DAV Professional Placment Group
DAV Professional Placment Group


Johannesburg +27 11 217 0000

Cape Town +27 21 468 7000

JOHANNESBURG +27 11 217 0000
CAPE TOWN +27 21 468 7000

August 28, 2015
6:52 am
by Anita Hoole

Conquering Interview Nerves









It’s only natural to feel nervous before a job interview; after all, there’s a lot at stake. You’re all too aware that you’ll be scrutinised, asked sometimes difficult questions, and that almost all the control will be in the hands of the interviewer. The unfortunate truth, however, is that interview jitters can jeopordise the very reason you’re there: getting the job. This can be true, even if you are perfect for the role. Here’s how to get those nerves under control and make a great first impression:

  • Be fully prepared. Do as much research as you can on the company, their products and competitors, the role and the hiring manager/s. Be able to articulate how your skills, qualifications and experience align with the position and the culture of the company (employers want to know you are a good fit for both the job and their culture). Preparation will increase your confidence, even when you are asked tough questions, eliminating nervous habits will help you feel in command of your questions and answers. We also recommend you pay a visit to the location at least once before the interview, plan your route very carefully and give yourself plenty of time to get there: an unfamiliar environment adds to your stress (as will getting lost on the way to the interview). Don’t wait till the last minute for essential prep like printing out copies of your CV or getting dressed for the interview (lay out your outfit in advance and make sure it’s one that makes you feel confident and fabulous).
  • Be thoroughly practiced and ready: Think about the possible questions you’ll be asked and how you’ll answer them (don’t memorise your answers exactly, but plot the points you want to make). Write down the 3 – 5 things you want the interviewer to know about you before the interview is over so you can tailor your answers where necessary. Format your own questions, making sure they’re relevant. Practice, practice, practice! Stand in front of a mirror to check your body language or have a friend take you through several dry runs. Speaking the words out loud helps immeasurably, more than running them through your mind. Practice pacing yourself; nerves often make us speed up our speech and can prompt us to speak without thinking. There’s nothing wrong with pausing, so practice slowing down.
  • Be completely familiar with your CV and prepared for questions that could arise from it. For example, if you’ve mentioned in your CV that you led a team in a previous job, you could be asked about the easiest and most difficult aspects of that task. Be prepared to talk about problem solving (your biggest problem in particular), and how you could have done better in hindsight. Explain any gaps in your CV. Other things to prepare for are your motivators, expectations and long-term career plans.
  • Greatest weakness and greatest achievement: Be prepared to answer both questions: ‘what’s your biggest weakness’ as well as ‘what’s your greatest achievement’. Make both relevant to the role. For your weakness, remain honest and think carefully about the strengths necessary for the role and how those strengths could transform into weaknesses. For example, if confidence is needed for the role you might talk about how your confidence may sometimes be perceived as arrogance. For your greatest achievement, if the most important aspect of the job involves leading and motivating people, talking about finishing that marathon may not be the most relevant reply. Remember, your interviewer ultimately wants to know what you can do for the company.
  • Relieve stress: In the days and hours before an interview, rely on your preferred methods of stress relief. Whether its yoga, jogging, deep breathing exercises, meditation, or anything else, try to devote some time for decompression. When you are on your way to the interview, take deep measured breaths and remain poised and focused. Explore positive visualisation (picturing yourself answering questions with confidence and landing the job). Whatever works for you to calm yourself and up your confidence.
  • Take care of yourself: Avoid last-minute preparation in the 24 hours before the interview. Get a good night’s sleep, eat a light, nutritious meal, and relax.
  • Accentuate the positive: En-route to the interview give yourself a pep talk, review all your positive traits, skills and accomplishments. Listen to upbeat music. You’ll arrive confident and dynamic. Nerves have a way of making us feel undeserving: focus on all the reasons why you deserve the job.
  • Think of the interview as a conversation between two people who want to get to know one another. This will help put both you and the interviewer (yes, it’s possible they may be nervous as well) at ease. Ask questions genuinely, if you talk only about yourself you risk coming across as arrogant.
  • When we’re crippled with fear we find it hard to listen. Try to slow down your body’s natural responses and listen. You’ll be less likely to answer questions badly (and you’ll also make the interviewer feel valued).
  • Use your own voice. Avoid putting on a formal public speaking voice. Speak as if you were talking with a group of friends. Be yourself, you’ll come across as relaxed, authentic and confident.
  • Master the right posture. Stand tall while you wait for the interview. You’ll look more confident than if the first impression your interviewer has, is of you struggling up out of a chair. Once in the interview and seated, square your shoulders, sit up straight and lean forward slightly. You’ll look and feel more dynamic. Keep your hands visible on the table: it’s a sign of honesty.
  • Remember, it’s just one interview. There’ll be another if this one doesn’t pan out. Thinking this way helps you combat any possible feelings of desperation; which will come across as neediness to the interviewer. You’re there because they liked your CV, half the battle. So focus on projecting confidence and putting all your careful prep work to good use. It also pays to bear in mind that hiring managers aren’t looking for perfection; they’re looking for resilience and flexibility. Accept that mistakes sometimes happen, and if they do, show the interviewer you can exhibit grace under fire.
  • Finally, don’t worry about having interview nerves. It’s only natural to be apprehensive in an important situation and a certain amount of nervousness can actually benefit you, making you sharper and helping you perform better. What you want to avoid is debilitating fear, and if you’re fully prepared, this shouldn’t be an issue. Enjoy the interview and be proud of your achievements, you’re already on the shortlist so they must think pretty highly of you.

