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That time when I swallowed a watermelon

People coming into in-house recruitment roles for the first time often ask me for advice on how to get started, and what to focus on.

Anyone who has made a similar move, being in recruitment or otherwise, will know that there is so much to do coming into a new role that the to-do list can become a little challenging at best; at worst, completely overwhelming.

I’ve used this phrase many times before, but you really can’t swallow a watermelon whole, so please please don’t try to. You really do have to cut it into slices (I pinched that line from my current boss, Chief People Officer @Shazam, Charmaine Norville – so it’s even more fitting here, given I’m sharing a little of what I’ve learnt in my time at Shazam).

You will no doubt have arrived with a ton of ideas and a heart full of hope, and please hold on to that, but my first piece of advice would be to be open and just absorb EVERYTHING. Be prepared to work out what the business truly needs when you actually get there.

Which brings me neatly to Slice 1 of our watermelon:

Slice 1

Be yourself. I can’t emphasise enough how this is the single most important component for all of us at work. Please don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to be something else to please other people. They have hired you because they believe you to be a total badass. So be the total badass that only you can truly be.

Slice 2

Focus on the people. Map out your new organisation as quickly as possible, and also the personalities you find within it. You will hopefully find a ton of immediate allies who are delighted you are there, but you may also be met with a little resistance from others, particularly if you are the first Recruiter that they’ve had join the team.

Many of the people in different departments may have led parts of recruitment before, and it’s therefore important that you take on board what has happened before lovingly and openly. See their knowledge as a blessing, not a curse. Approach them as a friend, not a foe, regardless of what you might get back.

The first few weeks should largely be spent just getting to know people and getting to know stuff. Building strong relationships is key, and looking as many people in the eye as you possibly can really will be pivotal to that.

When I first joined Shazam, I had to build a ton of relationships with folks in the US that I wasn’t going to meet in real life for a little while. Whilst that wasn’t ideal, we overcame it (like all good long distance relationships) with Skype and frank, regular, open communication.

Slice 3

Now is the time to re-align your strategy. You will have no doubt started with a road map in mind and a list of things you wanted to achieve in your time there. Now that you have real world data on how things are actually working, re-prioritise your list carefully.

Shift your priorities to fall into three categories; short, medium and long term goals. Some of the things that I wanted to do year one at Shazam I am just getting to do now, and you have to be prepared for that.

Change is a process, and people may not quite be ready for the change you are hoping to bring immediately. Some change will be necessary right away, but don’t be afraid to alter your own road map to support the overall success of the business, and also your own success within it.

Slice 4

Now it’s time to get stuck into those quick wins. What are the things that you can change super-fast that will create the most impact? How easy are they to achieve? What are the things the organisation is finding the most painful? From the foundation of those super-strong internal relationships you have already started developing, it should feel relatively easy to start getting this stuff done.

Focus on those hard-to-fill roles that may have been open for a while and create a strategy around their swift delivery. There is nothing that will help your internal stock rise more than taking someone’s pain away.

Are there other things relating to process that you can fix super-quickly? What are the team’s biggest challenges when it comes to hiring? Focusing on this area in detail in the first few weeks of your new gig won’t have you going far wrong.

Slice 5

Along the past few weeks, you should have had ample opportunity to assess the team’s capability when it comes to hiring. You may have some great quality hirers already there, but I would now consider offering some form of training on recruiting to all staff.

That’s exactly what I did when I joined Shazam. This wasn’t about prescribing an interview approach to people – my team are super-smart and don’t want or need someone telling them what to do. This was about humanising the hiring process again, and switching the mindset of the people within the business. It’s easy for us all to forget just how hard interviewing for a new role is, so my sessions really focused on that area.

This is where you start to really work on your candidate experience from the inside out. And that has to start with the way people are treated and get to feel when they interact with you throughout an interview process. You have an opportunity to create a brand advocate in every person your business comes into contact with.

Slice 6

Build a bullet proof hiring process. Simplicity is everything. Get a great ATS. Get the team involved in it. Make sure everyone know what their role is – all of the time. Over communicate. Manage expectations well. Deliver.

