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Having worked in the field of recruitment for over 15 years, Gemma McCartney, Director with Capstone Hill Search London office, is a seasoned recruiter. Considering her extensive experience, we decided to ask Gemma a few questions about her thoughts on the world of recruitment. In our conversation, Gemma offered some insights for both clients and candidates looking to work with recruiters.

Q: What was your previous background before beginning a career in recruitment?

A: I’ve always been in recruitment. I got my start in recruiting at boutique recruiter, then moved client-side working with consultancies that specialised in PR and communications like Golin, FutureBrand, and Weber Shandwick. I’ve now returned to consultancy with Capstone Hill  Search and work with a very broad spectrum of clients.

Q: What drew you to recruiting in the first place? Had you always thought of recruiting as a possible career for you?

A: I’ve always been fascinated by people and had a drive to help people become the best version of themselves; which recruitment allows me to do. Also, because I have always been fascinated by psychology, specifically, the difference between what people say and what they mean, as well as what they think they want and what they actually need, recruitment has been a great fit for me, and a natural career option.

Q: What has been the hardest thing about working as a recruiter?

A: Recruitment is unlike many other businesses, the product is people, and behaviour can be very hard to predict. You can do everything right; you can do all of your research and be incredibly diligent, yet unexpected things can happen with people that you can’t always plan for or predict. That can be the hardest part about recruitment, however experience counts for a great deal, as does a genuine interest in psychology and human behaviour.  I am far better able to read and predict behaviour now than when I started, and passing on those insights within our team as well as both clients and candidates is an element of my role that I really enjoy.

Q: Do you have any advice for anyone looking to work with a recruiter for the first time, either a client or a candidate?

A: For candidates, my biggest piece of advice is to be honest and be willing to take feedback and guidance from a recruiter, especially if they have a lot of experience. Use your recruiter’s experience and expertise to your competitive advantage. You should have ideas of what you’re looking for but also have your recruiter give you ideas and be open to those. They have a wealth of knowledge and experience that can be very helpful to you.

Similarly for clients, I would encourage them to truly partner with their recruiters, be open and honest about your business, share as much insight as you can, they will be your advocates so the better informed they are the better they will deliver.  Equally do not select a recruiting partner on price, this is a false economy, particularly if people are your core asset. You get what you pay – the focus should be on the consultancy with integrity, professionalism and knowledge,  this will deliver you the best people and ultimately have the best impact on your bottom line.

Q: Why do you think working with a recruiter gives a client an advantage in the hiring process? And what about for a candidate looking to make a career move?

A: On the client side, as mentioned, recruiters can be an exceptionally powerful and independent advocate for your business.  Specialists such as ourselves are providing advice on a daily basis to your talent pool, the better respected that recruiter, the more impact their advocacy.  This makes the difference between filling a role with someone exceptional rather than simply capable.  Equally recruiters can, and should, provide consultancy on the state of the talent market, shaping your approach, positioning and ultimately your success.  Not to mention the extensive networks and reach to identify and secure the best talent.

For candidates, the product is the same, strong recruiters can act as their mentors and advocates, firstly advising on, then identifying and securing the roles that will best evolve their careers and fulfil their ambitions.  Again, the market knowledge that an experienced recruiter can offer, is invaluable. This should inform and educate candidates to best identify their options and future direction.