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How Siemens EA implemented skills-based hiring – the hiring manager and candidate point of view

Tuesday 14th May

How Siemens EA implemented skills-based hiring – the hiring manager and candidate point of view

Have you been considering making the switch to skills-based hiring but feel terrified about trying to persuade your hiring managers to let go of experience-based hiring and stop using the CV as a comfort blanket? 

Can you see roles where you’re facing a skills shortage or where candidates seem like a good fit on paper but are missing critical qualities in the interview stage? 

Do you know that your candidate experience should be better, but need a hand convincing your stakeholders that CV-less hiring could be the key to sourcing exceptional talent who are MORE excited to work for you? 

If you answered yes to any of the above, grab a coffee and your headphones, and listen to this podcast.

This week, Robert is speaking to James Higgins, Head of Systems Delivery – Systems GB&I at Siemens Electrification & Automation, about his experience of being their first hiring manager outside Early Careers to pilot CV-less, skills-based hiring. 

Robert also dives into a conversation with one of the first candidates Siemens EA hired through this process, Senior Project Engineer –– Martin Hudson, to capture his reflections on what it was like to be part of a CV-less hiring process and why more businesses should embrace this approach. 

In this eye-opening episode, uncover insights like:

🚀 How Siemens EA formed an innovation squad featuring an executive stakeholder, a hiring manager, and their TA leaders to make the case for CV-less hiring and win people over –– and the pitch they made to turn people from sceptics to advocates 

📈 How lowering the barrier to entry for candidates by removing the CV actually resulted in a 5X increase in application volume, an uplift in candidate quality, and a more diverse talent pool –– with the end result being 8 exceptional candidates shortlisted (3 hired) who never would have made it through the previous sifting process

🧠 How the Siemens EA team practically evolved their process –– from rethinking the core human traits and skills they really needed to select for to plug existing skill gaps, to rethinking how they advertised, to the role of the task-based psychometric assessment in uncovering candidate potential 

💡The unexpected benefits of hiring candidates from alternative industries and talent pools that James and his team uncovered, why he’d have adopted CV-less hiring earlier if he could, and his views on hiring for attitude and behaviours vs skills, which specialisms can be taught vs which can be acquired, and which roles skills-based CV-less hiring can be used for 

🤖  A candidate’s perspective on what a CV-less hiring process feels like, how task-based assessments create a value-add experience, and the power of offering feedback; how to adapt your interview process to ease anxiety and make candidates feel more motivated to work for you; and what candidates with no industry experience expect from the onboarding process 

A big thank you to James and Martin for sharing their views with us.

Listen below 👇

Podcast Transcript:

Robert: Welcome to the TA Disruptors podcast. I'm Robert Newry, CEO and co-founder of Arctic Shores, the task-based psychometric assessment company that helps organisations uncover potential and see more in people.

We live in a time of great change and TA disruptors who survive and thrive will be the ones who learn to adapt and iterate and to help them on that journey. In this podcast, I am speaking with some of the best thought leaders and pioneers who are leading that change.

And today I am very excited to welcome James Higgins, Operations Manager at Siemens Ertification and Automation. Welcome James. 

James: Yeah thanks for having us Robert. 

Robert: You're most welcome and perhaps you could we could just start off by telling us a little bit about your role and what Siemens electrification automation do? 

James: Yeah, so I'll start with what electrification automation is and what we do, and then I'll go into what my role is. So essentially, we work with power distribution. So we offer services, solutions, systems, and products in the electrical distribution network arena. So that covers distribution network operators, private network operators, and renewables industries.

In terms of what we actually do, so that's from sort of protection technology, substation automation, things as far as cyber security services, and then also traditional services, sort of the man in the van, keeping the plants running, the lights on in the plants, so critical power infrastructure. 

Robert: Okay, important to all of us. 

James: Yeah, so in terms of the wider public don't generally have an awareness of what we do. You don't see our products, but all electrification users, so today this podcast has been powered by electricity that will at some point have been touched by one of our products or our services. So it's very much involved in everything we do, but in general, it's not something that's visible to the wider public. 

Robert: Sure, one of the brilliant things that keeps everything going that we don't know about but is super important. 

James: Yeah, that's it. So it's always difficult to describe in terms of my role in that. So I work exclusively in the systems business. So it's what we sort of call switch gear products. So I'm an operations manager within that business vertical. So my key role is ensuring that the delivery of those projects go smoothly. So I work with a fantastic team of project managers, design engineers. So it's sort of my role is to make sure that we're meeting the customer requirements and the usual things on time, on budget. So that's sort of in general terms, that's what I do on a day-to-day basis. 

Robert: Okay, really, really useful to get that background. And so we connected about 14 months ago. And I always love by the way Siemens because I actually started my working life in the engineering sector. Actually in not too far away from Dudley in Birmingham. And so I always really respect the whole sort of engineering sector. And was just really excited about how when we first connected, it was about 14 months or so ago, and I'd been speaking to your boss, John, about how we could do something quite radical to solve.

