Finding the right fit

Established 17 years ago, Gisborne recruitment company Quality People Ltd is in growth mode now that owner Liz Robinson’s children have grown up. She talks about matching the right people with the right jobs.

Established 17 years ago, Gisborne recruitment company Quality People Ltd is in growth mode now that owner Liz Robinson’s children have grown up. She talks about matching the right people with the right jobs.

MATCHING PEOPLE AND JOBS, BUSINESSES: Key to finding the right person for a job is knowledge of the local employment market, diligence in vetting prospective employees and experience in knowing whether a job-seeker will fit the culture of a business, say Quality People owner/recruitment consultant Liz Robinson (right) and consultant Lisa Coote. Picture by Liam Clayton

FINDING new staff can be costly, and not just because of the direct time and expense involved, says Gisborne recruitment consultant Liz Robinson.

“It can be time-consuming and expensive and if an employer is trying to recruit staff on their own, it can be tough to do that while simultaneously running a business,” she says.

“Worse, if employers make a mistake and employ the wrong person, then costs will escalate. A bad fit can disrupt the existing team, cause morale issues and, ultimately, other staff could be lost.”

Robinson sees her job as being to prevent that and, in the 17 years since she set up Gisborne recruitment agency Quality People Ltd (QPL), she has learned a lot about the local market.

“Our work in assessing skills, doing background checks, meeting prospective employees and working out if they will fit the culture of a business makes the chance of a successful appointment that much more likely,” she says.

Robinson says she is not oblivious to the irony that the better the job she does, the less likely she is to see her clients make a quick return.

“That’s just the nature of the business. If you are finding good staff they will stay on with the employer, so we’re likely to see them less often.

“But for us that’s a success and we know that when they are ready to employ someone else, they’ll come to us.”

Around two-thirds of the hundreds of positions Robinson fills every year — from labourers to office staff — are temporary and many need to be filled fast, so she keeps a database of people looking for work, their skills and their suitability for various forms of work.

There are some wonderful people out there, she says, but some job-seekers could do more to help themselves.

“A really big disadvantage is not providing good, easily contactable referees who can vouch for their skills or reliability. We need that if we are going to be able to recommend someone for a position.”

Also important, job-seekers should look carefully at the job being advertised and think seriously about whether they can actually do the work.

“That means supplying a CV that shows they are fit for the purpose. If it is a labouring job, they don’t have to write a novel. But if they are going for, say, an office job, they need to show they are skilled and literate.”

And they need to show commitment by getting skills and experience.

“There are a lot of good courses out there that are useful and show that you really want to get into the job market,” Robinson says.

“When I see that someone has made an effort — perhaps upskilling after they’ve taken time out to have children — I just about dance for joy.”

A changing job market

For her part, Robinson is mindful of how the job market has changed during her years in the industry.

“When I first started QPL everyone was employed full-time and there was very little space for things like part-time work or job-sharing,” she says.

“But these days the combination of employers being smarter with technology and a bit more wary after the credit crunch means it’s no longer all about the 40-hour working week.”

Some businesses had to let people go after the Global Financial Crisis and they didn’t like having to do that, so even though there’s a lot more optimism out there, they’re being cautious about their employment programme, she says.

“As a result of that employers are often looking for part-time workers and many take a much more positive view of how flexible hours can work for their business.”

Quality People grew out of Robinson’s desire to create employment for herself. Moving to Gisborne 20 years ago after running a big-city human resources department, she wanted a job that would fit around the demands of three children under the age of five.

With no family support in her new home town, it was just part-time to start with. But with only one child left at home now, Robinson has allowed the company to grow more quickly in the past year.

“With the restraints on my time in the beginning I didn’t want to over-promise and under-deliver so I kept it pretty quiet to start off with, just approaching certain clients and working with them.”

In the early days she worked from her kitchen table but in recent years the business has been run from a purpose-built office building adjacent to her rambling Inner Kaiti villa.

She now also has a “right-hand woman” in the form of Gisborne woman Lisa Coote who, like her, had a “big corporate job” before deciding to move home to raise her children.

Liz Robinson says she and her husband have never regretted their decision to move to a small East Coast city where they didn’t know a soul.

“We wanted to be in a nice community a bit like those we grew up in, where we could have a safe, family-focused life for our kids,” she says.

“Our aim was to achieve a lovely lifestyle in a lovely place by the sea, and that’s just what has happened.”

Which is not to say she and Coote are not run off their feet.

“Because people are often looking for a change around the new year, we find that January-to-March is our busiest time, and there’s quite a rush in November/December, too,” Robinson says.