A great process will give everyone a great experience; internally and externally.

Slice 7

Tell everyone what you and your team are up to. Start to send weekly update emails to your hiring managers, coupled with regular live catch ups. Look at the way you measure everything and don’t be afraid to try different things.

What kind of data is most useful to the business? Be prepared to provide different things to different people. One size does not fit all.

Slice 8

Bring your focus back to branding. How can you give the rest of the world more access to what is happening inside your brilliant business? Perhaps consider using social channels to help get your message out there and show the world the real you.

Where do the humans you are looking for in your business ‘live’? Do they go to meetups? Do they go to events? Do they prefer certain kinds of websites over others? Meet those people on the platform that works best for them. This kinda stuff doesn’t have to cost a ton of money, be prepared to get creative. Are there people within your business who can support you with this? Working on these types of initiatives with the wider organisation will also present an awesome opportunity to get to know folks a little better, and take that relationship to a deeper level.

For me, slice 8 was also about taking that brand advocacy a little further, and getting the team to see their own roles within the business as one of brand advocates also. Encourage them to start sharing their work with the world on a personal level; perhaps considering blogging, speaking at events etc.

Slice 9

Re-assess everything, raise your game and start over again. Build out a new road map every 6-12 months. Keeping it fresh will not only keep your role challenging and exciting for you, but also ensure the business is getting the very best it can in terms of its people resource – and that truly is the key to its success.

Slice 10

Make lots of friends in recruitment. Compare notes. Build a network that will develop to become mutually beneficial and supportive. Call upon those people with your challenges, allow them to do the same, and start to build a community around you.

And finally…

Be sure (at regular intervals throughout the watermelon consumption process) to check in with yourself. Are you really being the real you at work? Do you feel confident and able to deliver your role well? Are you finding ample opportunity to let your soul shine?

I support being the real me at work with regular meditation, coaching and by being very honest with my own self-assessment. A simple; what went well, what could I have done better and what should I never do again works wonders.

A focus on your own growth will support your growth in the role you are in and in turn, your career. That way everybody wins.

That time when LinkedIn told me I had a Power Profile

So it happened. Me and a bunch of incredibly awesome humans, were awarded as having ‘Power Profiles in the UK 2015‘ by LinkedIn. When they first called me up to talk to me about it I was like: hold up – is that a thing? But my friends, it appears it is. A new thing. But a thing nonetheless.

So it got me to thinking about what made me have a ‘Power Profile’ in the first place. There’s the obvious fact that I work in recruitment and that I lead hiring for Shazam. Those two very things make me someone people want to interact with all the time. But there are tons of people with jobs that are even more awesome than mine, so perhaps that in itself wasn’t enough.

Honestly, I think the thing that perhaps meant that they reached out to me rather than a bunch of other folks, could have a large amount to do with how unapologetically ‘me’ I am. I’ve written before about how much I believe it’s time for the rise of the individual, and I truly, truly believe it.

I am no different than lots of other people in terms of my work ethic and the work I do for Shazam, but I am someone who isn’t afraid to be silly, and wears her heart on her sleeve, and isn’t afraid to be honest with the world about my challenges and how I have worked to overcome them. The moment I stopped trying to be someone else and just became me, was the moment that things truly started opening up for me in my world.

So considering this point got me thinking further about who we are and how the rest of the world views us. Are we projecting the truest versions of ourselves online? And if not – how do we do so?

First and foremost, find your authentic tone of voice when writing online. This happened for me as a natural side effect of living as the truest version of myself. Once you start to do that, everything else just becomes authentic at the same time.

How do you do that? By slowly conducting a life audit and by getting rid of whatever the things are that don’t work for you and by making choices based on what makes you truly the happiest. This is another blog post in itself. I’ve written a lot about this on my blog; www.thepenfold.me. Have a dig and see what might be useful for you.