The big challenge, one of the big challenges that Siemens has, which is you're doing so well, so successfully, that you're really growing and it's quite hard to find the people you need to be able to deliver on the very important things that you shared earlier. 

And John was saying, oh, you know, I can't keep doing the same thing because I'm, you know, I'm getting the same result, which is I'm not being able to hire people. And he invited Arctic Shores to come along and talk to his senior management team and I think you were clearly there and put forward a request to find somebody who was willing to be quite radical and different in their approach to hiring and to scrap the CV. And this is traditional Siemens engineering company and you stuck your hand up to say yeah I'm happy to be the one the guinea pig here. What was going through your mind at the time? Why were you willing to throw yourself into the kind of the pit as it were and do something quite radical and different? 

James: The strategy event you've just touched on there so we were lucky enough to have Jen Voyle. So she came in and sort of give it a bit of a talk on Scrap the CV and it was it was very very interesting and you could kind of see the traditionalists within the sort of the leadership team. That's impossible. You need the CV. You need this like for like experience. Yes. But yeah, what she was communicating, it struck a chord. So I had just read fairly recently a book, Rebel Ideas by Matthew Syed.

And that was sort of in general terms, it was about cognitive diversity in teams, building strong teams. They used the example of the CIA in terms of all of the recruits were from the same Ivy League colleges. And it ended up with very much each recruiter was recruiting a like for like person. So they had a lot of blind spots, which led to some sort of huge oversight. So it kind of brought alignment between what Jen was saying and what I had just read. I thought, yeah, that is very interesting. I would like to see how that that would play out in our industry. 

Not long after, John, after that event, it was the next day he rang and said, look, I'm thinking about how we could move into this. And at the time, I had a requirement for a couple of roles. So he said, would you be interested? I just thought, yeah, I'll jump at that opportunity. One, because it was interesting to, why not try something different? We had always done the same things. And we had recently had quite a large recruitment round where the interviews were all very similar where Siemens being the traditional company, each sort of, each advert that went out was always the same, you know, you shall have a electrical engineering degree, you shall have 10 years experience in a similar field in a similar company.

And as a result, the candidates we were getting, a lot of them had great CVs, but as soon as you put them in that interview format, the skills that were key to a project manager, sort of the personal skills just weren't there. So it was, you know, you'd go through very frustrating interview processes to think, yeah, this person was brilliant on paper, but they just weren't suitable. So I thought, yeah, let's try this completely off the wall approach and see where we get to. That's kind of where it was born. We quickly moved into sort of collaboration with ourselves to start that process. 

Robert: Sure. So that's fascinating. So you'd had in the back of your mind that you needed to do something a bit different anyway, just in the team to try and bring a bit of diversity in there. Yeah. Then you'd gone through, which I'm sure is true for so many people, you know, a recruitment round over the previous months that had just led to what appeared to be great candidates based on CVs, but then lacking when it came to alignment of the skills that you really needed for a project engineer and that. So I think that would resonate then with a lot of people. But it really is quite something to then say, I'm gonna scrap the CV completely around this. And so take us through then the journey that you went through to actually, did you genuinely scrap the CV? Was, I mean, for everybody, it's like a comfort blanket. And the number one question must be, God, if you take this comfort blanket away, what am I left with? Am I just gonna be thrown out into the great unwashed there and is it gonna be chaos? So take us through, you know, the actual journey you went through and actually scrapping the CV, and did you genuinely never look at a CV? 

James: Well, I suppose the start of the process was we looked at the roles that we needed to fulfill. We had the initial kickoff session with your team where we got the sort of general principle of what we were trying to achieve, how you could recruit without the sort of the cornerstone, which was the CVs. So it was very much looking at the skills, the behaviors, what we've seen as the success factors for people doing this role of project engineer, which is a junior entry level project management position. So we went through everything in terms of, you know, we need that person to be resilient. Then you have sort of high levels of planning, high levels of organisation, sort of stakeholder management skills. So we came up with this sort of a master list of if you if you could find a perfect person, what attributes would they have. 

Robert: Yes. And was that quite cathartic in some way, that you were really, for the first time, focusing on the skills rather than, as you were saying earlier, have you got this much experience and are you familiar with this particular application or qualification? 

James: Very much, because it's kind of, you were looking forwards to what do we actually need, not what does the person have to have had, which, as we've discussed, it's kind of a relevant sort of your past performance isn't an indicator of your future performance. Yes. So it was looking at that forward thinking approach, which to me was quite interesting and I could see the benefit of it. We communicated this to the sort of wider business to let everyone know what we were doing, why we were doing it and.

Robert: Was that quite important to be able to do that? Because they probably thought you were mad. 

