Joe is the Head of People at EMJ, an open-access, peer-reviewed medical journal providing reviews, symposiums and developments from international medical congresses. Their headquarters is located in London, and they are expanding with offices in New York, Amsterdam and Dublin.
As the Head of People, Joe focuses on creating an environment for ‘Gold Medal Winners’, or simply a space for people to be the best version of themselves. Joe is also a keen advocate for finding and determining your company’s distinctive EVP.
When it comes to DE&I, it’s not simply about meeting the set quotas. He believes that creating opportunities and highlighting success stories helps achieve a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Additionally, he shares how nailing the candidate experience leads to fewer applications, but those applicants are better qualified and help you build a strong employer brand.
Keep on reading for great insights, advice and book recommendations.
How did you get started in recruitment/talent management/HR? Was working in talent management something you always wanted to do?
I had a background in Sales and was looking to move away from a business development position to something different. I walked into my local Reed branch, and they suggested giving TA a go.
I didn’t understand at the time that I was moving to another Sales position, but what I loved was that the ‘product’ was people. I was able to provide opportunities for people to improve their lives and earn money to support the companies that would hire them. ‘Win-win’!
What would you say is a common misconception about the work of a recruiter/TA manager/HR professional?
One of the biggest misconceptions is that Recruitment ISN’T sales. It is. Whether you’re on the Agency side and selling a candidate, or you’re in-house and selling the opportunity to a candidate.
I’ve seen a number of agency recruiters looking to move to in-house for an ‘easier’ life, but with in-house, there’s nowhere to hide – you’re expected to fill 100% of the roles to be successful!
What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve managed to overcome or improve on during your career so far? How did you do it?
It was my last role at Reorg, a high-volume, fast-growing VC-backed company.
Being solely responsible for hiring 96 people in 1 year was, of course, a challenge. Still, it taught me how to prioritise better, become more agile, and work on hiring a variety of positions.
All challenges are opportunities. If we embrace challenges in that way, we will benefit from the opportunity they provide.
What are some of the most rewarding experiences or achievements you’ve had in your career so far?
Implementing Employee Value Proposition (EVP) at Reorg.
I’ve designed an approach to identify EVP and given the opportunity to utilise this approach. It was a great experience where I could work closely with employees to get a true understanding of why people work, and from a personal perspective it was the opportunity to trial an idea and see if it could make a difference.
The achievement was being able to see the difference it could make to both employees and employers, and I was proud to be able to replicate this exercise at EMJ.
What kind of experiences have you had as a candidate yourself? Any experiences that stand out?
I remember applying for a role where I was told the biggest challenge was that they took six months to hire, and I worried they weren’t attracting the right talent. They were looking for a Recruiter to come in and show them how they could do things differently to ensure they only found the best-in-market candidates.
What was incredible was that they were, on average, receiving over 20,000 applications per post (with a high-profile CEO).
I focused my interview on returning to world-class basics – getting the process right and being able to filter better and improve outcomes.
Unfortunately, the organisation were adamant that there was a new, untried approach out there that would achieve their goal.
I didn’t get the job, but of course, I am keeping in touch in case they find something new!
What recruitment and talent management trends are you most excited and/or worried about? Why?
Two – one more obvious, and one I believe is a ‘sleeper’ in the TA space.
- The obvious is AI – AI will not replace recruiters – the human element to hiring is not (yet) replicable by AI. However, it has been incredibly powerful in saving time and improving productivity within Talent, whether that’s speeding up job descriptions and recruitment messages or AI campaigns that improve the search based on who you put through the funnel.
- The other I mentioned earlier is utilising EVP.
- Employees are 5x more likely to stay in their jobs if they understand their EVP than those that don’t (Gartner)
- EVP reduces the likelihood of employees leaving a company within the first 6m by 40% (LinkedIn)
- EVP results in an average 43% decrease in cost per hire (LinkedIn)
- Offer a 28% lower turnover rate (LinkedIn)
- and a well-defined EVP means companies are TWICE as likely to report effective leadership, THREE times likely to report higher levels of engagement, and SIX times more likely to report a strong sense of direction (Gartner)
I’m passionate about how EVP will be more readily utilised in organisations in the next five years, with less than 50% of employers having defined theirs and more than 50% of those who don’t even know what EVP is!
What do you feel is unique about your current place of work? What makes the people stay? Why should people apply?
We have over 70+ benefits or reasons why people should join EMJ, which made defining our EVP a lot better – but #1 is the team of passionate people they work alongside daily.
We’ve created a high-performance environment that puts VALUES front and centre of every decision and is the key contributor to our success.
