Blog Archives

The Dream vs Reality

My lived experience of part-time work, parenting, and working from home

Three years ago I was looking to return to the workforce after having children. I really wanted to cut out the dreaded commute time to the office, as well as those rushed pickups from school and childcare. Who wants that stress in their lives every day? I thought about how wonderful it would be if I were able to work part-time, and from home, without all the logistical pressures… Surely I wasn’t the only one who dreamed about this?

Well, dreams do come true, but not quite in the way we might have expected!

I secured my ideal three-days-per-week job, with the option to work from home, just as the pandemic was starting to hit here in Victoria. I set up my perfect working space by the window. The garden became my daily view. This was going to be bliss.

However, within weeks I would realise this was not going to be quite so blissful after all. With lockdowns in place, both schools and childcare centres were closed and things changed dramatically. The children would now be home for the foreseeable future. Not only was I a recruiter, I had the added roles of teacher, carer and boredom reliever/entertainer whilst fulfilling my day job. Family life once again became a juggling act, trying to fit in work calls around setting up my young son – who was only new to the education system, with his daily tasks – trying to stop the other child from having too much screen time versus drawing on every surface of the house. It was a nightmare.

While my WFH dream had faded, the world @work carried on. Not exactly normal or new normal, just in a slightly different way. Catching up for coffee with a client or candidate was shelved for meeting on Teams or Zoom, and our recruitment process adapted to interviewing and onboarding candidates online, not knowing when they would meet their employers in person. Even my husband started a new role during Covid – it took him nine months to finally meet his colleagues in person.

Like so many people here in Australia with family and friends abroad, I am heading overseas in a couple of months to see my own family after a long absence. It has been tough for everybody, especially missing out on the special times together. As for me, this time I have decided it’s not going to be a working holiday and I am grateful that Slade Group supports that.

It’s been great to see flexibility occurring more broadly in the market. Progressive companies are supporting their employees by considering extended leave, career breaks, boomerang hires and other forms of engagement – all of which I have benefited from over the years, which enables them to retain the talent they have invested in. These are also the companies attracting that coveted top talent, not only here in Australia, but globally. I am not just talking about the hybrid model or simply working from home. Think about employees working across different times zones. I think we have proven that all of these can be done, and be done successfully.

As some of the old normal starts to return, my dream is growing bright again. I get to keep on doing what I wanted to do, which is return to work (minus the deputy teacher and childcare jobs on the side), in a role I love, connected and productive, at my home office with my desk next to the window overlooking the garden. I truly feel like one of the lucky ones. To all those parents that are looking to return to the workforce – finally we have far more options and flexibility than we ever did before, and I would not want it any other way.

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Posted in Business Support, 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

What working on a super yacht taught me about navigating a new career

In late 2009 my husband Brett and I made a big decision: we wanted a sea change. Literally, we were going to live and work on a yacht. I was a well-established Senior Consultant at Slade Group and Brett was running a successful commercial photography business. Back in those relatively carefree pre-covid times when world travel was a tantalising possibility, taking an extended working holiday abroad seemed entirely reasonable. So, we packed in our jobs, packed up our lives and headed over to Europe to join the luxury Super Yacht industry.

Prior to our departure, we embarked on a journey of intense short-courses, obtaining the necessary ‘tickets’ to permit entrée into this elusive and poorly understood (pre Below-Deck TV,) industry. We downsized dramatically, selling nearly all of our possessions including our cars, rented out our home and re-homed our pets… What could possibly go wrong?

Brett had been a life-long yachtie, so his sailing skills would be invaluable in helping secure our first, breakthrough roles. Plus, I felt my solid recruitment experience, having worked over 10 years collectively with Slade Group, would be a significant advantage navigating the hiring journey. Finally, with some savvy packaging, I thought we could market ourselves as a ‘professional couple’ to the numerous Crew agencies as a winning formula.

This was the first time in a decade that I had found myself on the candidate-side of the recruitment process. Donning the latest nautical attire, with our business cards freshly printed and CVs that we’d worked and re-worked, we marched into Antibes, the mega-yacht parking lot in the South of France, full of confidence.

Attempting a career change into a completely new industry, in a foreign country and one that is well known for its love of anyone who doesn’t speak French (not) was a bold move.

We strode into our first face-to-face interview with one of yachting’s most respected recruiters.

“Are you two serious?…. Firstly, you’re married. Secondly, you’re too old. Thirdly, you’re overqualified, but under-experienced. And lastly, we are in the deep-end of the global financial crisis… Go home!”

Clearly this agent didn’t realise how far we had travelled for the interview.