James: Yeah, yeah. And it was interesting to see some of the feedback. There was some strong views of, you know, how is this possible? You're asking for someone with no experience. How could they possibly do what we do? 

Robert: Yes. Did you doubt yourself at all in any of this? Did you wonder at some point going, actually, am I really walking into disaster? 

James: No to be honest. I kind of doubled down when people said it wasn't going to work. Sort of my immediate reaction was, well we'll make sure this does work. Great response. Yeah, and it's sort of, the funny thing is the people who doubted it most are sort of strong advocates of the individual so we've got out of the end of the process. Funny how it turns around. Yeah, so it was great to see a flip of people who said it was impossible to then sort of really see the benefits of what we've done. 

Robert: So you went out to the business then and said, but we're gonna do this, just so that they understood a bit. And I assume that's quite an important part of all of this, that they don't think that you're just getting completely off paced here. 

James: Yeah, yeah, so it was sort of trying to bring everyone with were, which, you know, it's sometimes hard, but you've got to start off on the journey that way. And there was a lot of things that were new in terms of working with Arctic Shores when we're looking at how do you attract the right candidates, the most amount of candidates. Yes. So things like traditional job titles, we were changing those from project engineer to be advertised as entry level project manager. So essentially it is a project management role but traditionally in Siemens you would start as a project engineer. Then move through senior project engineer to project manager. We wanted to remove things that would deter people saying well I'm not an engineer why would I apply for that? 

Robert: Yes. Clever. So just subtle changes like that can make a big difference. 

James: Yeah. Yeah. Advertising the salary. So, you know, on a Siemens previous adverts, you would never see a salary advertised. But working with Arctic Shores, there was these key metrics, which, you know, a lot of people where there isn't a salary, they won't progress to apply. 

Robert: That's right, because they get worried. And I think there's a lot of research around that, saying that, A, it attracts a broader audience, but also it's very positive from the candidate's point of view because they know whether they are suitable for it and it's not some sort of surprise afterwards it's either too high or too low from from what they expected. 

James: All of these things which were firsts for us and probably in the wider Siemens you know it became immediately apparent as the advert went live the amount of responses that we had was unreal in comparison to previous advertisements. I think it was like six or seven times wasn't it? Yeah, yeah, it was sort of orders of magnitude in excess, everyone was shocked. As we're seeing the numbers just increase, increase, increase. And these were all high quality candidates as well, which that was the other factor there where, obviously we had the benchmark of the sort of 80th percentile, which we just had to keep moving this up and up and up. 

Robert: So that's where the psychometric assessment was important because when you've got hundreds and this is what everybody worries about, you've got hundreds of applications. And if you're not looking at a CV and experience, then how are you filtering down? And the answer is, you're filtering down using psychometric assessment that is looking for those skills and giving you that sort of foundation. These people have the base skills that you're looking for, and then you can bring them forward, I assume, to interview. 

James: Yeah, yeah, that's exactly that. Those things are the most important things to us in terms of what we needed for the individuals. So in terms of this, the benchmarks on the psychometric testing where it was looking at things like resilience. 

Robert: It's quite hard to uncover from an interview. 

James: Yeah, so you just can't from a CV and you're never going to get those things. So the psychometric testing was incredibly important because there were these key attributes that we were looking at like high processing speed. How do you get that from a CV or even an interview? 

Robert: So you had these hundreds of applications. You then, it came down to what, sort of 50 or 60, that then you looked at some series of application questions. And this is all without any CV. You don't know any details about these people other than the psychometric assessment score and then their application questions. And from that, you narrowed it down to eight, is that right, that you then brought into interview? Yeah. And were no sneaky peeks going on to LinkedIn? And did you find yourself almost like a sort of person who'd given up coffee or something in a kind of, shakes that wanting desperately to kind of get round the system? 

James: Yeah, it was hard to almost to maintain that sort of blind view, if you will. Yes. But equally it was an experiment and we all knew as soon as you did have a look, if you did try and find out a bit of background it almost made the whole thing pointless. It ruins the whole thing. Yeah, because then your biases are going to kick in at that point. 

Robert: You contaminated the experiment or something down to that. 

James: So it was very scientific where it was a case of we're going to do this and we're going to do it properly. Yes.

Robert: Which I think is so important. You can't do this half-heartedly. Yeah, yeah. No, you're either all in or you're wasting your time because bias creeps back in and you don't know then whether that's the process or whether it's your own interference that's messed it up. 

James: That's it. As soon as you started looking, you would be looking for those you know that one says engineers, this one I can see an ABB or a Schneider, I can see these large engineering companies in it. It would just kind of sneak that in. Yeah it would knock the whole thing off kilter so yeah absolutely there was no sneak peeks. 

Robert: So you brought in eight people to interview that you had no idea what they were like and how did you find those eight people? 

