There are a few things in life that we feel are for “others,” but not for ourselves.
Owning a Porsche, food shopping in Harrods or taking every Friday and Monday off could be examples; but there are a good few other instances that are less out of reach than they seem. Having a stint working abroad could be one of those!
Where skills and knowledge are transferable, and language is not a barrier, taking a role abroad can broaden horizons and provide unique experiences that would never have come to fruition at home. Recruitment is an industry that lends itself well to international moves, and UK recruiters are some of the best qualified in the business plus they come from a mature market…there are many benefits to be enjoyed for those who take the plunge.
However, there are many more who don’t even consider it.
On a business trip last month to our offices in Singapore and Sydney, it struck me that their candidate shortages can be alleviated in a way that a UK candidate shortage cannot. Recruitment businesses in these regions need to market themselves more actively to the UK recruiter base. We need to make candidates in the UK more open to an international move – and to demonstrate to them what they could enjoy.
For a UK candidate with a decent record of billing and a solid knowledge of their market, if their personal circumstances allow for a couple of years abroad – or longer, it strikes me as a no-brainer. Many more senior candidates travel with families (although school fees can be prohibitive) and a fair few younger ones actually stay and put down roots – of course if one travels and finds love...new job, new life, new relationship, new everything! The UK market is becoming squeezed at both ends by technology that enables companies to recruit more effectively for themselves and a tsunami of solopreneur recruiters working in ever smaller micro-niches. Working abroad simultaneously relieves this pressure and also gives you a unique life experience.
Of course, there has to be a significant amount of commitment from both sides. The recruiter has to feel that their future employer believes in them and will support them in the transition (sometimes financially and definitely in terms of guidance re where to live, what paperwork and medical checks are needed) and in return the employer has to be assured that the individual is worth the investment and will make the transition. Having said this, despite the geographical distance, securing an international role is not always so much more complicated that a local one. The level of bureaucracy is higher with visa and tax implications, but once that has been dealt with, the considerations are much the same as any other move.
Except you can chose to be moving to Sydney instead of Leeds! You can have weekends away in different locations – not return to Blackpool and Devon (much as you might like those beaches too!)
Choosing where to work is far from easy and I hope that we are able to offer some sage advice in this area. Sydney is a different beast to Brisbane, and Singapore is a whole world again, but with hundreds of placements under our belts we have a feel for where you might thrive. Often a candidate has family and friends abroad too which is a draw – maybe they’ve visited before and liked it.
It is true to say that it always makes sense to have a back-up plan just in case you want to return. Keeping in contact with your old network is crucial and will help to smooth your journey back home – the activities of many “expat” recruiters online help to maintain their visibility and make those initial enquires that little bit easier. Making the move back isn’t always the easiest sell, but in my view the transferrable skills and varied experiences are worth their weight in gold.
It might not be forever, and if it is well that’s fine too - however a few years abroad can definitely give you a real sense of accomplishment, joy and that added extra dimension!
Written by Julie O'Neill
As the archetypal middle men (and of course women) in a transaction, by the very nature of what we recruiters do for a living, you could wonder how much candidates and clients care about what recruiters have to say for themselves.
Clients care about the candidates and vice-versa - but as long as recruiters have facilitated the right match, how many second thoughts are they spared, after the initial matches of CVs have been made. Does anyone want to see pictures of their office dog, latest big-biller trip or whatever else they see fit to share? As a long-term recruiter (we won’t say how many years…!) I have many loyal clients and candidates thankfully, so birthdays, anniversaries etc. are often noted – but is that the norm? Or is the view more likely to be, you are a recruiter, you have a job to do, get on with it….
The thing is that recruitment is rarely as easy as just sending a CV over and waiting for the commission to roll in. As technology takes over the more mundane aspects of the profession, recruiters are fast becoming proficient relationship managers - ambassadors for their clients and advisors for their candidates and a real fount of all knowledge.
We generally accept that most people understand that getting to know the recruiter properly ensures that clients hire and retain only the most suitable people. Confiding in a recruiter guarantees that a candidate’s best interests are being properly represented, but, in both cases, social media can play a crucial role.
While Facebook, like wedding/celebration pictures might rack up the likes from well-wishers, the truly valuable content can lie at a level deeper. When someone is interested in developing a meaningful relationship with a recruiter, they may chose to spend ten minutes reading a couple of blogs. They are putting their trust in this individual or this company, so why would they not want to dig a little deeper. Granted, as illustrated above, such an attitude is not so common, but for the people who do want to get to know their recruiters well, a meaningful social media presence can help.
