Recruiting for membership bodies: (4) the process for specialist roles

Susie Schofield writes: At FJ Wilson Talent Services (FJWTS) we work closely with professional membership organisations, awarding bodies, and learning providers. In the process, we have been fortunate to gain a number of insights into talent acquisition and management in these sectors.

In the fourth part of the series, we interview Adam Harper, Director of Strategy and Professional Standards, and Adam Williamson, Head of Professional Standards about their experience of being an FJWTS client.

Adam Harper

 

The hiring manager: Adam Harper, Director of Strategy and Professional Standards, AAT

Experience of FJWTS

Adam has used FJWTS to recruit staff for several years, using both FJWTS’s head-hunting service for senior management positions as well the standard recruitment service for more junior ones.

His first contact with FJWTS was via an hour-long telephone interview with Fiona [Wilson] which he found ‘massively reassuring’.

Adam went away ‘very confident that Fiona understood what knowledge, skills and expertise I was looking for’. They also spent time considering the cultural and team aspects of AAT which needed to be considered in appointing members of staff.

For a senior management position, FJWTS conducted a candidate-search and Adam was given regular updates. FJWTS met each of the candidates to discuss the role. ‘Ultimately, a long list was presented’ and candidates were listed on a grid on which they were graded for each criterion of the person specification.

Whilst FJWTS and Adam’s views ‘largely’ agreed, there were a couple of candidates who Adam would not have selected from their written application but FJWTS could justify because the team had met the candidate concerned. Adam said ‘it was a completely collaborative process’.

FJWTS nominated ‘a great cross-section of candidates’. ‘Every candidate presented well’ and Adam was impressed that FJWTS gave him feedback from the candidates on how the process went for them.

How does FJWTS compare with other agencies?

Adam has used recruitment agencies before and, in terms of how his experience of other agencies compared with FJWTS, Adam said ‘I would go as far to say the level of service offered by FJWTS is considerably enhanced’, adding, ‘it was significantly better than anything I’d experienced before’.

Adam said that the positive experience of using FJWTS ‘reflects well on us as an organisation – if the candidates have had a similarly positive experience it bodes well for all parties. As an employer you want your organisation to be right for the candidate’s career.’

Would Adam recommend FJWTS?

‘Absolutely… Ultimately, the experience was extremely positive.’ Adam wishes to reinforce that ‘I can’t have anticipated [the recruitment] to have worked as well as it did… I’m really happy.’ Working with FJWTS was ‘unlike any recruitment process exercise’ Adam has encountered. ‘Fiona gave me a lot of confidence in that she understood what it was I was looking for. There was no disconnect’.

All the candidates presented by FJWTS were ‘clearly very strong candidates who met expectations and exceeded them’.

 

Adam Wiliamson

The candidate: Adam Williamson, now Head of Professional Standards, AAT

Adam Williamson was recruited to AAT by FJWTS. He had spent 17 years at RIBA, latterly as its Head of Professional Standards.

Adam recommended that his director at RIBA invite FJWTS to recruit his replacement, which she did. FJWTS were successful in recruiting his replacement.

Experience of FJWTS

Whilst Adam was not actively seeking a new job, he had been keeping an eye out for any interesting opportunities. Fiona first contacted Adam via LinkedIn about the role at AAT and sent him the job description for him to consider.

Fiona ‘strikes you as someone who knows absolutely what she is talking about’. Adam added that it was ‘very clear Fiona understood the organisation and what they were looking for’. Fiona and he also had a Skype conversation to go into more detail about the person specification of the job.

Dilly [Clack] then gave him a telephone interview and he found out a few days later that he had been shortlisted for a face-to-face interview. During this time, FJWTS were ‘excellent in keeping me informed and they responded very quickly’ to any queries.

Adam received ‘lots of offers of assistance’ prior to the interview and he spoke to Fiona ‘to go over stuff and to focus on the main points of what [AAT] were looking for’. This ‘was really helpful’ and it helped ‘clarify the issues in mind’. After the interview, Adam spoke to Fiona for a debrief.

Adam quickly found out that he had reached the second round of interviews.

At this point Fiona gave Adam ‘detailed feedback’ on his interview performance from AAT which was, albeit ‘unusual,’ it was ‘hugely helpful and positive’. This allowed him to identify the points they were most interested in and to concentrate on these at the second interview. This gave Adam ‘a positive state of mind’.

After his second interview, Adam had a debrief with Fiona on how it went. He found out from Dilly the next day that he had been successful.

Would you recommend FJWTS?

‘Yes!’

Adam ‘found FJWTS incredibly professional – they take the time to find suitable candidates and they do their homework. My experience is that recruiters put forward whoever is on the list, no matter what. This is a specialist area, so having this piece of work probably meant that FJWTS had similar candidates and this would save RIBA time’.

Adam ‘was very impressed with the way FJWTS went about things’ and he felt that FJWTS ‘would probably bring in someone with experience and he could leave his job in safe hands’.

We asked Adam how he persuaded RIBA to hire FJWTS and he told us that ‘my director was absolutely keen and asked to be put in touch with Fiona. My director realised this is quite a specialist area and that if there is expertise out there we should utilise it’. The position went out to a couple of recruiters. Adam said that ‘my director was very impressed by FJWTS and less impressed by the others’. And FJWTS ‘definitely got decent candidates in’.

Adam identified two key differences with FJWTS as a recruiter:

  1. ‘FJWTS have the knowledge of what they were looking for and who they were working with from an early stage. There were no surprises, everything that Fiona and Dilly said was true.’
  2. ‘The personal nature of the interaction. Very supportive. Very professional but very friendly. Always supportive but without being pushy. They were always quick to respond to queries.’
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