James: It was quite a surreal experience. So if you look back to what I was just covering, where we had had a previous recruitment round where we'd done a large number of interviews and those interviews, it was difficult to almost pull out positives. And then all of a sudden we found ourselves in this position where over two days we had scheduled eight interviews. When we went into the first one, it was strong. The second one, strong. Third one, strong. And Sam Driscoll, who I was interviewing with after each one, we kind of just in this is odd. The candidates were so strong. We found that we were going to struggle to pick who we were going to take forward.

Robert: And that must have caught you by surprise. You probably didn't expect that. 

James: It did. It did. Yeah. So it was almost when the first strong one, you thought, wow, this is, you know, we've found the one. Yeah. But then as you progressed through, it started adorning you to think, how are we going to actually pick here? They're so strong. We only had two roles at the time and it was very much a case of thinking, how can we create more roles to get these people into the business? Yes. So it was quite surreal in that front. 

Robert: And I think I'm right in saying that of those eight, if you'd looked at their CVs, they probably wouldn't have got through your traditional process at all because none of them had engineer or had come from the sector yeah specifically.

James: yeah and is that right yeah so so if now we have three people in the business who've sort of came through that Arctic Shores route and I can honestly say hand on heart none of those would have got through the traditional route based on on those biases of you know we've got one from telecoms one from finance one from retail. 

Robert: Um, and it's a little Siemens hiring somebody from the retail. 

James: Yeah. And immediately just these company names on the CV would have swayed it. They said, no, that's not something similar to what we do. Um, and it would have been overlooked. Yes. Um, which yeah, it's now we know what we know. Yes. No, there's a lot of years of missed opportunity there. 

Robert: And has it really, it has, you know, has it opened? I mean, you've, you took a big gamble on this, but it sounds like it's been proven for you and that this is the way forward. 

James: Yeah, yeah. So of the people that we've actually onboarded, it's been 100% success in terms of, I would go as far to say, the strongest members that I've personally recruited, which is brilliant. And in fact, each time we've had a new role come up, we've tried to go back and get it. Get back to that result from the pool of eight.

Yeah, so we've had one from additional one from the pool of eight, another one which I tried to get for a role based out of a Manchester office, but as you'd expect they were all snapped up quite fast in today's demand, but the success has been overwhelming to be honest. 

Robert: That's really exciting, but I do know that you will have had to have played a part in delivering that success. I think it's one thing to hire for potential, it's another than how you onboard them. So take me through a bit that traditionally your role as a hiring manager and as a manager of that team would have been, oh I hire somebody with experience, it means that when they start I can give them a little bit of induction and then I let them loose because they in theory know what they're doing.

Whereas here, if they're coming from retail, they're coming from different places, this really is coming into a cold shower for them, it's totally new. So how did you support them in that initial bit? Because I assume that must have taken a little bit more of your time and thought to ensure that that potential was realised. 

James: It's interesting, because you would think that, but it's kind of the opposite. So in terms of the who brought these people in who didn't have the sort of experience or background that we would usually look for or similar to what we have. But that's one of the strengths that I've found is you shouldn't want that in terms of someone that's going to come in and basically follow the instructions that you give, sort of agree with the methods that you use. We had these individuals who are from different backgrounds, and from hitting the ground, they were questioning, right, why do you do it this way? What about looking at this? Could you do it this way? 

So you had these different perspectives where, you know, on board and no different to another candidate in terms of you, you're showing them the systems that we use. But in fact, I would say rather than someone who's from a similar industry where they would just pick up what you have and run with that, we had the benefit of immediate questioning as to, I'm from a complete different industry, this is how I know this to have been done, what about this? So immediately we're just pooling this diverse. 

Robert: So that was really fresh and got you to improve things in many ways. 

James: Yeah, to this day. So we're going through a big improvement drive at the moment anyway. As we're getting fit for the demands of the industry. So there's a lot of things changing. And you can see having this outside perspective. I would say there's a bigger thirst for change from the sort of the newer candidates from a different industry. They're quite happy to look at things done in a different way, look to do things in a new way. So it's almost, yeah, I would say that's been a benefit to the onboarding rather than additional effort on my part. 

Robert: Yes. So you've had a double benefit then, so you've found a broader, brilliant sort of talent pool from going through this. And then when they've come on board, far from it being an extra burden on you, actually it's been a great benefit because they've challenged thinking in the way that you want thinking to be challenged and helping improve things. So that's really exciting to hear. I think one of the questions that I often get asked and hear about this from people is, does this CV-less hiring for all roles or is it better for the type of situation you had where I need to bring somebody in and they can be trained up? So looking back now what would your advice be to other hiring managers who may be thinking about this? Would you say yes you can apply it to any role or a bit more sort of nuanced than that? 

