This year I did something I hadn’t done in any of the previous 27. I changed jobs, joining Tile Hill as an associate director in their executive search practice. Yes, I had been promoted a few times over the years, but I was a mere slip of a lad the last time I had competed externally for a new role. Over those 27 years I have helped hundreds of people in their careers.
I thought I was emotionally intelligent enough to get what it might feel like for those people to put themselves through an external recruitment process. However, going through one myself was terrifying. It caused me to reflect on the experience of job searching and how I as a recruiter can take my own professional service; the provision of great candidate experience, to the next level.
So here is my take on my own candidate journey, along with some questions you may want to ask about your own experiences of applying for a new role.
Making a move from the safety and security of a company I had known so long was daunting. I had the comfort blanket of a large FTSE 250 plc. I had the trust of my colleagues and management. I knew how things worked and could have seen out my days there. But as often happens, family conversations on holiday about the future started me thinking about my career. Would I look back with pride on what I had achieved? Did other companies provide a better service than mine? Was the security blanket of a FTSE 250 actually allowing me to work with clients and candidates in a way that worked for them?
On our return from holiday, I checked my LinkedIn account and saw a message from a recruiter. We talked and he presented me with some options to consider. A couple of them I quickly rejected, but one intrigued me. The recruiter gave me pluses and minuses for each firm, based on what I had said was important to me, which gave me confidence in his advice. How many of us have simply felt sold to, rather than listened to, by our recruiter?
Even so, it was the first time in my life I had dealt with a recruiter and I had concerns. Could I trust them? Was their advice in my best interests, or theirs? As it happens, the support I received was exemplary. Before my interview I had at least three calls with the recruiter to help prepare me, covering my motivation, my values, and questions I should ask to support my own due diligence. When considering the advice and support you get from your recruiter, do you get that level of attention?
After the interview, the recruiter really came into his own. I was an anxious mess waiting for the phone to ring, it made me realise how time moves differently for each participant in a recruitment process. For me, though things progressed swiftly, every hour I didn’t hear anything was another confirmation it hadn’t gone well.
Fortunately, the recruiter worked at pace to relay the feedback to me. He prioritised getting this to me so we could make arrangements for a follow up meeting and the chance to meet some further team members. Have you been in recruitment processes where you have felt forgotten about? Or has your recruiter gone out of their way to keep you informed?
I was fortunate enough to receive an offer from Tile Hill. Again, the recruiter supported me with integrity and sensitivity as I weighed up the various aspects of the move. He gently reminded me of what I sought to achieve from a change and helped me navigate the inevitable wobbles that plagued me when I thought about leaving longstanding friends and colleagues behind. I never once felt alone in the decision I was coming to – has your recruiter given you this level of care, as a trusted confidante?
My notice period coincided with the Christmas holidays so again I had plenty of time to stew and prevaricate. The recruiter was always there for me, arranging follow up calls, re-confirming details and generally making himself useful. Since then, he has stayed in touch and I have always felt he has my best interests at heart.
If you are in the market for a new post, does this sound like the sort of service you would want to receive from your recruiter? Personally, I don’t think it is too much to ask.
Mark Bearn is associate director, executive search practice at Tile Hill