Good luck and as always, if we can be of any assistance, please get in touch.


  1. How to Conquer Interview Nerves – DAV Professional Placement Group
  2. Cheeky tips: 10 weird ways to beat interview nerves – The Guardian
  3. 14 Tips For Staying Calm During A Job Interview – Jacquelyn Smith, Forbes
  4. Face the Fear: How to Overcome Job Interview Anxiety – Pamela Skillings, Big Interview


August 25, 2015
11:38 am
by Luisette Mullin

The Low-down on Applicant Tracking Systems









The allure of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) cannot be denied: they apply the logic of technology search to an ever more complex hiring process, promising to:

  • Enable volume handling of CV’s;
  • Reduce time to hire;
  • Increase efficiency and therefore, cost savings;
  • Easily identify candidates with the right skills, education, and experience;
  • Screen out unsuitable candidates;
  • Assist with diversity and BBBEE compliance;
  • Integrate various sources (company website, social media sites, internal recruitment, etc.); and of course
  • Provide HR and hiring managers with metrics and data.

Internationally, upwards of 75% of hiring companies use an ATS, in SA it’s probably closer to 40%. An ATS can manage the recruitment process from start to finish, including:

  • Posting jobs;
  • Customised online applications;
  • Pre-evaluation;
  • Automated CV collection, sorting, evaluation, ranking and storage;
  • Automated candidate communication;
  • Response tracking;
  • Onboarding; and
  • Reporting.

Older ATS software relied on semantic search technology that essentially counted keywords, rendering the process open to abuse by job seekers who could simply keyword-load their CVs. Equally problematic: the hiring company could easily miss qualified candidates if their CVs lacked the keywords the ATS was weighting for that particular role. The newer approach employs contextualisation which goes much deeper and examines the relevance of the keyword to the applicant’s work history and/or education, how recently the desired skill has been used, and the depth of knowledge the candidate possesses of the topic (by assessing whether relevant and related terms are also present in the CV in relation to the keyword or phrase).