James: Yeah I know. Some rules will find it difficult if you're a highly technical specialism You may find it difficult but but for me, I think doesn't matter what the rule is almost the the behaviors and attributes of the individuals. You can learn Specialisms and not everything obviously we're not talking brain surgery here So you can learn most things with the right encouragement. Where if you've got someone who has the right drivers, the right attitudes, it's a lot easier to learn them a specialism in your organisational context versus bringing someone in who's incredibly technical, but the behaviours just do not suit what you need as a business. They're not going to embrace change, they're not going to embrace new direction. So I would say, definitely, I would encourage everyone to at least look at doing things like this, rather than sticking to that traditional, you know, did you go to X University? Do you have Y degree? 

So it's, it's, I would encourage people to look at it at least try. You know, I'd like to see it go further in Siemens. There should be a lot more areas that we could expand this into. Even even highly technical areas, I would say, because people with almost the base knowledge, you should be able to find candidates that are gonna sort of suit of the business far more than just simply looking for that specific qualification or specific sort of pre-organisation that they've came from. 

Robert: A lot is changing at the moment too in the world of work and I'm sure that's true for Siemens too. I know there's a lot of digitisations going on within Siemens. You talk about the necessarily predict future performance, but actually what you require from future performance now is going to be very different from what it was in the past, because actually the drivers in the business are rapidly changing too. So one final question then is, okay having 14 months, 15 months down the line now, what were the things that you might do differently? What have you learned, I suppose, from having gone through this process that you might give advice to somebody who's thinking about perhaps taking on this CV-less hiring approach? 

James: Yeah, that's a difficult one Robert, in terms of what would I have done differently because it's been so successful. So it's hard to pick out something that I would do differently. The results, 14 months down the line, the output that we're getting and the improvements that we're getting from these individuals is huge. It's hard to describe. Yes. On a daily basis when I engage with the particular candidates, each day you think, wow, I've lucked out here. We've got these fantastic individuals just by doing this different method. So I don't suppose I would have done anything differently. 

Robert: OK, and there's no reason why you should. Yeah, other than which I can't control is doing it faster.

James: If we could have done it earlier, great. Because 40 months down, we are seeing these huge benefits. If I could have triggered this earlier, the benefits would have compounded even further now.

Robert: And some of your skeptical colleagues from that meeting, that time when Jen presented to you, are they coming around now? Are you finding people coming up to you saying, how did you do that, James? And I've just met some of these people that you've hired and they're brilliant and how can I follow suit? Is that starting to happen? 

James: Yeah, so you often get asked about it, how did it go? What's the outcome like? Are you the candidate? So it's spreading, the word's spreading further. You see it discussed at sort of, you know, the very senior levels within Siemens. So I very much think it will become a key part of what we do. And then almost to answer on the naysayers, if you will, like I say, I've seen some where people who completely disagreed with the process and were sure it was going to fail, they now look at the candidates who've come through that route as being some of the best team members that we have, and that in itself, you couldn't have asked for a better result than that to take someone who was adamant it was going to fail. 

Robert: And now they see those individuals as one of the best acquisitions we've ever made. And that's the ultimate proof in all of this, James, isn't it? Did it produce some great people? And the interesting thing, I think, is because you've shared that you've gone back to that pool and taken three people from it, they could have got away with a bit of, well, James was just lucky on the on one of them, but actually it's not just one, it's from a candidate pool of eight, you found three that have really worked out. 

James: Yeah, that's it. From a pool, different geographical locations, working in different business units, it's not like you can say, yep, they're all related to almost have been on boarded in a particular way, or they're working with a particular team to gain that success. They're all at different places, different stages, so there is no sort of correlation there, that isn't anything outside of the actual Arctic Shores process. 

Robert: Oh, that's fantastic. Well, James, look, thank you so much for taking that leap early on and coming to share with us because the world only changes when some people are willing to stick their head above the parapet and it's been lovely to hear how not only are you willing to do that, but when people started to question you, that you double down on it. And I think that's what really marks people out as being great pioneers. We talk in Arctic Shores about people being explorers and it requires you to go into the unknown and not be fearful of that journey that you've embarked on. And you've just been a great example of that. It's been wonderful listening to how you've done it. I wish you great luck in the future and thank you for coming to share your experience with us. 

James: Yeah, no worries, thank you Robert and thank you for the Arctic Shores process, it's been absolutely brilliant. Brilliant. 


Robert: Martin, welcome. We've just heard from James, your boss, about the whole CV-less hiring process. And it'd be nice if you just gave a little introduction to yourself and what you do in Siemens and then we can talk about how you arrived at Siemens. 

