Careers Connections: recruiting to the industry

Careers Connections: recruiting to the industry

Careers Connections was founded in July 1992 by two senior recruitment consultants, Paul Van Der Leeden and Antoine Boulos. Based in Sydney, the company was established with the aim of servicing the fast-paced computer and telecommunications industry. Both Van Der Leeden and Boulos have been recruiting into the IT & T marketplace since the mid '80s. Australian Reseller News' Helen Cousens spoke to them about their role in the industry, and their views on the way things are headingARN: What are the particular strengths of your company?

CC: Careers Connections was established to provide quality recruiting by people from the IT & T industry. Our philosophy is to recruit quality applicants, both permanent and contracting, and place them with the best possible PC and LAN/WAN resellers, system integrators, outsourcers, distributors, and vendor and IT users in both the government and commercial market place.

As each of our senior consultants is trained and experienced in not only search and selection, but also in our specialist area of the IT & T profession, our clients are dealing with people who understand the market, our customers and, most importantly, their business.

We pride ourselves on our ethics. As a member of the NAPC, we must adhere to a stringent code of ethics. But we take that code of ethics one step further: we consider our applicants and clients more as friends than "customers".

They contribute to our success in the same way as we do to theirs. Both applicants and clients are encouraged to pop into our offices for an informal chat to discuss any aspect of the recruitment cycle, be it market appraisals, job descriptions or career progression.

Over the past five years we have successfully recruited over 1,800 candidates into a diversity of permanent and contracting positions in sales, engineering/support, MIS, software, and operations. We have interviewed almost 5,000 applicants and have 6,000 names on our database with whom we regularly keep in touch. During this time we have had an excellent success rate.

We are highly regarded by many of our candidates who state that we are among the best in keeping in contact and offering advice on current market conditions, available opportunities and future expectations.

This places us in a perfect position to find them the right role at the right time. As a natural by-product, it also means that we are well placed to find our clients the right person with premium efficiency.

ARN: Are there any areas you specialise in?

CC: We believe that we are one of only a few specialist LAN/WAN recruiters.

ARN: What areas do your clients typically come from?

CC: Our clients come from all facets of the computer IT & T industry, including PC and LAN/WAN resellers and system integrators, outsourcing organisations, distribution houses, PC vendors, LAN/WAN vendors, software development/vendor organisations, start-up ventures both local and international, and IT users in the government and end-user arenas. In recent times Careers Connections has successfully recruited overseas in Europe, USA, Hong Kong and Singapore.

ARN: What levels of positions do you deal with: high, medium, low or all?

CC: Careers Connections has recruited all facets of the marketplace, from Store/Logistics people right through to State/Branch/General Management level, although the bulk of our referrals are in the LAN/WAN, systems integration and end-user marketplace.

We are an IT & T specialist recruitment firm, meaning that we only recruit technically competent applicants into the IT & T arena, whether that is in sales, engineering, software, logistics, or support in both permanent and contract roles.

ARN: How are salaries moving at the moment?

CC: Salaries are on the way up again after remaining rather static for the last year or two. Like most things in life, the greater your skills, the greater your salary. If you have skills that are in demand like Novell CNE/ECNE 4.x, Microsoft Certification and also have a number of years experience, then you are in demand and can attract a remuneration package higher than someone without those certifications. Experienced systems integration sales reps are always in high demand and can basically write their own packages.

ARN: What trends do you see happening in the future, in terms of employment opportunities and salaries?

CC: The computer industry as a whole has evolved to a situation of acceptability, meaning the cowboys of the past are no longer part and parcel of the industry. There will always be questionable characters, but every industry has those.

With the level of reference checking that takes place these days, it is very hard for applicants to portray themselves as something they are not. This means that companies are more willing to take on contractors for short- to medium-term contracts to complete certain projects. Also companies are more willing to take on an applicant to "try before they buy", especially with the unfair dismissal laws the way they are. Contracting staff also provides companies with a flexibility they never had before.

One area that has been advancing at a rapid rate lately is "outsourcing" companies. This trend will continue as companies focus on their strengths and outsource non-profitable departments. Again, this is an area of huge potential to contracting staff.

Two years ago, contracting/temporary staff was about 20 per cent of our business, now it accounts for about 60 per cent, and it is rising. I think that this is a fairly typical scenario, and it shows a trend that will continue.

ARN: Do you work on the contracting side of the business? How does it work, what sort of relationship does it bring you into with both employers and employees?

CC: Yes most definitely, contracting is relatively easy for both applicant and client. Careers Connections handles all the logistical side of things, such as taxes, workers compensation, superannuation, professional indemnity and the like, paying applicants on a weekly basis and invoicing clients, with many applicants going from one contract to another at their will. We have some contractors that have constantly been employed with us on either one or more contracts for over four years.

Obviously some contractors may work on one contract with us and then move on, only to return at a latter date. Our belief is that if we do the right thing by our contractor, treat them as you would want to be treated yourself, then they will always return to the fold. We also have many clients that, because of our success with them in the past, will only supply us with a brief.

We never expect our clients to deal with us solely, however many choose to do so. Again it comes back to our basic philosophy: "we treat our applicants and clients as friends of the business, because if they are not successful, then we can not be successful".

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