However, don’t look to applicant tracking systems to take the human touch out of the hiring equation. They’re designed to make your involvement more time efficient and more effective, but are ultimately limited by the information they acquire from the job-seekers’ CV (which often contain misstatements, omissions and inconsistencies). If the CV isn’t structured in a way that fits the ATS, it can enter a black hole. Success depends on querying the system with the right keywords, specifications, and requirements to draw out CVs that are the best fit for the position. Taking the results at face value can mean you miss out on qualified candidates.

Randall Birkwood, of Ere Media, recommends taking the following into consideration when choosing an ATS (over and above researching the vendor’s experience, credibility and references):

  1. Ease of use. Your team should be able to use the system easily with minimum training. Ultimately, what’s most important is that it’s easy to set up, intuitive, and requires minimal maintenance.
  2. Candidate experience. This is easily overlooked but one of the most important factors to take into consideration when evaluating an ATS.
  3. Social networking/job posting. Ask the vendor: What job posting sites do you have access to? What social networking sites do you have access to?
  4. Search and matching. Ensure the search functionality is accurate, quick, and the results are laid out in a logical format.
  5. Customer support. Customer support is an important factor in your decision, as usability, downtime, and performance issues can be crippling.
  6. Reporting. There should be, at a minimum, reporting for time-to-fill, diversity, and source of hire, among other things.
  7. The cloud vs. IT. Unless you have dedicated IT resources, go with a product that is updated and maintained by your vendor.
  8. Easy integration. Depending upon your size, you will likely want to integrate the ATS with another system. Small companies will integrate the ATS with a website, while larger companies will integrate multiple systems.
  9. Performance. Slow performance and downtime can lead to lost candidates, frustrated users, and lost opportunities. Learn about the vendor’s up-time percentage record and the ATS’ speed.
  10. Internal candidate portal. For enterprise customers, internal movement is an important means to a healthy workforce and employee retention. Ensure that the ATS has a portal for employees to access, and that it’s attractive and intuitive.
  11. Employee referral portal. For enterprise customers, the ATS should have a separate portal for employees to refer their friends. Evaluate the user experience, for both employee and the candidate.
  12. Ownership of data. You may eventually change vendors, or change your business, at which stage you will need your data. Ask the vendor if you can download your candidate CVs and records. If they say yes, pry further so you understand exactly what records you will receive and in what format.

While investing in an ATS has obvious benefits, weigh the pros and cons to ensure you choose a system that suits your business. As always, if we can be of any assistance please get in touch.


  1. Why Applicant Tracking Systems Need a Human Touch – Suzanne Lucas, Cornerstone
  2. Applicant Tracking Systems, Part I: What They Mean for Job Seekers – Robin’s Resumes
  3. Applicant Tracking Systems, Part II: Drawbacks and Myths about ATS – Robin’s Resumes


August 20, 2015
12:17 pm
by Kelly Norton

Workplace Environment Strategies: How Corporate Culture Drives Retention


According to new Deloitte research more than half of global business leaders rate culture, engagement and retention as their top challenges, up from around 20% in 2014. It wasn’t that long ago that words like ‘culture’ were thought to be an almost laughable measure of company performance but now we know that companies with strong positive cultures outperform others and are the most in-demand for top talent. As Prof. James L. Heskett wrote in The Culture Cycle, companies with an effective culture perform 20-30 percent better than ‘culturally unremarkable’ competitors.

Burson-Marsteller and the Great Place to Work Institute recently teamed up to ask senior executives from top-ranked companies about the value of a positive work environment. Resoundingly, they recognise culture as critical to talent retention. When asked which elements of workplace commitment most benefit daily operations, companies ranked culture at 80 percent and recruitment/retention at 70 percent. In a world where competition for talent is global, star performers seek companies with values that mirror their own.

So what do we mean by this somewhat vague term, ‘culture,’ anyway? Josh Bersin of Bersin by Deloitte says: “Some define it as ‘what happens when nobody is looking’. In reality, it’s much more complex. Culture is the set of behaviours, values, artefacts, reward systems, and rituals that make up your organisation. You can ‘feel’ culture when you visit a company, because it is often evident in people’s behaviour, enthusiasm, and the space itself.”

