Why candidate care should top the innovation wishlist

Why Bridget Cooksley, Principal Adviser Recruitment with the Department of Corrections and 2017 SARA judge is focused on uncovering innovative candidate care solutions.

It’s a tough world in agency land and innovation is the way forward, says SEEK Annual Recruitment Awards (SARA) judge Bridget Cooksley. It doesn’t mean the death of agency recruiters. Rather innovation can streamline the industry.

“A lot of that innovation is around technology and using technology for sourcing,” says Cooksley, Principal Adviser Recruitment with the Department of Corrections. “If we think about the reasons organisations engage with outside agencies it is because they can source talent in vertical (professions) that we would have not identified. That means having a good database of people with specific skill sets.”

Innovation is particularly important for agencies that source government candidates, says Cooksley. The All-of-Government (AoG) solution for the supply of External Recruitment Service has driven down fees in New Zealand and agencies need to streamline their processes.

The customer is the client for agencies, says Cooksley. Yet the best recruiters understand that candidate care is essential to meet the client’s needs. Back in her early agency days Cooksley remembers landing a plum client at TVNZ. He didn’t offer the contract to the recruiter who had found him the position because of the way he had been treated as a candidate. He wanted an agency that offered better service.

“I will also be really interested to see the value proposition the recruitment agencies are putting forward,” adds Cooksley. “Why do they think they are head and shoulders (above) or different from their competitors? I am hoping that it is around professionalism, innovation and client and candidate care.”

From agency to in-house

With 25 years’ experience in agency and in-house environments Cooksley knows what it takes to lead an award-winning team. Cooksley has oversight of national recruitment processes and procedures and leads a high-performing team delivering recruitment solutions within the National Office.

The department employs around 8,500 staff members in roles ranging from frontline officers to psychologists, probation officers, community work supervisors, nurses and administrative staff.

“Corrections offers great career development; internal promotions and secondments make up for around 50% of all recruitment,” she says.

A dynamic environment

Recruitment for Corrections is a challenge that requires innovation. It can take months to source and train staff members, which means the team takes a proactive approach to recruiting, including setting up what is in effect an internal agency.

Some of the programs instituted under Cooksley’s watch including TV2’s Just the Job show. It gave careers at Corrections wide exposure and a DVD of the show was distributed to careers advisers in all secondary schools. “The Department is increasingly using social media to connect with people who wouldn’t automatically have thought about a career with us.”

Why client relationships are key

Having worked in agency for half of her career, Cooksley is well aware of the pressures agency recruiters face and how the client relationship works best. “I understand the nuances of that relationship and how to get the best out of it. Having a good partnership with your recruiter means we get a better outcome,” she says.

In agency Cooksley earned a reputation for building honest and transparent relationships with clients. It won business, turned relationships around and she was never afraid to withdraw a candidate if she found out something about them during a recruitment process that made her think they weren’t suitable for a role.

In recent years she has spoken at the RHub recruitment conference and sits on the on the AoG Client Advisory Group.

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Diana Clement

Freelance journalist Diana Clement specialises in writing careers, business, personal finance, investment and related topics such as savvy spending. Over the past decade Diana has written for the New Zealand Herald, as well as personal finance and...

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