Why it's wise to retain Kn'OWL'edge

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Why it's wise to retain Kn'OWL'edge

 11th Aug 2014

 lee pic

Lee Dougan

Client Development Manager

Electus Recruitment Solutions

As a small but successful business, we have a diverse age range of employees ranging from 21 through to (until very recently) well over 65. With the latter having us surrender to their requests for retirement, we soon realised that the gap in knowledge that they would leave behind would be much larger than we could replace.                      

For years, they have been great for us, not just filling the all important role of steady eddies but also the ‘wise owls’. They were never going to set the world alight with business development nor were they going to embrace our new social media activities or accompany us on some of the more raucous company socials , but they brought something much more important and ironically new ­ old methodologies. 

Such things as the importance of speaking on the phone, meeting face to face and building relationships with hiring managers based on who they were and not just what they did. They remember peoples birthdays, they know what their candidate did on holiday last year and they remember if they have children (and names, gender, ages etc). They know phone numbers from memory but most importantly they speak from experience. They know how to handle every objection ­ they’ve come up against them before. They have met every HR managers predecessor ­ and those before them. They have been to a company’s offices and can tell them where the site used to be or how it looked. This knowledge can be passed on but it cannot be delivered in the same way ­ that’s because you need to have had the experience to go with the knowledge ­ a neat little bundle that what we call credibility. 

But when you have this type of employee, who are regularly billing a modest amount per year, you realise that it’s not drive, motivation, working long hours that achieves all of their placements, it’s knowledge of the market place and probably more importantly their savvy when dealing with candidates and hirers.

They are respected, because they know their markets and they know how to play the markets. They are not afraid to tell an HR Officer that the candidate that they have sent is the best person for the role ­ because they have recruited 100 people in that discipline or market previously. Equally, they are unafraid to push back when someone is rejected because they have conviction in what they are saying and most often they are correct. 

Despite the talk of age, it is actually immaterial in this instance, you could just as well be talking about someone starting in recruitment at 16 and giving the same wizened advice 25 years down the line when you are 41. Without moving things too far away, you could take football as an analogy ­ Ryan Giggs may lack some of his pace and dynamism but you could argue that his football brain is much more developed now and he can still have a significant impact on the game ­ even if it is not as regularly. However, he probably has a much greater part to play in the dressing room where he can impart his knowledge on younger players and can act as a role model and ambassador for the club. Developing players have something to aspire for if they can look at someone else’s achievements in the game and know that they are realistically achievable, even if that person is no longer performing at the top of their game themselves.

Basically, if you have been there and done it ­ you can fall back on experience and you can advise accordingly. How often do new recruiters tell candidates “oh yes they are a great company to work for we have placed many people with them” despite never having placed a candidate with them as an individual and not knowing the traits and nuances of the recruiting process. Of course, young recruiters or new people coming into the industry have an essential part to play ­ they are our future owls ­and this is why all organisations needs to be diverse in experience.

As a company we are very forward thinking. We are investing in new technologies and communication tools. We avidly read, learn and implement many of the modern techniques of recruitment and we are about to relocate to some very modern brand new offices. However,  we have learned to embrace our Owls ­ to integrate them evenly throughout the office and make sure that their presence is spread throughout. It is all very well them telling people how to do things or giving them stories of how they have done things previously, but we believe that the value in what they teach comes from what they do in the here and now. After all, as Albert Einstein once said “Information is not knowledge”. 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Electus Recruitment Solutions

 

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