He recommends The Competing Values Framework, by Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn for diagnosing your culture and helping you align your values and hire to the culture you want to build.

Ultimately how leaders behave, what they say, and what they value drives culture. So the selection and development of leaders is critical to building the right culture. Tim Schaffer of Human Resources Inc recommends that executive management ask themselves the following to define what the company stands for (there are no right or wrong answers but it’s important that the culture is embraced by everyone):

  • What is important to you? What do you want to accomplish?
  • What is your vision and mission statement?
  • Do you want a cutting-edge, Google-type work environment or a more traditional 9-5 office setting?
  • Do you want your employees to be socially conscious and involved in the community?
  • Do you want a highly competitive environment?
  • Will you expect each individual in your workforce to be an intrinsic part of the organisation?

TCii Strategic and Management Consultants offer this sampling of environmental employee retention strategies:

  • Create a values statement.
  • Communicate positive feelings.
  • Be fair and honest.
  • Cultivate a feeling of family.
  • Promote integrity.
  • Do not tolerate sub-par performance.
  • Insist on workplace safety.
  • Reduce the number of meetings.
  • Make work fun.

More than ever, employees want a culture of openness and shared information. They want to know where the company is going and what it will look like in the future. How is the company doing financially? Where does it stand in the marketplace? In addition, employees want to know how their specific job fits into the grand scheme of things and what they can do to help the organisation get to where it wants to go.

To assess your culture’s level of openness, ask questions such as:

  • Do our employees know how the company is doing in key areas such as sales, financials, strategy and marketing?
  • Do we promote open-book management (or something approaching it), or do we keep information a closely guarded secret among the top management team?
  • Do employees understand our vision, mission and values?
  • Do we have a values statement that clarifies and supports a culture of openness?
  • Do we give performance feedback on a regular basis or only at annual review time?
  • Do we encourage individuals and departments to share information with each other?

In conclusion, when people buy into your clearly stated corporate values and have the information they need to get the job done, they tend to stick around.

As always, if we can assist in any way, please get in touch.


  1. UK: 5 Top Employee Retention Strategies – TCii Strategic and Management Consultants, as seen on Mondaq.com
  2. Building a Strong Company Culture – -Tim Schaffer, Human Resources Inc, as seen on smartCEO.com
  3. Culture: Why It’s The Hottest Topic in Business Today – Josh Bersin, Contributor Forbes Magazine
  4. Building a Strong Workplace Culture Fosters Talent Retention – Joe Chappell, Blue Steps
  5. What Great Companies Know About Culture – Deidre H. Campbell, Harvard Business Review


August 17, 2015
12:10 pm
by Joanne Meyer

First Impressions Last: Avoid these Common Onboarding Errors


All research points to the same conclusion: well-managed onboarding programmes have a measurable impact on employee commitment, productivity, engagement and retention. Unfortunately, all too many companies overlook this vital part of the hiring process. The lack of a structured and documented process for onboarding new hires is the most common mistake employers make resulting in a process that is all too often haphazard and incomplete. Here are some of the other common mistakes to avoid when packaging your onboarding programme.

The lack of a structured recruiting and hiring process. Many new hires are already a poor fit for the position or the culture and values of the company. A comprehensive recruiting, interviewing, screening, and hiring process will maximise the potential for finding and keeping right-fit employees.

Confusing orientation with onboarding. These two terms are often used interchangeably; however, orientation (describing the history and mission of the company, teaching employees about company rules, summarising employee benefits, etc.) is actually a facet of onboarding. Well-executed onboarding is a process of developing the behaviors that will be the foundation of an employee’s long-term success, so they can deliver results as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Overloading new hires with too much information. This simply results in increased apprehension along with sensory overload, and it limits the amount of information the new hire remembers. However, employees should be thoroughly familiarised with not only their job functions, but with the layout of the workplace, relevant company wide functions, and even where and when people eat, or socialise as co-workers.

