So you wanna be a… Early Careers Recruiter

Looking for a TA career change but not too sure how to get there? Our ‘So you wanna be a…‘ series takes a look at some of the more niche TA roles and digs deep into the who, how, and why behind them. We chat with some of your favourite TA leaders in that space to find out how they got started, what their role really looks like, and what tips and tricks they have for other TA superstars looking to get a foot in the door.

In this issue, we sat down with Amanda Duval, Early Careers Manager @ Thales, to find out what really goes on in the life of a Talent Advisor.

How does being a grad/early careers recruiter differ from working in a standard TA role? Are there different skills or insights you need to bring to your role?

I’ve been lucky enough to work in standard TA roles and also the early careers space! Let me tell you, early careers is something special! From all the TA gigs I think it can be one of the most rewarding, there is nothing quite like finding someone the first role in their career. In terms of skill set being a grad recruiter is most akin to being a volume recruiter. You’re working on large scale campaigns to a mass audience as opposed to targeted approaches. This makes the skills set slightly different. You spend a lot of time being a project manager to fit huge scale recruitment drives into short times. Your coordination skills need to be second to none!

What are some of the biggest blockers/challenges you come across in your everyday work?

Budget and approvals! Probably no different from anyone else. It’s always a mad rush to get requisitions approved in time for the graduate and intern recruitment seasons.

A difficult area to gain budget for can be the primary and high school out reach. Whilst there is no immediate ROI its important to have your brand visible to these age groups as this is when career decisions are being made. Trying to convince stakeholders we need to put resources and money towards someone that won’t join your organisation for 5-10 years can be hard!

What do you love most about your job?

Its fun and feels less serious than experienced hire recruitment. I love getting to know the graduates and seeing them develop and grow in the company! It’s always a bit of a proud mum moment when a graduate gets promoted or is showcased for leading a new initiative.

I also love being well connected in the business. Most of our TA specialists work for a single business unit, whereas I get the opportunity to work with all the Thales business units. Getting to visit our 30+ sites and getting to know our employees is really rewarding for me.

Grad recruiting can be quite a “peaks and troughs” workload. How do you manage workloads in the busy time, and how do you make the most of your downtime?

It’s very interesting as the graduate market has changed drastically over the last couple of years. I am sure many would say the peaks and troughs are evening out. These days some larger companies have rolling recruitment open a majority of the year to deal with offer declines and to ensure programs are filled!

We still go to market at the traditional time (Feb/March) which means we deal with peak recruitment season. Whilst I would love to say I have downtime the rest of the year it doesn’t really look like that! As my role is not only recruitment focused but managing all early talent programmes the remainder of the year for me is spent focusing on learning and development, graduate engagement, internship and apprentice recruitment and STEM outreach to school students!

What kind of working relationship do you have with the rest of the TA/HR team? What about your working relationship with the wider organisation?

My role sits as part of the TA Leadership team at Thales. I have a great working relationship with our TA partners and when it hits peak season they all jump in to give me a hand! I often contribute to wider TA projects which I absolutely love as it fulfils my need to stay in touch with all aspects of recruitment.

Working in early careers you really have the opportunity to make a name for yourself. I have found that doing a great job on graduate or intern hires usually gets people talking. Before you know it, you have colleagues coming from everywhere asking for resources. Because grads and interns can make such an impact at a low cost its often a great fix for hard to fill talent gaps. Over the years I’ve enjoyed getting to know a wide range of stakeholders. Working in a single business unit wouldn’t have allowed me to get to know a business on such a deep level! It’s a pretty unique opportunity when you think about it!

What type of qualities do you think make a good grad/early careers recruiter?

There are probably two sides to this. One is your project management skills. Ensuring you are extremely organised, coordinating more activities than you can imagine and doing it all at a very fast pace!

The second is the people aspect. Like with any recruitment role you need to be a strong communicator and have a knack for reading people. Graduate recruitment especially is all about willingness to learn and attitude. You need to be able to differentiate those that can talk the talk from those that actually want to walk the talk!

The last two years have been tough for anyone working in the talent acquisition space. How has a global pandemic, frequent lockdowns, and a move towards people wanting more hybrid work options impacted what you do?

There is no doubt lockdowns and a working from home model hurt a lot of graduate programs. Graduates are essentially in a learning capacity for the entirety of their program. Taking this to an online environment comes with its challenges. Engagement through this time was rough, as it was for many employees regardless of your role type. We are personally still trying to get the formal learning mix right between online and in person, both have their benefits, it’s just about ensuring the right learning topic is delivered in the correct format!

What is very interesting is that a majority of graduates I’ve interviewed this year are more inclined to want to work in the office. They see the value of informal learning from others and being able to bond in person with their team. I think a lot of recent graduates had online internships and the experience was not what they expected, hence the shift to be back in person.

Amanda’s Cheat Sheet for Aspiring Early Careers Recruiters

What are some of the actionable things you can do if you want to be an Early Careers Recruiter? Here are some suggestions from Amanda of who to follow, what to use, and where to seek out your info.

Industry experts and influencers to follow

I keep up with Hung Lee and Recruiting BrainfoodMargie Hartley also has a great podcast called Fast Track you should check out. 

Absolute must-use productivity and tech tools to make your life so much easier

Ummmm I sometimes write my shopping list in the notes section on my phone. That’s about as technical as I get?! 😊

Newsletter and event recommendations to keep the brain ticking over and your network fresh?

There are so many great groups on Facebook and LinkedIn these days that either have great online content or in person events. I keep up with Grad Hero Hub for Early Careers (shout out to Kelly Pfeffer), Rubberband, Melbourne Recruitment Meetup and ATC of course!

Is there a specific niche area of recruitment you’d like to know more about. Email us and let us know.

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