In the meantime, here are some simple points to consider when writing your LinkedIn profile:

  • Your profile is 14 times more likely to be viewed if you have a picture. Does your picture really reflect you? Do you look comfortable? Do you look like you? Get someone you know really well to take a picture of you that feels appropriate; they will likely get the best results!
  • Does your introduction really reflect you? Can you inject some personality into it? Can you inject some passion into it? Consider why you love doing what you do – what you love about your job – and let that enthusiasm inflect how you pitch yourself here. We don’t just want the facts; give us a flavour of who you really are.
  • Give us an overview of the companies you have worked for, but avoid any real depth on your role. This isn’t your CV. If people want to find out more about you, let them ask. And they will. Trust me.
  • Tell us about your interests. Tell us what makes your heart sing. Give us some idea of what you like to do when you aren’t working. Don’t be afraid to be a little silly here, if that feels authentic for you.

Be useful. Be engaged with the rest of LinkedIn. Share cool and interesting (but LinkedIn appropriate) stuff. Join groups. Get involved with discussions. Here is the video I made with LinkedIn recently to give you a few more ideas.

As with all interactions in life, we all need to make sure we are presenting the right ‘brand’ to the people we interact with and that they go away with an authentic but ideally positive view of who we are. Online is no different. I use this at a litmus test: is the ‘brand’ that I am displaying, in life and online, one that I want to be associated with? There is nothing that I share on any social platform that I wouldn’t want my boss or the members of our board to see.

When it comes to your online interactions, whether in comments or via email: would you feel comfortable if the words you used were read back out to you? Comments sections all over the Internet are rife with a very nasty kind of interaction, let’s call it ‘I’m in the safety of my own car’ syndrome. Since my video was released by LinkedIn last week, I have sadly become a victim of some less than favourable comments myself.

My general rule of thumb for communication in life is: Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?

Kindness costs nothing. We should all shower it around us like confetti. When I walk into a coffee shop, I know that I can make someone’s morning better, just by being kind. Sincerity is also a key factor on this one though – if you are missing that part people will feel it! Let that also be the case online.

The truth has always and will always be a very important thing to me. The most important person we need to be honest with at all times is ourselves. With others, let’s check out that the truth meets the kind/necessary criteria before we unleash the facts as we see them. As long as those components are there it becomes much easier to be honest, even when it’s over something difficult.

Necessity is also a big factor. Does this person need to hear this interaction from you. Is this information you need to pass on, whatever it is. What are your motives for doing so? Are they kind and so on. You get my drift.

So take a bit of time doing a little audit of your online presence, and do an extra check that it feels like it’s a living, breathing version of you that people will get to meet before they meet you. If not – take steps to let it be so.

That time when I realised it’s time for the rise of the individual

At Shazam we want people to come to work as themselves. That means in terms of how you look, how you speak, how you think and however you want to put yourself forward. Personalities are not only welcomed with open arms here, they are positively encouraged.

If you want to dress up? Do it. If you want to dress down? Do it. If you want to come up with a quirky way of getting your point across in meetings? Do it.

If we think you are brilliant enough to come and work on whatever it is we have hired you for, that’s all that really matters to us. Whether physically or spiritually, bring your own vibe, bring your own voice and don’t be afraid to use it.

Whilst I fully respect that companies want to keep a certain standard in appearances, I firmly believe that when you let people come to work as themselves and be themselves, that’s when the magic truly happens. I know from my own experiences that being able to approach my working life as myself has been a huge factor in how much I love my job and how much time and energy I choose to give to it (which is a lot!). When you are pretending to be someone else all day, you can’t wait to ‘clock off’, now the opposite is true.

Give people a little more freedom along the way and they generally work out what the appropriate vibe for each scenario is for themselves, without being told. Think also of the child that’s never allowed to explore their independence growing up, when you try to control people and then let them ‘off the leash’ you are far more likely to see a much more extreme difference and a bigger reaction – we’ve all seen people go off the rails at university when they get their first taste of freedom.

The start up world is different, and that’s why I’ve found a home here. I am able to speak like me, think like me, dress like me and act like me. The real me is smart and commercial, but also incredibly silly – I like to laugh at the same time as getting a kick out of doing great work. The real me likes to dress up one day, down the next (hair up one day, down the next haha). By allowing my wings to unfurl, Shazam have provided me with an environment where I can truly thrive, my work and my output for the business stand as testimony for this. I’d like to see this approach extend beyond the start up arena to more areas of the working world next. It’s time for the rise of the individual.