All jokes aside, sadly this was every bit the sentiment we experienced from most ‘professional’ recruiters in Antibes.  Their not-so-subtle rejection of our qualifications, experience, substantial investment in our goals and passion to achieve them, was confronting. It would be an untruth if I said I hadn’t wondered whether we had made a giant mistake. This blanket response was providing every bit of motivation to hop back on a plane and return home, however we simply had not factored failure into the equation, and giving up was never on our radar.

Looking for an upside and some welcome rehydration, we targeted a select few bars where the yacht crews drink and mingle. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these bars are full of Aussies and Kiwis. Expats make-up the large majority of all crew across the world, due to our strong work ethic, reputation for being easy going and the lack of red tape our passports afford.

Whilst bar-networking and sharing our experiences, I came to the sharp realisation that the industry at the time was highly unregulated. Those attributes deemed undesirable by recruitment agencies, were seen in a very different light when we spoke to captains and owners’ representatives. Amongst the right audience, we were seen as committed, mature and reliable. A huge shift in attitude towards us, which was refreshing.

Inset image: Super yacht

On good advice, we relocated to Palma de Mallorca, Spain, the sailing-yacht capital of the world. Within weeks a yacht owner offered us a seasonal contract with an immediate start. Our life-aboard-yachts had finally begun.

What transpired beyond our initial foray into yachting was not always smooth sailing. For long-term success in this industry, you must be open-minded and a team player. Consider the reality of living constantly within 100ft of each other, often in a confined space. Then add the challenge of multi-national crew, physically demanding work and long hours. Being away from friends and family year-round is hard, not to mention the hazards that only mother nature can conjure.

Working on super-yachts was one of the most incredible journeys of my life. We spent six amazing years working for a wonderful Belgian family, sailing the oceans of the globe, taking in the highlights of the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and the Pacific.

Reflecting on my experience as a candidate highlights the importance of researching your target market, establishing an industry network, having the courage to follow your dreams and the ambition and perseverance to make it happen. I am grateful to have been welcomed back into an industry I love and to work alongside management with a team that recognises the transferability of my skills, values both my formal and informal education and allows me the opportunity to apply the many meaningful life-lessons I have learnt over the last 20+ years.

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Posted in Business Support, The world @work

4 reasons to look beyond the obvious candidates

Some clients still hold fast to working with candidates within their industry, while progressive organisations understand that fresh skills and thinking can deliver high performance.

Most candidates like to move from one industry to the next, to continue learning and broadening their skill sets. This naturally lends itself to an employee who is someone that is hungry to achieve, ambitious, flexible and openminded to new challenges. It’s the perfect profile to add to your team.

It is important that both recruiters and employers can identify the transferable skills a candidate brings to the role, and for us to encourage employers to look beyond the obvious. It’s also important that any jobseeker can confidently speak about their abilities.

Here are four reasons why you should consider candidates from outside your usual network:

  1. Innovation – Candidates from other industries can bring innovations and best practices. Think of this as an insight into other businesses; other sectors often do things differently.
  2. New culture – your new staff member will affect the dynamic of the team anyway, but imagine if they are fresh, optimistic and energised by landing in a new industry. The immediate effect across the greater business and culture can be hugely positive. It can gently move a stale team to a re-invigorated way of working.
  3. Continuous improvement – a person from outside your industry will enter your organisation  without legacy or pre-conceived ways of working. They may query a process and assist in creating changes and process improvements. Think efficiency and cost savings!
  4. Build your brand – by bringing on a new hire from outside your industry, you are sending a clear message to candidates and competitors while building your EVP at the same time. You’ll be known as a progressive organisation that is flexible, operating from a contemporary approach to the market and opportunities.

When you are next looking to recruit, try to look beyond industry experience and look for transferable skills – measure them against your key criteria, and add some fresh thinking to your team.

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Posted in Business Support, The world @work

How HR won in the West

Why head out west to talk about HR?

Slade Group recently facilitated our first Western Hub HR Discussion Group, hosted by Kubota at their Australian office in Truganina in Melbourne’s west. Presenting at the event were Christina Tsakiris, Senior Associate and Annabelle Uebergang, Employment Lawyer from Macpherson Kelley’s Employment, Safety and Migration team.

This forum was planned and brought to life by Slade Group’s Practice Manager – Business Support & Shared Services, Shaunagh McEvoy, who recognised the number of sizable organisations that operate in the West and who are often unable to travel into the CBD for events.

Macpherson Kelley shared important updates about recent developments in employment law, and senior HR Managers shared battle scars and victories and other professional insights based on their workplace experiences. A flurry of business card swapping was a sure sign of value at the end of the luncheon.

