Making a difference attracts top talent

Interviewing people for jobs in any organisation is a testing demand for
managers, and that applies to trade union managers as much as anyone else.

We have recently had to employ research, international and lifelong learning
officers, and I fielded the applications, constructed the shortlists and
briefed the interviewing panel.

The whole process was time consuming, painful and full of potential traps.
You have to be careful to be fair, to screen out personal feelings, and ensure
a balance on gender and ethnicity is struck. But, of course, you will know all
of this. It might have been hard work, but my lasting impression was one of
exhilaration.

Any organisation ought to look carefully at the types of people who apply
for its vacancies. It actually says a lot about your company or union, and the
impression you are giving to the world. You can get a great insight into your
branding by carefully observing who turns up for your jobs.

I am greatly heartened that the days when every bright graduate wanted to be
something in the City seem to have abated. There is, if we are frank, a lost
generation of bright youngsters who wanted nothing to do with working for
unions in the 1980s and 1990s. But things are different now.

More than 60 graduates applied for a research job, more than 50 for the
international officer and just under 50 for the lifelong learning posts. Of
course, there were a handful of wholly inappropriate people – perhaps they just
applied for everything going – but the overwhelming majority were already in
work and saw our organisation as something they wanted to be associated with.

They were young, often female and were committed to making a contribution to
enriching the lives of others. They were clearly not ‘coin-operated’ people,
even though we are confident that we pay quite well in our line of work.

They had enthusiasm, willingness to learn and had prepared in detail for the
interviews. One of my experienced colleagues was clearly moved by his day spent
interviewing. "What do these terrific people want to work here for?"
he asked at the end of the day.

The answer to this was simple: these young people want to be part of an
organisation they not only perceive as being something that could pay the rent,
but are also proud to be part of.

But this does not just apply to people working for unions. All organisations
ought to look at who answers their job advertisements and ask themselves:
"Are we giving the right impression to people?" If the answer is
‘yes’, then the answers "why would someone like you want to work here?"
ought to be analysed, circulated and celebrated.

By John Lloyd, National officer, Amicus

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