Aside from the incredible technology and innovation that the start up world is creating, one of the most important and incredibly beautiful things that a large portion of our sector has given rise to, is a growing number of companies that greet people without judgement. We don’t care what you look like or how you choose to dress, we only care how clever you are and how successful you are going to be in the job that you have applied for. Put simply: you are judged on your actual merits and ability to do the role – revolutionary stuff huh ;)?

Sure, there might have been sectors before where people have been able to ‘dress’ however they feel, fashion for example, but I can tell you from my experience in hiring for those companies, the way people are assessed for their suitability there is often loaded with judgement. Are you cool enough? Are you this enough? Are you too much of that?

Working at Shazam has made me realise that I’ve never worked in this kind of ‘all embracing’ environment before. Much of my career has actually been with companies that do the opposite, with every little slice of individuality I expressed being challenged. That happened from the year I got my first office job, at age 17, where I quickly towed the line and attempted to morph myself into what I thought the rest of the world needed me to be, shrinking my personality to match.

And that was a shame. Human beings are wonderful creatures. Each of us is completely individual and unique. Perfectly imperfect. I only learnt to embrace who I really am in my 30s, and now I’m fiercely proud of that. But I’d like to see people feel able to embrace their sense of self sooner, rather than have their creative expression bashed out of them and attempting to fight to bring it back later, and more companies and sectors supporting that freedom.

When I look around our offices, one of the things that strikes me even more than just how different everyone is, is that no one else here seems to notice – and that’s perhaps the most special thing of all.

That time when I realised that it’s all about the people

Shazam is full of smart people, smart people that love their jobs – and we love it that way. Our quest as a global hiring team, therefore, is not only to keep finding and introducing smart people to the business; it’s to find more smart people that will truly love their jobs too. Why? Because when you have a room full of smart people that love their jobs, that’s when the magic happens.

The thing about smart people is, they already know a LOT of stuff. They question, they challenge and we wouldn’t want them any other way. So how do we ignite a spark in those smart people? How do we make them interested in us?

Our amazing product is the first and most obvious thing. What can I tell you – it rocks. We create magic for our users, and that in itself is hugely compelling. I get to watch, first hand, the way that our teams work together cross-functionally to produce something truly awesome on a daily basis. We ship our product every month, and each time get that little bit smarter and faster, continuously updating and evolving our tech stack.

But even more important than our product is our people. When I ask people in interviews what the thing they love most about their current role is, the first answer they give 90% of the time is: the people. It really is that simple folks. People are motivated by being part of a great team, and one they truly vibe with. Any company that fails to recognise that people are their biggest asset really is missing the point.

At Shazam, therefore, one of the key pieces of work I rolled out during my first few months here was around humanising the hiring process, and looking at ways to make sure we give people a real flavour of who we really are and what it might feel like to be a Shazamer.

The first piece of this puzzle came in the form of interview training for the teams here. I designed a programme to challenge and change people’s approach to hiring. Given that we have a team of seriously smart folks here, this was never about being prescriptive about anything, just simply demonstrating what good hiring looks like and the tools that are available; how important the way we make people feel is; that we remember that we have all been where they are once; and that we make them feel respected and valued.

Even more importantly, knowing that people is what people truly celebrate in the workplace, it is paramount that our team present authentic versions of themselves in interviews, and that means not reading from a script! Both parties have to feel comfortable. The focus has to be on creating a forum for a respectful, intelligent two-way discussion (and therefore assessment) – one that challenges and inspires (hopefully both parties).

We are also working on giving people more access to what it means to be a Shazamer from an online standpoint. Expect to see more of how we work, our environment and our people coming to some part of the internet near you soon.

The next piece of the puzzle was to make sure my team use a great hiring process. Great process means that not only do we send the right message about our brand, but also that we are hiring the right people for the right roles!  When hiring for a new role, my team spend time working out: What do we need this person need to do? And: What skills will they need to be able to do that?

