Blog Archives

Definition of Success = The Human Factor

What defines a successful person? Embedded throughout my secondary education was that elusive end of year score, which for some reason was going to determine our success in life. However, success has many faces. Even those who reach great heights in academia need to have a balance of social awareness, connection with others, an empathy that supersedes intelligence and a touch of commercial reality.

The challenge of continuously competing with other students who were more intellectually inclined weighed heavily on my shoulders throughout my secondary and tertiary education. I felt demoralised knowing that my chosen career path, whatever it may be, could be in jeopardy due to the fact my brain was wired differently. I shouldn’t have. There is a litany of brilliant people throughout history who failed to win popular support for their ideas, as well as many arguably not-so-clever people who were smart enough to succeed.

My life experiences have been a bit different to my peers in my generation: travelling to third world countries and dedicating more of my time focusing on the needs of those less fortunate. Unlike those with a more limited world view, my volunteer work abroad – teaching English, providing food and essential supplies to children and families in the local community in The Philippines, Africa and Fiji – enabled me to empathise with people from other cultures and relate to people from different walks of life on a whole new level. It enabled me to grow and mature. I became more confident in my abilities and started to believe that I did possess unique skills that could take me anywhere in life. It was a defining moment for me that reshaped my understanding of who I am.

Aren’t we all more inclined towards repeat business if we are greeted kindly and treated respectfully, like a friend, rather than a customer or a number?

Before I joined the recruitment industry, I spent seven years working in retail, specifically women’s fashion. I saw many eager faces wanting to achieve managerial roles, believing that their ability to meet arbitrarily high KPIs was the key to becoming a great leader. However, running a successful business requires more than reaching budget. The true leaders of the organisation were the team members who demonstrated empathy and made it a priority to listen, and not just make our customers feel welcome, but also established an inclusive work environment for all employees. I, for one, loved working in an environment where my feelings and ideas were valued and acknowledged, ultimately boosting my work performance and productivity. In turn, we did our best to make our customers feel like they were the only person in the store.

Austrian pianist, author and composer Alfred Brendel famously said: “LISTEN and SILENT are spelled with the same letters – coincidence? I don’t think so.”

Everyone wants to speak and be heard, yet it appears that few people can sit quietly and really listen.

My experience in recruiting hasn’t been long yet, but in the short time I’ve been with Slade Group and the Interchange Bench, I’ve been able to observe a few things. Through my interactions with colleagues, clients and candidates I’m learning key skills that not only make a great consultant, but help ensure successful recruitment outcomes. People often talk about trusting your gut instinct and following your intuition, but there’s a lot be said for learning to listen. Our capacity to grasp how others feel and think may indeed be our most valuable asset in the workplace.

So, whether it is facilitating temporary and contract work, permanent career changes or helping organisations grow by sourcing the best talent, I’ll be listening carefully to what clients and candidates are looking for. Recruitment often presents us with sliding door moments – opportunities that might have been missed if we were too focused on what we may think success should look like, as opposed to what we can achieve.

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Posted in Interchange Bench, The world @work

5 reasons why I stay, and enjoy recruitment.

Over my 22-year recruitment career, I’ve been asked time and time again by people in my networks – clients, candidates, work colleagues and friends – why the Recruitment industry, what is it that keeps you engaged?

At a time when candidates have become a rare commodity and The Great Reset is a hot topic, my reply remains the same. If you have the passion to make a difference, the drive to capitalise on opportunities and a positive attitude to develop yourself and others, there’s unlimited scope to successfully impact both a client’s organisation and a candidate’s career.

As a consultant, achieving recognition as a professional, a recruiter of choice in my field and a reputation as a trusted advisor for the value I add is not only rewarding, it reinforces my decision to stay.

Here are five reasons why l chose to work in the recruitment industry, and why I believe it’s still the right career choice for me:

  1. Great development opportunities and career progression

Recruiters receive comprehensive training – not just when first starting out, but throughout their career. Learning from colleagues, applied skills training and professional development programs have helped me grow and refine my skills. With dedication and the right attitude, recruitment is a profession where one can build career progression. I have personally been promoted from Resourcing through to Senior Recruitment Consultant and Team Leader of Government and Commercial divisions.

