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Ross: What was your background prior to becoming a recruiter and how did you come to choose recruitment as a career?

Matthew: Prior to recruitment I was working as both a Fishmonger and in Retail Sales while completing a Bachelor Degree in HR/Management. On completing my degree it was recommended that I try a career in recruitment from the Dean of HR at the University. I interviewed in the following weeks and started my career at Greythorn.

What aspects of recruitment did you find the most challenging when you started?

Time management was the most difficult part of the role when I started. There are always so many things to do in recruitment and as a junior consultant, prioritising effectively took time to get right. I think this is a constant challenge though for most recruiters.

What training did you receive when you first started as a recruiter?

Greythorn had a fantastic trainee program at the time. I was one of three trainees inducted through an 8 week intensive program focussing on the complete recruitment lifecycle. This was both theoretical and practical and involved shadowing and working with numerous specialist consultants across both their permanent and contract divisions.

Jenny Hood was a brilliant trainer and she ran the entire program.

What niche do you recruit in and what have you found to be the biggest challenges of recruiting in that niche?

I have recruited across various niche areas over my career (Infrastructure, Project Services, SAP, Telecommunications etc) in recruitment however, I would be best known in the Melbourne market for my expertise in the Utilities sector. I have built a reputation in filling large scale project teams as well as executive/niche requirements in this sector.

The biggest challenge in recruiting in this sector has been building in-depth knowledge of the value chain, regulatory drivers and change affecting the industry. I spend significant time with leading specialists to stay abreast of the key business drivers to ensure we are ahead of the curve in regards to talent.

How do you continue the development of both your recruitment and personal skills?

In brief – I am a big believer in setting goals (short, medium and long term) to drive development of both my recruitment and personal skills.

Each year I look at key areas in my life (in context of my longer term goals) including Business, Financial, Personal Development, Family, Health & Spiritual and set three goals I wish to achieve for the coming year and three habits I will change to achieve these. I also look at what I am willing to sacrifice to make these goals a reality.

I constantly review these goals, drive towards them and remind myself of what I am looking to achieve.

Who have been important influences in your recruitment career and what have those people specifically contributed to you?

There are so many important people (influences) I could list that have impacted my recruitment career over the journey. To name a few in the industry:

Jenny Hood: Jenny trained me as a passionate individual with limited skills and taught me the craft of recruitment. Her training still rings true today and I am grateful for all she has done for me. She took an opportunity on a very raw product and gave me a start in this industry.

Marie Barry: Marie took me under her wing as a junior recruiter and taught me some of the finer points of recruitment; how to develop/own accounts, how to build excellent relationships and how to understand your value as a recruiter/partner to clients and candidates.

Jim Harrison: Jim had a real knack in language – asking the right questions, how to probe further and craft a good email. He also helped hone my conflict resolution skills.

Heath Adcock: Heath was a strong leader/mentor throughout my time at Greythorn. His leadership style has influenced my own.

David Carman: David, as a mentor, has been a constant throughout my recruitment career. I went through numerous bespoke training courses he ran and have had the opportunity to be able to call on his counsel over the years for any issues of importance.

Jacqui Kunce: Jacqui is a strong leader. She showed me the value of strong leadership, how to run a high performing team, influence up and drive change regardless of the environment around you.

Saul Kwintner: Saul is one of the most driven individuals and entrepreneurial owners I know. His influence has been beyond significant.

Additionally, I have had the privilege of working with some of the best recruiters in the business at Greythorn, Chandler Macleod and now at Aurec. I believe you can learn from people at all levels.

There are many others I could list; particularly outside of recruitment whose counsel I respect and value – you all know who you are and I thank you.

My clients and candidates have had a significant influence on my career as well – in fact they have shaped the majority of it!

What do you attribute your win in Recruitment International 2017 Recruiter of the Year to?

In my opinion the Recruiter of the Year award was a reflection of the amazing team I lead in Melbourne, our back office support team (who won Back Office of The Year!), our clients and candidates and all those who have impacted my recruitment journey over the last 12 years.

It may be an individual accolade (which I am humbled to have won) however without the above it would not have been possible.

What are the most important things that an individual recruiter can do to maintain his or her relevance and credibility in such a dynamic and changing market?

Reputation is everything. To maintain relevance and credibility you should view each interaction (be it client, candidate or acquaintance) as important and valued.

Your word and commitment needs to be fully reflected in your actions. Say you are going to do x, deliver x.

Immerse yourself in your area of specialty. Don’t just claim to be a specialist. Become one! Understand your market, its drivers, your competitors and your customers. Build talent pools and network with the best in your space.

Add value outside of just recruitment. Be in your specialty for the right reasons.

What personal philosophies shape and motivate you?

There are many personal philosophies that shape and motivate me. I am an avid reader and have been impacted by philosophies from a range of individuals including Michael Jordan, Michael Johnson, Tony Robbins, Oprah, Eric Thomas, Les Brown, Steve Jobs, Gary Vee and many others.

“I believe you can achieve great things and that you shouldn’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice. You should have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

I enjoy hearing about other people’s success, their story and what they have overcome.

In short, I believe in:

–      Having integrity above all things

–      Being grateful and practicing gratitude

–      Being generous

–      Setting ambitious goals and having the relentless drive to achieve them

–      Being humble in success and defeat

–      A creator; through which all things are possible

How do you relax away from work?

I relax away from work with my beautiful family. My wife Simone and our two daughters (age 10 and 5) keep me busy and grounded. I love being a Dad and spending time with them all.

I am also very active physically. I train Mixed Martial Arts 5 days per week, (waking up at 4:45am each morning to get to training) hit the gym most evenings, and enjoy basketball on the weekend. This is a good release for me.

Each year I like to find a challenge to push my boundaries physically and emotionally – this has included completing the Melbourne Marathon, Oxfam Trailwalker (twice), and competing in my first MMA fight in 2016.

What advice would you give to anyone who is just starting their recruitment career?

Firstly, relationships are key; if you get your relationships right then recruitment and the sales part will work itself out.

Have integrity; call people back, always be honest and transparent, treat people how you would like to be treated.

Understand your market; immerse yourself in it. Become a true specialist; network with the best in your space; add value to your market.

Set bold goals; chase after them, understand what success looks like, find others who have done it, model them then reflect on your results so you can make changes as required.

Congratulations again on your win, Matt, and thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

No problem, Ross. Thanks for asking me.

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Interview with 2016 SARA (NZ) Recruitment Leader of the Year: Brien Keegan of Randstad

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Congratulations Matt! It's been a very long time but when I saw your photo I remembered you from Greythorn. Looks like you're doing really well, great effort!

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