Significant debate focused on Casual Conversion – particularly as these changes have been applied to 85 different Modern Awards. It was also interesting to hear how different participants have managed this with their organisations, and the legal viewpoint from our experts on myriad grey areas. For example, did you know that Casual Conversions are now enforceable by law? Employers are obliged to offer it as an option to casuals who have been on regular and systematic rosters for 12 months or longer. You wouldn’t be alone if you weren’t aware of these changes, which is why it’s so important to conduct regular HR Health Checks to make sure nothing has slipped through the gaps.

Our HR Discussion Groups provide an ideal forum for like-minded HR professionals to speak freely and swap stories in a safe and confidential environment. We are proud and excited by the success of our newly established Western Hub Group and would like to extend our thanks to all who attended for sharing their experiences. Thank you to our presenters Christina and Annabelle from Macpherson Kelley, as well as Liz Cameron, Human Resources Manager Kubota Australia and NZ for opening up the Kubota boardroom to accommodate our group. A special shout out to Candice Lewis, our Temporary & Contract Talent team Manager at the Interchange Bench, for helping us out on the day.

We hope you saw the value in our vision to create an extended network for HR professionals. If you would you like to join our group and receive more information about future events, please contact me via the details below.

How do professionals in your industry network?

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Posted in Business Support, The world @work

Young people entering the workforce

The Boardroom Podcast in conversation with Anita Ziemer, Managing Director of Slade Group, about young people entering the workforce and the future of industries with the presence of automation.

The Boardroom Podcast is a series of engaging podcasts discussing the journey of and lessons learnt from many insightful industry leaders guests with a focus on having real and authentic conversations.

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Posted in Business Support, Interchange Bench, The world @work

Five simple steps to make 2019 your year!

We are one month down in 2019, and I (like most) am striving to achieve my new year’s resolutions. Sounds simple in theory, however lately I’ve found myself experiencing a lack of oomph. Whatever the cause may be, I want to nip it in the bud and reclaim my enthusiasm!

Below I have reflected on five surefire ways to turn up the dial on your motivation:

  1. What are your goals and why?  Understand what you are trying to achieve and why. Once you have a clear understanding of your goals, set little reminders to keep you on track – this could be a symbol, a quote, a photo etc. 
  2. Breakdown your goals. Do you ever feel overwhelmed looking at the mountain of tasks sitting in front of you? Break down the goal into smaller manageable steps! This may free your mind to focus on the task at hand.
  3. Preserve a positive outlook. This can have an immense impact on your motivation levels. You can’t always control external events, however you do have some control/responsibility of your head space. So try your best to reframe any negative thoughts into positive ones.
  4. Surround yourself with motivated people and look to them for inspiration – not competition!
  5. Get started! Sometimes it is just a matter of taking the first step to activate the flow.

What’s are some of your tips to stay motivated this year in your world @work?

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Posted in Business Support, The world @work

Don’t call me maybe, call me now!!!

It’s out there on social, online, for the whole world to see, but surprisingly only a handful of people call my direct phone number. If only they knew how much difference a phone call can make!

“Hey, I just met you…”

I recently placed a candidate in his first professional job, and it’s a fantastic role with a promising career. Having only just completed his studies, with no industry experience, you can imagine the challenge for him to get a foot in the door in the corporate sector, where graduates are competing with experienced candidates, as well as each other, at this time of year.

“…and this is crazy”

Applying for a graduate position in Food Science when you’ve studied Finance is daring. If this guy had simply responded to the role I had advertised, his application probably wouldn’t have stood out amongst others that were a closer to match to the ideal educational background and technical knowledge for that position.

But he went a step further, introducing himself via email with a note to follow-up on his application. No stalking required, I’m like a real estate agent – my email address (and photograph) is all over our website, LinkedIn, below this article – you get the picture. People aren’t hard to track down these days. I responded by thanking him for the contact and letting him know that I would be reviewing his application within the next few days.

“But here’s my number, so call me maybe.”

A couple of days later, this same candidate did in fact call me; his phone manners, his attitude, his energy, were remarkable. Unfortunately he hadn’t progressed to interview for the graduate job he applied for – it’s disappointing for me too when a candidate with good potential is unsuccessful. Nevertheless he politely thanked me for my time and asked me to keep him in mind if anything else suitable should come up.

I did. And a couple of weeks later, when I was considering suitable applicants for another graduate job with a different organisation, I thought of him immediately. Why did I remember of him? Not for his resume, even though I had thoroughly screened it. It was the phone call.

Long story short… the candidate was successful, started work last month, loves his new job and the company I placed him with agrees he has a promising career.

So my advice, when you see a phone number on a job add, take the opportunity to stand out and grab the phone. Introduce yourself with enthusiasm and energy and most importantly have a smart question to ask. Maybe that’s not so crazy, after all.

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Posted in Business Support, The world @work