We sit down and flesh this out with the hiring manager also taking input (where relevant) cross-functionally. We call this the ‘Recruitment Plan’. It’s essentially a two-page document covering the following:

  • Where the role sits within the business and whom it interacts with.
  • What this person needs to be able to come in and do/be doing at week one, 30 days and 90 days.
  • What three things should this person have achieved by the end of year one.
  • What is the employee value proposition for this role? What makes this role rock? What makes this role special? What is the manager’s background? What kind of manager are they? And lastly, what do they think makes Shazam rock?

By focusing the hiring manager on these key areas ahead of the hiring process, we get them to consider what they are really looking for in a person, and what they need to be able to do. We then write the job spec, using the managers input as much as possible. We focus them on pulling out the 6-8 performance objectives they need to bring to this role, but using words like ‘lead’, ‘build’, ‘manage’ to give a real sense of  what they will own, what they will need to deliver and the kind of satisfaction they are likely to draw from this.

By religiously following this practice, we also get key tools as Recruiters, gems of information and insight into each role. That information all goes into how we position the role, how we headhunt and how we inspire those smart minds to join us. We also coach the managers along the way each time, by sharing ideas and anecdotes that they in turn might decide to use when interviewing.

And that’s just it. It has to be about inspiration. It’s important that we also allow our team to find the approach that works best for them, whilst making sure there is an undercurrent of best practice throughout. You can’t tell a smart person how cool a job is – they have to learn it for themselves, and the same applies to learning about great hiring when on the other side of the fence.

We aren’t in the business of persuading people that we are awesome, we just open the door and allow them to see and feel whether Shazam feels the right place for them. The aim for each candidate is that they have a range of different kinds of discussions with us to give them different flavours and perspectives on our business and our people. Whilst we might have approached them to begin with, they have to choose us right back, and we have to see that they believe in their ability to create magic with us just as much as we do.

If you’d like to explore creating some of that magic with us, head over to www.shazam.com/careers, and see whether we have something you’d like to explore.

That time when I got to know a bunch of amazing people

“I want to be an astronaut.”

“What’s the hardest part of being an astronaut?”

“Pressing the right buttons at the right time.”

A delightful young human featured on Humans of New York a few weeks back said this, and it got me thinking… it used to be so simple when we were younger; considering what we wanted to do for a living and articulating why we wanted to do it. 

When we are faced with career decisions as adults, we often want a change, but we aren’t always sure what that is. When we really start thinking about it, perhaps we feel like we don’t even like what we do anyway, but the choices seem infinite, so we stick around a while longer… and before you know it, another year has passed.

It’s incredibly easy to become overwhelmed by the choices we have ahead of us, especially when it comes to career choices. If we try to fathom all of the infinite possibilities available, we run the risk of choosing none whatsoever.

That’s what happened to me with recruitment. As an underwhelmed agency recruiter, my first thought was that I should change career altogether. But when I started to really consider this, the many different options available almost became too much to bear. So I stayed, and stayed much longer than I really wanted to. Largely because it felt safer than doing anything else (I know I’ve also been guilty of doing the same in my personal life at times!).

When the urge for change became too large for me to ignore, I became determined to push past the indecision. Instead of trying to answer all of my many unanswered questions at once, I decided to take it back to basics: simply to meet as many different people as possible and to see where that took me.

I connected (and met) with a myriad of different people working in interesting companies, people working in different professions and importantly, people with a different take on life.

Many of these meetings have since turned into friendships, but started in just this way, sharing ideas, looking at how we might be able to work together, or whether just knowing each other might be inspiration enough.

I became intoxicated by the art world, and started to run social media for a gallery in my spare time. Soon I was promoting artists and meddling with curating shows and all sorts, surrounding by an ever-growing throng of talented humans around me.

Opening up my network, beyond my sphere of traditional recruitment contacts, generated a huge amount of inspiration within me, and one from which I have benefited tremendously. 

