At The People Connection we have been recruiting financial people for 23 years. And for 23 years financial people have made us proud. So thank you. Thank you for the ethics you have shown, thank you for how you have conducted yourselves thank you for your professionalism.
We are finding that things are changing. Candidates are becoming more desperate and dates on CVS need to be verified. Reference checks cannot be done on mobile phones. References cannot be taken from the name of the person you were given by the candidate. Banking checks need to be taken – it is no longer good enough to simply do an ITC credit check. And very sadly we are picking up more on our fraud checks.
If you offer a candidate a job make the offer subject to a final reference being done from his current employer. This final reference can be done once the candidate has resigned.
As a final note: More companies are suffering damages due to candidates accepting counteroffers. It would not go amiss to place a damages clause in your offer. Sadly companies are no longer able to give the increases they were once able to give, but you cannot get an increase via the acceptance of a counteroffer.
Keep our world ethical everyone.
By, Ivan Israelstam
South Africa's labour law statutes do not deal with the situation where a job applicant has been offered the job but, before starting work, is told that he/she has no longer got the job.
This is a serious gap in the legislation for a job applicant may who have resigned from his/her old job on receiving the offer of the new job. On hearing that the new job is no more he/she will have lost both the old and new jobs and be without a livelihood. Neither the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) nor the EEA nor the Labour Relations Act (LRA) shed any light on the recourse of a person who finds him/herself in this unenviable situation.
Historically, the view has been that one is not an employee until he/she starts working and can therefore not use the labour dispute resolution system to take the employer to task. One therefore had to rely on the law of contract. That is, when an employer offers a position to an applicant and the applicant accepts thena contract has been concluded. Such a contract is legally binding whether it is in writing or not. Therefore, if the employer then refuses to let the employee start work, the employer is in breach of contract and can be sued in civil court.
There is little if any dispute as to the employee's theoretical right to sue the employer and the employee has a very good chance of succeeding with his/her suit if he/she can prove breach of contract. However, in practice, many employees do not have the substantial resources necessary to fight such a case in civil court. Secondly, it could take years for the employee to get his/her pound of flesh should the case go ahead. It is possibly for this reason that Labour Court Judges and CCMA arbitrators have more recently become willing to broaden their view of what constitutes an employee. According to section 213 of the LRA an employee is: "(a) any person, excluding an independent contractor, who works for another person or for the state and who receives, or is entitled to receive, any remuneration; and (b) any other person who in any manner assists in carrying out or conducting the business of an employer..."
This definition seems to make it clear that a person only gains the status of 'employee' when he she begins working for the employer. That is, the definition strongly implies that the employer's legal obligations begin on the day that the employee physically begins work. This interpretation was applied in the case of Greyvenstein vs Iliso Consulting Engineers (2004 3 BALR 330). In this case the employer had set the requirement that applicants for the post should be able to type at 60 words per minute. Despite the fact that the applicant, Greyvenstein failed the test, the employer told her that she would be appointed on a probationary basis. However, before the employee could start work the employer revoked the agreement and refused to give her the job. The CCMA decided that: * A valid and binding contract had been concluded as soon as the employee had accepted the offer of probationary employment * Greyvenstein had become an employee for purposes of labour law the moment this contract had been concluded * The employer's revocation of the contract constituted an unfair dismissal. In the case of Wyeth SA (PTY) Ltd vs Manqele and others (2005, 6 BLLR 523) Wyeth and Manqele signed an employment contract. Before Manqele began working a dispute arose between the parties as to Manqele's company car. As a result the employer terminated the employment contract on the grounds that the parties to it had been unable to agree to one of its terms (relating to the company car). Manqele took the employer to the CCMA for unfair dismissal. The employer contended that the CCMA had no jurisdiction to hear the matter as Manqele had not been an employee. It based this claim on the fact that Manqele had not yet begun work and that the legal definition of an employee includes the provision that an employee is someone who "works for another person". However, neither the CCMA nor the Labour Court was prepared to accept this argument. Wyeth therefore took the matter on appeal to the Labour Appeal Court which rejected the literal interpretation that Wyeth had put on the definition of an employee. The Court found that Manqele had become an employee the moment the employment contract was signed by the parties. The Court therefore dismissed the employer's appeal and required the employer to pay the employee's legal costs.
The above case decisions make it clear that employers should not enter into employment agreements with job applicants before all the terms and conditions of employment have been fully agreed.
* Ivan lsraelstam is the Chief Executive of Labour Law Management Consulting. He may be contacted on (011) 888-7944 or 082 852 2973 or via e-mail address:firstname.lastname@example.org * Our appreciation to Ivan and The Star newspaper for permission to publish this article...
"Why would I meet with an agency that cannot send me on a client interview in the three weeks or so? Quite frankly I would think this would be a waste of my time."
There are a number of reasons why it makes sense to treat finding a new job as a project and to take your project extremely seriously.
Let's consider the time we all spend at work. What can be more important that your new position?
You may need to waste some time meeting a few useless recruiters to find a few gems, but this will be part of your project. Nothing is more important to you that being happy and secure at work when you are choosing your new job. So make sure you realise the value of the time you take away from the office.
Are you actually happy to work with an agency who is happy to send out your CV without meeting with you?
How much do they know about the client they are sending you to?
What is the financial stability of the client like?
What is the cultural environment like?
Would you want this agency to one-day recruit candidates for you?
You need to get some idea about what is happening in the market. A good recruiter will be able to supply you with this and this she or he will give you for free. So treat this time as research. In addition to this, an experienced recruiter should be able to give you career advice and let you know what pitfalls to look out for. If they have your interests at heart, they may even suggest to you to remain at your current company if now is not the time to move.