  1. Independence, exclusivity and flexibility

It’s a tremendous career for self-managed high performers. Running a recruitment desk, whether WFH or in the office, is like running your own business. Once you’re fully trained and have all the skills to succeed, you have the opportunity to account manage your own clients and establish exclusive candidate talent pools. It’s a great match between personal responsibility and the support of a wider business. And with our new ways of living and working, the flexibility to better manage your work-life balance.

  1. Making a positive impact on people’s lives

Whether it is finding someone their dream job or helping a client hire the perfect person to grow their business, recruiters have a huge impact on people’s lives. I still get the same buzz of excitement placing someone in a job now as I did when I began my recruitment career over twenty years ago.

  1. Uncapped potential

While you make your own success, you also share in the success of placing the right people in the right organisations and helping candidates achieve their career goals. At the same time, you’re part of the success of the recruitment firm as a whole. It’s a bit like being a shareholder in the business. While there are various remuneration models, most agencies provide a base salary and performance structure that supports consultants to realise their potential.

  1. Recruitment tools are continually evolving

Like many industries, technology has revolutionised recruitment. LinkedIn, for example, has made it easier to network professionally online. It’s also now common to meet over Zoom and Microsoft Teams, which is great for those working remotely or regionally, even internationally. While digital platforms can help to connect people, there’s nothing like face-to-face contact when building relationships.

So, there it is. Five reasons why l chose the recruitment industry and have never looked back.

Are you looking for your next career opportunity after two years of COVID lockdowns and restrictions? Have you considered temporary or contract work? I’d love to hear your feedback on this story.

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Posted in Interchange Bench, The world @work

Why candidates have become a rare commodity

No doubt you’ve heard, Australia’s unemployment rate has fallen to 4% – the lowest since 2008 – and is predicted to fall even lower. SEEK recently confirmed that they are experiencing an all time high in available jobs, coupled with the lowest candidate availability since 2012. Furthermore, the recruitment website confirmed a 40% increase in jobs Australia wide, with an 80% increase in Victoria alone!

In our post-covid capital cities, let alone regional centres, candidates have become a rare commodity. A unique series of events, including continuing Covid outbreaks and mutations, lockdowns, border closures, travel restrictions, lack of migrants, students and working holiday travellers, has combined to create a perfect storm.  And there is no shortage of jobs. I will take this opportunity to send a shout out to all the human resources, hiring managers and recruiters who have displayed continued resilience after everything the last two years has thrown at us. We’ve taken yet another deep breath, dived deeper into the diminishing candidate pool, and continued to successfully place top performing talent – but it is TOUGH!

Engaging candidates (whether passive, engaged, open to a conversation etc.) is actually more than just contacting potential hires. I’m sure those of us on the recruiting frontlines have experienced the highs and lows of candidates: no-shows at interviews, ghosting, withdrawals at the last minute, accepting another role that seemingly came out of the blue, unrealistic salary demands (not so unrealistic as it turns out, when the push for higher remuneration is being met elsewhere)… I could go on! In addition to this, working from home, hybrid work and flexible working arrangements are now arguably the most import factor in determining whether a candidate is even interested in a new role.

In today’s market, understanding the motivation behind an individual’s career move is more important than ever. Whilst salary, work-life balance, career management, professional development, interesting projects and meaningful work are not particularly new concepts, taking the time to explore a candidate’s motivators is somewhat novel. It may surprise some of you to read that I have found the only way forward with candidates is to genuinely service and interact with them. Yes, it’s a return to our old school ways: over communicate, don’t make assumptions, close the conversation loop, gain commitment and follow the process.

If I had a dollar for every candidate that was genuinely shocked when they were called to advise they had been unsuccessful, were given valid feedback on why they didn’t get through an interview, or had a pep talk to prepare them for an interview with the hiring organisation…  

While it may seem candidate loyalty has wavered since the days where employers held all the cards, could it be that we all had a part in driving them away from us because we stopped genuinely caring? It’s food for thought.

