A Special Interview with Tony French, Recruiter with Accenture.
Tony, you are a reputed recruiter in Canada. Was this always your passion? How did you get into recruitment?
I was always interested in Computer Science and Technology as a kid and my father ran a IT Recruitment Firm in downtown Toronto, which is where I often worked during summers and breaks in the school year. I would typically update old candidate files and found out that I enjoyed speaking with candidates and was able to establish rapport with them, I think primarily based on my genuine curiosity in what they were doing. This was in the early 90’s and our clients were going from mainframe to client server environments, and my Dad’s company was going from 3 X 5 Cards and Resumes in a Filing cabinet to a DB 4 system (called Pro-Hunt) on a Novell Network, which we set up ourselves over a weekend. It was a great experience and I was introduced to many new comers to Canada from Europe and Asia. I figured out quickly that I liked being in that brokerage type of role as a Recruiter and having conversations about Technology trends and challenges.
So recruitment I guess is your passion?
On Monday mornings I like to remind myself that somewhere that week a group of people will be celebrating a big win or a milestone achievement and their leadership will gather everyone together to thank and celebrate with them. Often a glass of champagne is raised and somebody will take a few moments to single somebody out as going above and beyond and how that made the celebration possible.
And when that person is somebody I recruited, it’s like witnessing my favorite sports team win a big game. Nothing has really changed in my life, but I’m suddenly energized. But more importantly (at least to me), is that it reminds me of my role in keeping the wheels turning and the lights on. So now when I start a new search I think about that impromptu boardroom celebration in the future, and get to work with that in the back of my mind.
Amazing, so what is your process? How would you generally approach filling up a vacancy?
Once assigned I will schedule an intake call with the stakeholder to gather the requirements, and once we settle on a job posting I get that up and socialize the posting with relevant parties (internal and external) that can refer candidates. While I manage the responses to the posting I source candidates within LinkedIn, starting with my network and candidates local to the location of the requirement and then widening my search as I go. The first step is generating interested candidates that I can screen, rank, short-list and present to the stakeholder making the hire. Once they confirm which candidates they want to put through the assessment process I schedule a Behavioral, Skills Assessment, Case and then finally a Close interview. Offers are made and start dates nailed down. That’s pretty much it. It’s my responsibility to research new terminology, trends etc. in order to be able to speak to them with high-level confidence. I also build my network on an ongoing bases and attend seminars, meet-ups and networking events but those efforts take a while to pay-off.
So as a senior person in Technology involved with sourcing, what do you think the future of Tech recruitment looks like: is it more of the for some more years or a complete shift to newer things – perhaps BlockChain?
I haven’t heard anyone excited about BlockChain recently, but AI is definitely one the bigger growth areas moving forward. Cyber Security is also gaining even more demand, and there is some overlap there. I don’t think we can expect a complete shift though. There are still large companies running critical applications on Legacy systems, so the Consulting and/or Advisory services are critical for road-mapping, prioritizing and figuring out where the real competitive advantages lie. Many of the Stakeholders I support value the ability for candidates to “story tell” when setting goals and milestones etc.
What are your thoughts on Canada being a hotspot for newly migrated skilled workers and what are your experiences with new immigrants trying to find jobs?
Where I work now at Accenture diversity is seen as an absolute necessity to Innovation. You need those different perspectives to create something truly innovative. I noticed this early on in my career as candidates coming from Europe in particular held broad functional positions and contributed through a Software Development Life-cycle (design, coding, QA, support etc.),whereas in Canada there is still a tendency to hire into narrow, specialized functional roles. Global candidates were often accustomed to different management styles as well. But when you got all these different perspectives and experiences on the same team pushing things forward you create a lively dialogue and every single step in the project is really challenged from every possible angle and I believe it helps with the finished product. I believe Canada has greatly benefited from being able to create the working environment where that is celebrated and sought out. Personally, I think automation is a much greater threat to most jobs than candidates migrating to new countries, but the solution to that is re-training as opposed to shutting out that emerging technology. It’s all about adapting in my opinion.
Tell us a little about who you are as a family man
My wife is a SAP Consultant and we have a 10 year daughter who in turn has a dog named ‘Buddy’. We live in the suburbs of Calgary, AB and spend a lot of time together. We go for long walks and play sports together and during this lock-down phase we’ve been finding ways to entertain each other through baking, bbq’s and playing games around the fire pit in our back yard. My daughter creates weekly schedules for herself to ensure that she complete’s her homework and exercises before chatting online with her friends, so she is very self-sufficient and motivated. For my wife and I we value our family over our careers, so that’s always the priority when we’re planning, budgeting and saving. Sharing in that approach keeps it simple.
Beautiful. Do you think the CoVid crisis has changed the equations in hiring and sourcing?
Certainly. People who are gainfully employed are less likely to explore changing employers during these uncertain times while those unemployed are taking a very broad approach to their job search as the options are limited. It takes more time to sort though the available candidates and zero-in on a short list. We would love to move everyone forward, but the headcount we can add is limited, which means we have little success in identifying other roles to consider candidates for and we don’t have the option of hiring anyone for growth anymore as each new hire needs to have their first assignment identified. Messaging has become a real challenge as priorities change quickly and anxieties are running high, understandably, for interested candidates. We have sorted ways to get people started though, by sending the laptop and keeping orientation online, while also keeping it interactive and as fun as possible. I guess we’re all just trying to find ways of making the best of a challenging situation.
So what are your two cents for all those unemployed folks out there who are trying to get in…what should they be doing differently?
It’s a heightened challenge these days for sure. First of all, I think a jobseeker needs to do the soul searching and really identify what they want to do and what sort of work they truly find rewarding, even in these challenging times. The reality is, if a candidate applies for a role that they don’t really want but need a pay-cheque it will come out at some point in the interview process, and you may succeed in getting a few interviews, but ultimately you have wasted your time if you don’t get a job offer. Many assume that you need to submit a standard resume for a high number of openings, but you are better off being selective and tailoring your Resume and Cover Letter for a few openings that really appeal to you. Recruiters do read Cover Letters by the way, just not necessarily in the order people assume. What I mean by that is that we will first check the resume to see if the candidates has the basic qualifications to be considered for the role, and if they do we will then go check the Cover Letter to see how well they link the features of their experience to the requirements of the role, and if they can clearly articulate the benefits they have to offer they will really stand out in the crowd. Otherwise, the opportunities to network during Covid-19 are limited, but let your immediate network know your available and engage in online conversations relevant to your career space, attend online seminars etc. Lastly, it can be a lonely, isolated process at the best of times, so be sure to celebrate the little wins and give yourself regulars breaks from the process to completely focus on something unrelated to your job search so you can maintain optimism and energy.
Thank you so much Tony and good luck from everyone at Technocrat Inc!
Tony French can be reached at :