Martin: Yeah so I'm Martin and I'm a project engineer at Siemens now so I work in James's team doing the switch gear deliveries. So before Siemens like I was working at a telecoms company and I was there for about five years just sort of like starting to get into the project management sort of project management or what was your background prior to that? Probably since I was about 14, 15, I've been into web development. Okay. And I've, I've spent most of my time on a computer doing programming. Yes. And it was about maybe six, seven years ago when I just kind of felt like I'd sort of had enough and I just wanted to change. Uh, I realised I wanted to get into project management just through doing the project management when I was working with different clients and I was, you know, sort of building websites for different people.

And I just thought this would be like a nice change. It's a bit more sort of business, a bit more like the business side of the world. And when I- 

Robert: Was it quite hard to make a career change?

Martin: It was really difficult. So when I was initially looking into project management, most of the sort of like the job opportunities that present themselves to you, they require years of experience or experience within the industry that you're going into. Yes. or qualifications, project management qualifications, which I had none at the time. I didn't have experience with the industry I'm in now. I didn't have any of the project management qualifications. So I kind of just thought, what do I need to do to get into this? Yes. So for an entry level, it's easier to get into like a project coordination role, which is where I ended up in the telecoms company. I saw I'm successful getting into project coordination and I was doing that for a while and that kind of led me on the path into project management. Through that I knew that yeah this is something that I now want to achieve. 

Robert: Yes and what was it that the Siemens advert caught? Did somebody approach you about it or how did you come across it and what got you excited about it when you saw the advert?

Martin:  So when I was looking initially I don't remember anything specific about the advert except the things that you've mentioned with James where the salary was on show. And then I do remember the line about ditch the CV. So that was quite attractive, but I didn't realize quite what that meant at the time. So at the time I thought, oh, it's gonna be, you just apply on site. So a lot of companies do do that way. You wouldn't necessarily send them CV, but you would sign up to their job site. You would fill in all their information. And it'd be effectively a CV. And it's like doing a CV. Yes. I just thought I'd take a chance. 

So I didn't see anything specific about needing qualifications. I didn't see anything specific about needing sort of experience within the industry. And I thought, I'm just gonna try it. And I wanted to kind of like minimize my regrets in life. And I thought, the worst that can happen is they can say no. Yeah, and then I'm back doing what I was doing anyway. And at the time I remember looking, I wasn't really thinking I was gonna get into project management where I was. So I was looking externally at project management courses thinking I'll try and gain the qualifications, gain the experience and then go back to the, to the sort of like looking for job opportunities. 

Robert: And I think it's such an interesting story, Martin, because that's true for so many people. I mean, you've got, you know, clearly great skills as a web designer. You know how to organise yourself. You know how to communicate with people. And so when somebody then says, right, okay, this is not really necessarily quite, way I wanted to spend the rest of my life working, I'd like to go into something else which seems to appeal, then it's incredibly hard to make that shift because everybody wants qualifications on this or everybody wants some kind of experience and you're in a sort of chicken and egg situation, well how do I get into it and if I don't have the qualifications then I've got to get the qualification, well then there's a cost to that too and then I don't know if I'm going to get the job at the end of it. So, you know, your story is probably...

One, I've heard so many times of people with great transferable skills, then thinking how on earth do I get into a role where I know I could be really good and I'm very motivated to. So I think that's great. So you saw a couple of those things in there, salaries advertised, so you kind of knew that this was something that would work for you. You could just give it a go, which is clearly what we heard from James.

What Siemens were hoping to, once seeing people who was out there that would do that. So what then, what was the process like for you then?

Martin: It was probably a bit different from any other job application you've been through. It was very different and it was unexpected. It kind of took me by surprise initially. So I remember filling in the initial application and then you almost, it's almost automated and like you get offered a link, you join the Arctic Shores process. And then you get a bit of a demo before you go into the application itself and you do the psychometric testing. Yes. And I just thought, what is all this about? 

Robert: Exactly, because it's totally different, wasn't it? It's all task-based. 

Martin: Totally different. But one of my main worries was that I've got to isolate myself. I've got to be focused. I've got to make sure no one knocks on the door when this happens. Yes. And was that, you know, you had to do it at night or something? I had to just pllanned my time, I had to make sure no one was coming, there was no deliveries coming, my phone was on airport, everything was ready. And my internet connection was stable. So that was my main anxiety going into it. But then when I started doing the test, there was those like a series of different experiments I should go through the application process. And at times I'm trying to figure out what are they trying to gain from this. Because like at a certain level, you kind of think I just need to just do it.

They just do it and whatever they're trying to test me on is whether I match or not. Yes. And because they might want you to be more of a risk taker, they might want you to be like more sensible. They might want you to be a bit more of a go getter, or a bit more like resilient. You just don't know, so you might as well. You don't know, yeah. So you can't try and tailor your answers or the way you do the test to thinking that this is what they're looking for, because you just don't know what they're looking for. When I was doing the test, it was really enjoyable.

Even now, there's been plenty of occasions where I've explained to people what I was doing and people just look at me funny. That's just not the normal way you get into a job. But yeah. 