“I always tell people that, jobs-wise, Gisborne wakes up when the sun shines.”

FINDING new staff can be costly, and not just because of the direct time and expense involved, says Gisborne recruitment consultant Liz Robinson.

“It can be time-consuming and expensive and if an employer is trying to recruit staff on their own, it can be tough to do that while simultaneously running a business,” she says.

“Worse, if employers make a mistake and employ the wrong person, then costs will escalate. A bad fit can disrupt the existing team, cause morale issues and, ultimately, other staff could be lost.”

Robinson sees her job as being to prevent that and, in the 17 years since she set up Gisborne recruitment agency Quality People Ltd (QPL), she has learned a lot about the local market.

“Our work in assessing skills, doing background checks, meeting prospective employees and working out if they will fit the culture of a business makes the chance of a successful appointment that much more likely,” she says.

Robinson says she is not oblivious to the irony that the better the job she does, the less likely she is to see her clients make a quick return.

“That’s just the nature of the business. If you are finding good staff they will stay on with the employer, so we’re likely to see them less often.

“But for us that’s a success and we know that when they are ready to employ someone else, they’ll come to us.”

Around two-thirds of the hundreds of positions Robinson fills every year — from labourers to office staff — are temporary and many need to be filled fast, so she keeps a database of people looking for work, their skills and their suitability for various forms of work.

There are some wonderful people out there, she says, but some job-seekers could do more to help themselves.

“A really big disadvantage is not providing good, easily contactable referees who can vouch for their skills or reliability. We need that if we are going to be able to recommend someone for a position.”

Also important, job-seekers should look carefully at the job being advertised and think seriously about whether they can actually do the work.

“That means supplying a CV that shows they are fit for the purpose. If it is a labouring job, they don’t have to write a novel. But if they are going for, say, an office job, they need to show they are skilled and literate.”

And they need to show commitment by getting skills and experience.

“There are a lot of good courses out there that are useful and show that you really want to get into the job market,” Robinson says.

“When I see that someone has made an effort — perhaps upskilling after they’ve taken time out to have children — I just about dance for joy.”

A changing job market

For her part, Robinson is mindful of how the job market has changed during her years in the industry.

“When I first started QPL everyone was employed full-time and there was very little space for things like part-time work or job-sharing,” she says.

“But these days the combination of employers being smarter with technology and a bit more wary after the credit crunch means it’s no longer all about the 40-hour working week.”

Some businesses had to let people go after the Global Financial Crisis and they didn’t like having to do that, so even though there’s a lot more optimism out there, they’re being cautious about their employment programme, she says.

“As a result of that employers are often looking for part-time workers and many take a much more positive view of how flexible hours can work for their business.”

Quality People grew out of Robinson’s desire to create employment for herself. Moving to Gisborne 20 years ago after running a big-city human resources department, she wanted a job that would fit around the demands of three children under the age of five.

With no family support in her new home town, it was just part-time to start with. But with only one child left at home now, Robinson has allowed the company to grow more quickly in the past year.

“With the restraints on my time in the beginning I didn’t want to over-promise and under-deliver so I kept it pretty quiet to start off with, just approaching certain clients and working with them.”

In the early days she worked from her kitchen table but in recent years the business has been run from a purpose-built office building adjacent to her rambling Inner Kaiti villa.

She now also has a “right-hand woman” in the form of Gisborne woman Lisa Coote who, like her, had a “big corporate job” before deciding to move home to raise her children.

Liz Robinson says she and her husband have never regretted their decision to move to a small East Coast city where they didn’t know a soul.

“We wanted to be in a nice community a bit like those we grew up in, where we could have a safe, family-focused life for our kids,” she says.

“Our aim was to achieve a lovely lifestyle in a lovely place by the sea, and that’s just what has happened.”

Which is not to say she and Coote are not run off their feet.

“Because people are often looking for a change around the new year, we find that January-to-March is our busiest time, and there’s quite a rush in November/December, too,” Robinson says.

“I always tell people that, jobs-wise, Gisborne wakes up when the sun shines.”

Finding a job in Gisborne

At the time of the 2013 Census, the major employment areas in Gisborne were agriculture, forestry and fishing (22 percent); healthcare and social assistance (12 percent); education and training (10 percent); manufacturing (10 percent); and retail (8 percent).

QPL tips for job hunters

■ Have an appropriate curriculum vitae, including good referees who are easily contactable

■ Learn new skills or update existing ones

■ Think about your suitability for the job advertised

■ Many jobs are not even advertised so be active in letting employers/recruiters know you are looking.

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