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The Search for Purpose- the Recruiting Challenge

Matching people to roles in the recruitment industry is not too much of a challenge. Finding people driven by purpose with the right skills and motivation to stay a while, however, is where those tasked with recruiting require a whole other level of connection, expertise and experience.  Especially challenging is when people are looking to transition from mainstream to a more purpose-oriented career. They could have the right skillset, feel passionate about the business and its mission, but find the transition comes with a discount on earnings (it usually does), which can be a tough pill to swallow. Oftentimes there is a belief that the move to more purpose-driven work will bring with it an end to those bad days in the office surely everyone will be so energised and motivated by the contribution they’re making to the world everyone will absolutely love coming to work!?! The reality is, these roles have the same challenges as corporate roles budget pressures (big asks with little money), operational complexities and personality clashes, so candidateneed to be screened thoroughly for everything from experience to motivation to expectations 

Employing someone who really believes in what they are doing and is happy to show up to work every day is invariably a better situation than someone who drags their feet, calls in sick and needs to be constantly monitored in order for them to meet deadlines– of this there is no doubt.  There is, however, also evidence that finding purpose-oriented people can have a significant impact on profit, job satisfaction and employee tenureRecruiting people with a mindset that is aligned to the values of the organisation helps to really embed their purpose into their DNA, so that everyone working there lives it, it is evident in every project, every email and every activity the firm participates in (rather than it being a dot point on a PowerPoint presentation or a feature of a marketing campaign communicated once and never spoken of again). 

But how do you find these people? 

Not just a network

We know the positive impact purpose can have on an organisation, and how aligning purpose-oriented individuals with purpose-oriented businesses can spark joy, improve business performance and enhance job satisfaction. Plus working with like-minded people can make the whole vibe at work more enjoyable. But where are these people hidingFinding candidates for whom purpose brings a sense of fulfilment comes down to having an extensive, rich and diverse network to tap into and knowing how to continuously build this networkOne of the trickiest aspects of the search is the fact that more often than not, these people won’t be actively looking for a new position. The best people are found from building a network of people identified as purpose-driven through people you know, or through everyday interactions- conversations in the coffee shop, friends of friends who speak in terms that trigger the recognition of like-minded individuals. In other words, not just CV’s sent via email or a brief conversation over the phone. They may not be looking, they may never be looking, but keeping them on the radar and touching base from time to time opens you up to people they know who may share the same way of thinking and in fact be the right person for the role you’re looking to fill. There is a real purpose-driven community out there, it’s just a matter of knowing where to find them.  

Look beyond skillset

Look beyond skills and experience when it comes to a candidate search. A candidate might be interested who is qualified but doesn’t have the specific experience the hiring manager is after. But if you dig a bit deeper you might find out this person has great experience working with smaller budgets, resilience when faced with knock backs and obstacles, and is great at finding innovative ways of getting things done. You wouldn’t realise any of these valuable attributes by looking at a CV or limiting your search to people who fit a strict criterionHaving even the largest network is not enough- it’s also about knowing each person’s story and what they can bring to a role beyond technical skills. That’s the secret to unearthing the hidden gems.  

Purpose-driven people working in roles they are passionate about is like adding accelerator to a small flame. The right chemistry (personality, workstyle and culture) can ignite something very special. There is no easy way to attract these individuals, retain them for longer, all the while meeting your profit and shareholder expectations. It’s like a big jigsaw puzzle with very human parts. You need the network, but not just any network. You need to know the stories of the people in your consideration set (or perhaps you need to re-think your consideration set)– to discover the things about them that just wont come across in a CV, but will make them an amazing asset to your team. Someone who can truly drive your agenda forward, oftentimes even more than the most qualified, experienced individual. 

The “Career Myth”: Is it holding us back?

Many people believe that their careers will follow a linear path, that they will advance up the career ladder incrementally. They may even think that they’ll stay in the same company for the duration of their careers, slowly moving their way up in line with pay raises and title changes. This concept is known as the “career myth” and is now seen by some to be an outdated way to career advancement. According to Fortune Magazine, it is now common for careers to instead develop in a “zig zag” formation, meaning you may find yourself moving in a different career direction, rather than just climbing upwards. Psychology researcher Tania Luna and Weight Watchers International executive Jordan Cohen also believe that in today’s job market the “career myth” is unrealistic and is in fact penalising career progression. They believe that “being overly attached to a specific path can turn into a career trap — blinding us to nonlinear opportunities for growth.” Instead, they recommend embracing uncertainty by considering changing roles or moving industries, without a final destination in mind.