Limiting onboarding to the employee’s first day. The best programmes start before the employee’s first day and continue for up to 6 – 12 months.

Not making new employees feel welcome. Many new hires find themselves having to navigate their own way among their new colleagues. Make a point of introducing themselves to their co-workers and immediate supervisors.

Not offering onboarding at multiple organisational levels. This guarantees the new hire will spend a great deal of time operating blind. According to Dr. John Sullivan of Ere Media, the five organisational levels of onboarding are:

  • Corporate level. Covering signups and corporate-wide values.
  • Location level. Covering information and issues related to the country/region and the plant/facility where the new hire will be working.
  • Departmental level. Covering things related to the department the new hire is joining.
  • Team/Job level. Covering things related to this person’s work team and job.
  • Individual level. Covering things at the team level that relate to the unique and diverse needs of this individual.

Uni-directional information. Most programmes focus entirely on providing information the company wants the new hire to know. The best programmes make it a two-way conversation asking new hires about their concerns, who they wish to meet, what they wish to learn, and how to best motivate and manage them.

Not measuring ROI. The best programmes measure time to productivity, new hire retention/termination rates, new hire error rates and new-hire referrals. Hiring managers should also be held accountable through the inclusion of their onboarding success rates in performance appraisals and bonus formulas.

A one-size-fits-all approach. Nearly every company makes an effort to hire diverse individuals, but few onboarding programmes provide alternative approaches to meet the needs of diverse hires. Diverse individuals, by definition, have different needs and ways of processing information.

A face-to-face approach… only. Consider providing most, if not all of the necessary onboarding information online where it is more easily accessed and searched before and after they start their new job. Online information can include the standard information provided to new hires as well as interactive forums for asking questions, buzzword and acronym dictionaries, as well as photos and bios of team members.

Failing to intentionally assimilate the new hire into the company culture. Too many companies do not intentionally build employee culture integration into their onboarding programmes. As Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh has famously professed, “If you get the culture right then most of the other stuff will happen naturally.”

Not setting clear expectations right at the beginning. Information should be provided on corporate success measures, departmental plans, strategies and goals, how this individual’s performance will be assessed, their bonus and promotion criteria, and specifically, what is expected from them during their first week and month on-the-job. It’s also important to ensure that new employees have assignments that allow them to contribute to the organisation from the beginning. This helps them find their place within your organisation and feel like a valued asset.

Their manager is not present. The most common fault that occurs at ‘departmental level’ onboarding (and the one with the most negative impact) is not having the employee’s direct manager present on the first day.

Delays in offering onboarding. Don’t delay onboarding until you have a large group of new hires. Effective programmes offer online onboarding or don’t delay onboarding beyond the first week after hire.

Forgetting to follow-up. Many new hires leave a position within the first 45 – 90 days. A structured process for eliciting feedback from new hires is critical, on both the overall onboarding and training process as well as on how the individual is feeling throughout (and after) their onboarding.

Your new hire onboarding process is where you set the tone for an employee’s experience. When done well, new employees feel confident and excited. When done poorly, new hires are left confused, lost, and doubting their new job choice.

If we can assist in any way, please get in touch.


  1. Onboarding Program Killers: 15 Common Errors to Avoid – Dr. John Sullivan, Ere Media
  2. Avoid These Top Onboarding Mistakes – Joy Ruhmann, Level Up Leadership
  3. 7 Common Onboarding Mistakes to Avoid – Tristan Ruhland, Accuchex
  4. New-Hire Onboarding: Common Mistakes to Avoid – Alexia Vernon, Association for Talent Development


August 13, 2015
10:30 am
by Hillary Myburgh

What Makes a Successful Employer Brand?


