As soon as you meet Jon, you can instantly tell he was the naughty kid in school. He’s got that mischievous twinkle in his eyes and if half the room suddenly erupts into laughter, you can guarantee that Jon caused it. We walk through the castle until we find a couple of throne like chairs in an alcove. It’s late into the evening of the second day and spirits are high. From various parts of the castle we can hear sounds of laugher, debate, music and of course, the subtle sound of champagne corks popping.
It’s incredibly difficult to get a conversation started with Jon because every time someone walks past they stop to exchange a joke, a laugh or a jest with him.
Okay, so, let’s do this.
Absolutely. Let’s drop the cheese.
Yup, let’s get real. (there’s a slight pause before Jon lets out a peal of laughter and it’s hard not to join in).
Okay so what do you want to know? Can I do this whole thing in a really bad American accent?
(He’s right, his accent is terrible. At that very moment Vern Davis and Bert Miller walk past on their way down to the kitchens. Rumour has it that a giant cheeseboard has just been laid out, and they invite Jon to come with them for some super. After much cajoling, on my part, I manage to keep a hold of him).
Creativity and talent needs food.
I know, and I promise you can go get some shortly. We’re a day and a half in so far…
Feels so much longer than that.
But I don’t mean that in a bad way. If you whack so many recruiters in the same place at once, we’re all going to get to know each other pretty quickly.
It’s all those big mouths.
Well yeah, but what’s been nice is that actually there hasn’t been any clash of egos. I think LaVoie has a difficult job because we’re all getting on so well, so if he wants to create any kind of on-screen tension, that’s going to be tough.
It’s a giant love fest.
It is, and it’s been absolutely brilliant. I’ve loved everyone I’ve got to know.
Is this your first experience with Top Recruiter?
Yes and it’s been fantastic. Chris has a great eye not only for talent, but values ethics and the right characters. There’s a common culture that is obvious throughout everybody who is involved.
What is that commonality?
The idea of The Movement to a certain extent. The idea that we do honestly want to make the industry better.
What have you enjoyed about that common ground so far?
I’ve just really enjoyed the interaction with other like-minded people and my peers. When you run your own business you end up having no peers so for me as a social person…
Ha, I wouldn’t have said you’re a social person Jon.
I know, such a wallflower, HA! But you do end up being quite isolated at work so you need to find peers, people that you can chat to about stuff.
And it’s not like I’m emptying my heart to anybody, but it’s just so nice. And do you know what, I’ve learnt so much already since I’ve been here and we’re only in day two.
It’s a great environment.
Yeah and such a nice family feel to this which is so different to any other recruiting event I’ve ever been to. I was categorically not expecting that.
There’s no egos flying around?
Well there is, but the minute anyone shows any kind of diva like tendencies, they’re going to be ripped apart by everyone else. I mean I’ve experienced that from you.
I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Moving on…what does The Movement mean to you?
So, I think of it like this. If people are the most important asset to any organisation, then how come recruitment companies aren’t the most important supplier to those organisations?
If your career is really important to your life, then how come candidates, or even friends who know you’re a recruitment consultant, don’t really come to you for advice? And if we’re so good at recruitment, how come we have the worst staff retention?
These are the battles I fought in my own mind before I set up my own business, and the conclusion was very simple; the reality is that we take advantage of an industry of people needing a job, and companies needing people, and instead of thinking about what value we can add, we think about what value we can extract. So for me, The Movement is about reclaiming meaning for what we do, and having respect and pride in it.
I like the way you think…
Well, if you’re in a position of power, because you are as a recruiter, that’s what drives really bad behaviours. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your personal values to succeed, in any job.
The one thing I say to everybody who works for me is; here, you’re going to be yourself and succeed.
As recruiters should we be looking at business first and recruiting second then?
Yes and no. I think we are recruiters, and we have to accept that what we do is recruitment. I think if we start selling ourselves as something different, our clients are not going to accept it. I think we need to focus on understanding our clients’ businesses and their broader needs.
What do you think is the biggest problem in recruitment today?
I don’t even know if that’s a question that’s possible to answer in such finite terms.
I run a business that I honestly, honestly, believe is different. But it takes so much hard work to bash down the door and break through the perceptions and be thought of seriously. We’re still fighting to break down those doors quicker. But I think that’s the biggest challenge, breaking down the perceptions.
How is Top Recruiter helping do that?
Well, number one, it’s bringing like-minded people together and giving them the momentum to change direction. It’s also giving people the confidence to spread their message. And it’s showing our industry in a really good light. We really are passionate about how can we create the next best thing.
Who are you excited about?
Why’s she impressed you?
She’s so raw, that’s the challenge. But, she’s so keen to learn, and the ideas she’s coming up with are not new to those of us who’ve been in the industry for a long time, but she’s going in the right direction, she’s looking the right way. And because of the industry she’s in, and her slant on it, she might just be coming up with something different. She’s a very good face for our industry as she promotes the right values.
What’s been your favourite moment so far?
I have to admit; it was teaching Amy Golding how to wink.
How did that even come about?
We were just messing about on set. But, aside from that, my most favourite thing has been getting to know Jack Felice.
(At that moment, Matt Suari walks past and the two guys begin discussing their next man-date).
Me and Matt had a real moment last night you know. Okay but seriously…best moment so far…I’ve just really enjoyed chatting to Jack. He reminds me of my dad.
He is quite a father figure.
Yeah he has certain mannerisms of my dad. I look at him and I just want to give him a hug.
Aside from Jack, who we all want to hug, who have you enjoyed getting to know?
Interestingly, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the American guys, and I wasn’t expecting that at all. I thought there would be far more division between the two, and there’s just not.
Who have you been chatting to?
Torin Ellis is so impressive.
What’s your very favourite thing about the world of recruitment?
Culture. Having worked in a different industry, and then gone into recruitment, you can’t then go back. I love the fact that to a certain extent, you have to be outrageous in recruitment.
Amazing, that’s all I needed. You nailed it.
I thought so.
And with that, we both go downstairs arm in arm to dive into the cheeseboard, which is indeed spectacular. We both have a sneaking suspicion that supper was laid out because Jon and I, may or may not have, (we definitely did) snuck down to the kitchens last night and raided the fridge. It’s all just another day in the life of Top Recruiter.