Mitch Joel, founder of Six Pixels Group, inspirational speaker, and a marketing and communications visionary, sees career change as a great opportunity. With flexibility now seen to be a central feature to professional development, Mitch encourages people to take on a challenge within their organisation, to work with a new department, or to change something within their business that is outdated.

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Making a career change can be daunting and risky for some, as it can come with uncertainty, however it can also be really rewarding.

Are you looking for that next move?

If so, here are some tips to help you take the leap of faith:

  • Ask yourself, “what do I want from my career?”. It’s important you’ve sat with this idea before you even begin the search process.
  • Research the industry you are interested in. Make sure you know the ins and outs and areas within the industry you could target.
  • Talk to insiders and network. Get advice from people in the industry, get the inside scoop into how the industry operates.
  • Keen for a change but are still interested in your industry – consider a safer sideways step, but one that is still in the right direction.

 

If you’re considering a change and would like more information about potential opportunities, check out the jobs section of our website for some fresh ideas in environment and sustainability careers, or contact us to discuss your future prospects. Also, if you aren’t already, make sure to follow us on LinkedIn to stay up to date with all the latest roles and industry discussions.

 

Source: Business Insider

The Modern Slavery Bill: What are the implications for businesses?

The introduction of the NSW Modern Slavery Bill is a major stepping stone for Australia in terms of stamping out human exploitation that, too often, is hidden in plain sight. The Bill seeks to cover the activities of both private and public-sector organisations with annual consolidated revenue of more than $100 million; requiring that they publish a report every financial year in conjunction with modern slavery regulations. It is still yet to be determined what this statement must include, but no doubt will require businesses to adopt a higher level of transparency when it comes to their sourcing and production methods.

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So, why is this so important?

The Walk Free Foundation, the publishing organisation of the Global Slavery Index, estimates that on any given day in 2016, 40.3 million people were victims of modern slavery. Of these people, 24.9 million were in forced labour and 15.4 million were in forced marriages. Even more shockingly, 1 in 4 of these victims were children. The majority of countries have laws against modern slavery, but few governments have sought to hold businesses accountable.

As stated by The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, the purpose of the bill is to “to encourage identification and disclosure of instances of modern slavery, and to clean up supply chains.” Increasing pressure from Government, as well as expectations from employees and customers around corporate social responsibility, is creating changes in the way many do business. By requiring organisations to report each year; identifying the risks in their supply chains, as well as highlighting the due-diligence processes they have in place to assist them in tackling modern slavery, the idea is that negative attention will be drawn to companies who are slacking on their social responsibilities.

By making information such as this public, it is anticipated that customers will hold their suppliers accountable for the entirety of their operations; requiring that they demonstrate that they are not engaging in unethical practices. The modern consumer no longer simply wants the most inexpensive option, they want their dollar to go further and create positive social and environmental impact. This shift, coupled with reporting regulations of the new Bill, will create transparency in companies that may have previously had none; raising expectations of what constitutes ‘good business.’ By creating a new benchmark for success, organisations must willingly demonstrate the integrity of their operations and can no longer plead ignorance when it comes to the darker corners of their supply chains.

Dr Jennifer Burns, the Director of Anti-Slavery Australia at the University of Technology, Sydney, states that slavery is common in Australia’s labour force, particularly within “hospitality, construction and agriculture”. The Supply Chain Sustainability School, functioning both here in Australia and in the UK, is an organisation seeking to target modern slavery in the construction sector. They acknowledge that, while the estimated number of people living in modern slavery conditions in Australia is lower than many other countries, the majority of our supply chains lead directly to the Asia Pacific region, where roughly 30 million people are subject to human trafficking, forced labour and debt bondage.

The purpose of the School is to combat businesses engaging with these illegal and inhuman practices by increasing sustainability knowledge and competency along the construction and infrastructure supply chains. If you’d like to get involved, well we’ve got good news for you! We’re currently hiring a Partner Engagement Manager to help the Supply Chain Sustainability School achieve financial and strategic growth, to assist with their mission of creating a greener, more sustainable construction sector.

