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The Head, the Heart and the Briefcase – are you ready for the new recruitment game?

Updated: Dec 23, 2021

The end of the year is nigh – and with it the traditional, annual stocktake.

For brands, it’s the season to evaluate performance, assess results, compare bottom lines to previous years and check outcomes to targets.

For individuals, it’s a moment to pause on personal goals, reflect on achievements and mull over milestones.

And after reflection, comes projection.

Psychologically, each year-end signals the closing of one book and the opening of another. A pause to consider what to write in your next chapter and the opportunity to plan for the future.

Brand or person - now is the perfect time to pose the serious questions:

• Where do I/we want to be in 12 months’ time?

• How do I/we create the path to get there?

• What are my/our priorities to make sure I/we get there?

No doubt, the conclusion for many of us is - change.

And that’s precisely why Q1 of each year is always a busy time for recruiting, for both individuals and brands.

For job seekers at the executive level, it is a particularly busy period.

The end of the year and festive season often ignites “fresh starts” – and further primed by family banter and a food and alcohol coma.

Another reason is that, for brands, in Q1 new budgets start. Nabbing great talent is often at the top of the priority list and carried over from the previous year. It also coincides with bonus payouts from the last role and few want to leave those on the table.

“Since the pandemic, businesses, markets and customers have changed radically,¨ says talent optimization consultant Tom Johnston, who helps help companies hire, retain and engage the right employees.

¨It’s essential for leaders to recognize that they might have people in roles today who were a great fit in the past – but now, their business strategy has likely changed and along with that, the work to be done.

“Going into 2022, a vital question to be asked is ‘have I got the right people in the right roles?” If the answer is no, then finding the right person for that seat ought to be a top priority.

“Talent optimization is the discipline of aligning business strategy with people strategy to achieve results. The majority of organizations, don’t have a people strategy in place. Which is unfortunate, as people are an organizations greatest asset and often its biggest expense.”

Meanwhile, on the candidate-side, things have shifted too. The Millennial and Gen Z cohorts have an entirely different spin on career progression.

There is no ladder.

The concept of climbing, one rung at a time, over the next 20 years in the same organization is one nauseating eye-roll. In fact, the pandemic – which has highlighted the transitory nature of work, life and business – probably delivered one final blow to the model.

Much more important to Millennials and Gen Z, when it comes to finding their ‘perfect job’, is for the company to have purpose and the values to be aligned with their worldview. They expect happiness and satisfaction. Every. Step. Of. The. Way. If not, they move on. And boy, they move on quickly. We saw this with the great quit, 4 million Americans leaving their jobs in July 2021 with another 4.3 million exiting voluntarily in August.

This is because the division between work and personal life no longer exists. This whole person approach means that the future C-suites are now making decisions based on three aspects which are interlinked:




“A job candidate is more than a list of experiences, education and references on a piece of paper,” Johnston says.

“To better understand their fit for a job, brands now need to assess their behavioral drives and cognitive ability (head), their values and interests (heart), along with their knowledge, skills, and experience (briefcase).

“This is important, because when you make a mishire, the cost can be anywhere from 30 to 40 percent of the individual’s salary.

So as we enter 2022, what are the top considerations for those planning on throwing themselves back on the job market? And what about the brands? What should they consider as they try to keep their existing talent – while attracting new superstars?

And where are the sweetspots, in which the needs of candidates meet with the requirements of brands and organizations?


Seeking happiness

It’s been a tough 20 months, which has left a mark on everyone and everything. Priorities have been reshuffled and “health and happiness” have emerged victorious. Financial security is still a concern, but it has been relegated below physical and mental wellbeing.

From a career point of view, this has been reflected in the “Great Quit”, which has shown that people are no longer willing to suffer in silence in a role they are unhappy in. As the cliché goes, life is short. And people are now applying that to their work life. “I’m not happy. I’m out”.

The logistics must sing

The importance of a healthy work-life balance hit the headlines prior to the pandemic – but the impact of COVID-19 amplified the issue. Spare rooms, garages and living areas were converted, video conferencing upgraded and industrial-grade coffee machines installed.

Since then, research suggests that productivity while working remotely from home is better than working in an office setting – including a study by Standford of 16,000 workers over 9 months which shows working from home increased productivity by 13 percent.

The net effect is that many people now expect work to fit in with their life – and that geography has become redundant. The new norm is fast becoming the expectation that top talent should no longer be required in the office full time, with more flexibility to work their role from home.

Purpose & Culture above all

This is a theme which continues to rise. Top talent will soon only consider working for values-aligned businesses. Brand propositions – both internal and external – have never been more important. Whether it’s sustainability, social responsibility or equal opportunities, you must deliver authentically on issues that matter and communicate that transparently.

If your foundational concept and unique identifying features match a person’s values, people are much more likely to join you on your journey and stay the path.


What is your brand, really?

The whole person approach to work and career matters, adopted by Millennials and Gen Z, now means that an organization’s purpose and culture needs to match the candidates’ values. So the clearer you are on your brand, the easier it will be for people to evaluate and align with it.

Find out: how likely are your employees to refer a friend or family member to work at your company? This is a meaningful metric of your culture.

If you have trouble attracting top talent, there could be a problem with your brand. You may require triage on your company behavior and the messaging around it.

Being valued trumps compensation

The generational shift from “ladder to non-ladder” career approaches will expose a disconnection when it comes to attracting the talent of the future. Throwing money at roles and people may not successfully paper-over a fractured culture.

What modern employees really want is to contribute and to be valued. They want to be recognized and appreciated and credited with the successes they help the brand achieve.

Align before you assign.

Stop playing hiring roulette

How do you define what the job is, when you’re looking to find someone for a role? Do you use data and science in the process of defining the requirements? Or do you simply go with a rough description, which loosely outlines the responsibilities?

Most importantly, do you only include what you would like to see in the incoming person’s ‘briefcase’ – ie. their knowledge, skills, and experience? Is a person’s resume the only measure you use to assess their suitability?

If so – and you ignore the head and the heart – you’re in danger of playing hiring roulette and missing out on an opportunity to find someone who will not only be able to do the job, but match your values.

Using behavioral and cognitive assessments in your hiring can be more time consuming and labour intensive, but applying a whole person process means you will likely find a better match – and someone who’s more likely to stick around.

Need help with your processes in 2022?

Are you a senior candidate looking to land a dream role?

Want a good soul for a pivotal role?

Knock and it shall be answered



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