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Posted in Business Support, Slade Executive, The world @work

Breaking the Bias: 5 things I’ve learned as a female leader

It’s rewarding to see other women succeed. I started my career in my mid 20s with a large multinational, led mainly by men who excelled in micro-management… they scrutinised all of our activities, imposed onerous activity reports and even questioned sick days. On results, my team were successful, but I didn’t aspire to their version of a manager – managing that way wasn’t my style. I left feeling burnt out, with a feeling management wasn’t for me.

As it turned out, every director I worked with subsequent to that early experience recognised my potential and encouraged me to go back into management. I’m glad I listened.

While challenging, management can also be incredibly rewarding, but the rewards begin when you start to think of yourself as a leader. The path to leadership was not smooth. I made mistakes – and learned from every single one of them! Most importantly, I learned that to be a leader, I also had to support and develop my team. I got a real kick out of giving them the tools (skills, experience and mentoring) to succeed and move on to the next stage of their career.

As a recruiter and team leader, I am in the unique position to be able to influence candidates and colleagues in their career choices, as well as to provide guidance to organisations on making unbiased hiring choices. I’ve encouraged both women and men to apply for opportunities that they may not ordinarily be considered for. For example, I placed a highly successful female Head of IT with a leading insurance company and recruited an amazing male executive assistant. I’ve coached businesses on the benefits of offering flexibility in their workplace: could a role be offered remotely, part-time or as a job-share arrangement to maximise the talent they attract?

On International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness against bias and take action for equality, I’m sharing five things I’ve learned as a female leader:

1. Understand the importance of being a leader.

How you show up, how you communicate and how you lead, has a direct impact on your team. I looked up to successful female leaders and learned how they operate (especially when I was working in male-dominated environments), but of course you can learn from men too. Take from them what you like and leave what you don’t, but ensure to make it you own.

2. If you are not a man, don’t try to be one.

Early in my career, I thought you had to be tough and demand respect like my managers at the time (mostly men), but I was wrong. Research has shown that women in leadership not only positively contribute to an organisation’s profitability, but also bring imaginative problem-solving skills and a high level of empathy – an essential attribute for a successful leader. Take pride in your diversity, whether it’s from a female or another perspective. By being yourself, and allowing your colleagues to be themselves, you will create a productive, stable and happy team.

3. If you are underestimated, use it to your advantage.

I’ve typically worked in male dominated environments, often been the youngest in the room and consequently, have been underestimated. When that happens, don’t take it personally. Even when doing your job to the best of your ability, you may not always find opportunities to demonstrate your knowledge or use your full skillset. Make an ally of those who can see your worth, pick the right moment, engage the stakeholders and you’re sure to impress when it counts.

4. A few words about instinct and inclusion.

It is not called ‘female intuition’ for nothing, but you don’t have to be a woman to listen to your gut when it’s trying to tell you something. There have been times when I’ve not listened to my inner voice in the past and I’ve lived to regret it. However, ‘gut feel’ can also lead to bias in recruitment, which is why we use a merit-based process that has been quality assured and is independently audited. Even blind shortlists (removal of candidate names) are prone to unconscious bias and AI is capable of learned bias. When building teams it helps to maintain an awareness of diversity and inclusion across candidates from under-represented backgrounds, such as people with disabilities, Indigenous people, people from Non-English speaking backgrounds, the LGBTQI+ community and diverse age groups, as well as gender diversity.

5. Flexibility in the workplace is the new norm.

Pre-covid, as a mum, I felt like I was expected to work like I didn’t have a child. Flexible working has evolved significantly over the past 2-3 years to include working from home, working remotely, part-time executive roles and created better opportunities for women who may have otherwise put their careers on hold. Flexible environments also benefit both parents, single mothers (and fathers) and carers.