Employer branding is relatively new territory: as a concept it only arose in the 1990’s. So, while it’s certainly a hot topic, companies are often confused as to what it means, what it entails and how it differs (or not) from corporate branding. In a nutshell employer branding is the implementation of a targeted, long-term strategy to manage the awareness levels and perceptions that employees, potential employees and related stakeholders have of a particular company. As Dr John Sullivan, an internationally known HR thought-leader, says: “It works by consistently putting forth an image surrounding management and business practices that make your organisation an attractive, ‘good place to work’. A successful employment brand management effort increases both the number and quality of applicants, reduces the turnover rate among top performers, and increases overall workforce productivity.”

The value of investing in your employer brand is clear. Studies by LinkedIn show that a company’s employer brand is twice as likely to drive candidates to consider a job compared to the company brand.

In 2014 Hudson RPO, in connection with HRO Today magazine, commissioned an interview-based survey with key executives at major corporations. This survey considered top talent recruitment and engagement brands in various ‘Best Places to Work’; to discover how they leverage their employment brands for recruiting and employee engagement purposes. They found that the following are the components of highly successful employer brands:

High-level Executive Buy-in. Top brand companies are significantly more likely to have the CEO or President as the most senior sponsor of employer branding activity, along with support and involvement from other key executives and department leaders, beyond the HR department. In order to get the CEO on board, they recommend making the business case for employer branding by talking cost-per-hire and time-to-fill, ensuring your arguments are supported by facts and data.

Defined Stakeholders and Roles. Nearly one-half of top brand companies have defined organisational responsibilities for their employer brands. Companies must be serious about developing and conveying an employer brand that captures the organisation’s value to potential hires. This is more than just an explanation of the company’s strategy, markets and products, although these are important. It’s a valid, thoughtful expression of the corporate culture and work environment. It is the reason why the candidate will want to engage with like-minded individuals in shared pursuits toward specific outcomes. If the organisation lacks an experienced strategist or influencer, it’s advisable to engage someone (internally or externally) who can bring these messages to fruition, as well as unite leaders from HR, talent acquisition, brand, marketing and internal communications (all of whom need to be involved in employer branding).

Defined Strategy and Investment. While eight in 10 organisations cite an employer brand as important, nearly one-half lack a documented employer brand strategy. A business plan can make a real difference. Twice as many top brand companies have a defined and documented strategy and an average budget of 52.1% more than other brands to support their employer brand initiatives.

A Developed Employee Value Proposition (EVP). An organisation’s EVP (the rewards and benefits employees receive in exchange for their performance) is critical to workplace culture, career management and retention. The research shows that top brands are more closely tied to their EVPs.

The Right Communication Channels. In nearly every case, top brand companies leverage their message across all available channels of communication including (but not limited to) the company website, intranet and company conferences; and of course social media (LinkedIn is the most commonly used, along with Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and Blogs). Don’t forget industry associations. 

Employee Brand Ambassadors. Forward-thinking employers ensure employees at all levels can communicate their employer brand; using the company intranet, employee events, email, CEO communications and presentations by senior leaders to promote the brand internally. Perhaps the easiest and most cost effective way to educate employees about the firm’s employee value proposition, is to put the actual EVP statement on the screen savers of all employees’ computers, keeping it top of mind. Another suggestion is to create a digital employer brand document that employees can download from the intranet, linking to employee testimonials and videos on the company website. Give this document to new hires to help get them engaged in their new roles.

Ongoing Measurement of Return on Investment. A troubling finding in the Hudson RPO survey was just how few companies measure ROI, including top brands. Many employer brand managers believe that measuring ROI is too difficult and therefore choose not to make it part of their strategy. Others don’t set targets and therefore don’t know what to measure. Admittedly, tracking true ROI on employer brand activities is difficult because other variables beyond employer brand programmes affect retention and hiring data. There are several ways to measure ROI: employee surveys, time-to-hire metrics, cost-per-hire metrics, and the number of applications per position. However, employer brand success is ultimately gauged by retention rates and how easy it is to put new talent into open positions.

