundred members today, representing a variety of mining-related businesses and professions. Membership is free and open to all women in the mining industry wherever they work, though the majority of members are based in the United Kingdom or continental Europe. Women in Mining publishes a monthly newsletter and organises networking drinks and speaker seminars on mining or career-related topics. It also coordinates with women’s organisations and universities to promote mining as a career choice and participates in industry events to promote the important and positive role of women within the mineral sector. The organisation is currently sponsored by Anglo American plc and seeking additional sponsorship to achieve its objectives and continue to grow.

Women in Mining will have a stand at Mines and Money London 2010, where it will launch its new website and take this opportunity to connect with industry participants and celebrate its recent achievements by hosting a Champagne Reception.  For more information or to become a member, please visit the website.