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15 minutes with... Jon Thurmond

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In early 2019, Jon Thurmond became the face of our HR Hub platform, providing a wonderful introduction to the hub and the content and insights it offers.

Now we’re delighted to be able to share a bit more about Jon, his career to date and his advice for fellow recruiters in embracing today’s rapidly evolving recruitment role.

If you love this, make sure you check out the podcast Jon hosts and produces - #HRSocialHour.

Tell us a bit about your career to date.

My career has been varied, I actually started out as a public school music teacher and when I figured that wasn’t for me I applied to a temp agency in the hope of finding a job through them. After talking about what I had learned at school and what I was passionate about, I ended up being offered a role with them! And so, my career in recruitment began.

From there I moved between sectors, building my recruitment skills and knowledge. I spent time as a recruiter in the accounting and finance industry, and then joined a large electric utility company, where I became a corporate level recruiter and, eventually, talent acquisition supervisor. I led a team of 18 people to fill 2,000 roles a year. That became a full-cycle recruitment shop - it was a big, challenging and hugely rewarding job, and one of my proudest achievements to date. We made some great hires at that time, some of whom are now celebrating their 10th, 11th or 12th anniversary with the company!

I then moved into a Labor Relations job, and it was after I left this role that I got heavily involved in social media. I realized it was a necessary skill for the future of this profession and it has very much changed the course of my career since.

Now, in my day job, I am in a regional HR role, covering all aspects of the HR function other than payroll and benefits and, outside of work, I host and produce the #HRSocialHour podcast, where my co-host Wendy Dailey and I talk to HR practitioners, analysts, vendors, and other people we know about the power of connecting, giving back, and building your network.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love the “people puzzle” that is recruitment - you can take the people you have and the skills they have and develop them but you’re always trying to fit the puzzle pieces together.

And you can have that all planned out - who you will hire and how you will train them to be the best fit for the role and company - but there will always be other challenges thrown in along the way.

One of the other things I love about my job is that it’s always changing. Today’s recruitment professionals have to know many more skills than we required when I started out, such as social media and other areas that would typically fall into the realm of marketing.

If someone told me 20 years ago that I’d be working almost as a marketer by now, I’d have told them they were very wrong!

How else do you believe recruitment has changed over the last 10 years?

Everything used to be done on paper and over the telephone. So logistically the process has become much more streamlined.

The transparency of organizations has also changed dramatically. When I started out, you'd see a job ad in the newspaper and it would include a line item to send in your resume and fill out a job application. It was a prolonged and ambiguous process for candidates.

Now, organizations have to be willing to offer a fast and transparent recruitment process in order to attract and maintain the attention of the best talent.

Companies didn’t have to “tell a story” 10 years ago, now it’s a necessary requirement of the recruitment process. That said, we also didn’t have the shortage of people we face today, and I’m so pleased to see the way storytelling has changed things for the better.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced your career?

I think they’ve shifted over time but one of the consistent challenges is the need to recognize that people have layers. Much like Shrek’s likening of himself to an onion, we all have layers and, as recruiters, we have to be able to identify which of those layers - be it qualifications, skills or characteristics - are essential for a role, and which are nice to have.

Today, the people shortage is a massive challenge, but we are also aware of and working with a much bigger pool of passive candidates - we just need to know how to engage them.

There are some roles, particularly in the construction and other labor hire industries, where interest in physical work is diminishing and recruiters are now competing with more tech-driven or entrepreneurial opportunities than they would have been in the past.

We have to know how to differentiate ourselves to stand out, attract and then retain great hires.

What does a successful hiring process look like to you?

To me, communication is key.

From the outset, the candidate understands the job and the organization.

They are communicated with effectively throughout the process - from their resume being received, to interview scheduling, making sure they’re prepared for interviews, following up, making an offer and onboarding.

The communication line has to be open and constant with a high level of touch. If you have a smaller pool of people they are very likely interviewing elsewhere, so how do you make sure you’re top of mind?

What would be your top three personal development tips for other HR professionals?

  1. Take time to participate in something outside of work. Network outside your organization. Find a group to participate in and find the people you can lean on and learn from.
  2. Read everything you can - blogs, LinkedIn articles, news publications. Read content by people that you don’t necessarily agree with, people that challenge you.
  3. When you are reading, take part in the conversation at some level. I’ve seen what it has done for me to share and learn from the industry. If you have one year or 100 years of experience, we all have a perspective to share. Many are uncomfortable being on social media but so much of the conversation is there. And you don’t need to be on there every day, just be willing to share a bit. I’ve been on twitter for 10 years but I didn’t use it for work until five years ago. It opens so many opportunities. I'm so proud of the podcast and the connections we've made - in 70 countries now - and so much of that has come through social media.

What industry buzzword would you be happy to see the back of?

Wow, there are several:

  • Purple Squirrel - this is just massively overused and means nothing!
  • Ninja - unless you are also a martial arts practitioner, please don’t describe yourself as a ninja.
  • Rockstar - again, the majority of people describing themselves as rock stars generally are not in a famous rock and roll band.

About Jon

Jon describes himself as a "fixer." If it's relationships, systems, or processes, he has a proven track record of improving the situation. He’s also been able to help many people with their job searches with resumes, interview prep, and coaching along the way. Along with podcasting and speaking across the US on a variety of HR related topics, Jon will also be part of the "Blogger Squad" for SHRM19.

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