Short sharp lessons (you can learn from!)

By Jeremy Wilson June 01, 2015 Industry News

My dad used to have a saying: “the good stuff grows in the valleys”.

I’ve reflected on this euphemism for learning through adversity many times during my business career.

I hate to disagree with the old man, but I think trying to avoid the valleys in the first place seems to be a smarter way of going about one’s business, wherever possible.

Lately, I’ve seen some short sharp lessons through adversity in some of the staffing issues I’ve been a part of, or witnessed from afar, and reflecting on these can really help you avoid any adversity with your people.

The following may be the answers to the short sharp lessons I’m referring to.



  1. The 90-day trial period – This is a get out of jail free card for employers and it must be detailed in your employment contract. There’s a pile of advice online around getting this detailed correctly and running the process correctly.
  2. Restraint of trade – There’s a good chance your restraint could be unenforceable, anti-competitive or too ambiguous for the court to uphold. Go for a 3-month restraint and have an employment lawyer help you with the wording. Getting legal advice around this could be a few hundred dollars really well spent, instead of 20-odd grand trying to enforce an outdated restraint.



I could be guilty of harping on about this but I do so for a reason. I’m talking about the latter part of the process, between second/third interviews through to contract signing.

This is danger time, the time when your favoured person is seeking to draw things to a close and they will inevitably judge your business on the time it takes to sort out the paperwork.

Sitting on a contract for three weeks, or getting someone to wait for a month for an offer because the MD is overseas, is average at best, and the chances are the person you want will withdraw altogether and end up elsewhere.



Verbal references with prior managers (check with at least two), group interviews, background checking, presentations and medical checks are all vital parts of a robust recruitment process.

Don’t ever take shortcuts just because the person presents well!



Make a choice. You’ve got two options:

  1. Meet the market remuneration.
  2. Settle for a less experienced or less qualified candidate.



One of the major reasons I see people in the market is because the business is restructuring and no-one is communicating.

There is nothing, repeat nothing, like fear for their jobs for getting your best people out of their seat and into the street.

I promise you, if you are restructuring or going through some redundancies and not absolutely loving the people you want to keep – they will be in the job market.



They say the definition of a professional is how that person handles adversity and resignations can certainly be confronting. Remember though, that those around you are measuring you by your responses.

I’ve seen cases where others in the team have felt such tension around how a resignation was handled that they have felt like leaving as well. Invariably, some will.

To put it simply, rise above. Ensure you have the right protection in place (refer to point 1), hold your head up and be the bigger man (or woman!)

I hope that these short points provide you with some useful ammo in tidying up potential issues.

It’s a very interesting time in the market at the present – our workload is certainly ramping up and there are some great opportunities available. I hope you are finding the same, remembering that being busy is when the basics like those outlined here get overlooked.

Happy hiring and a great year to you.


Jeremy Wilson is General Manager of Build People, a search recruitment business with contacts across hardware, consumer goods, electronics and FMCG. Call 021 732 788 or visit for more information.


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