In conclusion, as hiring continues to become more competitive, it will become increasingly crucial for employers to utilise all available tools and strategies to help them be recognised as an employer of choice. A strong employer brand is no longer a nice-to-have but a key factor in their ability to attract right-fit talent.

As always, if we can assist in any way, please get in touch.


  1. The 8 Elements of a Successful Employment Brand – By Dr John Sullivan, Ere Media
  2. Why Your Employer Brand Matters, LinkedIn Hiring Solutions
  3. How to Launch a Successful Employer Brand: Building on the Practices of Top Employer Brand, Hudson RPO


August 11, 2015
12:46 pm
by Judy Hofer

Succession Planning for Critical Roles

JUH-succession-planning-august-2015 copy

We all know that talent has become recognised as the key differentiator between business success and failure. We know that skills scarcity, shifting demographics and increased talent mobility impact our ability to fill critical roles. And yet for many companies succession planning (defined as ‘the systematic process of identifying and developing candidates for key managerial and professional leadership positions over time in order to ensure continuity of management and leadership’) is overlooked. This is done in favour of focusing on ‘immediate needs,’ until a senior member of the team or a critical skill announces plans to leave or retire, often putting the organisation into crisis mode.

Long thought of as replacement planning for the C-Suite, succession planning has evolved to include critical roles; the jobs and positions your organisation couldn’t run without or that are critical to strategic/operational success. They could be customer facing, technical or other roles that demand a specific skillset, range of experience or knowledge that cannot be easily replaced. These will differ from company to company. In assessing how critical a role is, Karen Caruso of Via People suggests a company should assess a mix of internal and external factors:


  • What is the level of risk to the company if the position is left vacant for an extended period?
  • To what extent does the position:
    • Drive revenue and impact bottom-line financial results?
    • Involve developing strategy, designing new products, or creating growth opportunities for the organisation?
    • Require broad decision-making authority?
    • Involve relationships with external customers and key stakeholders?
    • Influence the performance of or manage other critical positions? 


  • What is the current market value of the position? How has the value changed over time?
  • How is the position valued by other companies?
  • What is the degree of competition for qualified candidates for this position in the marketplace?
  • To what extent does the position require the use of rare/unique capabilities and skill sets?

Once you know what your critical roles are, ascertain what skills, competencies, experience and knowledge is needed for success in these roles and identify ‘feeder roles’; the roles in which these are likely to be developed. Look for top performers or high potentials within these feeder roles.

Examples of Performance:

  • Demonstrated goal achievement
  • Positive performance trend over time
  • Demonstrates depth of experience
  • Delivers results, builds teams and organisation capability

Examples of Potential:

  • Ability to take on more
  • Capable of advancement
  • Possesses key leadership competencies
  • Demonstrates motivation and commitment
  • Fit with vision and values
  • Strong personal ethics

Next, gauge where your top performers and high potentials are right now, how long it will take for them to be ready to seamlessly fill critical positions and formulate development plans to get them to where they need to be.

Key commandments, from Jamie Lawrence of HRZone, to keep in mind during your succession planning and management, are:

  1. Make sure your succession planning is aligned to the medium and long-term business strategy.
  2. Succession planning, whilst managed by HR, needs to be supported and driven by senior management.
  3. Look inside as well as outside the organisation to identify and maximise your talent.
  4. In addition to looking outside the organisation, look outside a department or team where there is a succession issue. Succession candidates should be able to come from any part of a business providing they personify organisational values and preferred behaviours.
  5. Ensure you have a plan which is clear, visible and communicated. From an organisational perspective, there is nothing worse than losing hidden or identified talent because they are not aware of the organisational succession planning or talent management.
  6. Succession planning needs to be a key part of the wider employee engagement offer and should be aligned to recruitment, training, development and performance review.

