13 July 2023

Last weekend, Silverstone once again became the epicentre for one of the year's motoring highlights. Whether you were cheering for Verstappen or Hamilton (contentious topic, I know) there's no denying the exhilaration of the dramatic highs and lows that F1 brings. This week our Creative Production Consultant sat down with our Founder and Director, Carys Mills, to talk about her trip to Silverstone and what she's taken away from this years' events.

Where to begin Carys? It sounds like an exciting weekend.

It truly was; I've been following F1 for a while now but have never actually been to Silverstone, so it was incredibly exciting to get up close and personal with the action. We were so close that we could see Brad Pitt schmoozing around the pit lane with Hamilton, Norris, Leclerc and Gasly!

That does sound fun. Do you think that given your career- first at director level in healthcare comms and now running your own talent-sourcing agency- you're drawn to a faster pace of life?

Yes for sure I'm drawn to the fast pace and the other aspect is the high performance required to run a successful business - also key in a winning F1 driver/team! I suppose that having worked in the sector and now running an executive search agency, I have seen both perspectives. It's a bit like having been a driver and then working as the Team Principal; I already know first hand what it takes to make a good racer, how all the parts work, and what needs fixing. If you'll forgive the cheesy metaphor, of course.

Of course. What do you think is the secret to being a stand out candidate?

In the current market, it's all about knowing what you're looking for, and working with your progression partners, not against them, to secure that next crucial step in your career. Our team is always there to give you the best direction possible, no matter whether you're mid-process or just starting to explore the market. But things can change at the last minute, and the better the line of communication, the better we'll be able to help you.

You mention progression partners there- what's the difference between being a progression partner and a traditional recruiter?

It sounds fancy, but the concept itself is simple. Where traditional recruiters are more often than not looking to tick a box and get their commission, we know that shoe-horning a candidate into a role that isn't right for them is pointless. It'd be like giving Hamilton a tricycle to race in- he would still have the same amount of talent and experience, but he'd be set up for failure. As a progression partner we are always looking for the opportunity that's right for you and of course the candidate that's right for our client - both need to be aligned for a success story - and that is our focus the whole time.
I see. If we're running with the racing analogy, do you think candidate-to-candidate competition is beneficial?

In my opinion a bit of competition is always healthy, but from our clients perspective we are presenting them with top level candidates that all have the skills and experience they require but differ slightly in approach, individuality and personality. You have to take into account the company culture, how their personality would fit into the existing team, etc. Again, it comes back to not forcing someone into a role that isn't right for them. They may have all the right things on paper, but it may not be the bet match for them. A progression partner will recognise that.

Personality and individual fit are often undervalued in the recruitment process- why do you think that is?

To be honest, I think it's part of the old recruitment-stereotype of just "ticking boxes". Realistically, a candidate could have all the right qualities, but if the (culture) fit isn't right, then it can lead to problems further down the line. You have to look at the bigger picture and take the time to understand how they could fit into the existing team. If it's not the right fit, then the whole team dynamic could be thrown off kilter. As we have seen with a number of F1 teams - the drivers need to work together to make it a winning team; not against each other.

Indeed - on the topic of existing teams, how do you think companies can take steps to support new and existing talent in the midst of this economic crisis?

A key driver these days is a good work life balance and being part of a team where you feel valued and your employer is invested in your career progression. Another key thing would be consistently industry benchmarking salaries and benefits. The most passionate and dedicated healthcare comms professional will still need an economic incentive and good benefits package to stay with the same agency. If a client isn't taking into account inflation pay rises, or keeping an eye on how their salaries and benefits compare to other agencies, they could lose out on top talent.

We've spoken a lot about candidates, but what about clients? Is there still a benefit to outsourcing your talent needs?

There is always a cycle with clients where they take all recruitment internally and then realise after a number of months this alone doesn't bring them the best talent pool. The reality is that it's very well established that the best talent are always those that are happy in their current role and not actively looking for a new role - so they need to be actively sourced. Also some candidates don't like dealing directly with their prospective future employer - so companies exclude that pool by internalising all their talent sourcing.

Are there certain insights that you think are key to share with candidates and clients, and how does your perspective as a search partner come into play?

Of course; as very established search consultants we have many insights to offer clients as we do our candidates. From taking salary surveys, to speaking with emerging talent day-to-day, we can offer a varied perspective on what's going on in the market as a whole. That's why we've always tried to define ourselves as executive search partners, who work to find the exact fit for a vacancy by intimately understanding the needs, culture and ethos of each of our clients.

And finally, Carys, if you've taken anything away from the races this weekend, what has that been?

That the race outcome can be unexpected, as we saw at Silverstone in 2022! Just because one person starts in pole position doesn't mean they're going to end up on the podium. OK it did last weekend at Silverstone - Verstappen again! but it's a multifaceted approach consisting of team strategy, a high performing team and of course an immense car!

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