Recruiters don’t have so much time to dedicate on a one-to-one basis to such interested parties, but it is very easy to give a flavour of what they are all about with a targeted update or blog every now and again. Putting that content out there shows that a recruiter is making an effort to add value for those people who want to read further and appreciate time spent. I know that this is certainly my aim.
The common complaint is that it is so hard to measure. All I would say is this:
How can you measure the impact of an extra five minutes spent with a candidate on the phone going over their smallest concerns? They would probably get the job anyway, but you want to do all that you can to help their cause.
I do believe that assuming recruiters believe in doing everything in their power to getting closer to their candidates and clients, then a meaningful social media presence is essential and adds real value. Of course it’s not a daily bulletin (and definitely not a rant when someone or something is annoying!) otherwise I would see it as a living and breathing extension of a website – if I want to talk about something, it is so easy to do. There will be people out there who want to listen – it doesn’t have to be a huge amount (this isn’t about quantity necessarily!) but, they will be out there and for those it’s a service they like . I read and enjoy other peoples’ blogs after all!
If I remain silent on social media, I am letting down those valuable people who do want to read blogs and may care about some of the topics I cover.
Written by Julie O'Neill
Longevity in Recruitment is About Reinventing Yourself
I think most of us would agree, it is very feasible to sit on the same warm IT perm desk for many years and earn a decent living. You will develop close and hopefully profitable relationships with both clients and candidates, your boss will love your dependable commission stream. Hitting your targets every month is an undeniable sign of success, (even when it rises over the years!) but is it enough to guarantee you an on-going career in recruitment? Not necessarily.
There are all sorts of events which could “shake” the status quo. The market may change significantly – world events that we can’t control - take 9/11 as an example… You might chose to move abroad with your partner - but not settle in that region or market and then find it hard to return. Maybe you want to take some time off for maternity or paternity leave – kids can change everything – I took 2 maternity leaves (in those days, very brief) in my 20’s when I worked at Select (pre-Randstad) and when I returned my area offices had changed. Or you could fall victim to the inevitable economic downturn – there is nothing like a recession to disrupt comfortable relationships.
Pardon the gloom. But in every case, you know that you want to stay within recruitment after every disruption, but you also know that you definitely need to adapt your success formula if you want to remain successful and relevant – and top of your game. Look at Madonna! The best recruiters are surely those who absolutely spot when it is time to change - and can genuinely be a chameleon. The point is, in the world we live in, if you do what you always have done - you will almost certainly not get the same outcome. Yet this still comes as a shock to some recruiters, who seem to only be able to work with one style – comfort zone perhaps?
There comes a point when some successful billing recruiters might look to get into management and often (but it shouldn’t be always) this is a natural progression – however it is a whole new skillset to learn. Truly successful billers really don’t always make the best managers. Others might want to go it alone and launch in a niche or emerging market that isn’t well served by the big boys – this can be tougher than first imagined. I have introduced and got backing to launch many recruitment joint ventures – I sometimes see that those from a brand often find it harder than they think – to balance the day job, do the back office, hire without a big banner behind them, find the time to do all the necessary workload… .
If you have the drive, the opportunities for change are there, but not always in abundance. Some clients want the skillset less important is the sector knowledge, there are agencies abroad (in many pleasant locations) who love to hire from the UK and get the experience and training on board that we enjoy here - that’s why we have offices in Singapore and Sydney, there are good careers to be had by working in high demand sectors (some of which weren’t even heard of just a few years ago – our market moves so fast!) or growing and building high performing, strong teams. By working through an acquisition the options can broaden hugely, by being fortune enough to have shares the financial benefits can be significant, occasionally life changing.
Why, therefore do some recruiters stay so long in the same role? It just doesn’t happen much anymore. The old career path of trainee/resource, consultant, team leader, manager, area/associate in the same agency, is rare. Often our skillsets are broadened faster outside – also the mind set of the next generation is to have more jobs than the previous – job for life isn’t the culture in 2017!
As Rec to Rec providers, we spend much of our time helping recruitment personnel work out their next move, plus advising clients on how to attract the right key hires. We know not all candidates move straight away, often they want to really look at the market, or wait for their dream role – similarly a client doesn’t always have an immediate need it can be an ‘as and when’ opportunity. We realise that a successful recruitment career will more often than not mean a varied recruitment career. Planning ahead and gaining experience before it is required is a key part of the learning process. By all means sit at your desk and enjoy the commission rolling in (that, in itself, is not always an easy task) - but it certainly pays to have an eye on what the future might bring.
When we strive to change, we encourage those around us to change with us.
What is your next reinvention going to bring?
Written by Julie O'Neill