The first ‘professional’ step outside of agency recruitment came in the form of a contract role for a rail company. I’d placed the HR Director there a number of years back, and she, seeing my potential, decided to offer me a role within her team. I joined Colas Rail as HR Projects Advisor and I was there 5 months on a contract basis. This role was incredibly important to me for a number of reasons: it was completely different to anything I’d done before, I travelled the country, building totally new experiences and learning what it feels to be on the ‘inside’. It showed me that my experience was not so far from this, and that actually, the mystery that the world beyond recruitment consultancy held, was nothing to be afraid of. 

Having faced those demons, one of the people that I’d met on my magical mystery tour of networking (and someone who has gone on to become a dear friend) reached out to me to say they had a role, and to ask if I would be interested in applying. He was the (then) interim Global Head of Talent Acquisition at Shazam. Had I not had the experience at Colas Rail, I would never have had the confidence to put myself forward for the role at all – crazy, huh?

As soon as I joined Shazam, I felt like the role was made for me. Ever changing, ever challenging. Surrounded by an array of super-smart people, and with a daily quest to keep my team focused on finding even more of them.

The pace of working in a start up is the thing for me that’s most exciting. Week after week I am in awe of what the brilliant humans I am surrounded by have cooked up next. None more so than my own team – our role is pivotal and they deliver brilliantly. We provide the engine oil that keeps everything going; the humans that we bring in are the key to the development of our business.

I keep up my network of contacts across the board, in many walks of life. I am instinctively curious and know that most of my learnings will come from others. I am fascinated by the way people do things, the decisions they make and what makes things tick – happily all key traits for a Recruiter!

My point here is this: if you want to change what you are doing professionally, don’t get lost in the midst of endless possibilities. Instead simplify, just like our young astronaut friend. What do you like the look of doing and why do you like the look of doing it? For me, it turned out that far from needing an entirely new profession, I simply needed to change my perspective.

Select a handful of interesting humans who work in companies you are genuinely interested in, and suggest meeting them for coffee. LinkedIn is a great place to find them. What’s the worst that can happen? They say no? Then you find someone else. They won’t be upset that you’ve asked in the first place. People love to share ideas and wisdom, and will no doubt love to hear some of yours also.

Collaborative networking is truly where it’s at, and has absolutely been the biggest agent for professional change for me.

That time when I realised that you should only ever try to control yourself

In recruitment, at the very core of what we do is one thing and one thing alone: humans.

Although a big fan of humans in general, understanding the challenges of dealing with humans was a steep learning curve for me in my first year of recruitment. Why? Well, because humans are brilliant creatures with their own free will, and who will make whatever decisions they want to, whenever they want to. If you are someone who prides yourself on order, structure and doing things properly, recognising that the product or service you are providing is ultimately beyond your control takes a little work. But that work is entirely worth it.

Given that your professional purpose as a recruiter is to bring the right humans together, you have to recognise quickly that all of the stakeholders with whom you interact, throughout the hiring process, are ALL humans with their own free will. You have no power to control the outcome of the work you are doing and, frankly, nor should you.

Many recruiters focus on the end result – filling a role – when the reality is that we are here as connectors and enablers. We are the ones who can make good introductions and spot great opportunities, but everything else has to be because all the other parties involved have decided that it’s the right thing for them to do.

I think that one of the reasons that people struggle with recruitment, is that they feel unable to let go of this control. By failing to do so, and by trying to reach beyond the optimum sphere of influence, they alienate the other people involved, and frustrate themselves in the process. That’s where a bad reputation can be and has been born.

The truth is, you can never control other people, whether personally or professionally, and you should never seek to. You have to give people space to grow and allow them to make their own choices. You can’t tell a smart person why a job is awesome: they have to learn it themselves; and the same applies to hiring managers in reverse.

What you can do, though, is create the opportunity and platform for people to make the right connections. Our skill should be in selecting a sound group of people with applicable experience and complementary personalities, and bringing those people together.

My approach to hiring, on joining the recruitment profession, quickly became focused on the human element, recognising my role as consultant and catalyst, rather than dictator. When I present a shortlist for a role, I have no concerns that anyone will select the ‘wrong’ person for a role: that is because I am happy with the work I am doing and the choices I am making when making my shortlist.

