Life as a Corporate Recruiter: Q & A with Robert Pitman

Robert Pitman is a Corporate Recruiter at Robarts Clinical Trials in London, Canada and is responsible for overseeing all recruitment activities for the London, San Diego, and Amsterdam offices.  Below he shares info about what he does, what he loves about it, and the path he took to get there…and some pro tips!

What’s great about my work?  Being a Recruiter allows me to have conversations with new people every day. From every interview or pre-screen I learn something about other jobs, companies, and so on. Also, being a Recruiter allows me to use my observational and active listening skills to make an assessment of whether an individual will be a good fit for the job and the organization. I feel very lucky to be in a position to help people realize their potential.

A typical day?  Lots happens!  Gathering and sharing information, screening applications received over the last 24 hours.  For the long-listed candidates, pre-screen phone interviews are scheduled.  Usually, I conduct 1-3 interviews a day either in person or via Skype.  I send pre-screen interview notes to hiring managers for review, book corresponding future interviews, share job postings on LinkedIn, conduct headhunting activities using LinkedIn and over the phone.  I check industry news sites for any happenings in the world of CROs (Contract Research Organizations). I update recruitment metrics, review the status of current initiatives and perform “after care” – checking in on new employees that recently started in their positions.  And I create a plan for the next day…

An unusual day?   Unusual days might involve one (or several!) of the following:  brainstorming new recruitment initiatives, scouting pipeline candidates for future opportunities, conducting benchmarking or searching for information about competitors, attending a networking event, reviewing employee selection interventions, researching new talent acquisition tactics….there is always something new to learn!

Coolest thing about my job?  Currently, I am responsible for all of our vacancies which span Canada, the US, and the Netherlands. Having global responsibility is quite exciting as it has added a new layer of complexity to the recruitment process. There are nuances to each market and candidates often have different experiences and values. Another great aspect of my role is that I get the opportunities to hear other peoples’ “work stories”!

How did I get here?  During my first year at Western University, I applied for a summer job through the Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEPRP).  I was lucky enough to be selected for a position with Human Resources & Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) and I held this position for 3 years, including during the school year. I had various mandates but the general mission involved helping youth (age 15-30) to find employment.  I really enjoyed this and ended up taking a number of classes related to Industrial/ Organizational Psychology at Western. I found Dr. Allen’s class one of the most interesting and practical in my time at Western.

One of the employees I managed while at HRSDC turned out to be a networking guru. We kept in touch over the years and he introduced me to the internal recruiter at Hays Specialist Recruitment in Toronto. I went through a number of interviews- including an Assessment Centre -  and was selected to become an agency Recruitment Consultant for the pharmaceutical industry. Agency recruitment definitely had its challenges, but I managed to build a solid base of clients and worked for three years with Hays, placing over 40 candidates and billing over $650,000.  Contingency recruitment – as this is called – can be very unpredictable.  In addition, as a consultant you can feel like the work is quite transactional.   

So, after three years, I decided to return to school to complete my Human Resources (HR) Certificate in pursuit of the Canadian Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation.  After that decision, it made sense to look for opportunities on the corporate side. I am originally from Windsor and have family in London, so when the position with Robarts presented itself, I jumped on it right away. It was definitely the right decision.  I could not be happier!

Some info & advice   Becoming a recruiter typically requires a college or university degree and coursework specialization in HR is helpful.  Increasingly, the CHRP designation is expected and the Certified Recruiter designation is also recognized.  To become a Corporate Recruiter it helps to have prior agency recruitment experience.    

Recruitment isn’t for everyone. Its most challenging aspects involve time management and communication. You deal with a huge number of stakeholders and candidates and it can be difficult to communicate effectively with everyone and on a timely basis.  However, if you are a social individual who enjoys building relationships, applying your observational skills, and you take an interest in I/O psychology, a career in recruitment could be a great fit!

The People Side of Voices.com: Kaitlyn’s Story

By Michelle Doyle, WorkStory Ambassador at Western University

Do you ever watch a trailer or hear an ad on the radio and think to yourself “Who is that voice? Where do they get these people from?”  Wouldn’t it be nifty to have a platform for voices and businesses to connect?  Kaitlyn Apfelbeck is the Human Resources Manager for Voices.com in London, Ontario–  a global voice talent company that does exactly that!

In her role, Kaitlyn deals with all the people-related matters of the company – “the hiring, the firing, benefits, payroll, compensation, training and development, health & safety, and many other day to day responsibilities that come up.” She finds the best part of her job is the people with whom she gets to work. Even when her work piles up and gets to be a bit overwhelming, she still loves it simply because she’s working in such a fun and supportive environment.

Kaitlyn began her journey at Western University in 2007, where she entered the Bachelor Management and Organizational Studies (BMOS) Finance Program. After just one year, she knew she didn’t love accounting. This wasn’t a matter of her not doing well in the program; in fact, she was actually doing very well. Rather, it was that the human resources (HR) courses that she was taking really intrigued her. In her third year, Kaitlyn decided to follow her interest and transitioned into the HR stream of BMOS.

Although she graduated in April, 2011, Kaitlyn didn’t land her first job until November of that year. This job took quite a bit of networking to land and she was pleased in at St. Joseph’s Health Care London as an HR Assistant on a 6-month contract.   After that, Kaitlyn moved to auto parts manufacturer Takumi Stamping Canada Inc and eased her way up the manufacturing stream – from HR Assistant to HR Specialist in a short 3 years. She explains that it was during this period of time that she learned the bulk of her HR knowledge.  As she puts it (pro tip alert!) “if you ever want to learn HR inside and out, work in manufacturing. It's a very strict environment, and it helped that my manager was chock-full of HR knowledge and experiences. Some of the biggest pieces of HR info I learned was from conversations with my manager.  I was always interested in the previous situations he had found himself in and what he did about them.”

Kaitlyn knew she wanted to move further up and so she continued on her career hunt. It was then that she connected with Voices.com, and as it seems, she got extremely lucky.  “The stars were aligned for me at that time, because I landed the best job I've had in my entire life!” Kaitlyn explains her love and passion for her job as being a result of truly believing in the industry. She found it much easier to stand behind the company, as well as exert her passion and motivation simply from believing in the company.

Kaitlyn’s advice for those searching for their dream job is to realize that this won’t just happen within the first few years of graduating. “You'll make less money than you thought you would, you'll struggle, and you'll question if you're in the right industry or if you should've taken a different academic path. Trust me–  it's all worth it.”  She also discussed the importance of always trying the best you can, to ensure that previous employers have nothing but good things to say about you.

 “The world is small, and you'll likely run into those previous employers at Costco on more than one occasion – so be pleasant and humble!”