International Women’s Day is an opportunity for everyone to reflect on what it means to be a woman in business. We still face inequality, but we’ve also come a long way. As a woman in a leadership position, I believe it is really important to encourage the next generation of women to go into management roles. And that’s a responsibility we all need to take on.

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Posted in Diversity & Inclusion, Interchange Bench, The world @work

5 steps closer to a winning team in 2020

After a fantastic year with a double up from the Tigers and Springboks, I got to thinking about how the business sector builds ‘winning teams’. How do they go about finding and securing their talent, and critically, how do they decide whether new employees will be a positive addition to the overall team dynamic?

We all know how quickly one bad apple can ruin the entire barrel…

For most businesses, their people (or human capital) represent a significant investment. Therefore, considering both the cost and non-financial impact of a poor hire, it always intrigues me that a lot of business leaders still don’t perceive value in a solid and robust search process.

If you look ahead at what you envisage your team will look like as you adapt to changing conditions, will you pay credence to talent pooling? Or is your hiring mostly reactionary? The best teams I’ve worked with are constantly looking ahead and assessing their strengths and weaknesses with an eye to plugging the gaps.

Do you try to do your own hiring to save the cost of a recruitment fee? Even if you have an outstanding internal recruitment team, there will be instances where the pure breadth of their focus may mean a lack of exposure to a particular talent stream.

There is no doubt that the war for truly exceptional talent is increasing, and I believe that more than ever, hiring managers are starting to realise the value of a search partner with proven results in their sector. I am consistently finding that more organisations and internal recruitment teams are aligning themselves with a trusted and proven search partner – not for every role, but certainly where they want to ensure the best results in a highly competitive and skill short sector.

With all of this in mind, the real issue becomes how to select the right executive recruitment firm for your needs? Here are 5 points to consider when evaluating the right partner:

  1. Legacy – a firm with good history and reputation
  2. Results – a firm that can demonstrate success through past work and client references
  3. Partnership – a team of consultants who not only excel at what they do, but also genuinely have your and your organisation’s best interests in mind
  4. Research capability – there are varying degrees of quality when it comes to research; true research capability involves much more than LinkedIn
  5. Value – a lower fee doesn’t necessarily signify the best value; a thorough process, good consulting, and the best possible hire (and post hire care) will deliver greater returns

It sounds daunting (and it can be), which is why you need to engage the right partner. Nothing beats the feeling and the results of securing an outstanding addition to your business. I look forward to helping you build a high-performance team who will be kicking their goals into the new year and beyond.

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Posted in Accounting & Finance, The world @work

Putting your trust in strangers

Trust (noun) firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something; (verb) to believe that someone is good and honest and will not harm you, or that something is safe and reliable.

Does it ever cross your mind when you are ordering lunch that it may not be made with the freshest ingredients, or that the strictest hygiene may not be observed behind the kitchen doors? I suppose it depends where you buy your lunch, but generally you don’t question these things unless you see a warning sign… is that a cockroach scurrying around to its next hiding place?!

We put trust in people in both our personal and work lives – sometimes without realising that we are doing it.

It may come as no surprise that the following professions were the most trusted in a 2017 Roy Morgan survey: Nurses, Doctors, Pharmacists, Dentists, School Teachers and Engineers. We put trust in these professions because our health, education and city’s infrastructure depend upon them, and all are very important to us.

Individually we may rate them well, but collectively and of concern, the least trusted professionals work in Car Sales, Advertising, Real Estate, Insurance and Politics.

Why should we be concerned? Well, think about what these professions represent – some of the biggest purchases you make – a house, car, insurance, home/personal loans, and our democracy and general amenity. It’s unfortunate that the reputations of some professionals have been tainted by others in their industries, and typically it’s been tough for those who are reputable to change public perception. The big banks and aged care operators will have some tough PR challenges to overcome well after the Royal Commissions are done.  

And where do recruiters sit on the continuum of most to least trusted?

Recruitment is an industry which has no technical barriers to entry. After 12 years in recruitment, working across New Zealand, Japan and Australia, I’ve seen a broad array of styles, commitment to service, due diligence and adherence to process within our industry.