Overall, this new commitment to stamping out modern slavery practices will not only help protect the world’s most vulnerable, but raise the bar when it comes to defining corporate success. By acknowledging the importance of this human rights issue, change can be adopted right now to provide every individual with freedom as a basic right. 

Building Resilience: Remaining Positive in the Face of Adversity

Considering the messages we are faced with on a daily basis from the media about the shape of the world, it’s not surprising that many people are finding it hard to maintain a positive attitude looking forward. Every day new issues are emerging on the horizon of our social, economic, environmental and political landscapes, which can prove overwhelming for individuals or organisations trying to figure out where to focus their efforts. In the case of sustainability or social impact professionals, tackling these issues is all part of a typical day’s work. So, how do you build emotional resilience when you’re constantly faced with adversity?

Optimism is what helps us get out of bed in the morning. I’m sure a large majority of people have heard the cliché “change your thoughts to change your world,” at some point in time – but the value of this statement shouldn’t be dismissed. In fact, changing your internal dialogue not only has the potential to affect your inner reality, but build the foundations for creating positive impact externally.

Hugh van Cuylenburg, founder of The Resilience Project, spent several months volunteering in India’s far north; an experience which would lead him to make a fascinating discovery. Despite the fact that the people in the community had no running water, no beds, no electricity and nothing but a hut to sleep in, they were all incredibly happy.

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Streets of Agra, photo by Unsplash

Paradoxically life in Western society, one with immediate access to almost everything at our fingertips, is increasingly proven to foster loneliness and depression; Hugh citing that 1 in 4 adolescents experience mental health issues.

So, why exactly is there such a stark contrast in wellbeing between these two communities? Postgraduate studies led Hugh to the conclusion that there is a crucial element missing from our modern societies – resilience; the building blocks of which consist of gratitude, empathy and mindfulness.

When it comes to leadership, resilience is a key quality for success, particularly in the sustainability sector. The best leaders know that you cannot change the unchangeable, and that their energy is best directed looking forward in order to improve a current situation, whatever it may be. Shifting away from a negative mindset, even in our personal lives, helps to add value as we begin to look at every instance with the potential for personal growth. A key element to building this resilience is strong internal motivators. When these motivators centre around positive social, environmental or economic outcomes, it becomes possible to start building a better world for ourselves and our children.

While the challenges that we face as a society can bring unmeasurable consequences, the efforts of humanity so far shouldn’t go unnoticed. As Andres Edwards in Thriving Beyond Sustainability notes “the greening of college campuses, the explosion of farmers’ markets and organic foods, the innovative green building standards, the push for renewable energy sources and the new green-collar jobs all point to a new economy.” The collective efforts of those pushing for systemic change is creating a ripple effect, a perfect example of this being the B Corporation Certification Movement –  a non-profit organisation seeking to leverage a business’ positive impact alongside profit.

Ultimately, by taking any anxieties we hold over an uncertain future and shifting them towards a positive and hopeful mindset, humanity can capture the potential to create something better for ourselves. By building resilience, we not only foster the ability to keep moving forward regardless of the challenges, but we can change our own internal realities to lead happier and more motivated lives.

Personal Sustainability: The importance of a healthy work/life balance

Sustainability from a business perspective is focused on making decisions that provide long-term benefit and minimise negative impact. Along a similar vein, our own personal sustainability is also reliant on these choices; making sure that we’re acting with our long-term wellbeing in mind and avoiding settling for short-term ‘trade-offs.’

So, where do we start when it comes to making sure we’re achieving a proper work/life balance?

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An investment in personal wellbeing is an investment in the important aspects of life, particularly those that help us to create the most meaning such as work or relationships. As the saying goes “you can’t pour from an empty cup,” which unfortunately too many of us find ourselves doing in order to keep up with our increasingly busy schedules.

Economically, right now human beings are more productive than in all of history. Yet despite this, rates of suicide, depression and chronic disease are steadily climbing.

