Head of Recruitment at Havas UK, Jen Gabrielle-Chapman Sheds Some Light on her Career to Date, and What Businesses are Looking for....
Thanks for chatting to us Jen!...Lets kick off by hearing a little about what you do…?
I'm Jen and I'm a recruiter. I absolutely love recruitment and in the past I've worked as a director for a recruitment firm before taking the leap to work client side, within some of the top named media and marketing agencies in the UK. My role is a bit of a hybrid really - I actively recruit people for our business but I'm also involved in talent management, which basically means I make sure we hire the right type of people based on their skills not just their experience!
From your time in business, what are some of the key trends you have learnt…?
I'm a huge believer in skills-based recruitment! To me, there's nothing anyone cannot learn with the right support and training. When I’m hiring, I always look for what the person has to offer themselves in equal amounts to where they've worked before or what their qualifications are. I recently ran an initiative which hired purely based on the individual’s skills and behaviours - I didn't even see their CVs! It goes to show that work experience and education goes only so far and that who the person is, is much more important to a business. This is why businesses are now investing huge amounts in competency training, and increasingly look for diversity in the people they bring in. Some of the best recruiters I've hired haven't had a clue about recruitment before they joined me, but their tenacity and approach made them absolute superstars!
What do you look for when you hire someone? And what in general is it that makes an employee successful within business?
For me, it's the right attitude and approach. I think if you have a positive outlook and you're not afraid to learn something new then most businesses will invest their time in helping you develop your technical/on the job skill set. Lots of careers can be learnt from no experience at all, but if you don't have the willingness to try something new then you might miss out on some great career opportunities.
From your experience, what are some of the common competencies and skills that businesses look for?
Lots of things! All businesses are different, but there are some skills and behaviours that are somewhat universal to what makes a business successful…..Here are my top 5:
Commercial savvy - Being aware of the financial implications of your actions when working for a company (such a project costs, investment vs return) Essentially, understanding how your performance and role can reduce costs or increase profits.
Resilience - Being able to stay positive and try again, even if the first attempt at something didn't work out
Interpersonal skills – This is key. Being able to build strong relationships with colleagues and clients, and communicate effectively with people.
Strategic ability - Being able to not only think about the day-to-day work, but to have a long term view in line with the business strategy
Delivery focus - Being able to run a project from the initial idea right through to the completion and post-project assessment
Do you think there are skills that are relatable between professional/elite level sport and business?
Yes, of course. Professional sports people have a huge amount of pressure put on them to perform on a daily basis - their ability to perform under such high stress levels means they'll be used to any pressures they might find in business (such as deadlines, targets and expectations.) I also think that sport people have a huge drive to succeed - something that will help them drive for producing the best work possible and competing with their colleagues for results.
What piece of advice would you give to an athlete at whatever stage in their career, who may want to apply their skills in professional work?
You need to be prepared to fail - changing careers isn't easy, but you need to remember that it's a tough thing to do at any age and from any background. I wish I could say it would happen straight away, but often it doesn’t. Draw upon your experience and your core skills you've developed in sport: dedication, hard work, competition, teamwork and the ability to learn from your mistakes. You need to stay positive and keep going - just like when you were first starting out in your athletic career. If you keep going and keep working hard to find a job you really want, you WILL get there. There's a lot of effort involved, but given what you've achieved so far in your career and the sacrifices made, finding success can be just around the corner….and with initiatives like The Transition Phase, you have a great support function to help you achieve new professional goals!