My Recent Recruitment Conference Experiences in New Zealand


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What are the benefits of doing the job that you do? Well one of mine is that I get invited to to travel to different countries, to share my knowledge and experiences with companies, as well as speaking at recruitment conferences.

Last week I was at the other end of the world (literally!) speaking in New Zealand at their annual Recruiter Hub Conference in Auckland.

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For a change I thought I would give you some insight into my trip ‘down under’ and my impressions of the recruitment landscape in New Zealand. But first, I wanted to share my trip by the numbers:

  • 3 days content preparation
  • 36,200 miles flown
  • 56 hours on a plane
  • 4 nights in a hotel
  • 27 hours sleep (in 7 days)
  • 1 SUPERB conference
  • 162 conference attendees
  • 14 different NZ wines tasted
  • A good few days of jet lag!

I was in New Zealand to speak at the annual Recruiter Hub Conerence in Auckland, superbly organised by Phillip Tusing. The audience was a healthy mix of recruitment agencies, corporate recruiters and recruitment vendors, not just from Auckland, but also from further afield in NZ. 

Observation 1: The recruitment community in NZ is a close one – many of the recruiters know each other well, and if they don’t know you personally, they certainly know about you! As you can imagine this is therefore a recruitment challenge on a number of different fronts!

The event started with an excellent networking event the night before, hosted by Rice Consulting, led by  ‘brit’ Jonathan Rice. The beer and wine flowed all night (well at least until my lack of sleep kicked in!)

He and his colleague Sean Walters, have an interesting niche between them in Auckland -Jonathan does Rec2Rec and Sean recruits recruiters for the corporates.You could say they have a 360 degree view on recruiting recruiters! They have also embraced social media in a big way and have made many inroads into their clients because of this.

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Now I am not saying that communications are a little challenging down in NZ, but they did have this very old  telephone in the bar where the networking took place! 🙂 

Observation 2: HOW MANY brits are in recruitment in New Zealand? Seriously ……. quite a few have made the move and are loving it down there. It was great speaking to then all over a beer.

The conference itself was held down in the newly developed part of Auckland waterfront. A great venue with superb views.

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Phillip had organised a mix of styles for the day – traditional speakers; breakout groups, unconference style and a ‘recruiter battle’. It made for a good day with little chance for attendees to get too comfortable in their seats! 

My presentation – The Future Of Recruitment Is Closer Than You Think – kicked off the conference and created a little bit of a Twitter frenzy!

If for any reason you can’t view the embedded presentation – here is the web link

It was well received and I did what I intended – to stimulate the neurons in the brains of the recruiters in NZ and challenge some of their thinking. 

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But then something I have not had happen before…. (which made me really laugh!!) ….

…….. I was trending on Twitter above Justin Bieber in New Zealand! Ha ha ha – as I said it made me smile.

Observation 3: (From conversations after my presentation) Recruiters are still not using technologies and processes that could make their lives easier – even though these technologies exist right now. There seems to be a reticence to do try different ways of looking at age old recruitment methods.

There was an excellent speaker called Jane Kennelly from Frog Recruitment in Auckland up next and she talked around everything to do with a recruiters brand and what to do with it. I loved her slide (below) that covered the seven traits that a good recruiter should have:

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There were many other great speakers during the day, but one session really stood out for me as an inspired choice – right after lunch >> Battle of the Recruiters.
Taking two in-house recruiters (Mark Sumner, ASB Bank and Steven Miratana, SkyCity) and pitting them against two agency side recruiters (Jane Kennelly, Frog Recruitment Jenny Martin, Emergent) in a ‘no-holds barred’ live question session. The questions came from the floor and from Twitter and were expertly handled by Sean Walters.

The result was a superb half hour of some very tough (and direct questions I might add) being answered by the four above. Very funny, informative and (surprisingly) not too much ‘bitching’ about each other’s roles!

Can you guess which side won?

Observation 4: While they may sit on two different sides of the fence, recruiters in NZ have a great respect for each other and do actually appreciate the challenges each other faces. (Not quite what I am used to seeing! )

The rest of the day carried on in the same way – good speakers, breakout sessions and a good deal of banter. Expertly MC’d by Jonathan Rice the conference ran to time (another thing I am not used to so often!) and was very well organised. 

The final speaker to close the conference was a little different (just like the brilliant lunchtime entertainment of the Hip Operation Crew – a NZ hip hop group of OAP’s ) as he wasn’t a recruiter. In fact he had spent many years in prison for a very serious crime. But while he was in there he changed his life around to end up with a degree, Masters and a P.H.D. in Psychology, and now helps companies overcome the chasm of fear in their private and business lives. 
What a brilliant and inspiring way to end what was an excellent conference. 

Obviously alcohol was then in play for the post events drinks that night, and more tasting of some of the awesome New Zealand wines! 

Well I had a day to myself to explore after the conference, so I took myself off to the vineyards on the beautiful island of Waiheke.

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And yes, I did sample a few wines before I made the journey home the next day. Well it would have been rude to go all that way and not do that wouldn’t it?

Observation 5: New Zealand is a really interesting recruitment landscape with some real talent challenges. For such a small country they are going to have some significant recruitment needs as they expand their internal infrastructures. While they need immigration to make that happen, they still like potential employees to have ‘experience of working in NZ’. And talking to many recruiters down there, this was a big issue. How quickly they start to relax this ‘rule’ I guess depends on how desperate they are for talented people. I suspect that engineering, construction and technology skills will be testing this in the very near future!

So there you have it – a little behind the scenes view of a what on paper is a one day speaking engagement in another country (albeit a long way away!). There are too many people to mention but I would like to just thank Nikki Wilkie for being my ‘Auckland guide’ when I arrived, and of course Phillip Tusing for inviting me.

Finally, if you are a recruiter considering New Zealand as a destination to live and work, good luck, it is a great country! 

Next international speaking trip for me is Western Canada’s first Social Recruiting Conference in Calgary in January, where I will be talking about the recruitment powerhouse that is Google Plus. I reckon that might be a little bit colder than New Zealand!! Can’t wait 🙂



Contactus2 I work with recruitment agencies and corporates to help them understand and leverage the different social media networks to improve their recruitment strategy, recruitment process, candidate attraction, employer branding and content marketing strategy.

If you require guidance, advice or social recruiting training, get in touch today.

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We consult, train, tweet, blog, text, post, speak, share, read, update, photograph, video and talk about recruitment. At Sirona Consulting we work with companies, recruitment agencies, RPO’s HR & recruitment technology vendors and conference / event organisers, helping them understand and integrate social media into their recruitment strategies. We have have been doing this now for twelve years, working with many companies along the way, from small independent recruiters right through to large international companies. We are honest, ethical and have experience of working across a range of different industry sectors delivering success in the UK, Europe, Middle East, APAC and the United States.



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