As employees or employers, career moves and hiring new team members are big decisions. You’ll need information about the job market, someone to help you design a robust recruitment process, guide you through the legal requirements, make an independent assessment of your shortlisted candidates, or job offers, and assist with final negotiations and onboarding once you have made, or have been made an offer. HR Business Partners and Recruitment Consultants (whether internal or external) are those trusted advisors.

It’s in our nature to trust each other, but you usually only get one shot at it. At Slade Group we are experienced consultants who have either been working in recruitment for a number of years or we have gained consulting experience from the industries we recruit in, often both. Every day we ask clients and candidates to trust us, and we don’t take that trust lightly. No matter what it is in life, don’t let one person ruin your experience or the reputation of that profession, brand or service.

Who do you most trust?

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Posted in Slade Executive, The world @work

Invitation to the Future: We’re ready.

Last year enough was spoken about my 50 years in business to spur me on for another 50 years.  Thank you to longstanding colleagues, clients, candidates and industry stalwarts who were in touch and recalled our times together. (Eating carnations from the vases on the tables after a big boozy dinner  in the 1980s was one I’d forgotten, but the year we hired over 50 executives for the one organisation was one I still remember – long days and satisfying results.)

Other than to sit and watch some good footy on the weekends, I’m a restless soul; thinking, adapting and staying abreast of sector trends and new ways of working. Celebrating the first 50 years gave me time to reflect, but my mind is clearly focused on the future.

In this blog I thought I’d share the fact that in recent years we’ve restructured the broader business and set ourselves up for future success. In doing so my Advisory Board and I considered a number of points:

  • The future of recruitment and the balance between technology, people, systems and processes
  • National and global trends
  • Shifts in market expectations
  • Shifts in employee trends
  • Future proofing a professional services model for a new economy
  • Succession planning (as none of the four Slade children is likely to come into the business)

We now have four discrete businesses, and whereas I was once the sole proprietor across the group, the future for professional services firms lies in distributed ownership and partnerships. I first stepped carefully into a new way of thinking (for me) and now three of the four businesses have equity partners and we’re seeing the growth and stability that comes from this model.

Yellow Folder was the first partnership I entertained five years ago, with Julian Doherty, Slade Group’s previous Director of Research.  Now working with many in the ASX 200 and across education and also Government, it is a research-based management consultancy that delivers corporate knowledge advantage, providing clients greater agility in business planning and talent acquisition strategy.

The service offerings are:

  • Competitor Profiling & Business Intelligence Analysis
  • Talent Investigations & Capability Search
  • Remuneration Benchmarking
  • Talent Pools & Candidate Pipelining

TRANSEARCH.  Most of us now agree with Peter Drucker’s comment “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. For many years, what I saw missing from the Executive Search landscape was an assessment tool or process that could untangle the knotty issue of culture fit at a senior executive level.  Canadian Organisational Psychologist Dr John Burdett and Orxestra©, developed the tools that TRANSEARCH International uses to provide a unique perspective regarding culture, performance, leadership, and team ‘fit’.

As the result of a formal partnership agreement between TRANSEARCH International and Slade Partners, four years ago I brought two long standing executive search leaders Bill Sakellaris and Sandra Brown into the TRANSEARCH International Executive Search partnership.  Recently Di Gillett has become a Partner of this global alliance with Grant White leading our Finance Practice. TRANSEARCH International is one of the foremost international Executive Search firms; a Top 10 in the sector by reach and reputation. TRANSEARCH is pivotal in identifying and securing Board members, ‘C’ suite executives and senior functional experts who have led the growth of global organisations.

Slade Group. My name’s still on the door and I hope will be for many more years.  Securing high performing talent at the professional, specialist, middle management and senior levels has been the mainstay of Slade for years.  The development of technology, AI, Boolean searches, job boards and social media have for the most part been a blessing, but sometimes also a curse. There is so much happening in the HRIS space that it’s sometimes hard not to be distracted by the next ‘tech start up offering’.   We decided a few years ago that we would, until Artificial Intelligence finally eats our lunch in 40 years or so, wisely invest in systems, and even more wisely in our people.

