Strivin and Thrivin is the career development podcast inspiring you to make some bold changes. Each week, we speak to HR, People & Culture and Talent Acquisition professionals at different stages of their journey to understand what it takes to successfully manage your career.
In our latest episode, we got to chat with Alex Lennon, Talent & Investor Relations at Black Nova and owner of TalentBox, about how he accidentally discovered his passion and how the world of recruitment has become the Wild West post pandemic.
Getting hooked on recruitment
The best place to start is at the beginning, For Alex, his introduction to the world of recruitment was a bit of a fluke.
“I’ll be honest, I had no idea what recruitment was when I finished uni … I thought, oh, you’re helping people get a job, this sounds great … so, completely fell into it.
“ConSol was probably the best introduction to recruitment I could have asked for. They were a relatively small tech recruitment agency at the time .. but they built a really good reputation off their training and development. You would start completely fresh faced and go through this heavy duty boot camp … you go from knowing nothing to knowing the foundations in about a month to six weeks.”
Three and half years and 150 consultants later, Alex moved on from ConSol, but he’d realised the importance and the impact recruitment could make.
“In terms of the tech market and economy, it was this kind of lightbulb moment when I thought, this is going to be relevant forever. This kind of realisation there’s a real big opportunity to be part of that and continue learning and do something that’s going to be relevant for decades and for the rest of time, probably.”
This inspired his move to Sydney in 2016 and another three and half years at another fast growing tech recruitment agency called Salt.
Finding the missing piece
So what was next for Alex? Start his one agency? Go internal? As he found himself at a crossroads, a lunch with his now boss, Matt Brown (founder of Dunsafe at the time of this story), would help Alex choose his next path.
“I don’t know if he sensed that I was in this state of flux … [he said] I’ve got another business called Black Nova, and this is what we do.
“Everything he said to me in about two minutes I just thought, wow, this sounds exactly like the kind of thing I’d love to do. It was building something from scratch. It was working with early stage startups. It was recruitment. It felt like this kind of unknown missing piece that I didn’t have. So that was that.”
Four years in and Black Nova is now helping around 34 startups find their feet.
“The work I do now is a mix of advisory work … things like talent planning or interview process or how to manage recruitment agencies … all those kinds of things that I can go in and help them figure out the best path forward.”
Navigating the Wild West
It’s certainly been a crazy few years in the world of recruitment. As Alex says, it’s been like the ‘Wild West’ since the pandemic.
“Everyone was hiring hand over fist, salaries were going through the roof, and it was just this arms race to be in the strongest position you could. I think it created some unrealistic expectations for people, particularly candidates that were in in-demand skill sets. They could move jobs pretty easily. They always had things lined up … and it sadly changed the dynamic.”
But all hope isn’t lost, in fact Alex feels there’s been some positives to come out of this post pandemic era, as we focus more on understanding people’s whys.
“Before the pandemic, it was kind of business as usual. What people wanted then shifted drastically.
“That’s probably the biggest learning curve I think for startups. How to navigate what they’re offering to their teams because physical perks in the office are fairly, well, they’re not really sought after to be honest. It’s about the work people are doing, the people they’re working with and their future with the business.”
Opportunity, it’s everywhere
Alex’s final piece of advice for all aspiring recruitment revolutionaries? Take every moment as an opportunity.
“I think I used to be quite closed minded and not see the opportunity in things … it could be a task I was working on, a role I was working on. It felt like I was just ticking it off and trying to move on to the next.
“If you can see those as opportunities rather than just something you need to take off the list and get done, that’s where you can really develop yourself.”
Want to hear more of Alex’s inspiring story or catch up on some of our other episodes? Click here to listen now.