Insider Feature: Mur Snook – Investing in Recruitment Talent
Mur Snook, a Director within psd’s Technology, Change & Transformation practice, has placed hundreds of executives with major Retail, Leisure, Hospitality and Sports brands. Having worked in the industry for 25 years, she is well placed to share knowledge with new consultants joining psd, and her highly regarded training over the years has been invaluable. We sat down with Mur to talk about how the recruitment landscape has changed and why she is excited about the business investing in new talent.
You’ve been in recruitment for more than 25 years, is it becoming a more challenging industry?
Throughout the time I’ve been in this industry there have always been peaks and troughs. There is always going to be a reason why someone isn’t hiring, or why they’re hiring in a different way, but equally there will be opportunities and that is what you need to focus on. When the market is challenging, your resilience is tested. You need to rely on your network and constantly develop new contacts.
The technology recruitment landscape is changing rapidly. What changes have stood out for you?
There are too many to mention! Over the years, I have seen the arrival of managed service / RPO recruitment providers, offshoring / insourcing are some of the terms to describe the constant change we are seeing. More recently, cloud based services, software and infrastructure as a service and the evolution of digitalization coming into the tech market have created different types of roles. Things are more streamlined now. For example, two years ago you would recruit a Chief Digital Officer and a Chief Information Officer which were very distinct roles, and that would mean two opportunities at board level or just under.
This year we have seen more Chief Digital Information Officers. Trends and job titles change, but as businesses unify and consolidate, we see roles with much more focus on the business outcome.
Clients put more emphasis now on hiring talent that will make a demonstrable difference to their organisations, rather than maintain the status quo.
You have always been very enthusiastic about what you’re doing. What drives that?
I’d like to think I’m a very positive person, I love what I do, I like working with the people I work with and I have strong relationships with my clients. I’m a great believer that you need to make the best of every situation and focus on the positives. Sometimes my enthusiasm can be my downfall. I had to learn over the years to manage expectations – mine as much as anybody’s. So I have to keep it in check!
You provide new consultants to the business with excellent recruitment training, focusing on learning interview techniques and assessments. How have interview styles evolved over the years?
Interview styles have changed to adapt to the different needs of clients and candidates. Being flexible is key to interviewing, we need to be agile and adapt to the specific needs of each. We’ve moved away from the traditional competency framework and scenario based interview, and interviewing against full assignment briefs. Although there is still a place for competency frameworks when compiling shortlists, we now know much more about our candidates through their digital footprint and often the length of time we’ve worked with them.
More often, we just have straight forward conversations and get to know the individual – because that’s what our clients are interested in – the individual.
Clients want to know what motivates potential candidates, why they are looking to move on and what they hope to achieve from their next career move. Work-life balance is high on the list of expectations now – work is no longer a place or a destination, but an activity. It’s what we do and how we do it in the context of the rest of our lives. We can work in different places and still focus on outcome and results. Although in many cases people still want to work with people, and are looking for a sense of community.
Video interviewing is commonplace and allows much more flexibility for clients and candidates. This way of interviewing is convenient – and so often necessary for international searches. Clients also talk to us about video CV’s when we are pitching for work. There are a number of providers out there, and this format allows candidates to show off their creativity and originality.
What do you think the biggest challenges in recruitment are now?
A big change is the quality of internal talent and recruitment teams. I’ve worked with a number over the years and some have been peers of mine, so I know the quality is strong. This still presents an opportunity for psd however, as they will use trusted search consultants. We are often given mandates when a client’s in house talent team haven’t been able to fill a role. The nature of psd, as a management recruitment consultancy, is that we have an entire database of professionals built up and nurtured for nearly 30 years, and we can often pinpoint talent and fill roles far more quickly.
Social recruiting plays a huge part now. Organisations have to make sure they’re up to speed with all channels, whilst still providing a personal service. The market is such that we can still differentiate despite these challenges, as we pride ourselves on a relationship based approach. Our industry has a low barrier to entry and it can be very transactional. Clients, like all of us, want more for their money so we need to keep quality high whilst providing service in an agile way. I think psd has always offered a good quality service and as recruiters we have to keep our eye on the ball and keep abreast of industry trends and market changes.
Some of our colleagues were new to the industry or graduates when they joined us, and to see them do well is extremely satisfying. It refreshes everything that we do.
Secondly, we need to continue to hire and invest in talent. Some of our colleagues were new to the industry or graduates when they joined us, and to see them do well is extremely satisfying. It refreshes everything that we do. Our new hires come in with a wealth of ideas, which can transform our ways of thinking. Success is a lovely thing to see, whether it’s the first placement or the first couple of interviews. Energy, enthusiasm, a strong degree of self-motivation and tenacity still remain valuable assets in this industry.