One of the most common things I hear when describing what I do for a living is always, “That sounds really interesting”. To which I respond…”It is”. And that’s the crux of it. Recruiting, Talent Acquisition, Head Hunting, call it what you will, is ultimately…interesting.
I got into this line of work quite by accident. I was at a unique position in my life and I could tell that my career path was about to split into one of two directions. It was tangible. It was either, A: Go into something I know and have had significant experience and success with (Sales/Operations). Or B: Take a chance on something new. After countless sleepless nights and hourly debates in my head, writing down the pro’s and con’s of both opportunities I had in front of me, I decided to “zig”, instead of “zag”. Weeks later, I joined the team of Excel Personnel Inc.
Based out of Kamloops BC, with offices in Kelowna and Prince George, I accepted the position of Business Development / Recruitment Consultant with Excel Personnel. I now head up Northern Operations for Excel’s Recruiting arm, out of my tidy little office downtown and I’ve never looked back. Which brings me here. Sitting in front of my computer after a long and satisfying day…reminiscing.
This week, while interviewing a candidate for a management role with one of our local clients, he asked me “Why”. Why did I get into recruiting? I like this question because it’s much more interesting than “how”. The quick and honest answer is that I was simply in the right place at the right time. The opportunity presented itself and I was lucky to have it. The deeper and more sincere answer is more important however. I got into recruiting because it was an interesting use of my talents…full stop.
After many years in Sales/Sales Management/Customer Service/Operations/Communications Management blah blah blah… I was now in a position where I wasn’t simply selling a product or service to an end user. I wasn’t digging into spec sheets and pitching the “value-add”, reinforcing the return on investment with the newest and most improved “widget”.
This time I was truly selling what I could do and what I believed in. I was selling my commitment to the community I live in, the businesses that operate here, the people, and that of our company to clients and candidates. More importantly, I was building off of, and maybe even attempting to separate myself from, the recruitment that had been going on in my community for as long as recruiting has been happening here.
I’ll be honest, it hasn’t been seamless. There have been peaks and valleys and bumps in the road. It’s taken me a long time to realize that those bumps are actually good things. Granted, I’ve learned this in hindsight.
Sure, they’re rarely fun….but they are humbling, and as Mac Davis and Kenny Rogers once said, “Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble”. Ain’t it though, boys…ain’t it though.
The truth is every day is a new challenge. Every client brings a new series of wants and needs and every role means research and homework to learn about the skills, the education required, the history and indicators that the candidate is good at what he or she does. Identifying the ideal fit based on the clients SOP and culture.
Every role, every client, every industry is inherently different…and that’s a challenge. Not all millwrights are millwrights…some are also Instrument Tech’s. Some Instrument Techs are Electricians. Some Electricians are Engineers. Some Engineers are Sales people…and so it goes.
The key difference for me, as a new recruiter, was that I didn’t consider myself one.
As a candidate I, like anybody who’s worked as a professional anything, have had my fair share of dealings with recruiting firms. Whether it was corporate or agency recruiters, from the big-name firms or the smaller boutique ones, I’ve gotten the emails, the phone calls, the LinkedIn messages. But what I rarely got, in any of those situations, was a partner.
My ambassador to the larger world. The person who bought into me, understood me and believed in me to the point that they were willing to go to bat for me. On the other side, I have dealt with recruiters from an employer’s standpoint, where like many managers, I’ve sifted through countless resumes that were presented, trying desperately to understand WHY this candidate was taking space on my desk.
In every case it felt like a transaction and the only real value was in chasing the fee. Even as the client, I didn’t feel like I had a partner. And that’s where it changes for me.
While interviewing for this role, our Manager of Executive Search, Sean Casey asked me the same question that, several months later, my candidate would ask me. “Why”. And I was able to say, without a shadow of doubt, that “It’s not the money or the office. It’s not even the opportunity to experience an entirely new career”. It’s because I knew what I wanted my Recruiter to be for me. Both as a client and as a candidate, I knew what I wanted and I knew that, more often than not…
I didn’t get it. As a candidate I would chase my recruiter, asking for more information, for updates, for feedback. As a client, I found myself having to push back, to clarify, to use valuable time to correct course. And I knew, based on that alone, what I wanted in a recruiter from both ends of the agreement. I knew what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be…albeit with varying degrees of success. But those are the peaks and valleys we discussed. Practice makes perfect.
So how do I model myself as a Recruiter, a Talent Acquisition Specialist, a Head-hunter? How do I position myself with my candidates and clients, both existing and potential?
Simple…I’m your partner. I’m your solution. I’m an answer to a problem, and as importantly or perhaps more-so, I’m your ambassador. And if I do my job to the very best of my ability and if I remember what I experienced on the other end of the desk…if I do right by my clients and candidates…It will be a different and more rewarding experience for everyone.
If I do it properly, with integrity and conviction, I know that both sides of the recruiting spectrum will one day sit in a boardroom, an office or a coffee shop, fiddling with their pens and discussing the challenges of hiring great people, or working for exceptional companies, then somebody will pause the conversation and state, simply….”I know a guy”.
My name is Geoff Simpson. I’m a Recruiter and I head up Northern Operations for Excel Personnel’s Recruiting arm, based out of Prince George, BC.