It’s becoming apparent that money doesn’t necessarily equal wealth when it comes to our personal lives, and too often wellbeing is measured against financial prosperity. Perhaps what we need now is a shift surrounding ideas of what constitutes a ‘good life.’ A focus on material wealth and corporate success has become the driver for unwise short-term trade-offs like over-working; which in turn leads to further ‘trading off’ of things like our health or valuable personal relationships, as we find we become too time poor to properly maintain them. While such decisions may provide short-term gain in the form of praise or bonuses, the long-term effects on our mental and physical wellbeing can lead to feelings of isolation, resentment and stress. In fact, among the top documented regrets from people at the end of their lives is “I wish I didn’t work so hard,” and “I wish I let myself be happier.” Human beings have a wonderful knack for focusing on the short-term, which can be seen throughout history as quick profit is time and time again placed above caring for the environment, even in the face of catastrophic consequences. If we can learn anything from this, it’s that trade-offs such as these only create more issues, and a real sustainability plan needs to determine if what we’re currently doing is going to bring negative ramifications in the future.

No matter how productive we may be on a particular day, if we do not derive a deep sense of meaning from what we are doing then we may be left feeling shallow and empty. In this sense, it’s important to find time in our lives right now to do the things that help us feel whole. Take some time to reflect on all the ways you make meaning in your life. Whether it’s creating, socialising, reading, cooking or exercising; no matter what it is, it’s important to make sure these activities are getting factored into your schedule every week. Make your happiness sustainable by centring it around fulfilling and enjoyable activities, rather than KPI’s and material objects. If the thing that truly gives you purpose is your line of work, make sure that you’re also setting aside time for self-care as working too much can actually make you less productive – defeating the whole purpose of working hard in the first place!

The most important thing that can be done right now is to take accountability for your own wellbeing. Cut back your work hours, say no to things, or simply take an extra half an hour in the day to go to the gym or prepare a meal. By recognising that there is no destination, that in fact, the journey is the most important part, we can start creating more fulfilling and satisfactory lives.

Landing your first role in Australia

At Talent Nation, we regularly receive enquiries from candidates looking to land their first role in Australia. These may be from individuals looking to transition back into the Australian market after time spent away, or someone who may have already made the move but is finding the employment market hard to break into. Here are our top 5 tips to assist in landing that first role on Australian soil.

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  1. Prepare.
  • Research the roles you are looking for – Does your experience translate to the local market? What are the skill gaps and can they be plugged by short courses?
  • Get your marketing materials in order – Ensure your CV is relevant to the local market and that it is tailored to the role you are applying for.
  • Location- Where is the work? Ideally, find a role before committing to a long-term lease or buying a property.

 

  1. Network.
  • Utilise your personal contacts as word of mouth is invaluable.
  • Leverage LinkedIn, join groups and actively contribute to discussions.
  • Attend relevant conferences and events to your sectors.

 

  1. Know where to look.
  • Search for specialist recruitment firms within your area of expertise, as there are many niche firms working on specialised roles.
  • Sign up to job boards (seek.com.au and au.indeed.com) as well as specialist boards (ethicaljobs.com.au and probonoaustralia.com.au).
  • Explore company websites – Many organisations have internal recruitment teams and will advertise their opportunities online.

 

  1. Gain local experience.
  • Whilst this is very much a catch 22 situation, it is easier to land a job when you have a job. The first role you enter may not be the one you want long-term but will act as a foot in the door for career development.

 

  1. Job application & interview process:
  • CVs and cover letters should be tailored to suit each role.
  • Be sure to do your research on the company that you are targeting, and your interviewers if possible.
  • Behavioural questions are fairly standard so prepare for these. Also, have some questions prepared for your interviewer (but not too many).

 

To provide some additional advice on landing your first role, we spoke to Michael de Soyza at EY who has been through the process and successfully gained employment here in Australia.  Here is some insight into his experience:

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If you would like any more information on any of these points, don’t hesitate to contact us at Talent Nation. You can also access our CV writing guide and interview preparation tips here. 

Talent Nation’s Top Interview Tips

So, you’ve landed an interview for your dream job… now you just need to know how to secure it. Skillset and experience are one thing, but organisations are equally as interested in finding a candidate who will mesh well with their team and culture.

Here are some ‘top tips’ to consider in order to put your best foot forward, allowing you to have a positive interview experience.

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Be prepared and do your research

You’ve probably heard this one over and over again, but it is a crucial element of any successful interview. Information is power! Preparation and research are key to presenting yourself as an informed candidate who has already invested time into the organisation. Preparing yourself also helps to minimise the stress that comes from being put on the spot. A large majority of hiring managers will value someone who has taken the time to understand the background of their organisation.