Robert: But quite an interesting way to do it, not asking you to try and figure out stuff about yourself and then you're sort of thinking, hang on, what do they want to hear? what is it that I've done that might be interesting to them? And then you might think, oh, well, I won't tell them about that because that won't be interesting, but then you don't know. Whereas this just gets you to be yourself and it finds out. 

Martin: No, I wasn't expecting, even after I completed the Arctic Shores route to even be successful. And I remember you still receive feedback from Arctic Shores and you still receive sort of like information on how you performed, like based on your metrics. And I just thought that was really interesting. And I remember sending an email through to Siemens saying, good luck with your search. That was still really enjoyable. And thank you for like the opportunity. Whether I'm successful or not. 

Robert: And that was probably unusual too, that you don't normally get feedback. It was fantastic. 

Martin: Yeah, a lot of the times you do apply for jobs. And what's horrible about the CVs, you tend to try and tailor your CV for every application you go for. Yes. And it takes time. And the Arctic Shores thing, I've known about this before, when I've spent the month prior like upgrading my CV to try and be relevant again, according to sort of like a new position. So yeah, it was really interesting and I'm very pleased I took that chance. 

Robert: Well, and the brilliant thing about it is, you know, my big thing is about uncovering potential in there and you want people to do something that feels natural to them and then, you know, really pull out their great qualities. And as we heard from James, it was quite a high threshold of what they were looking for here and you clearly met that threshold. 

And then talk to us about what it was like then when you came into the interview. So you've gone through the Arctic Shores assessment, you're kind of excited because it's come back and said yes, well done, Martin, you've got through to the next stage and then you're turning up for an interview. You don't have any experience in this sector. So… What was it like at the interview and how, how did you think that you got through that? 

Martin: Yeah, so when I was invited for the interview, I didn't realise at the time that I was one of eight, as James was saying, and it's hard to prepare because I'm not from the industry and I don't have extensive experience in project management. One thing I was sort of nervous about was, am I just going to embarrass myself trying something? Because I was in a stable position. I was doing all right. And so that's why to me it felt like a bit of a gamble. And then the last thing I wanted was to go into the role and then embarrass James thinking, what have I done? I should never have tried this because we've brought in someone who's got no experience in project management, no experience in the industry. This is gonna be an uphill struggle. 

Robert: Absolutely, and that's a really important thought because I think that's true of a lot of people. It's one thing to say, oh, we want anybody to apply it's then, well, how does that look for you, which is, oh my goodness, I'm coming into this thinking, how am I, how's it gonna work? 

Martin: So I really enjoyed the interview process because it brought back that human in front of me where I can see who James is, they can tell me a bit about the company and it then introduces me to sort of what might be ahead if this works out. So they have an interview process right at the end was a really sort of like nice step off the Arctic Shores interview process. 

Robert: Yes, and I think the, because we worked with Siemens on that interview piece, and again, the interview would have been different for you because it wouldn't have been asking you about, you know, your experience in the sector. It would have been saying about, tell us about a time you've done something. So it's looking for the things, the skills, that you will have applied in your previous roles that would then show whether you were suitable to apply those skills in a different setting, but still be strengths that would enable you to be successful in the role. 

Martin: Yeah, and one thing I did do is I tried to prepare myself, doing a little bit of research about the company, a bit about the electrification and automation side of things. And it's so difficult to kind of get enough knowledge to work your way through the interview. And at one point in the interview, I thought I'm just gonna have to dig into what I'm doing at the minute and who I am. And it turned out that is exactly what they were looking for. 

So that they're not looking for my extensive experience in switch gear, which to be honest, I didn't even know existed before. So that was the anxiety of going into it. But I'm very pleased I went through, obviously I'm biased because I got the position. But like I said, even when I'd done the interview process, I remember thinking, it's nice getting feedback. There's so many times you apply for positions and you don't hear anything, or you hear like your automated response, thank you for applying, but you're not successful on this time, that kind of thing. And...It's demotivating because like you say, you've got to tailor your CV every time that you apply for a new position. So you've invested time, you've took a chance and then you get like an automated response back at least with the Arctic Shores. I remember receiving a PDF for about 20 pages in it but it's like of results. This is how you performed in this area. This is how you perform in this area based on your sort of like your abilities. 

Robert: Yes, so I think that's, you know, it's so important that you get a bit of feedback and then when you get to the interview stage, it's about, and I think it's so interesting what you shared there about that you realize that actually, I just need to say who I am and the way that I do things, and either that fits with what they're looking for or it doesn't. But quite often, that's not how an interview works. It tends to be a bit more of a Spanish inquisition trying to catch you out and all the things that you said in the CV, true or backed up, as opposed to the way that this works is, well we actually want to know Martin, who you are and what makes you different and special compared to someone else. And either that fits in, which is great, because then you will do well, or it doesn't, in which case that's fine, but you know then that you just weren't a fit, as opposed to… you went to the wrong university, or you had the wrong qualification, or you didn't support the right football team, or whatever it might be, some ludicrous aspect. Now it's fantastic in the sense where now I feel like I fit in at Siemens in the position that I'm in. When I joined the telecoms company, I almost molded myself to do things the way they do things. 

