Meet some of the amazing team working behind the scenes at SD!
Name: Leigh Murray
Role: Talent Delivery Specialist
Time with SD: 1 year
SD Highlight: Getting to spend a month in America as part of an assignment
Hi Leigh! Thanks for chatting to us. You’ve been a recruiter for a while now. Did you always want to work in recruitment? If not, what made you stick with it?
When I was young I actually wanted to be a vet or a primary teacher, but I think like most people I ‘fell’ into recruitment. My HR Director at the time felt my psychology degree and project management skills would enable me to effectively plan assessment events and coordinate volume recruitment. I delivered volume recruitment for 3 years but was keen to broaden my experience so I moved into an RPO (recruitment process outsourcing) role with Capita / BBC.
We’re glad you decided to stick with it! What was your experience like before you came to work with Solutions Driven?
I started out as an Executive Assistant dealing with customer complaints, managing the planning of corporate events, and following up on actions assigned to senior management teams. Moving into recruitment means not much has changed! I’m still tracking deliverables, following up on outstanding actions, scheduling interviews, adapting to curve balls, and networking with lots of professionals.
I loved the fast pace and dynamic nature of working in recruitment – one minute I was recruiting a Producer for Dr Who in Wales, or a Researcher for SpringWatch in Scotland, then next minute a Journalist for English Regions. I was also working closely with an Occupational Psychologist supporting the design of bespoke assessments for our client. Capita also sponsored a Masters in Occupational Psychology for me, but unfortunately my role was relocated to London.
I was unable to make the move and secured an in-house role with SKY which enabled me to deliver projects associated with Occupational Psychology (and complete my MSc). SKY also more firmly embedded me in the passive market and introduced me to disruptive marketing techniques. I then joined Alexander Mann Solutions and got my first taste of international recruitment. Again I loved working at pace with high performing teams, trouble shooting, and helping to deliver a range of resourcing solutions to Barclays.
So to answer your question, what made me stick with recruitment? Recruitment is so dynamic with no two days being the same. I enjoy the challenge it presents, the freedom to deliver solutions, and the sense of satisfaction when you overcome the challenges and deliver good results.
I moved into the contracting space to secure experience of delivering change projects and more management experience but there is a lot of pressure to align one project with another. I also missed operational recruitment and felt my sourcing skills were being lost. Solutions Driven were appointing a Talent Delivery Specialist and having reviewed their website I connected with their values and vision. I spoke with the COO, Walter Speirs, several times and was inspired by his passion for being a company who has professional integrity and upholds best-practice.
Sounds like an amazing experience so far. What’s the best and worst things about your job?
I love the research, which is probably the psychologist in me. Before consulting with our clients we’ll research the market, local labour influences, and the sector we’re recruiting into. I also enjoy partnering with our clients, learning about their businesses, and delivering in challenging markets. Not even a year in and I’ve spent time in the US supporting the transition of interim managed services back into the in-house team which we resourced!
The worst thing about my job is that my boss is trying to get me to settle down with a nice man!! In all seriousness I think the most frustrating thing about my role is that there are so many variables because you are dealing with people. The emotional factor of business critical appointments and high level career moves means that all parties need to be aligned and sometimes companies over look the importance of selling their employer proposition to candidates.
You went to the US, that’s awesome. Any interesting aspects of working on global hires instead of UK-based? Apart from the travel opportunities of course!
I have learnt a lot about global market influences and how industry trends in one country impact the labour market in other countries. We all live in a mobile and connected world these days, and I now appreciate how limiting it is to focus on recruiting in one geographical area. I might be a bit biased, but I’m also realising that the recruitment skills we have in the UK are second to none – I have received so much positive feedback from both candidates and clients, particularly in the US and Germany. I’m proud to be a UK recruiter.
Matchmaking bosses aside, what else do you like about working here?
The best thing about Solutions Driven is that the processes incorporate tools from Occupational Psychology (the science) and recognises the importance of partnership working. Whether it’s really understanding our candidate motivations and career aspirations or our client requirements, and consulting with both parties to ensure we match the right people with the right positions (the art). Developing my X-ray and Forensic searching techniques to secure information not easily available also really appeals to me.
