Before You Start Hiring, Get Your Sh*t Together


Confucius – “Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure”

As I’m sure you can imagine, when I googled “preparation quotes” there seemed to be countless. Everyone everywhere seems to be talking about the value of preparation, even as far back as Confucius 2,500 years ago. You’d think it would be hardwired into human beings by now. But sadly no.

Next month I will be celebrating my first work anniversary at Hudl (BOOYAH!). As that first year comes near, I think about my transition from agency to internal recruitment and its steep learning curve. I feel like my mindset has completely shifted and that I’ve become a more rounded Recruiter (though of course I still have a lot more to learn).

One of the key lessons from that learning curve? Before you start hiring, get your sh*t together. In other words, before you dive headlong into sourcing, advertising, interviewing and offering, ensure that all parties involved (Co-Ordinators, Recruiters, Hiring Managers, HR etc.) and on the same page.

Scar once said “be prepared”. And whether you’re an evil lion or a Recruiter, having a clear hiring process makes it easier to compare candidates which leads to better hires, improves internal communications and provides the candidate with a fantastic company experience (even if they don’t get the job).

This may sound incredibly obvious but I, embarrassingly, have dived into filling a vacancy without covering these basics and ultimately been stung down the road.

For example, last year a Hiring Manager came to me and said they need to hire 3 XXXXX’s. I asked briefly what they were looking for and went straight into sourcing and reaching out to potential candidates. I thought that if I could fill up the pipeline quickly with great candidates 1) everyone would think I am a super amazing Recruiter 2) we could figure out the rest of the hiring process as we go.

Both statements are false.

A smooth and stress-free hiring process is rarely undervalued by your colleagues and management. Always take time to understand the role in detail, develop a strong relationship with the hiring manager, communicate regularly and ensure that all details of the process are decided prior.

Here are some other helpful articles:


LinkedIn Profile Pictures: The Good. The Bad. And The Ugly.

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LinkedIn Talent Blog “Your profile picture can be one of the most important elements of your LinkedIn presence. Our research shows that just having a picture makes your profile 14 times more likely to be viewed by others”

Your profile picture, on any social network, is the first impression someone gets of you. So do you know what really grinds my gears?  Bad LinkedIn profile pictures. Why? Because it’s not hard to get a great one.

The aim of this article is to show how I got my profile picture wrong (for a long time), and how you can learn from my mistakes.

The Ugly. My first ever profile picture. And yes that is me in a field with a can of Carlsberg. I had just graduated from university and thought that as long as my picture is of high quality, then that will be OK. Wrong. A high quality picture is just one factor of many. Ask yourself, does that look professional? No, it doesn’t (unless my profession was selling Carlsberg in fields).


While we’re on the topic of alcohol, I’ve seen so many profile pics of people clearly at a bar or club, beer/cocktail/shot in hand with a booze-induced grin. To top it off it’s usually a grainy, cropped pic taken from a phone. Think about it, what message does this send? Does it look like you take your professional appearance seriously?

The Bad. My second profile picture. Meh, it’s OK but it doesn’t show who I am. I rarely wear a suit and rarer still am I clean shaven. This picture no longer portrays who I am or what I look like at work. There’s also too much going on in the background and it’s not close enough to my face.


LinkedIn has a great 53 second video to help users snap the right photo for your profile. In the video, it quite rightly mentions that we all have different versions of ourselves i.e. we dress and act differently when jogging, meeting friends, at work etc. On LinkedIn, you want the ‘at work’ version of yourself to shine through because LinkedIn is a professional networking site. So you may not have the same pic for Facebook, Twitter or Tinder…

The Good (said as humbly as possible). My current profile pic. About 9 months ago I asked my girlfriend, with the help of her DSLR camera, to help get me a new profile pic. I trimmed the beard, had a haircut, ironed a shirt and stood in front of a brick wall. It took a while but I feel I now have a picture that, well, looks like me! And the me I want everyone else to see online. Being a Recruiter, I spend every day on LinkedIn and introduce myself to new people, over LinkedIn, all the time. Whether you like it or not, people form opinions on your appearance. What do you want your profile picture to say about you?


I hope this article has been useful! If you ever want further LinkedIn advice, feel free to connect and message me.