This year, for the first time, I’ve also welcomed the first equity partner into the Slade Group business, Chris Cheesman.  Chris, in his mid-30’s, is the future of recruitment and new ways of working.  He has a very different leadership style to mine and his team of mainly Gen Y and Millennials work to a new work order – together with our clients who are also now mainly Gen Y and Millennials in that space.

We’re very focused on knowing particular industry sectors and talent really well. If I could sum up our strengths it would be in the following areas:

  • Consumer, Digital and Entertainment
  • Education
  • HR
  • Industrial
  • Professional and Business Support
  • Superannuation and Fin Services
  • Technical and Property/Construction

The Interchange Bench. The name says it all. For the last few decades the business, then known as Slade Temps, placed mainly short and long term temps in administrative support roles.  Two years ago that changed and a huge up lift in demand for digital, technical, marketing communications, events, accounting and payroll staff,  as well as payrolling teams of casuals, meant we no longer felt the name served the business.

The Interchange Bench not only attracts premium talent for short term assignments but works with the 121 Modern Awards that cover the 1000s of roles our temporary and contract talent are asked to do. The team runs all day ensuring clients can secure talent on and off the ‘bench’ and into their workplaces for short and long contract periods.  We’ve invested heavily in systems and processes and also reduced the risk for organisations who want to outsource their payroll as well as trusting us with their FairWork and the Modern Awards compliance.

When I recap where the business is right now, I feel we’re right sized, focused and structured for the immediate future. It will be interesting for me to re-visit this blog in five years and report back on how the business has continued to change and evolve.

What are you doing in your world @work to set yourself up for future success?

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Posted in Slade Executive, The world @work

A boomerang with many happy returns

“For employers, hiring former employees who left on good terms is a no-brainer: They know their past experience and assume they picked up some new skills to bring to the table during their time away.” – Robyn Melhuish, Business Insider.

What brings a former employee back to an organisation? I’m about to rehire a team member who left our business about a year ago. We parted on good terms: She gave appropriate notice, maintained a strong work ethic, designed and delivered a transition plan, which assisted me to replace her with a new hire who is now one of my top performers.

While there will always be a need to source externally and same role/same needs/same company vacancies are relatively unusual, we’ve had a number of people return to Slade Group at various times in their careers, myself included.

As reported in Forbes, people move on for all kinds of reasons: to further their career, to take advantage of an opportunity or to accommodate a change in personal circumstances. That said, there’s nothing wrong with welcoming back someone who left your company after a long period of service simply because they wanted to try something different.

It might surprise you that in a US Workplace Trends Survey of 1800 HR professionals, “While only 15 percent of employees said they had boomeranged back to a former employer, nearly 40 percent said they would consider going back to a company where they previously worked.” And why wouldn’t they if you’ve got a strong employer brand, a clear employee value proposition (EVP) and the culture of the organisation is a good fit?

Here are the key benefits to boomerang hires, as identified by careerrealism.com:

  1. They’re a known entity – boomerang employees have a well-known track record with your company
  2. They’re easier to train – if they’re already familiar with your company’s operations and its unique processes, they can start contributing and producing sooner
  3. Their turnover rate is lower – they know what to expect from you and your company and knowing what else is out there, they chose to come back
  4. They provide a competitive advantage – they may have gained significant insights from their time working at another company in the same industry or a different market sector

If you choose to rehire, career site Monster recommends taking the time to introduce a boomerang employee to your business as if they were a new staff member. Whilst it might take a little while to get re-accustomed to the flow of things, you can counter some of the initial awkwardness on both sides by briefing them on new projects and establishing clear expectations from the start.

I’m looking forward to our ‘new’ starter.

Have you successfully boomeranged someone as a hiring manager? Have you made a successful return to a previous employer?

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Posted in The world @work