When you allow yourself to become frustrated by a lack of control of something, it’s an utterly pointless exercise. One of the biggest revelations of my adult life has been an awareness of my reactions to situations, which is something I will continue to work on. We will never be able to control the world around us; what we can control is our reaction to it.

When we feel ourselves reacting to a person or a problem, that is the time to check in with yourself and register the fact that all of these things are beyond your control and that the only thing that is truly making you suffer is your own reaction. You are creating and allowing that reaction to exist, when you actually just need to let it go.

For me, merely clocking that fact has been enough. By taking a step back and seeing something for what it is, I can often stop the feeling altogether and switch my focus back to me. I ask myself: ‘Am I doing the best I can do, with what I have?’, and ‘Am I making the right choices?’ If my answer here is yes, then I feel able to walk away knowing I have done a great job, or reacted to something in a way I am proud of.

So if we don’t hire someone after 6 weeks of interviews, and start the process all over again, I know that it’s because it’s the right thing to do. We just didn’t connect the right humans this time; therefore, for all the people involved, that IS the right thing. In my experience, whenever people are forced to do anything they aren’t comfortable with, it almost always ends badly. We want to hire people who will love their job, love working at Shazam and whom we will love having here. That’s when everybody really wins, and that’s why it’s so important to get it right – for all of us.

That time when I realised that recruitment rocks

Recruitment: it’s all a bit grubby isn’t it? Go on. It’s okay. You can admit it. You find it/us all a bit distasteful. You are amongst friends 😉

I joined the recruitment profession in 2001. And like many others walking this path alongside me, ‘fell into it’. I stuck with it, in the hope that my ‘real’ calling would come along, and functioned relatively well as an agency Recruiter. However, I too bought into this sordid perception, and I only really found my recruitment feet when I moved into my current role, at my beloved Shazam.

The shift has given me pause for thought and a chance to reflect over the professional dissatisfaction I experienced in my 20’s. It was so profound that by the time I was 32 (in 2012), I was convinced that I didn’t enjoy recruitment at all and frankly felt ashamed of what I did.

In recruitment, many of us grow up feeling like we are worth less than people in other professions, that what we do has no importance, that we are not people worthy of the professional attention of others. In fact, we will do pretty much anything to avoid being called a Recruiter (says the Talent Acquisition Manager *ahem*) and find sanctuary in likening our roles to that of branding, sales and marketing – roles that we believe to have infinitely more value than our own.

Sadly those feelings, for me, grew roots. I’m sure there are others like me. I spent a decade living in a state of perceived professional worthlessness. The result of that was that I became apathetic, and actually at one stage thought I’d lost my drive altogether, my thirst for work. Those feelings for me were incredibly detrimental, and are feelings that I will work hard to eradicate when I raise any new recruitment family. I categorically don’t want to pass on the damage of that self perception, when I raise my recruitment young.

Many people have had bad experiences with Recruiters, which is what has given rise to the endemic dislike for our profession. So the point in writing this short note to the universe, is not to blame those who dislike us (that would mean many of us too), whatever the reason. It’s to encourage us as Recruiters, to start to see the good in ourselves, and start to encourage it in others. To change our collective perception of self to one of someone that helps others and enriches lives. In changing that mindset, we could also positively influence the mindset of the jaded few that keep perpetuating the stereotype and giving people a reason to distrust or dislike us.

The truth is: recruitment can be a wonderful thing. Sure, I love finding the right human the perfect role, but I take just as much professional satisfaction by helping people to think a little differently, and encouraging growth of any kind.

When I was working in agencies, I was able to enrich the weary search of the tired job hunter with advice, tips, ideas for how they position themselves. Now internal, I coach a different set of people, to help them make the right decisions about the human being they need to hire, and what they need them to be able to come in and do.

Now I feel proud of my career in its entirety and I’m great at my job. I can see that all along I have been doing good things for good people.

I’d like to see more recruitment people feeling empowered by the human element of what we do. We help people to meet people and form relationships that could ultimately change their lives/enrich our businesses; I don’t know about you but I think that’s kinda awesome.