You need to be given an opportunity to “interview” the agents that you are going to choose to represent you. You would not want all recruiters representing your CV. Agents are agents for a reason – to make a ridiculous comparison in Hollywood agents represent people and there are some people you would not want representing you. There are some people that do not even understand finance. You need to select your recruiters with care.
I would recommend in the current market that you select at least 4 specialised agents. The firm is not what matters. It is the individual recruiter that counts. Typically it is better to go for someone who is specialised in in your area of expertise. You need to be able to trust the recruiter you meet with. They need to be credible. They need to be presentable, well spoken, knowledgeable and generally someone who you would want to represent you. They need to be the type of consultant that is only comfortable to represent a certain calibre of candidate. If they are not discerning – if they do not meet their candidates as a bare minimum – your CV will be thrown in with all the other CVs that they throw at clients.
If you have ever been at the receiving end of CVs then I imagine I do not need to discuss this point any further.
But the number one reason that you need to meet with agencies is because you need to have a discussion with them about what you want. Otherwise, you will waste your time going to client companies on incorrect interviews. There are certain things you can expect and in fact demand from all recruitment agents. The one is that you have a job description before you go to any client interview. The second is that you know exactly who you are going to meet with at the interview. How many people will be in the interview? The names of the people in the interview, their background and what the structure of the interview so there will be so there are no surprises at all. If there are going to be any tests be it psychometric or otherwise your agent should know about them and should warn you in advance. They should always know the exact interview process of each of their clients, not just the interview process, but the length of the decision-making process too. Further to this no recruitment company has right to send your CV to a company without your permission. No recruiter should ever ask you where your CV has been sent, or where else you have been interviewing. This information is entirely confidential and they are not acting in your interest. If they have ever asked you this question they are using you to look for vacant positions.
Having said all of the above please remember that agents like sharks need to be your friends – they are operating in a very difficult environment and the recruiters that are still operating are doing so because they actually do want to assist people there are other jobs that are more fun that they could be doing. You will get them on your side by being nice. In a sense, you need to operate in this world at your most charming not for our sake but for yours.
Finally and I was hoping not to end on a negative note but I have to: You need to meet with agents because it is going to take you a long time to find your new job. If you are currently not working we might be able to find you something quickly however if you are currently working it might take 6 months to find your new position. So get out there meet the correct agents and be patient.
Why is this when there appears to be so many adverts? Simply because so many companies are not negotiable on any of the requirements. If they are looking for a cost accountant with SAP and 7 years of experience from manufacturing. Sorry to say they will not look at mining or construction experience. They have been spoiled for choice with the excess of applicants in the market, but they are also running with such a small headcount that they cannot afford the time required to get staff up and running. They need the finished product.
I wish we remembered “CVs” but we don’t we remember people. I personally remember that someone told me about a cat he once had and he happens to also to also have exceptional projects experience. I remember people. I do not think an estate agent could sell a house by simply looking at photographs of the home.
Your salary, what review to expect, bonuses & how to review your team.
What are we currently seeing the market and what can you expect?
Well sadly, unless you can significantly increase the turnover of your company then do not expect to move jobs and receive a large salary increase. Companies do not compensate you for the fact that you live 100km from their offices, that is your choice, not theirs.
They do not reward financial people for saving them money. They expect financial people to save money this is part of your job description. What then are we currently seeing in terms of salary increases and bonuses? The days of the very large bonuses are gone. Salary increases are not exciting so yes, we look for stability. Having said this there are some large corporates who have consistently managed to financially treat their staff better than others, and they seem to manage to maintain this.
Having personally recruited in the financial space for 23 years I am not a fan of salary bands although I might cause an uproar from HR executives. I feel some people deserve to earn more money than others. Salaries should also be based on supply and demand – in other words, pure economics. This way you would not currently be moving for more money you would currently be moving to become more skilled at what you do. You would then long term be in higher demand.
If I give people career advice I tell them to think about themselves as something that is “for sale”. After your current job – in 5 years’ time you will be “for sale” again. How do you know that your marketability has increased? How do you know that more people will want to buy you? It is relatively simple look at what people are advertising. What are companies looking for? Who is in high demand? Is it you?
If you are a financial director with a budget of R10 million and you are busy doing salary reviews we can also apply similar logic. Who can you not afford to lose? Who is most likely to be stolen from your department? Often a financial director might make the mistake of thinking that their black female CASA who is responsible for their group consolidations is irreplaceable but without the correct information at hand they make the mistake of throwing their budget at this candidate when in fact it might be relatively simple to replace this candidate and the systems accountant is impossible to replace.
It is rare that a candidate is horribly underpaid but it certainly can happen. If you were to feel that you are underpaid in relation to what the market is currently paying, how would you best approach this subject whilst keeping the company’s interest at heart and remaining professional? Since we are speaking about financial people in this particular case my suggestion would be to address the issue with all your facts in order. If you are a CA(SA) with 7 years of experience after articles call three financial recruiters and ask their honest opinion about what you should be earning without telling them your current salary. You cannot depend on salary surveys because perhaps you moved jobs too many times, perhaps you have only worked in a very small division of the firm, perhaps you have limited IT knowledge.
If three recruitment companies can come to an agreement about what you should be earning, it should be possible for them to send you a few sample CV's of candidates like yourself (similar experience) with all personal information removed. Once you have gathered this information you are then in a position to have a polite salary discussion.
You cannot rely on advertisements. Let us be honest advertisements are exactly that – they are simply advertisements. They are trying to grab attention.
You cannot rely on salary surveys because as mentioned there are too many soft factors involved.
Emma Cavina is the Managing Director of The People Connection with over 20 Years experience in the Executive Financial Recruitment industry. Follow this blog for regular insights regarding financial careers, the job market and advice.