Red Diamond’s Emma Robinson discusses recruitment post covid on the Business Matters podcast

Recruitment in covid times, diversity moving forwards in the light of #BLM and a new future of work is all discussed in the latest edition of our Business Matters podcast.

Managing Editor Richard Alvin chats to Emma Robinson, founder and managing director of Red Diamond, a UK based exec level headhunting company with global reach, specialising in the middle east, to find out how covid has affected their business and what people can expect moving forwards.

So how has 2020 been for you so far?

Well it’s most certainly been a much slower period. We entered 2020 on fire then in March when businesses slowed down, a lot of clients pressed pause on major hiring mandates.

We all know the negatives by now, so I’m going to ask instead – what positives have emanated in your business in the period of covid?

I think the main one is our ability to be so much more efficient. The interview process can be accelerated due to this technology and a lot of our clients are embracing it now. We’ve deleted the location and travel stress out of the equation and now there’s just more of a feeling of being able to move things along quicker so you can just do more with your day. That said I’ve had to regulate my working hours because I found that I was answering calls at 7am and 7pm as opposed to switching the work phone off which I would do by leaving the office.

Have you had employers changing the job specifications for the roles instead of requiring attendance at their desk 9-5?

Yes in some aspects. People aren’t aren’t having to commute so employers are actually gaining a couple of extra hours of work from people, which can raise bottom lines. We’re still very meeting orientated over here, and I know that no one can take away human interaction, it’s really important however it’s not always necessary. We’ve just got so used to doing it we haven’t questioned it until now.

With regards to the recent movement in #BLM have you found employers embrace the campaign and diversity generally?

I’ve generally found that my clients are culturally sensitive anyway and they naturally want this reflected in their businesses. I think there needs to be a lot more education surrounding diversity to help people really understand it as it’s not simply focused on one thing.

You’re dealing with companies on a global basis, do you think the UK is behind or in the middle somewhere in its approach?

I don’t think the UK is behind. Take, for example, an emerging market, it’s full of expats and they can have travelled from India, the US, the UK – anywhere really, the only way to fill up the business hub is to broaden out worldwide to find your people, whereas in the UK we’re lucky because we have a real diversity of culture here. However it still comes down to the individual company’s recruitment strategy of how far afield they’re prepared to search for candidates. If they want to hire people from a local area and they’re based, for example, in a largely asian community those levels will be higher compared to a predominantly white part of town. Part of the recruitment process is logistics which dictates where you’re going to find people.

Is it more the case that new emerging markets will cast their net further and expect people to relocate for work?

Yes absolutely. From everyone that I speak to, there seems to be the assumption that it’s really complicated to get someone the right kind of paperwork or visa to work here, however the systems have been broken down a lot over the years and there are a lot of companies out there who can process this relatively inexpensively.

One area that we keep hearing about in the UK is innovation within technology, how would you drive this forwards?

We need to bring in people from other cultures that are far more advanced than we are over here to help complement our knowledge of engineering and science, technology. We need to skill-share. Because we’re so worried about paperwork and fees surrounding it it’s putting people off but actually to innovate we need to invest in the right people. And of course, just by doing that, the diversity issue actually becomes less of an issue. 

To ensure that people are getting hired on their merit and especially to anyone who’s been made redundant from covid over the past few months, what piece of advice would you give to a job seeker right now?

A good CV – it’s a sales document. Be concise, tell people what you do and don’t try and to be too clever. You don’t win any brownie points for confessing to love Michelle Obama’s books. Get to the point and make sure that you mention why you’re valuable. Senior management roles are often told not to go over two pages, if it’s crucial information and relevant then don’t worry about three pages. It’s not the end of the world. A good online presence is really important. Try googling yourself – what do your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles look like? If your opinions on twitter are less than salubrious, take them down. What do you want people to think of you? Do a self assessment online and maybe ask someone to cast their opinion over you as well, then refine what you see based on feedback.

Listen to our weekly podcast for Emma’s full interview, and make sure you hit subscribe so you don’t miss a golden nugget of business advice from future releases within our series.

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