Recruitment Leaders Share the Secrets to Their Success

RCSA Recruitment Leaders of the Year 2020

Each year, the prestigious RCSA Industry Awards recognise the best talent in the recruitment, staffing and workforce solutions sector in Australia and New Zealand. As a sponsor of the 2020 Awards (which were held virtually this year due to COVID-19), Indeed recognises the achievements of those passionate individuals who share our mission of helping people get jobs.

We reached out to the winners of the Recruitment Leader of the Year Award — Kymberly Tupai (NZ winner) and Jason Elias (AU winner) — to tell us a little about their first job, their advice for anyone starting out in recruitment, and the secret to their success.

Kymberly Tupai, Manager – NZ Northern Region Stellar Recruitment

Kymberly Tupai recruitment leader

What was your first ever job and did you enjoy it?

My first ever job was at McDonalds when I was 15 years old. I loved it! They had a fantastic training program, and it provided me with a genuine passion for customer service. I also learnt how important following a process and structure is to standardising a positive customer experience. My highlight was being given the responsibility to run children’s birthday parties, and I went to the Head Office to attend a training session with all of the other crew members. At 16, I first experienced what it was like to have an employer invest in me and back me, and then look to reap the ROI – and that was pivotal in my journey moving forward.  

Tell us a little about your path into recruitment?

Immediately prior to getting into recruitment, I was working as a manager for a large format retailer that is genuinely one of the most fantastic businesses I’ve ever worked for. I went through their ‘Future Leaders’ program, all while working full-time and going to university four nights a week to gain my business degree. One of my favourite parts of the role was facilitating assessment centres when we did bulk recruitment drives. 

As I neared the end of my degree, I was sitting with my dad discussing long-term career opportunities and he suggested I chat with his friend Warwick, who would be able to offer great advice because he worked in recruitment (a huge shout out and thank you to Warwick — I wouldn’t be working in this fabulous industry if you hadn’t answered my call almost seven years ago). When I told Warwick about my passion for customer service, process-driven nature, and desire to continue my leadership journey, he suggested I look into recruitment. The rest, as they say, is history. 

As a winner of the 2020 RCSA Recruitment Leader of the Year award, what’s the secret to your success?

It’s a culmination of a lot of things. The biggest would be to never limit yourself in terms of what you believe you can achieve. I grew up in South Auckland and know first-hand that, that in itself, limited some people’s beliefs around what I could achieve. However, it didn’t stop me constantly looking to push for more than anyone expected of me.

Further to that, it’s important to make sure you constantly have people in your corner who are able to be brutally honest with what it is that you need to change in order to improve—feedback is a gift, so accept it graciously.

Finally, I have developed a tendency to be incredibly competitive, with myself. I am constantly looking at key metrics to measure myself and my performance (as well as my team’s), and assessing what tweaks I can make to push myself 1% further. The culmination of many back-to-back 1% improvements has resulted in continuous forward momentum.

What’s your advice for anyone just starting out in recruitment?

My advice to newcomers to the industry is to just be yourself. Ask those around you how they do things, and seek to put your own spin on them — YOU are your biggest selling point. Finally, your results and successes will be a direct result of your activity, think about how you can do 1% more than everyone else to gain a competitive edge.

Do you have any tips for recruitment leaders who may be struggling with the remote hiring processes brought on by the COVID-19 crisis?

For me, culture is always king, and no one person is bigger than the collective. If you are struggling with remote hiring processes for your internal staff, look to dedicate an interview with prospective team members solely to look for culture fit—think virtual coffee dates.

If your struggle is more to do with the processes relating to talent acquisition on behalf of your clients, look at ways to automate your system, and constantly stay connected with your team to ensure you are available to get them through any roadblocks they are facing. 

Think about whether you can digitise any of your onboarding documentation. Do your consultants have access to the technology and set-up needed to adequately perform their roles remotely? While in lockdown here in New Zealand, I caught up with my team every day over a virtual platform to constantly assess their needs, bring them together, and continue to drive the business forward so that we weren’t starting with nil momentum when we returned to the office.

Do recruiters and companies need to reconsider their talent attraction strategies?

That depends on what their individual talent attraction strategies are. Engaging passive talent, analysing talent data, and advising business leaders will be key skills needed to survive in the recruitment industry of the future. We know these are important today, but with the rise in new technologies, and employers’ accessibility to active talent, it’s vital that recruiters are enhancing these skills now as they’ll be what sets them apart down the track. 

I think there will also be a need to consult more than we ever have before, and really be the ones to push back on clients and set the strategy—rather than just follow the same old process time and time again.

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Jason Elias FRCSA, Director, Elias Recruitment

Jason Elias recruitment leader

What was your first ever job and did you enjoy it?

I was an extra (Egyptian soldier) in the opera AIDA at age 16 at the now demolished Sydney Football Stadium. It was great fun to be part of such a major spectacle. My next job was even better. I spent five years working in resorts around the world with Club Med while studying law. 

Tell us a little about your path into recruitment?

Like many, I fell into recruitment. I was a lawyer at a top-tier law firm, but preferred people to contracts. I ended up working with a family friend in a legal recruitment agency and I loved it from day one—it’s now 21-years-later and counting. 

As a winner of the 2020 RCSA Recruitment Leader of the Year award, what’s the secret to your success?

Collaboration. I have always been a strong believer that recruiters should work together to assist their clients and candidates. I have been an active volunteer in the industry both through NPAworldwide (currently Chair) and the RCSA (Chair – NSW/ACT Regional Council). 

What’s your advice for anyone just starting out in recruitment?

I believe in authenticity. Be honest and ethical in your dealings—you only get one chance to establish your reputation. Also, learn as much as you can from those around you. 

Do you have any tips for recruitment leaders who may be struggling with the remote hiring processes brought on by the COVID-19 crisis?

Give your team the tools they need and check in with them regularly. Make time for the social “water cooler” talk, as well as serious meetings. We have tried to use this time to improve systems and brush up on our skills. We do a weekly “lunch and learn”. We have Uber Eats deliver a different themed cuisine to our respective homes each week for us to enjoy during the session. 

Do recruiters and businesses need to reconsider their talent attraction strategies?

Yes. I think recruiters should avoid spinning wheels and be paid for our expertise. Every recruiter should work on jobs only if they are exclusive (like real estate agents). We should compete upfront to get the brief, but once we have the brief—we should own it exclusively. This will save a lot of time, resources and energy, and will also produce better long-term results for both clients and candidates. 

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Indeed.

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