Talent Talk – Q&A with independent recruiter Georgie Carpenter

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Free from the shackles of the corporate world and armed to the teeth with social media tools, a new breed of web savvy independent recruiters are emerging. I spoke to one of them – Georgie Carpenter.

A relentless twitterer, Georgie hardly uses job boards. Instead she use social media to connect, build relationships and recruit talent. Georgie reveals more about her modus operandi, and the advantages independent operators have over the big guys.

Q. What does Georgie Carpenter Pty Ltd offer?
Well, I call myself an IT Recruiter but I am also increasingly working in the Digital Media, Design/Creative & Online Communications space. My business is pretty much based around the values I’ve learned through my music and art friends outside of work. Foremost, you have to be creative, you must have integrity, you have to be quick and you have to be honest. I wanted to offer a more alternative service to what was currently on offer in the market and I saw my clients virtually scream out for a real person to handle their accounts, not an aggressive salesy type or ‘yes’ man. They wanted a person, not just a brand.

Without meaning to sound like a big cliché, you have to ‘keep it real’. I offer a grassroots service that is personal. Successful recruitment has almost nothing to do with checking off the list of requirements on a job brief. Nowadays smart businesses know that to attract the right people, their recruiter has to have empathy and the resourcefulness to see alternative solutions outside of the original brief. Recruiters must empower people to do what is right for them.

I am particularly proud of the fact that my clients and my jobseekers are not fooled by appearance alone. We know that even the least polished individual can conceal a brilliant mind and set of ethics to be harnessed and my clients come to me when convention fails them.

Q, The downturn has been hard on the recruitment industry in general. How has it affected you?
The economy has very likely hit the larger recruitment agencies more so than it has done me. In some ways, I am a little less busy, in other ways I have a massive opportunity to support businesses that recognize that they must stay on top of investing in people but need help to do so. Agency fees are increasingly harder to justify, especially for smaller businesses. I’m a micro-outfit so my business is not target driven and I can afford to offer easy payment schedules over a period of time and a reasonably interesting contracting model that is easy on the pocket.

Q. What advantages do independent recruiters such as yourself have over large firms? Why must companies work with you?
I would say the biggest advantage over the larger firms is that I can afford to be flexible! Independent Recruiters, like myself, are less concerned with meeting targets and appeasing the office politics than the average large agency-bound recruiter. We have lower overheads as well that don’t need to be entirely offset with our fee. We are able to spend more time supporting our clients, engaging with our networks and by doing so learn more about the ins and outs of a technology, methodology, culture or new trend. You’ll find an established Independent Recruiter can be a mine of knowledge about your industry and can advise you on topics that can give you the edge on your industry competitors.

Plus, independent recruiters have ‘ownership’ of their businesses, and as a result there is an increasing emphasis on quality of work as opposed to quantity. If you perform shoddily, whom do you hurt? Only yourself!

And, as a micro business, you are more likely to look outside of your immediate surroundings to create strategic partnerships with other Independent Recruiters you rate. Independent Recruiters are usually lone characters in the ether, so a bit of collaboration with other industry figures never hurts and can actually result in empowering our clients. If I can’t help you, then maybe I can refer you to someone that can!

Last, but not least, Independent Recruiters have more accessibility to the tools they use to resource candidates and glean industry knowledge. Larger recruitment agencies are slowly coming to grips with social media, but a lot of companies still restrict access to the technologies that support those tools. I’ve worked at companies that don’t even have Instant Messenger!

Q. You use social media tools quite extensively to network and build relationships with potential candidates. Do you have a real success story of acquiring talent though social media to share? Do you use job boards to source talent?
Oh absolutely! Twitter is the social media success story of this year and late last year for me. I had a client, not very long ago, have a bundle of work given to him with an almost impossible deadline and he required a PHP Developer within 2 hours. I was able to use the network that I had slowly built and engaged with on Twitter to source around 4 referrals within 10 minutes. That’s when your traditional recruitment skills kick in. Referrals are great, but you MUST then interview thoroughly and, if you can, conduct references. I was able to do this all in 2 hours via the response of my twitter community and my client still uses that contractor now!

I do use job boards to source talent, but hardly ever use the mainstream ones. My industry space is quite niche so the best people tend to be involved with the more specialist online communities and are only interested in engaging with you back if you have integrated properly and genuinely into that community. In my space, it’s of no use whatsoever for a recruiter to sign onto twitter, or an online community, or a specialist mailing list, if they don’t have a genuine interest in technology and the people that enrich that space. People will sniff you out as a fake pretty damn quick! People want to engage with a person, not a sales bot.

Q. What are the skills in demand in the digital media area? What skills will be in demand in the near future?
Any role that supports the creation of more online content is in demand right now! Content equals money for all digital businesses. We might see a little less new development, which I think is a tragedy, and we may even see a little less need for strategists and planners in the short term, but it’s the circle of Digital life. I love that User Experience experts, even though we’re in an economic slump and they are traditionally NOT profit centres, are still turning over awesome results. It’s indicative of a shift in project mentality that is only going to improve the quality of Digital and Online work we see out of Australia.

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