Our GM Brisbane, Greg Byrne, recently celebrated 25 years with Beilby Downing Teal. A fantastic accomplishment and one you rarely see these days.
We took some time to chat with Greg and find out how the recruitment scene has changed since he started in the 1990s.
When did you first start in recruitment?
My first role in recruitment was with BDT (then Downing Teal) in January of 1996. I was previously employed in the engineering construction industry working in business development roles. I was looking for something different and one of the previous owners of Downing Teal convinced me to give recruitment a try. At the time I thought I’d give it a go for a few years then go back into mainstream engineering………
How was the recruitment process different?
Our advertisements were all placed in print media. We would use the Courier Mail career supplement every Saturday morning which was a 30-50 pages lift out and The Weekend Australian. It had a smaller lift out but had a strong engineering section and national coverage.
Computers were a staple part of business by then and DT had a strong mining and construction database, so that was often used to find candidates.
We were still very reliant on paperwork though. Candidates would walk in and drop off paper copies of resumes or send them by fax and mail.
Each office had a very large compactus which contained a file on every candidate. The work was very admin heavy with one administrator to every two consultants. Very different to these days where most administration is automated and completed by the recruiters.
Suitable candidates would typically come into the office for a face to face interview with the recruiting consultant. On arrival, they would fill out a four-page registration form and have their photo taken. This was added to their paperwork so you could remember them when you went back to the file.
We would personally hand sign thank you for your application and sorry you were unsuccessful letters to every candidate. Sometimes you would have a stack of 50+ letters to sign and mail.
What were the popular jobs?
Construction roles; we placed a lot of project and construction managers on major construction projects.
Coal was booming in Qld and mining engineers were always in demand.
Most jobs would get around 20-30 candidates’ and typically all male. There was little diversity in roles in my early recruitment career.
What roles do you see less of since the ’90s?
Many clients were implementing Quality Assurance systems, so QA specialists were in demand. These roles as well as other specialist support roles have now been absorbed into broader functional support roles. The classic office administrator roles have also become multifunctional support roles in most businesses.
What has been the biggest change in the industry?
There was a significant shift with the introduction of online job boards and social media. These resources allowed employers and internal teams to be more effective in recruitment. Very few clients had internal recruitment teams previously. They would have HR teams who typically did not enjoy recruitment so would engage external providers.
The increased utilization of the internet and the introduction of LinkedIn lowered the barriers of entry into the recruitment field and boosted the level of competition in the industry. Lots of individuals started opening their own agencies, driving the price of transactional recruitment down.
This shift changed our strategy to executive search. We focussed on developing our consultants’ skills, employed dedicated researchers and increased the integrity of our database, concentrating on quality rather than quantity.
What about business in general how has that changed?
Everything was a lot more formal. There was no working from home and little flexibility around working hours. Everyone wore a suit and tie to the office, and you wore your coat jacket for every meeting. Coffee shop catch ups did not happen. It was all done in meeting rooms and clients offices.
Client entertainment has changed a lot too. You would often take clients out for a meal or to a sporting event. These days many clients are not permitted by their employers to accept entertainment or gifts.
Any stand out memorable clients or candidates?
“Laughs” there have been few characters over the years. My first placement was an ex-Police SWAT team leader who had some interesting stories. I also interviewed an ex Mossad agent for the same role. One interview I will not forget was for an engineering role where I asked the candidate why three years was missing from his work history and he replied that he had been in jail as a political prisoner during that period. Helps you keep things in perspective!
Thanks Greg for a great look back at the industry and a reminder of how far we have come. Thanks for all your efforts with Beilby Downing Teal over the years. We look forward to many more.