Related Links

How To Become A LinkedIn Power Profile

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Reid Hoffman – “Your network is the people who want to help you, and you want to help them, and that’s really powerful”

LinkedIn made a couple of big announcements this week, the first being that LinkedIn UK hit the 20 million user milestone. An incredible achievement and hats off to them. The second part was the introduction of LinkedIn Power Profiles, and I was fortunate enough to be listed as one for the category of HR.

What is a LinkedIn Power Profile? Well in this instance it’s a list of the “Most Viewed Human Resources Professionals on LinkedIn in the UK for 2015”. It seems then that views is the metric to focus on here.

When I was told by LinkedIn that I will be recognised as a Power Profile, my Profile Views in the Last 90 Days was sitting at around 6,000. I’m the most viewed profile in my company and in the top 1% for views within my connections. So, what I will cover in this blog post is how I drive views to my LinkedIn profile.


Let’s start with the obvious. I’m a Recruiter which means I spend all day, everyday on LinkedIn. But just sitting there logged in doesn’t drive views though, activity does. I post relevant articles about my industry, blogs and the odd witty business meme. And not just to my update feed, but also to the groups I’m in.

Interactions are key too. I start conversations with people by either connecting then messaging, or by sending InMails. More often it’s me reaching out to talented professionals discussing job opportunities at Hudl. But also I’m speaking to other Recruiters for advice or requesting to be introduced to others i.e. what LinkedIn is for.


Most of my LinkedIn traffic comes from Twitter. Now it may shock you to hear, but I do have an automated direct message in place that, once you’ve followed me, will ask you to connect professionally on LinkedIn too.

This has been a fantastic way to expand my network, but more importantly I can engage with my Twitter followers on a professional level (through LinkedIn).

My blog also has a link to my LinkedIn page (along with Instagram, Google+ and Twitter) right at the top. The idea is that if I drive views to either Twitter or my blog, it will also lead to views on my LinkedIn profile.


Ask people in person to connect with you on LinkedIn. Did you have an interesting conversation with a professional at a conference? Request to connect. Perhaps you had a successful client meeting? Request to connect. Or you’ve joined a new company? Connect with everyone in that company, so that you’re recognisable when you eventually meet them face to face. Make your in-person network compliment your digital network, and vice versa.


How To Get A Pay Rise In The New Year


Anna Held – “The more they applaud, the bigger your salary will be”

What are your 2016 goals? Lose weight? Spend more time with the family? Ask your manager for a pay rise? Or perhaps you haven’t bothered with goal setting this year (for shame!).

Out of all the goals we set ourselves at the start of the year, asking your manager for a pay rise has to be up there as one of the most difficult. Many of us are fortunate enough to have employers who have implemented clear pay incentives and regular performance reviews that provide opportunities to increase our salary, but others may not. In this case, a gutsy conversation with your manager is needed.

In this blog I will lay out a few do’s and don’ts to help you achieve that well deserved pay increase.


When it first dawns on you that you feel you deserve a pay rise, your instinctive response can often be highly emotional. Don’t let your emotions control your thoughts here, as it may lead to inappropriate actions e.g. telling your boss to go F him/herself (or something like that). Instead, stay calm and devise a plan.

The core motive behind a pay rise is that you are worth more now than when you started your job. So prove it. Bring together multiple examples of where you performed your job well (perhaps look at your job description again), excelled above your duties, helped other departments, made decisions that led to wider company success, took time out of work hours to mentor colleagues.

Aim to use metrics and quantifiable examples. The more tangible your plan, the better.



Asking your manager for a pay rise at any random point in the day, month or year is not a good idea. Firstly you should ask HR, a colleague or manager if there is an appropriate time to ask for a raise. Usually performance reviews are tied to salary discussions. Find out when your next one is and plan for then.

But if a performance review is a long way off, or not practiced in your company, then you need to time a meeting carefully. If your company is not performing well financially then wait for revenue to be on the rise. And you want to ensure that you have your manager’s full attention. Don’t book a meeting Monday morning, Friday afternoon or in the middle of back-to-back meetings. You want a relaxed, but serious, meeting.

The right place also plays a role. If you work in an open plan office perhaps head out to a nearby coffee shop to chat. Or if your relationship with your manager is more formal ensure you book a meeting room with ample time for discussion. You don’t want either of you to be disturbed or distracted.


