Advice for Young People Who Want to Become Recruiters – With Bernt Shindler | Anwar Khalil

This week I sat down with Bernt Schindler to pick his brain in regards to his best advice for young talent looking to become recruiters. Bernt has decades of experience in recruitment, holding positions such as the Head of Talent Acquisition at leading companies such as IBM and Graincorp. Here are our insights.

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What Advice can you Give to Young People That Want to Join the Recruitment Industry?


I think personality is critical in recruitment. It’s what people remember, and it’s what people want to work with – it’s what stakeholders like to work with. I think that, especially for young people getting into the game now, they’re using far more of their personality.

It’s something that’s coming through – the new generation naturally likes to be themselves. Which I think is amazing! I love that about the new generation. Whereas, if you look at our generation, we mostly all felt we had to ‘be’ a certain way. We lost a lot of our personality by doing that. 

Some stubborn people throughout that period pushed through, made a name for themselves, and found themselves very, very successful. However, I think to make sure that your real personality come through is the best way to go. That advice applies to almost all industries, but it’s especially true in recruitment. It’s a human services business, you’re working with humans. Be yourself and bring yourself out to the party.


It’s More Acceptable to be Yourself!

That’s an excellent point, you’re right. It is more acceptable, more refreshing to be yourself now. So the new generation is lucky in the sense that they can do it without repercussion, or at least as much resistance.

You should be, and in addition to that, there’s a lot more focus on leaders being leaders. For so many years we accepted that your ‘boss is your boss.’ It was certainly something we saw as a bit of a negative thing. You should expect your leader to be excellent and to treat you well. Better yet, they’ll want to bring that great personality out from within you. If they’re not, they’re not the right leader for you. So my real point here is if I’m going to give people advice, to find the right leader and learn from them. It will go very far in developing your success in the recruitment industry!

As a Head of Talent, is Protecting Your Team-Members a Good Thing?

Bernt, I’ve known you for quite a while, and one thing that I always remember about you when it comes to professional life is the way you were such an incredible defender, or protector, of your team members. As a recruitment manager or Head of Talent who could be listening to this, is that a good thing? I know you do it and believe in it, but is it necessarily a good thing – if so, why?

100%! Think about it this way; a recruitment team is on the front line that represents your business to talent out there in the market – yes? What are the implications if that recruitment team is not engaged or does not feel positive about the area that they’re working? Maybe they don’t feel supported, or they don’t feel like they’ve got a stable career path. 

So, here’s one of the cultures I always try and build. Whether I’m successful or not, you’d have to ask my staff! Primarily that I try to do it reverse-engineer careers for them. In our one on one’s, we discuss the ‘where do you want to go to?’ question. It could be inside of the current company, or it could be outside of the company, let’s be realistic! 


protect team

What Other Questions Should You Ask?

Even if it’s outside of the current company, I always want to know what we can do to get you to where you want to be, what: 

  • Do we need to reverse engineer?
  • Steps do we need to take?
  • Exposure do we need to give you
  • Experience to get you there
  • Training can we give you within the business to get to that goal? 

All of this builds up engagement and purpose

Recruiters are also Employees!

People forget about that recruiters, and HR itself, are also employees of the company! Typically people may think of recruiters as a separate role and function. While this is true, they are also employees. They’re HR professionals!

In addition to that point, they’re also blamed a lot of the time – beaten red and bruised. For a successful recruitment team, I believe:

Number One: they have to be engaged. 

Number Two: more important than number one, I want to go home at the end of the day and know that my people are enjoying being at work. I wouldn’t want to be at a place that I don’t enjoy. I don’t want my team to feel that way either. Certainly, I want them to be happy, and I want them to enjoy what they’re doing. I would much rather laugh with people in my team than getting caught up in this, ‘we’re all in this negative space’ or anything of that nature. 

Number Three: defending your team is so significant because it can be a tough job. These internal teams get batted and bruised around – they do get treated like crap some of the time. They need defending sometimes. There are reasons they might not be getting the work done – it’s not necessarily they’re not doing the work. Either they’re understaffed – a lot of talent functions are underfunded – or there’s another not insignificant issue. They need that defence.

To your defence, now that I’m thinking about it, I was a bit naive. I mean want difference does it make whether you lead a recruitment team or any other team? It’s across the entire boardroom. It’s almost like people forget ‘recruitment people’ are also part of the company. You tend to think that recruiters as not employees, that’s from where it possibly stems. It’s naive and a wrong way to think about it. So it makes sense what you’re saying.

Missed Part 1 with Bernt Schindler? Read it here: What Makes a GOOD Recruiter

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