As recruiters, we are often asked questions from change practitioners such as:
- What do employers look for in a change professional?
- What do recruiters look for?
- What are the trends in change?
- Do employers want an accreditation in change and if so what type?
Being extremely close to the market enables us to give our input and insight.
On the weekend, I was lucky enough to be part of a panel for a deep dive into Hiring for Change for the Change Management Institute. The majority of the audience were experienced Organisational Change Managers who found a lot of the aspects we covered to be insightful and helpful. When you are head down on a project, remaining abreast of the market trends, can fall to the bottom of the priority list. Hopefully what I cover below will provide a snapshot on what you may have been missing while engrossed in a complex program of work!
What do employers look for?
A majority of clients are looking for a demonstrable history of working in complex environments with experience across a variety of industries. They’re also seeking a person who can bring their own tool kit – an ability to bespoke their approach to the organisation or project they’re working with.
T-shaped skills are highly sought after – the change management arena is no different. We have also had clients wanting Change Managers to be able to do process mapping and even UAT (predominately as there is no one else to do it as teams are being leaned down). Contractors who are willing to “do what they need to do to get the job done” are looked favorably upon.
With the prevalence of companies implementing agile ways of working, many clients are searching for people who’ve had experience working within Agile projects. Familiarity with the fast pace and short bursts and an ability to manage the ambiguity from a change management point of view. This could segue into which courses are beneficial – but I’ll touch on that later.
Lastly, the number one requirement our clients are seeking is value – someone who can add value to their existing team/company. This “value” could take on many forms, from mentoring the more junior change practitioners, to enhancing their current methodology, or coaching senior leaders of the business. Clients are looking for value for money. This is not to be confused with “find me cheap please”. They’re looking for the added value each individual brings.
What do recruiters look for?
I’m looking for various things of course. My first impression of a person is their CV. Including as much as possible about your current and past experience is recommended, such as: company name, position title, team size, project definitions, number of stakeholders/geographies impacted (speaks to complexity), what you were tasked with, what you accomplished. This enables me to gain a fair bit of information! Remember: clients are seeking complexity and diversity of industries. If you’ve only had experience in one industry but have had a variety of project experience (e.g. across process, technology, cultural) be sure to specify this.
Once I meet someone face to face I am able to gain an understanding of depth of skill, and how candidates deliver their examples gives me great insight into their personality and style.
In order to delve into understanding a person’s knowledge in change, I ask questions that give me an understanding of the person’s ability to link the change strategy and execution to benefits realisation. A few examples are:
- When have you engaged the right people to build a team capability for an effective implementation?
- How have you anticipated and removed obstacles to change?
- How have you encouraged the business to contribute (and ideally take dual accountability) for change processes?
There are a number of other areas that I delve into but through the face to face interview process I gain a better understanding of who that person is; what makes them tick, what they don’t like, how they present, and what cultures they would flourish in.
Trends in Change
Clients are running projects in Agile AND/OR using Lean AND/OR utilising Human Centred Design approaches. There are projects that are pure Agile, and there are projects that claim to be Wagile (or Fragile).
Regardless of whether the project is Agile or not – a Change Manager who has only worked in a waterfall environment may struggle.
Clients are looking for an ability to think outside the box, deal with major ambiguity (ie: building the plane while flying is a term I have had a client use), and utilise methods or tools to gain traction and drive a project forward and be comfortable with this.
With the significant growth in Design capability within Financial Services, Energy and Telecommunications, the landscape of delivery is changing and the ability to be creative and adaptive is crucial. THIS is the new trend emerging.
A perfect segue into talking about courses….
Courses and Accreditation
Completing a three day public program doesn’t necessarily launch someone into a long and successful career in change management! That said, most organisations seeking to bring about ‘change’ will follow some sort of methodology. It does help if today’s candidate equip themselves with a CM methodology and approach, yet remain flexible on what they chose to work with in terms of the tools, templates etc. i.e. have a framework but “bespoke approach” for a client.
For example, there are courses run by Being Human (Prosci) and ChangeFirst (PCI) which involve working on a real live project using their tools and methodology and allow you to immediately apply your change implementation plan when you return to work. Both are typically 3 day courses.
The Lean Change Management course equips you more with tools and techniques. It is not a methodology but takes ideas from Lean Startup, Agile, Organisational Development, and Change Management in order to help you figure out the best approach to the change you are faced with.
In terms of Globally Recognised Change Management Accreditations, I know several Change Managers who have completed the APMG – Change Management Accreditation and also CMI have the ACM (Accredited Change Manager Program) which has 3 levels (Foundation, Specialist and Master).
I always encourage clients to remain flexible – if you’re looking for someone with a specific certification in a methodology, however there is a Change Manager who has the right experience, the right cultural fit, but comes with a different accreditation (if any) – you should still view them.
Change management is evolving. To stay relevant, you need to change with the current environment.
This article was first published on my LinkedIn account.