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You’re not just a ‘candidate’

Q&A with Terri Lalonde, Director – Resourcing Division

News, Blog, Employment, Awards, Careers | Friday 1st October 2021

Over the years recruitment consultancies haven’t received the best press. Many people have stories about applying for jobs and never hearing back, of being approached about entirely irrelevant roles or even having their CV forwarded to their current boss!

From the very start, Zitko was determined not to be one of those companies and we’ve designed our organisation accordingly. Director of our Resourcing Division, Terri Lalonde, leads our drive to provide the best service in the industry.

Q:        Terri, I’ve been trying to think of a short, snappy alternative to the word ‘candidate’. What’s your take on this?

A:        It’s very much industry shorthand (we’re guilty of using it, I’m sure!), but you’re right. In the broader sense, we’re providing a service to people who may not be looking for a new job, let alone applying. That’s especially so with Search.

What I think’s important is to view people as human beings and not just as faceless CVs you’re trying to sell to a client as if they’re a commodity. Doing that’s what gets our profession a bad name and it’s not what we’re about, ever.

As for alternative terminology, ‘people’ is the best I can do! 

Q:        What does good service look like for the resourcing team?

A:        It’s about making dealing with Zitko straightforward, reliable and personal. Attitude takes us part of the way and we’ve invested in a purpose-built system and processes to help us deliver.

The people we register tell us that we are far more detailed in the way we register them; and above all, that we listen to what they say before even starting to look at what the right job for them might be.

Trust is everything in our industry. We work hard to earn it.

Q:        Tell us about the resourcing team

We’ve a five- strong team. They phone interview everyone who registers with us. They’re often the first point of contact for people searching for or applying for jobs. And they support our consultants with research and search internationally.

Their specialism is absolutely being able to talk intelligently to busy professionals, about the industry, their jobs and their career plans.

The Resourcing function here at Zitko is fairly unique. We’ve established Resourcing as a career path in its own right, rather than only treating it as a training ground for potential fee-earning Consultants (which of course it still can be). Here you can progress your career on to Senior Resourcer and Manager with the growth of the business. Experience in this field is incredibly valuable. 

Q:        It’s all about personal service? 

A:         Absolutely! If you ask to register with us for example, we’ll fix a time with you for a discrete phone call. We’ll talk to you about the nuts and bolts – qualifications, experience, salary etc – but also what it is you’re looking for.

Being one step removed from the recruitment process is useful. People are more comfortable telling us what they want. It might not be a promotion or fast track. It’s actually okay if you just want a change of scene, or to get a better work-life balance.

When you see people’s lives in the round, you can fill roles far more effectively. Our first-year retention rates on our managed service accounts – over 86% - strongly bear this out.

Q:        How about the support you offer?

A:         You’ll know how important good communication is if you’ve ever waited on the result of an application. If the consultant’s not available, the call will come through to us and we’ve a fantastic system that will give us, and you, the latest updates.

It sounds basic, but it means a lot to candidates and it took a lot of developing the right systems, which thankfully after the year we’ve had, are based in the cloud! 

Q:        What’s the past year been like?

A:        It’s certainly broadened our services. The Resourcing team’s been instrumental in a series of online workshops and webinars to help support people facing redundancy, including everything from careers guidance to mental health awareness.

We also helped coordinate manufacturer training sessions for furloughed staff, so they could maintain and extend their skills from home. These have been really well-received by everyone concerned.

Going forward we’re developing regular webinars, roundtables and coffee mornings. We’ll aim to cover career-and industry-related topics, and provide a space for people to network. It’ll be informal, but I think people are crying out for more connection in these times!

Q:        Could you say a few words about research?

A:        We’ve a large community of Fire & Security professionals, but we’re constantly reaching out to people who haven’t met Zitko yet. They’re a vital source of talent and recommendations, for assignments and our register generally.

Approaching people this way is one of the most challenging parts of our job. You have to make a fast impression and know what you’re talking about. Again, that’s where experience really counts and why resourcing here’s such a valued discipline!

It’s a terrific resource for our consultants and clients. They can recruit from a very broad pool and find the most suitable people. It’s a capability that really takes us beyond the standard industry offering.

Q:        And what’s on your radar for the year ahead? 

A:        At the moment, we’re still really busy trying to source the right candidates to fill the many vacancies we are working on. Although the industry hasn’t been immune to Covid 19, it’s still an industry with a huge shortage of candidates. We’ll continue to source, network and build those relationships, as well as help Zitko Talent plug the gap in the market with the next generation of engineers.


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