As mentioned before, avoid emotion in this conversation. For example, “I haven’t had a raise since…”, “I’m doing the work of 3 people”, “I’m in debt and need more money”. No, no, no. This is about you making clear that you’re now a more valuable employee.

Stay positive and reaffirm your passion for the role and company. Explain that wanting a pay rise doesn’t mean you’re going to be looking elsewhere. Ultimatums are always a risky move.

Once you’ve made your case, just listen. Silence is incredibly powerful when negotiating. Hear what your manager has to say and ensure you have prepared counterpoints to any expected replies.


Whether you achieve the pay rise or not, once you’ve finished the discussion, follow up all decisions and action items with an email. For example, “if you hit x targets you will achieve your raise”; “you will receive £x in your February pay packet” etc. This ensures you have it in writing for a later review.

If you’re aiming for a pay rise in 2016, good luck!

Related Articles

Interview Tip: “What’s Your Greatest Weakness?”

Marcus Tullius Cicero – “Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error”

“I have no weaknesses. I am simply perfect for this job”. Oh yeh, good one. There are many ways to answer this question, and this is certainly not one of them.

Start by getting over yourself. Remember that every single person, throughout the whole of existence EVER, has weaknesses.

This is a question that time and again can prove to be your downfall in an interview, or when delivered correctly can prove to be your greatest interview ally. Below are my favourite 3 approaches to this question.

The Irrelevant Skills Approach

Take a look at the description of the job and mention a weakness of yours that has little or nothing to do with the job. Now, you could be completely ridiculous and, for example, when going for the role of Software Engineer you honestly answer that your whittling skills could do with some improvement.

Instead, if you know the position doesn’t mention anything about public speaking or presentations, mention that this isn’t your strong suit.

The Improved Skills Approach

Discuss a skill that was a weakness in a previous role, but you realised this and so made the conscious effort to improve.

For example, “in my first job I was disorganised and this greatly affected my work. After self-reflection, I overcame this habit by creating daily, weekly and monthly plans and rigidly sticking to them. At the end of every evening I make sure I have completed each daily task, and won’t leave until I am done”.

The Flip Approach

Turn that ‘weakness’ into a strength!

The most common example of this approach is “I’m a perfectionist”. You may take longer triple-checking work and start projects further in advance than others, BUT this ensures the project is quality driven and always on time.

Or, take a virtue such as honesty. “I am honest which can often be seen as blunt, but customers and colleagues alike always appreciate that I do not hide anything from them”.

If you are interviewing right now, good luck!

Web Summit 2015 Top 3 Talks


This year I was fortunate enough to have been flown to Dublin and attend Web Summit. What’s Web Summit? Well “it’s been called the best technology conference on the planet” (

There were well over 1,000 speakers grouped into 21 different topics over 3 days. I tried to attend as many as possible, but sadly I couldn’t see them all (damn you laws of physics!!). But I managed to see some fantastic ones, here are my 3 favourites:

1. Mike Schroepfer (@schrep) – CTO, Facebook

Watch here: 2:47:28

Mike’s (pictured above) presence on stage was immense. He opened with, “are you ready to talk about the future!?” and it just went up from there. Mike spoke of Facebook’s 10 year vision and how they want to bring the world together. How? By providing internet to the other 3/4 of the planet and integrating virtual reality into online social i.e. Oculus Rift. Mike truly provided us mere mortals a glimpse of the future.

2. Jeff Lawson (@jeffiel) – CEO, Twilio

Watch here: 6:01:50

Every business book, blog and magazine in the world talks about learning from mistakes. But it was Jeff’s brief account of his career, and the mistakes that he has made, that had me hooked. Jeff started Twilio, and intends to stay at Twilio, because he believes adamantly in the product. Twilio improves lives, but most importantly it improves Jeff’s life. Jeff speaks of 2 previous companies he helped found, and although they were successful, he grew to hate them as he wasn’t passionate about the product.

3. David Eagleman (@davideagleman) – Neuroscientist

Watch here: 2:36:07

2 words. Mind. Blown. When David finished, there was a standing ovation partnered with a thunderous applause. Over the space of 20 minutes, David showed us how him and his team have created the technology to allow the deaf to hear. An awe inspiring performance.