Martin: Yes. And now I haven't had to change how I do things, the way I do things, who I am. I've just immediately fit straight into the role so it's worked out even better for me as. For you as well. 

Robert: That's really interesting. Let's explore that a bit. So it must have been, so you're worried about the interview but the interview went well because you were able to share who you were. Then great excitement, you get the job offer and then you turn up on day one and you must be thinking, what have I let myself in for? I'm walking into Siemens, all these people, they're all gonna be engineers, they're all gonna know all this stuff. I'm not gonna know anything. How did that first day, few weeks feel? 

Martin: Then the first day was terrifying. So I remember walking up, it's a big office. It's all new people. There's a lot of engineering, even looking at people's monitors, you see electrical diagrams. And I'm thinking, what have I done? I've left stable job. I took a terrible risk and so this might not work out. But I like to… I'd like to look back on my life as minimizing my regrets as much as possible. And this is one of those words worked out fine. When I first got introduced to everyone in the office, everyone was great. There's a new person in the office. Everyone gets up, welcomes you. It's a very sort of like nice company to work for. There's some great people in the office. And that makes a big difference because then you realize, ah, it's okay, you know, they're welcoming me. 

Robert: But you must also be thinking, but do they know? I'm not an engineer. 

Martin: Yeah, so that was the interesting thing. I wasn't bombarded with a lot of electrical jargon to begin with. So I was almost sort of introduced to the role and I slowly realised that I already know how to do this. Yes. I already know how to manage projects because even though I'm not a qualified project manager, I've been very successful in coordinating a lot of projects and all portfolios of projects. And it was very natural to sort of instantly sit into that role. And I do remember from day one, this is I've made the right choice. 

Robert: Oh, great. And from what you were saying too, it seems that they encouraged you to bring your past and different sector perspective on how you might project manage things rather than wanting you to sort of conform and be adapted and that's very encouraging. 

Martin: What I really love about Siemens is that they are willing to change and they're willing to sort of grow and develop into new things. When I was at my previous company, it was almost like they become so big that they've become resistant to change. It's a bit like working for a dinosaur and it's hard to get anything done unless you're following the process that already exists. At Siemens, it's just been completely open and any ideas I've encouraged, they're discussed, they're shared between the team and everyone has inputs. It's been a fantastic place to work. 

Robert: Oh, that's great to hear, Martin, really great. And what advice would you give to somebody then who is thinking at the moment, I'm in a role like you were saying, I'm doing okay, I would really like to swap into a different sector, perhaps go to a different kind of career path. What advice would you give them?

Martin: Yeah, so again, it's just about minimising your regrets. So I took a chance and it worked out for me. Now, if you do go through the Arctic Shores process and you're not successful, you weren't the right person for the role anyway. So you haven't wasted your time trying. Whereas if you are successful, you end up in a position that's probably a better suit for you and a better suit for the company. 

Robert: Yes, I think that's great advice. So it's not so much about that you think that you'll always be successful any time you apply, but actually if by making, taking the CV out of the equation in all of this and being yourself, if you're a fit, it will work out, and actually that will be good for you as much as it will be for the company. And if you're not a fit, well that's worth understanding and reflecting on, because there may be then another area or something that's slightly different where you may be a fit for, but the worst thing you can do is not give it a go. 

But also, I suppose part of your message to employers too is don't keep forcing people to write lots of CVs and spend hours trying to configure them to a specific because that's even worse and that's a total waste of time and you don't get any feedback. Yeah, it's the worst time for the people applying for jobs. It's the worst time for the employers. 

Martin: So I know a lot of times I just wouldn't bother applying purely because I'm going to have to redo my CV to match that particular job opportunity. And if I do apply, it's a lengthy process from an employer's point of view, they've received possibly hundreds and hundreds of applications. It's not realistic to go through that many CVs. I can imagine most of the time, they just pick the first 10 that's in the inbox or how do you narrow it down? You can't read that many CVs, it's not possible. 

Robert: It's not, and it ends up being on it. It's a company name I recognize or it's a qualification I recognise or they went to a school I recognize or an area I recognize and that doesn't necessarily tell you whether they're gonna be any good.

Thank you so much for sharing that with us. I'm obviously as somebody who's been part of the process to help identify you for the role that you're in, so excited that it's working out. And thank you for sharing it, your experience and the encouragement that you're giving others and it's been really nice talking to you. 

Martin: Yeah, it's been nice talking to you too. 

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