Effective, proactive succession planning leaves your organisation well prepared for expansion, the loss of a key employee, filling a new, needed job, employee promotions, and organisational redesign for opportunities.

If you have any questions or if we can help in any way, please get in touch.


  1. Succession Management is More than Just a Plan: Identifying, Developing and Retaining Talent for Critical Roles – Success Factors, A SAP Company
  2. Identifying Critical Positions in the Succession Planning Process – Karen Caruso, Via People
  3. Ten Commandments for Successful Success Planning – Jamie Lawrence, HRZone


August 3, 2015
10:15 am
by Anita Hoole

Core Principles of a Sustainable Talent Pipeline



In a world of increased competition and scarcity of skills along with shifting demographics and workforce preferences, most companies face the same challenge; keeping their talent pipeline (a pool of candidates qualified to assume open positions newly created or vacated through retirement or promotion) of key people and future leaders full. In fact, a new study of nearly 400 employers by Lee Hecht Harrison, a global talent mobility consulting firm, identified that 33% of employers perceive their talent pipeline to be poor or non-existent. Only 4% reported their talent pipeline to be excellent.

Creating a sustainable pipeline of top talent and top-tier leadership; which will allow your company to survive, even thrive; needs a long-term, integrated and systemic approach. These are the core principles of building such a pipeline:

Recognise that talent management is a core business process with impact on overall business and financial success. Keep leadership engaged to ensure a functioning and robust process and make them accountable for talent management, just as they are for financial and operational functions.

Align with business strategy. Identify the talent you need given your business strategy, understand what talent you have relative to what you need, know where the gaps are and close them through focused internal development or by bringing new talent onboard.

Identify your high potentials. Who is your top talent and how do you identify them? Organisations that identify their top talent are less likely to lose valuable people; only 14% of formally identified high potentials seek other employment. That number more than doubles to 33% if the employee feels they have not been formally recognised. Make sure to identify the employees who have the potential to do the job in this generation and the next: many organisations tend to only look out for immediate successors.

Clearly differentiate leadership talent. Not all high performers have the potential for leadership. However, all high potentials are high performers. It’s important to identify the difference. High potential performers are able to quickly take on larger, more complex levels of responsibility and are often avid learners. It’s a good idea to cross train your high potential performers: provide them with a mix of on-the-job training, intensive coaching, mentoring and education. Lastly, the leadership talent conversation should be ongoing among your senior leadership teams:  make it an agenda item.

Take a personal approach. Treating all high potential talent the same is a common mistake. Systems and processes are important, but organisations should have a multiplicity of clear and appealing development paths for high potentials. Knowing what’s important to your high potentials in their day-to-day work is also important. Many constantly weigh the pros and cons of their experience; they may value more responsibility and highly visible assignments versus feeling unappreciated or left in the dark about key decisions. 

Attract passive talent. Job seekers actively looking for a career move are not the best candidates for a talent pipeline. They probably aren’t willing to wait around for future opportunities. For this reason, it’s essential to attract passive candidates to populate an effective pipeline. To successfully attract these candidates, employers should know what roles are on the horizon and actively promote these future opportunities.

Keep job seekers engaged. Companies need to stay in touch with candidates in their talent pipelines to ensure they will still be interested when a job opens up. Tailor your messaging for different groups of workers based on job interests, skill level and basic demographics. Provide information about future job openings, company happenings and other aspects of the business to keep job seekers interested.

Evaluate regularly. Your business changes. So does the talent. Sustainable systems identify and proactively address the dynamics of change and the impact on talent needs.

As always, if we can be of any assistance, please get in touch. 


  1. Create a Sustainable Leadership Pipeline: 7 Core Principles – Factor In Talent
  2. Management succession: Building a sustainable talent pipeline – Jack Loo, Think Business
  3. Strengthen Your Talent Pipeline Now – Roland Smith, Forbes
  4. How to build a strong talent pipeline – Global HR