Is It OK To Hire A White Straight Man?

Frank Zappa – “A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open”

If you’re responsible for making any form of hiring decision, then you should be aware that you have unconscious biases toward anyone and everyone you encounter.

Building a diverse workforce and tackling your unconscious bias is a mammoth subject. My aim, in this rather short blog post, is to highlight some of the key points in this issue, point you in the direction of some great material and explain why the answer to the above question is yes.

So, why is building a diverse workforce and tackling your unconscious bias important anyway? Well, there are many advantages to doing so, the top 2 being:

  1. You open up the talent pool while keeping the same high standard (if not better) of hires.
  2. A diverse team increases productivity. With different mind sets you will have multiple solutions to your company’s problems.

Now we need to understand unconscious bias. The ECU (Equality Challenge Unit) states that “unconscious bias happens by our brains making incredibly quick judgments and assessments of people and situations without us realising. Our biases are influenced by our background, cultural environment and personal experiences”.

The problem with unconscious bias is, well, that it’s unconscious. It’s very difficult to address as we do it without thinking. But there are ways in which we can eradicate, or minimise, our unconscious bias when looking to hire.

An infamous example of eradicating unconscious bias comes from the St. Louis Orchestra, they realised that their orchestra was predominantly men so a change was made to the audition process. When applicants auditioned, they did so behind screens (the interviewer could not see them thus basing the results on musicianship alone) and female numbers grew. So much so that women eventually outnumbered men.

Here are some other ways in which you can avoid unconscious bias:

  • Remove names on CV’s. Or you could take this another step further, “professional services firm Deloitte has changed its selection process so recruiters do not know where candidates went to school or university”[1].
  • For technical hires ensure that you test. You can even use services such as Gradberry ( that require candidates to pass a technical challenge before they can apply. Gradberry was initially created to help those with little/no commercial experience or lack of higher education be interviewed based on their technical ability.
  • Joelle Emerson (CEO of Paradigm) suggests setting up “nudges“, perhaps a calendar invite, before hosting an interview to remind you that “we make a decision about hiring a person within 10 seconds of meeting them . We use the rest of the interview to justify that decision. [And that] we have a very strong bias towards people that physically look like ourselves. We also think they are smarter and better looking”[2].

Lastly, be wary of disregarding applicants for not being a ‘cultural fit’. Unless you have a clearly defined set of values and a solid understanding of your company’s culture, then rejecting applicants for not being a cultural fit can be translated as “they’re not like us”.

So, was your white straight male colleague hired because he is white, straight and male? Or regardless of those things? If the latter, then yes, it was OK.

References & Suggested Materials



Programming Is Like Sex…

Sometimes in life you just need some incredible jokes to make your pals chuckle. I’ve rummaged through the internet, and gathered together what can only be described as the world’s best one liners (15 of them to be exact). So go forth, and be the envy of anyone that hears you utter this top banter. And yes, they are all 140 characters or less for those who love Twitter.

Programming is like sex… one mistake and you have to support it for the rest of your life.

FACT: There are only 2 types of people in this world, those who can extrapolate from incomplete data

A SQL query walks into a bar and sees two tables. He walks up to them and says ‘Can I join you?’

Da·ta Sci·en·tist [noun]: Person who is better at Statistics than a Software Engineer and better at Software Engineering than a Statistician

Why was the developer broke? Because he used up all his cache.

Two scientists walk into a bar. The first one says, “I’ll have some H2O”. The second one says, “I’ll have some H2O too”. Then he dies.

Did you hear about the constipated mathematician? He worked it out with a pencil.

Home is where the…Wi-Fi connects automatically

A wise Programmer once said, “If at first you don’t succeed, call it version 1.0”

A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history – with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.

I know a couple of SEO Managers who had twins. For the first time they were happy with duplicate content.

Eight bytes walk into a bar. The bartender asks, “Can I get you anything?” “Yeah,” reply the bytes. “Make us a double.”

I’m reading a great book on anti-gravity. I just can’t put it down.

A wise Programmer once said, “A bug in the code is worth two in the documentation”

I know a band called 1023MB. They haven’t had any gigs yet.

