Having always worked in the services industry, it was in exactly the same frame of mind that I entered the world of IT recruitment and resourcing back in 1993. Having graduated with a degree in French & German, and worked in Austria and Germany initially, it was my commercial knowledge, languages, and relationship management skills that I assumed would be most advantageous to my new employer in Stuttgart.
Whilst I was attracted by the salary and incentive scheme, location, new challenge, and opportunity to work in Germany again, I genuinely believed that my principal role was to help people find interesting work and to satisfy clients’ IT project staffing challenges. That may sound like all wasn’t as it seems, which is somewhat true, but interestingly I still believe to this day that my role is defined and judged by contractor and client satisfaction.
At this point, I asked myself why this company had chosen me for this job, in the same way, that my very first employer offered me a role as a Ski Rep in Austria, even though I couldn’t ski. I knew very little about IT, Project Management, Software Development, and even less about recruitment. In the case of the Austrian Ski company, they figured that I was outgoing, responsible, sporty, and fluent in german. The nice to have on-the-job spec was a proficient skier. So I would learn to ski, the other attributes couldn’t be taught. I have always retained that mantra when assessing candidates for roles that we get in Aspira. How rigid is the job spec., and what does the client really need from a contractor in order to get a satisfactory outcome for their project? Focus on a successful outcome for the client and consultant, don’t get too hung up on ticking boxes and eliminating people on technicalities, as long as 80% of the requirements are matched, and the person is a natural and cultural fit for the client.
Working back in Ireland, and even in my dealing with our International clients, there is always an emphasis on the power of network and referral. The rise of Applicant Tracking Systems, Online assessments, technical screening, AI, virtual career fairs, video CVs, remote working, LinkedIn, body shopping, outsourcing, RPOs, and ever-evolving recruitment processes, have all threatened to take that emphasis away. But in a tight market, it’s more important than ever. No one passes a competency-based assessment better, than a colleague or former colleague who has a proven track record of delivery, witnessed and endorsed by me or another one of my colleagues or associates. And with the onset of so many new recruitment tools, processes, agencies, and the much-lauded war on talent, how valuable is it to have a readymade, reference-able, trusted network of consultants who prefer to work through you or your company on a semi-exclusive business. You have always treated them well, found them good work, focused on mutually beneficial outcomes for them and the clients, and in some cases, when they have been hiring themselves, you have supported them by providing your best and most reliable resources to help them excel on their own company objectives.
My first company in Stuttgart was a little over-zealous when it came to the provision of a service. Any Consultancy like Aspira has commercial responsible to its staff, clients, associate consultants, and multiple stakeholders to be profitable, grow and improve in line with the services required by their clients. My move to a more Consultancy, SW, IT & PM company like Aspira was probably motivated by my original desire to provide a professional service to clients and external consultants alike. That expression over-zealous relates to my first company having a more sale driven approach to recruitment, which also has its place in a competitive market like IT. But I learned so much in those early days, I will be forever grateful for the opportunity, and fully understood their approach to growing a presence in Germany. By the way, one of the directors knew me from having played for Lancaster Uni Football First Team, and my highly competitive and physical approach to soccer was noted as a key attribute as to why I would be successful in recruitment. (The power of network & referral, otherwise I wouldn’t have got the job).
In 1993, I used to manually search through hard copy CVs, to match client requirements that I took down face to face or over the phone on a requirement sheet. I would hand-deliver or fax the cv to the client, who face-to-face interviewed most people before offer. It was, and still is, the greatest satisfaction in my role, to find a client a good match for their project need, and to provide interesting and rewarding career opportunities and well-paid work to our staff, external candidates, and associate partners. My network and referral systems are considerably larger now, and Aspira are at the heart of this, supporting, promoting, and championing our clients. The first person I placed was an AS400, IDMS, RPG programmer, so admittedly the type of people we deliver has evolved, but the basic principle? No, not really, some principles are better left untouched..and in an ever-changing world, well…….I guess I am more akin to a leopard!
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