Be confident

Don’t be shy to discuss significant career achievements, ideally picking examples that demonstrate your ability to problem solve and come up with creative solutions. Practical examples of how you overcome adversity in the workplace give validity to what you’re saying and showcase your ability to work alongside others.

Be honest

Know your strengths and weaknesses and be ready to discuss how they relate back to the position you’re going for. No one is perfect, so admitting a personal or professional skill you want to work on shows you are human and not just talking yourself up for the job.

Have a conversation

Remember, a job interview shouldn’t just be one-sided. Take the opportunity to further understand the scope of the role by asking lots of open, valuable questions and also discuss the vision the business has for the future.

Follow up

If you have not heard about your progress from your recruiter within the specified timeframe (Note: it’s always a great idea to ask about this at the interview) then it would be wrong not to follow up! Quite often the recruitment process is a lengthy one, particularly if the role is one that requires a complex skill set and some of the decisions sit with a board of executives. Knowing where you stand (even if it is still undecided) may relieve some anxiety experienced during the recruitment process. In saying this, there are both appropriate and inappropriate ways to navigate this. A polite phone call and/or email should be fine, so make sure you’re not harassing anyone – that most definitely won’t get you the job!

At Talent Nation we make it our business to ensure that every candidate we put forward is prepared, informed and enthused about the role they are applying for. While interviews can be daunting, they are a necessary process to establish your career potential, showing what you can bring to the table beyond your ‘on paper’ experience.

 

Want more? Click here to understand how the Circular Economy can help us in the shift towards a sustainable future.

Attention: The New Currency

Many would agree that Western societies are immersed in cycles of production and consumption. There is no end to what can be marketed and sold; products, food or even intangible items such as information or ideas – contemporary society demands that everything is a commodity and as such must have a certain value assigned to it. The fact that we’re living in a digital age, coupled with an economy that thrives based on these cycles, the possibilities of what one can buy, eat, hear, see and so on is endless and in many ways exhaustive. The messages we choose to ‘download’ and focus our attention on has pegged human attention as a valuable resource. As businesses compete for visibility in an overcrowded marketplace, the value of collective attention can be considered almost priceless.

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If we consider attention in terms of scarcity, it is perhaps the most valuable market resource of the 21st century. Personally, it’s not often that I find a billboard that I pass on the train, or an obligatory 30-second advert on a YouTube video will resonate with me. I’m sure a lot of people have experienced similar feelings of ‘tuning out’, a perfectly normal response to avoiding sensory overload. While there seems to be no limit to the number of things that can demand our attention, on the flip side we only have so much to give – attention spans decreasing as humans get better and better at filtering the unimportant.

In a marketplace saturated by advertising, it is interesting to watch how profitability and sustainability begin to intersect. Businesses can no longer simply demand consumer attention, but now they must also earn it. A plus side of living in the information era is that there is now increased awareness across environmental and social issues, which has guided consumers to become smarter, more informed and more selective than ever before.

In fact, a study by Nielsen in 2016 showed 66% of respondents were willing to pay more for sustainable goods; a figure that has risen steadily for the past 5 years.

As supply chain transparency increases and brands with questionable practices come under fire, consumer attention is turning to those who are actively working to change their business functions to create positive social impact. Prevalent issues regarding animal cruelty or child labour within industries such as food manufacturing or textiles are being driven through multiple platforms and forums, exposing ethical concerns and bad business practices. This use of technology continues to increase, intuitively interacting with its users and highlighting information, so much so, that it could soon be used to hold people and businesses accountable if they are not adhering to sustainable and nurturing practices.

Perhaps the most empowering realisation is that choice can lie with the individual consumer. As a society, we are moving into a unique position where we can use our collective attention to support brands that are tripling the bottom line. By saving our most valuable resource, our attention, for the companies who are addressing environmental or social issues, we can play our part in pushing for positive systemic change. Digital expert Kevin Kelly states, “when there are millions of options out there, most of which can be found for free, choosing something you really want or better still “being found” is extremely valuable”.

Collaborative Consumption: Are we living in a Shareconomy?

Have you ever used a car-sharing service like Uber or Car Next Door? What about an experience with house swapping by staying in a stranger’s home through sites like Airbnb? Perhaps you have rented a bike to explore a new city, or hired a surfboard to test out your skills on the waves?

