Alison Jones: Reflections and Learnings from a 35 Year Recruitment Career
Alison Jones, Operations Director at SRG provides her perspective on forging a lasting, and successful career in recruitment, and reflects on key insights and learnings.
Read on to learn more about Alison’s journey, as she reveals expert advice on creating an evergreen recruitment strategy and assessing your next recruitment partner.
How did you start out in recruitment?
Like many others in recruitment, I fell into the industry. I was never academically inclined and left education at 16 to start work. After a few months on an apprenticeship, I gained the commercial skills and workplace qualifications I needed to feel confident in applying for permanent roles.
By this time, I was 17 and my focus was on working in a people-oriented position. I applied for a permanent role as an HR assistant, not realising it was through an agency. When I arrived for my face-to-face meeting, the role had already been filled; but they said they were impressed and asked whether I would like to work for them in sales... the rest is history.
Up until 2013 I worked across the general recruitment sector, until I took a role in an engineering search business out a motivation to specialise in a specific sector. While the company was misaligned for me from a values perspective, it paved my way in STEM recruitment through to SRG, where I was appointed as an Operational Leader almost 10 years ago.
What are some of your biggest achievements from the last 35 years in recruitment?
Goodness me, there’s been a few… but seeing my teams flourish is probably the thing that gives me the most pleasure.
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve taken a team from infancy to being a much larger and high performing unit. Some of my current mangers joined me with little to no experience in recruitment and are now considered industry experts and have large teams of their own. Seeing a career develop that way is a huge buzz for me.
I’m also pleased to have made a seamless transition from generalist recruitment to STEM winning Manager of the year in my first full year in STEM back in 2015.
I also find being able to contribute to the wider scientific industry very fulfilling. Seeing our new partners grow with talent we place and make advancements to improve lives or engineer new products is so significant and feels like a real achievement.
What are some of your most significant learnings from your time in recruitment?
From a leadership perspective I work for my team, not the other way round. My role is to support them to be the best they can be. Their role is to support their teams the same way. Your people come first, do right by them, they look after your customers and everyone wins.
All voices have value, and it’s important to make time for quieter team members to contribute. Some of the best ideas I’ve heard are from people who are perceived to be quieter in meetings. Make space for those people to contribute.
It’s integral to listen to your newcomers. New starters come into a business without any conventions and can offer brilliant observations and ideas to transform processes and make things more efficient.
Most significantly, put the candidate at the heart of everything that you do - this crucial to the whole recruitment process.
Do you have any evergreen recruitment advice for the current recruitment climate?
In my experience, recruiters who build lasting meaningful relationships with candidates and customers never have to cold call. The candidate journey is everything – without a loyal candidate base we have no product and nothing to offer our partners.
Establishing those relationships with candidates, and clients alike can offer a solid foundation for a sustainable recruitment strategy and accelerate results.
On a similar note, showing empathy is another essential technique. Listening to both partners, and candidates, responding to people in a timely way and doing what you say you’re going to do is critical to establishing trust in business. Remember there’s a person or people with their own hopes and dreams at the heart of everything we do.
What questions would recommend asking a recruitment partner, before investing?
Some key questions I would ask any recruitment partner based on my expertise in the field would be:
- How do you engage with candidates and what is the candidate journey?
- Can you provide case studies and evidence of relevant sector experience along with customer testimonials?
- How well do they understand your business?
- What are their fill statistics in the roles you’re looking to hire?
- What value added services do they offer?
- What market insights can they provide?
- When was the last time they sought and applied feedback from their own teams?
Find out more about working with SRG
At SRG, our data-driven approach to recruitment means we offer measurable and impactful recruitment outcomes for businesses across STEM.
As a specialist recruitment organisation operating across the wider STEM industries, we have the expertise and flexibility to provide strategic and bespoke solutions to effectively streamline and optimise how our clients hire by powering solutions like:
- MSP and contingent recruitment
- RPO and permanent recruitment
- Executive and technical hiring services
- Bespoke solutions
- Consultancy recruitment services
About the author: Alison joined SRG in 2014 as an operational leader, having worked in Impellam since 2008. Building on an already outstanding career, in 2020 she became Director for UK Chemicals, UK Managed Delivery, Northern Life Science and Scotland.
A total of 35 years industry experience has honed her skill and drive to offer customers the very best service. This is coupled with 25 years spent developing high performing teams to become award winning leaders in their field, something which remains at the heart of Alison’s position. Click here to connect with Alison on LinkedIn.
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