Feel free to check to me out on Twitter for more terrible jokes and tech news

Making A Hiring Decision? Default To No

Robert De Niro (Ronin, 1998) – “Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt”

NOTE: I make some rather sweeping statements about Recruitment Agencies in this post. Enjoy.

I’ve learnt a lot about making quality hires through transitioning from Agency Recruiter to Internal Recruiter. The most valuable lesson being a fundamental shift in mind-set. Recruitment Agencies default to yes, while companies should default to no.

Explain yourself Joe!

One thing I’ll miss from working in agencies are the one-liners; “work hard play hard”, “recruitment’s a contact sport”, “remember the rule of ‘5 No’s’” and “let’s touch base and grab coffee” etc.

But the one I want to focus on is “if in doubt, send them out”. In other words, if you’re on the fence about whether to send a CV to a company or allow your candidate to go for interview, just do it as there is a chance they’re the lucky one that gets hired. This is defaulting to yes.

But defaulting to yes is not a qualitative approach. It has the potential to waste thousands of your employees’ hours through interviewing every year and will ultimately lead to average hires. The best way to think about this is in terms of false positives and false negatives, you don’t want any of the former.

A recent blog post from First Round Interview, detailing Max Levchin’s (Co-Founder of PayPal) key to making exceptional hires, puts it this way:

“”I’m sure we had lots of false negatives, but we have very few false positives.” It’s better to err on the side of losing a superstar here or there than make a hire that’ll disrupt or ruin a company[1].”

Many companies claim to hire the best, but when it comes to crunch time the proof isn’t there. And this may be due to headcount targets, a sudden urgent need to fill a vacancy or that a manager has a tendency to hire his friends. Don’t crumble, hold out for the best and ensure that when you extend that offer you are in no doubt (aahhh, the picture makes sense) it’s the right decision.

Being tough on hiring may be slower, but having a company of exceptional talent is priceless. Remember the words of Alan Eustace (SVP at Google):

“A top-notch engineer is worth three hundred times or more than an average engineer … I’d rather lose an entire incoming class of engineering graduates than one exceptional technologist.”[2]


[2] Work Rules! by Laszlo Bock

“Culture Fit”. What Is It? Why Does It Matter?

Dr. Seuss – “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”

[So apologies are in order dear readers. No posts in June Joe!? What’s the big idea!? Firstly, I was focusing on my new awesome job (see article below) and visiting all my US Hudl chums (‘MURICA!). Secondly, trying to voice my opinion on “culture fit” in 350 words or less has proven to be somewhat challenging. Here it goes.]

Back when I was an agency Recruiter (all of two months ago), one of the biggest challenges I faced on a day-to-day basis was understanding all the different cultures of my clients. I often had hiring requirements from up to 15 different companies at one time. That’s 15 environments, leadership styles, daily work practices, written and unwritten rules…and the list goes on. To be able to make hires, I needed to know these cultures. It would have been near impossible if I didn’t.

When hiring, culture fit matters. Of course it does. But what is it?

Margaret Rouse, Director of, claims that “cultural fit is the likelihood that a job candidate will be able to conform and adapt to the core values and collective behaviours that make up an organization[1]

Core values and collective behaviours? But don’t they change? Yes, they do. In fact Hudl openly admits that it has added, subtracted and edited its values along its 9 year journey. Every personality adds to a company’s culture, and one person is enough to change it. It truly is the sum of its parts.

Hudl hires extroverts, introverts, nerds, jocks, loud-folks, quiet-folks, those who act on impulse, those who prefer a laid out plan…and the list goes on. What is at the core of these people? How does Hudl judge it?

There are many ways, and here is one example. Take Hudl’s value We’re Respectfully Blunt, you can be any of the above personalities and still be respectfully blunt. And we have critical thinking and scenario questions to find out if, not just this value, all our values are in line with the candidate’s values.

But being a great culture fit isn’t just believing in a company’s values. It’s everything. It’s the language, decision making, symbols, internal assumptions, stories and legends, daily work practices, leadership preferences, the product, external presence and the unwritten rules.

Your company’s ‘attitude’ is your culture. So always hire for attitude and not always for skill. You can train the latter but not the former. Ultimately, someone who is a good cultural fit will work at their best within the environment and culture you have created.

Feel free to get in touch if you would like to share your thoughts