As some of you may have recently seen, Carroll Consulting hit a major milestone on 4 February when we celebrated our 30-year anniversary. With such a significant event upon us, I found myself reflecting on the changes we have seen across the industry in those 30 years. Carroll Consulting was established by Mike Carroll in 1990 and I joined Mike in Brisbane in 1992 after first learning the craft as I call it at a large organisation in Sydney in 1989. I had been working in publishing for the five years prior, so my initial focus was advertising salespeople for special interest magazines. From here both my role, my client base and the business has grown. During this time, I have met with thousands of clients and completed more than 10,000 candidate interviews. Looking back, it is clear to see many things have changed but the fundamentals remain the same. I thought I would share some of the most significant changes I have personally lived through involving technology, candidate expectation and client relationships over the last three decades.
We rely less on phone calls
Obviously, this is a big one and not a day goes by without someone commenting on technology developments and their expected impact. In 1990 some resumes were faxed, but the majority were still sent in by post. Huge volumes would arrive in the first few days of running an advertisement (yes in a newspaper). Phone calls were also a plenty. When working on fast turnaround roles for sales representatives it was not unusual to take 50 phone calls on a Monday, 25 on Tuesday and Wednesday a piece. A short discussion and virtual ranking would occur through this phone screening, details and backgrounds confirmed in the resume when it arrived, and consultant candidate interviews would take place on the Thursday. These were often turned around for a shortlist interview with client on the Friday.
We can search relevant jobs and submit applications with ease
Eventually the internet and internet advertising arrived as well as the advent of Seek. Recruitment consultancies were told we wouldn’t be needed anymore! However, a vital role continued to be filled by consultancies able to find, engage and attract appropriate staff, and this is still very true today. The biggest impact Seek and job boards had was people stopped phoning. I can remember an advertisement would run and I would worry about the lack of phone calls only to find 50 – 60 applications. Seek made jobs easily accessible to the market and changed the way applications were submitted for good.
We have online profiles
The arrival of LinkedIn brought far greater transparency of the candidate market. It has removed some of the searching legwork but also created a situation where virtually every role has some component of search work involved because we have the ability to find out so much more about a candidate through desktop research.
We are applying for more roles, even ones we might not be qualified for
When I joined the industry, we were told if a candidate applied for a role and came in for interview it was probably going to be the biggest thing that had happened career wise to them in 12 months. Today this is very rarely the case. While the importance of treating all candidates with dignity and respect is still a priority, the ease of putting in an application today means we often receive far more applications not suited to the role. This results in spending more time filtering through more applications to find the ones we really want.
The paper resume still has its place
The ability of candidates to present themselves well in resume format has not really changed, we have simply evolved to meet new standards and expectations. New technologies have arrived, but just like we did in the early days, we need to make sure the candidate has the correct experience and behaviours for the role. Recently I was asked by someone if we only receive video resumes. I believe there is still more value in a written document as you can quickly find out if someone has the correct experience based on their skills and experiences. As is always true, don’t be influenced by a slick presentation or video, unless presentation skills are one of your criteria.
We don’t just look for a job, we seek cultural alignment
Another major change is the candidate’s desire to find an organisation that is the right cultural fit. Candidates are much more discerning about the organisation they are joining, the vision and values, the work environment and wanting to hear about the leadership. This is a positive change, fuelling the emergence of attractive work environments and better outcomes for clients and candidates.
We take time to understand the role, the company and the context
Understanding the job role in the aspect of the market we work within has become far more important, so from a recruiter’s perspective building relationships with clients to truly get to know the business you are recruiting for is vital. However, we are now seeing greater polarisation in this space. There are agencies that purely provide resumes with little intervention and expect the client to do all the selection. Then there are those consultancies that will take a full brief, find, contact and assist the client in undertaking a selection that best fits their organisation. To me, the latter is the most effective approach with the most successful results and the one that builds client trust and loyalty.
We have greater role clarity and higher expectations
As the more structured position description has emerged, there is greater expectation for a candidate to satisfy a list of criteria for a role. 20 years ago, a client may have had three criteria for success in a role and was happy if two criteria were met by a successful applicant. Today there might be six or seven and the client requires the ‘box ticked’ on at least five.
Recruitment consultants still add value in an interview
In-house interviewing skills are still relatively poor, with interviewing skills not something managers are trained in over their careers. This means external support from recruitment consulting delivers great value in ensuring the client is asking the right questions to understand the candidate and behaviours they will bring to the table.
30 years of lessons learnt:
While it is true to say we are just a small recruitment consultancy traversing the winding road of the recruitment industry, there are a few things we have learnt along the way.
- Be true to your values and the customer problem you are trying to solve, when we have deviated from this, problems have arisen
- Always admit if you have made a mistake, sometimes I have reconsidered a candidate either at the request of the candidate or the client
- Engagement and the ability to have a respectful conversation (ideally face to face) to determine interest is a paramount skill still not being replaced by technology!
- A curiosity and desire to truly understand what the client wants and what the candidate brings to the table will increase your chances of success.
The last 30 years have given me a worthwhile and fulfilling career. This is a career that has challenged me, created significant opportunity for personal and profession growth and still does. Over this time, I have always sought to improve the skills demanded to be a good recruitment consultant. This has allowed me to become a better peer, leader, confidant, coach, mentor, father and husband. While I still gain an enormous amount of job satisfaction from the industry and the service we provide to clients and candidates I will probably not be around for the next 30 years. There are still enormous opportunities to be challenged and job satisfaction to be gained as the industry continues to evolve over the next 30 years. The savvy recruiter and candidate will stay across changes and ensure they stay true to their values to deliver the best possible outcome for their client’s organisation and personal careers alike.
Happy 2020 and happy recruiting!