Y2K, DotCom, the GFC and a pandemic: What 23 years in recruitment looks like

Life at Talent
Life at Talent
We chatted to Steve, a Senior Account Manager in the Canberra team about his journey with Talent so far. Here's what he had to say.

How long have you been at Talent and what attracted you to join?

I’m coming up to my 9th year at Talent. I was attracted to Talent because of the people - there was a great team who I had worked with in the past, and I wanted to work with them again so this made my decision easy. These people are still here, and so am I, 9 years later, which says a lot about this company. 

As you might know, recruitment is well known for having a high turnover. This is not the case at Talent, our turnover is 14% and the industry standard more than double at 35 – 40%.  Since starting at Talent we’ve had so many amazing people join and we really get along and enjoy each other’s company. In my role, I don’t just work in one area, I work on projects with our teams in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide and I have strong relationships with many of our other offices. In my experience, that is not the case in other companies. In my roles before Talent, I found my job very siloed - very “this is your job” - but here at Talent, you can do anything, and you are encouraged and supported to be creative with your work. I really like being involved in many of the growth and systems projects and initiatives. It’s not just a recruitment-only role in the day-to-day. Talent wants its people to have a say and be part of change projects, so there is always lots to do and contribute within this organisation.  

What was your story before joining us?

I am originally from Wagga, and I moved to Canberra in 1997, one year out of high school. I began with a clerical traineeship then joined the Public Service, but I felt I wasn’t achieving enough and after looking around, I, like many people do, seemed to fall into recruitment. I started in November 1999 and by 2012 I moved to Talent with the opportunity to be a senior member of the ACT team. So, since 1999 I have worked in recruitment in Canberra. In those 23 years, I have experienced hysteria around the Y2K bug, the DotCom Bubble bursting, the GFC and now a pandemic.


What makes Talent stand out from the rest?

Talent really cares about people and their wellbeing. At Talent it’s not just about the money, the main focus always has been, and still is, about the people and keeping them supported and happy. So many recruitment companies are only focused on profits and metrics and if you don’t meet your KPIs you’re out of the business. At the beginning of COVID, we saw it happen everywhere - recruitment companies started getting rid of their people on mass. They saw a tough market ahead and just gave up on their people. Talent didn’t do that, instead, there was a bigger emphasis on keeping our people and keeping them supported and happy.  Everything was communicated to us, and we knew what to expect, with the strategy the company had in place shared at every stage. What Talent did was believe that we would all get through that time and that we would be stronger after, and that’s how it has played out. We kept our people who are loyal and focused and through them, we kept our clients. I don’t think many or any other recruitment companies were able to or had the leadership and connection to their people to make this possible. 

What are the key principles you follow that have helped you overcome some of the challenges you've faced?

I think through the challenges of any market, if you focus on delivering to your clients and candidates and supporting their journey with Talent then you should be ok. It’s about doing the right thing by others, and not focusing on the money. I’ve been through recessions and times when the government has all but stopped spending and I have found that if I kept working hard and acting with integrity then I was able to make it through and do really well on the other side.           


There are lots of young new starters coming into recruitment right now. What would your advice be for them? 

Coming into the industry I think it’s so important to surround yourself with experienced recruiters. When it comes to recruitment, experience matters so much. Really look into the companies you are considering and make sure they are the sort of organisations that will support you and give you the tools to succeed. You should also look at the relationships that you can create through the company you work with, because recruitment is a relationship-based business. If you are lucky enough to end up at Talent, you will receive everything you need to succeed as long as you work hard and have the right values and attitude. 

What are you excited about in the coming years and what predictions do you have for the future of this industry?

One thing COVID has proven is that IT professionals really drive businesses, and as we continue into the future, the value of IT professionals has really become very clear and understood by almost everyone.

I think we will continue to have relatively low unemployment for a long time and hopefully we continue to open our doors to skilled labour to help fill the skills gap. I think we are going to experience a candidate-short market for a few years which has its challenges, but it is also exciting because there are so many opportunities. For the younger generations, I think they will have the world at their feet with all industries screaming for good people, and as recruiters, it will be our job to nurture and guide those coming through the education system into great roles.

On an exciting note, at Talent, we are well known for our amazing conferences. It’s been two years since our last one, so I am really looking forward to it later this year. In previous conferences, we’ve had trips to Fiji, festivals and so many fun amazing adventures over the years and I can’t wait to see what we have planned next. 

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