Over egging the pudding? The risks of missing training needs during recruitment


The time had come around again; time to update the CV following the end of another successful contract.  As I sat down at my desk to begin, I read my personal statement and thought it needed a little work so I started looking for inspiration by having a sneaky peak at the CV’s on Linked In. Many of the personal statements were elaborate and strong as you would expect, after all this is the attention grabbing section but as I started to read through their previous experience sections I was surprised by some of the content – ‘created a sales process”.   “Really?”, I was shouting at the screen, “are you sure you did that?”.  ‘Responsible for the co-ordination of the training of regulated staff’ – what exactly did that entail and can you prove you did this?

Now I could spend the whole of this article discussing the rights and wrongs of a ‘creative’ CV especially in the work of financial services where we are judged on our ethics but it got me thinking in a different direction; if I can look at a handful of profiles and identify experience that is difficult to prove, how many similar ‘creative’ CV’s exist and how do recruiters identify them?  More importantly, when we are presented with a candidate with a potentially inflated CV, how do we then make sure we are accurately complying with TC 2.1.11 11 ‘Firms should ensure that their employees’ training needs are assessed at the outset and at regular intervals (including if their role changes). Appropriate training and support should be provided to ensure that any relevant training needs are satisfied’…. if their CV potentially masks their true training needs.

It could be said that there is a hidden danger in being creative with what we include in our CV’s in that our training needs may never be identified

Typically when we think about the assessing a potential employees training needs at the outset, we specify within our Training and Competence regime that we can use a variety of methods including:

  • Knowledge testing
  • Work simulations
  • Psychometric Testing
  • Assessment Centres
  • Competency based questions

These typically work well for an adviser as it is clear what knowledge, skills and expertise they need to display in order to be competent in their role but as training and competence schemes start to touch a wider financial services audience, these assessment methods prove more futile as an accurate assessment of a new recruits abilities and training needs.    Take a second level supervisor of a regulated employee for example; using the methods above we can assess their knowledge, their ability to coach and give feedback to colleagues but how can we assess the training they need to help them to lead a team and achieve results?  If it is hard to prove that they have indeed ‘driven a team to achieve results’, how do we start to look at how they drove the team to achieve the results and how therefore we can help them to improve?

Front line roles are generally routine and colleagues are restricted working for a single correct outcome using one method of completing a task.  As the role becomes less restrictive, less routine and more about achieving a strategic goal, the colleague define the desired outcome and the way in which they are going to get there.  The recruiting executive will have a view on what they are looking for in a successful candidate but how do they identify and translate their training needs?

It could be said that there is a hidden danger in being creative with what we include in our CV’s in that our training needs may never be identified and we may progress up the career ladder still with huge gaps in our learning and understanding.  Just with any structure, without the correct foundations the whole thing falls over.  I can vouch for the effect that poor foundation plays on our abilities – my 9-year-old son has just started his journey on 18-month neuro-development programme.   As a result of severely delayed expressive speech, he struggles to formulate grammatically correct sentences and it turns out that some of his key milestones, like learning to walk, weren’t completed in the correct way.  Putting it simple, if there were five steps to learning to walk, he only completed steps 1, 4 and 5 – he has missed steps 2 and 3.   He can walk and run like any other 9 year old, except he is cumbersome, falls over more frequently and has the same space awareness as his 80-year-old Grandmother! By his age he should be thinking about how he will achieve a task using his armoury of skills, knowledge and expertise but instead, because of the failing to follow the correct development path in vast sways of his physical and mental learning, he looks to achieve tasks in a restricted and routine manner.   His learning structure has fallen over and he cannot progress at the level that is expected of him because he is missing these key steps.

The good news is there are people out there that can help him – if you search hard enough but what of our colleagues who have gaps in their skills, knowledge and expertise armoury?  What if these people eventually find themselves be in a role where their step 2 and 3 is exposed?  What happens them and who is to blame?   Typically there is a cost to the organisation they are working for when the foundations start to shake.  This cost can take on many forms; fines, reputation and human to name the major ones.   When the source of the problem is eventually traced, the culprit sometimes manages to move sideways and remove themselves from the situation but the issue still exists, the gap in their learning is still there ready for its encore.

As an industry we have worked hard at recognising and developing training regimes that recognise the needs of an individual rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach.  However, is there something in the standardised approach that could help us see those red flags much earlier? Just the same as with a child’s development, do we need to learn skills in a set order so that each activity is mastered before moving on to the next?

If we assume the supervisor’s learning pathway is a structured one we should be able to develop a means of assessing if there are any gaps – just as the neuro-therapist was able to do so with my son.   Typically the methods we use at recruitment focus on being able to confirm you have observed the candidate demonstrate a particular skill such as coaching.   But these skills can be broken down into individual behaviours and each behaviour can be linked to a desired competency.   Take managing your own resources as an example, a crucial entry level supervisory skill, that if a candidate hasn’t mastered can have an impact on how they undertake their work role and review their performance against their objectives. Typically when seeking evidence of this skill we would look for behaviours such as taking personal responsibility for making things happen, recognising change and adjusting plans or agreeing achievable objectives that produce consistent and reliable performance.    To check this accurately, the exercises at the recruitment stage would need to incorporate these behaviour checks and potentially even more importantly, have a way of easily identifying if the candidate demonstrates these behaviours.    If a recruitment process only asks a candidate to ‘demonstrate a coaching session’ it is easy to put a tick in the box at the end of the session to record a successful outcome irrespective of the quality of that coaching session.   Indeed the judged quality of that coaching session is dependant on the skill and opinion of the recruiter.

Therefore we need consider how we can apply the lessons of a structured learning journey to our recruitment approach.  We need to flip the typical approach on its head and start by mapping the desired capabilities of the role, then identify the behaviours associated with the capabilities and then finally create an exercise that allow the candidate to demonstrate a group of behaviours in one session.  In this way it will be more apparent which behaviours are not demonstrated.  Over an entire recruitment process this should help to identify which competencies the candidate potentially doesn’t have.    A decision can then be made whether to recruit but importantly, if the candidate is successful, a full picture of candidate’s competencies and skills is held.  From this an individualised training programme can be created to address any training needs before they reveal themselves later as a result of a root cause analysis work done following a fine from the FCA.  If this mapping is done for every role and the recruitment process is followed for both internal and external recruits, we will be taking one step further to ensuring we comply with TC 2.1.11 ‘assessing that an employees’ training needs are assessed at the outset and at regular intervals (including if their role changes)’.  All we then need to work on is ensuring that any relevant training needs identified are satisfied!


About Author

Avatar photo

As an experienced and professional Consultant and Training Professional, I have had the privilege of working across a wide range of companies and business areas predominately in the Financial Services sector. Wherever I am and whatever job role I am undertaking on behalf of a client, you will always find me influencing and driving others to produce results.

Leave A Reply