These are all common examples of how our economy is shifting towards sharing, as people find it financially beneficial to rent out their idle assets and others see no point in purchasing when it proves inexpensive to hire items as needed.

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Rachel Botsman notes that this form of collaborative consumption is the ‘reinvention of traditional market behaviours.’ The Share Economy fosters relationships between people for the purpose of exchange, powered by new technologies and online platforms. The ‘Peer-to-peer’ model of sharing goods and services is steadily gaining momentum, as individuals realise the benefits of increased flexibility and the opportunity for self-governance.

So, what does this have to do with the sustainability sector? An economy based around sharing decreases negative consumption habits. It paves the way for more sustainable use of underutilised resources with an emphasis placed on access rather than personal ownership. If we take the example of car-sharing, it has been estimated that for every car-share vehicle, car ownership is reduced by 9-13 vehicles*. Just a few benefits of this to our environment include lower production rates, less pollution, less congestion on the roads, lower petrol costs and positive shared experiences.

By allowing people access to ‘more’ while minimising waste, there is a real potential for a shared economy to become a tool for ecological transition.

While there is still undoubtedly many kinks to be ironed out in terms of maximising the positive impact of peer-to-peer lending, the core vision of this system surrounds disrupting the traditional social and economic structures around consumption, which could create a new and exciting pathway towards sustainability.

 

* Reference: Owyang, J Tran, C & Silva, C 2013 ‘A Market Definition Report: The Collaborative Economy,’ Altimeter Research

How to Make Difficult Decisions with Empathy

Life is full of difficult decisions and a career in recruitment certainly provides no exception. As an organisation that maintains focus on specialist areas where we can maximise our positive impact, Talent Nation is often dealing with decisions that are particularly hard to make. Defining who we are and who we want to be has allowed us to develop a framework on how we can act empathetically and stay true to our values when it comes to the crunch.

A common dilemma we find ourselves in is deciding which organisations we can work with. We take pride in having strong moral and ethical standpoints and we look to engage with clients that reflect this in their own business and people as we do. It may also be that by recruiting the best person for the role they require, we will aid their sustainability journey by helping them to build impact from within their organisation.

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There is a wonderful quote by Marie Poulin that says,

“You will be defined more by the clients you turn down than those you work with.”

This rings particularly true in the ‘for purpose’ space, as every role undertaken is done so with our B Corp certification commitments in mind. This means we must consider the environmental, social and economic impacts of our actions. It is unfortunately too easy in the recruitment industry and especially in a small business, to get weighed down by ‘short-termism’; in other words, making decisions based on the general short-term profits of a business. After all, there is a need to generate enough revenue to pay salaries, overheads, continue to do pro bono work and invest more into the progression of the business. While it can be stressful at times, it is important to have the ability to maintain a long-term view of profit which includes building a sustainable business with sustainable relationships and if need be, sacrificing the short-term comforts for long-term value.

A general framework we practice at Talent Nation emerged from our Managing Directors involvement with the Centre for Sustainability Leadership’s Future Leaders Program. We acknowledge the need to consider how we generate revenue for the business, but also reflect upon what positive interactions can take place between us, our clients and candidates. How the work we do affects our reputation is very important to us and we want to leave a lasting impact from the work we commit to for all the business’, the people involved and of course the planet.

As an industry that is all about people, it’s extremely valuable to be able to run a hiring process that is, at its core, human.

For us, this means having mutual respect and acting with empathy when dealing with candidates – putting ourselves in the shoes of those who will be affected by our decisions. If a candidate is not quite the right fit for our client then no one wins. When dealing with high impact and for-purpose roles, we are mindful of how we can maximise our efforts toward positive impact by placing someone with the skillset, cultural awareness and impressive history so they are fit to go above and beyond what is expected.

At Talent Nation, our core values underpin everything we do. We have had to walk away from taking on roles that compromise these values and this has taken much consideration and been particularly difficult for us. We are often having hard conversations with candidates who may have just missed the mark, as we try to support them through their disappointment. Overall, our goal is to communicate and have meaningful interactions whilst staying true to our values. Our mission, despite the industry’s hardships, is to make the recruitment process as positive as we can so that amazing possibilities are fulfilled for the good of our future planet.