Sounds great! How do the SD processes compare to traditional recruitment practices?
The 6S and 6F processes are unique to Solutions Driven, and our focus is very much on people and attention to detail; I think this is what sets us apart.
From the 6S perspective, this process adopts a project management approach to resourcing – scoping client requirements through consultation, using a scorecard to evaluate candidate match, using multiple channels and techniques to source suitable professionals, selecting appropriate tools to analyse technical competence and behaviours. We then secure candidates by promoting client value propositions and negotiating contracts which meet our candidate expectations. The 6F process enables us to really understand our candidate motivators and interests – we discuss what factors are important to them (Fit, Family, Fun, Fortune, Future, & Freedom).
Traditional recruitment practices don’t always focus on cultural and motivational factors, but this is an important element if your objective is long-term placements and business changing appointments. Where SD also differ is that we are given the time to really understand our clients, their roles, and to speak to a wide range of professionals to ensure the best candidates on the market are put forward. With more traditional companies, the focus is often diluted because they are resourcing on volume within short time-frames, and therefore the talent pool is limited to the available candidates rather than the best candidates.
We have a quote in one of our meeting rooms from Steve Jobs which resonates with me – “A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players. I guess it appeals to my competitive spirit!
Very impressive, and we’re glad you love the processes. Does your competitive spirit spill over into your life outside of work?
Absolutely! I’ll have to be very careful here because I could talk for hours about kayaking. I was introduced to kayaking about 4 years ago and it’s fair to say it’s become a bit of an obsession – regardless of discipline there is a lot of knowledge and skills to acquire. It has also enabled me to visit so many beautiful places, not to mention camping on remote islands, and exploring historical sites.
I think sport is a fantastic medium which teaches you so many transferable skills. River kayaking instils the importance of team work, communication, resilience and managing stress, quick situational evaluation and effective decision making. Sea kayaking involves lots of planning – calculating tide times and weather, start and end times, researching areas of interest, route planning, leadership and group management. And on some occasions digging deep when you hit that metaphorical wall. Canoeing is essentially a mix of the other two, but encourages you to plan your actions in advance as it’s a bigger and slower-moving craft. Being a female, it also encourages me to focus on perfecting techniques rather than getting away with brute force.
Again I’m very lucky to paddle with some really exceptional people who have kept me safe on so many occasions. I have taken many knocks white-water kayaking which can become frustrating and disheartening, not to mention on occasions a little scary! I am also a bit of a perfectionist and don’t like being beaten so I suppose determination does kick-in, but I also get coached and these guys are great at keeping me motivated and focused. Not to mention the continuous critiquing of my techniques in a very positive and constructive way!
Kudos for the interesting hobby! Do you enjoy the work/life balance you get with SD?
SD adopts a flexible approach to working and embraces current technology which means I could essentially work from anywhere that has WI-FI. Whilst it’s not a regular arrangement, I am able to work from home when required. I also speak to candidates across a range of countries so there are time differences which mean I can be taking calls from candidates in the evenings. However, I have the flexibility to adjust my working hours or take time back. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still like more days to go kayaking in the summer… maybe this is a topic worth further debate with Walter?!
And finally, is there anything you’d change about the recruitment industry as a whole?
I would align it more to Occupational Psychology principals, focusing on robust candidate evaluation. There’s no doubt the “Agency” voice is still the loudest, but their focus is very much on immediate, short term appointments. Within RPO there is more of a focus on delivering against long term business objectives and being more consultative, but timeframes and volumes can mean compromises need to be made.
I would like to see recruiters more valued as business partners, providing advice and discussing factors such as team dynamics, cultural values, and long term growth potential, not simply focusing on technical fit and short term deliverables. I’d also like to see more robust tools being used to evaluate candidates and highlight their unique strengths – throughout my career I’ve worked with a lot of companies where interview questions are generic and not designed to gather evidence on past performance. I’ve also worked with companies who embed these principals into their recruitment model and create exceptionally high performing teams with low attrition rates.
Thanks very much for revealing all, Leigh! We hope you spend many more happy days as a recruiter with SD :-)!
As Leigh says, Solutions Driven isn’t your average recruitment partner.