We can teach skills, but we can teach Values. There are no right or wrong values of course, but we only hire people who are aligned with the company Values, as everybody wins.
People should ONLY apply if they want to be the best version of themselves. If you want that, we can help you achieve the goal of becoming what we call a GOLD MEDAL WINNER.
What tools that you use in your day-to-day work are the most valuable to you? What do you use them for?
EVP has proven invaluable as it helps us understand what’s truly important to our employees. It helps us understand if what we offer for reward is appreciated and to the standard that our people expect in return for their work.
We know that if we can offer the right reward for our employee performance, we will get high performance from our employees.
From a more practical point of view – A solid ATS will help manage the most important process in a business, the Recruitment process. The more efficient you can be at identifying and attracting top talent, the better positioned your company will be for success – don’t underestimate what the right ATS can do for you in achieving your goals.
In your opinion, what are the most critical skills and qualities a recruiter should possess to be successful in this field?
- Commercial Mindset: Being able to detach yourself from the needs of a Hiring Manager and a Candidate to focus on what’s right for the business. Thinking more about parity, the impact of the team, the role’s need, the priority, and being able to question effectively based on all of the above – this mindset will set a successful recruiter apart.
- World Class Basics: Sounds obvious, but a recruiter who knows how to (and allocate time to) source, create exciting (and realistic) advertisements/copy, manage hiring manager expectations, and offer a gold standard candidate experience.
I’ve spoken to hundreds of recruiters, and rarely do you get someone who can do all of these to a high standard!
How do you approach diversity and inclusion in the hiring process, and how do you ensure fair and unbiased recruitment?
DE&I, to me, is about creating more OPPORTUNITIES to apply.
I disagree with quotas or targeting specific minority groups rather than focusing on the most inclusive opportunities to apply. For example – whereas EMJ is proud of gender equity and pay across the business, there is an imbalance Male < and Female in Sales.
Rather than ‘only look for Females in Sales’, we’ve highlighted more stories about our successful female salespeople (i.e. our top salesperson) and looked at where we can share our message that has a good representation, rather than neglect males and message females.
Increasing opportunities rather than robbing Peter to pay Paul means everyone wins.
Do you track any recruitment metrics/KPIs in your day-to-day work? If you’ve managed to improve any of them recently, what did you do to achieve better results?
- Time to hire
- Cost per hire
- % passing probation for ‘output’
- Input – less KPI driven but ensuring we’re adding to the talent pool, allocating adequate time for sourcing, and posting enough engaging employer branding (that we track response) to ensure we’re growing our hiring opportunities.
How would you define a good candidate experience? What strategies do you use to offer one?
- Transparent communications that truly reflect the reality of working at the organisation
- Managing expectations from the outset
- Sticking to those expectations
- Offering feedback – increasing detail through each stage of the process.
That’s it! It’s as simple as that.
If you get those 5 things right, you’ll actually get fewer applications but convert more. You’ll have fewer complaints and more promoters, and you’ll become an employer of choice.
Recommend us 3 books/TV shows/podcasts and let us know why you love them.
- A specific TV episode, The Bear, Season 2: Forks. Although it’s still best to watch the whole series for some great TV, this particular episode, even as a standalone, is a fantastic example of taking ownership, the importance of finding purpose, and Values.
- The book ‘Who, Not How‘. A simple idea and shift to mindset to help get sh*t done – don’t put things off because you haven’t figured out how, get stuff done by figuring out who will help!
- Another great read, ‘Stolen Focus’, uncovers the decline of human focus, how technology contributes but is not the only reason, and the benefits of quite simple approaches to improving our focus in work and life in general.
How do you know when it’s time to take some time off to avoid burnout and take care of your mental health? How do you recharge?
If you’re not taking time off, you will not avoid burnout, you will not recharge, and struggle with mental health.
It doesn’t need to be an 8 week sabbatical, even taking a day a month to focus on you, to relax, to meditate, whatever is not ‘the thick of it’ will recharge your batteries to be in the best mindset to achieve your goals.
To me, recharge and rest are not solutions to your challenges but are putting you in the best possible place to overcome them.
What motivates you professionally? What is your biggest professional goal for 2024?
I truly believe that everyone would benefit from being even 1% happier at work.
My goal is to improve people’s happiness through EVP.
How would you describe your job to people considering transitioning into recruitment/talent management? Any tips on where to start?
Start where the training and support are available – find a TA role that prides itself on training, and make sure you understand how they deliver on that training.
TA is a role that ‘anyone can do’ but requires learning to do well.