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“Can you have genuine conversations about business? Because that’s what really matters right now,” advises Erica MacDonald. “Business products and services are changing, and the culture is changing. Having that inherent business acumen is more important than ever.”
Erica, a partner at Summit Search Group’s Halifax office, boasts deep expertise in recruiting for a wide range of industries. In 2021, she finds the business products and services space to be particularly interesting. With dramatic shifts in the expectations, tools, and day-to-day use of the modern workplace, the industry is shifting –– and quickly!
We dove into some of Erica’s insights about the new world of work, and both the challenges and excitement of recruitment for business products and services.
Challenges in Hiring for Business Products and Services
“Today, it’s definitely an employers’ market,” Erica shares. “Covid-19 has disrupted a lot of organizations, and that means there’s a lot of flexible, hungry talent out there, looking to make a move. Sales people, specialized workers, and pretty much anyone with transferable skills who’s been laid off in another industry could be taking a look at business products and services with fresh eyes.”
All of the industry’s talent isn’t eager, though –– especially in terms of specialized and hard-to-fill roles. “Covid 19 is making hiring more difficult, and people more cautious, across the board. Great talent who already have comfortable positions are more hesitant to leave their current roles because there is so much uncertainty in the world. That uncertainty is spilling out into their work lives, without a doubt.”
Sourcing Exceptional Talent in Business Products and Services
Erica highlights two key skills that set top talent apart in business products and services. First, adaptability and confidence with a wide range of people and companies will help in building networks and connecting with customers. Second, well, to be an all-star in business products –– you must be skilled in business.
“Candidates that are sought after in this industry are not just those with YEARS of experience! Our clients are looking for more of a complete skill set, and in this case, the skill set frequently relies on adaptability at its core,” Erica notes. “Candidates need to know more than the details about the best toner or gauge of a paperclip; the work doesn’t stop there. You need to be able to sit across from a C-level executive and talk about partnership.”
“This industry is all about that talent, the people who can have real conversations about business in general. Those that are not just good at price but understand the cost of goods to be sold. These are often individuals that come from industries where they have dealt with a varied clientele and have a broader inherent business acumen; hence their adaptability and confidence.”
Business Products and Services: An Industry in Flux
In looking to the future of business products and services recruitment, Erica emphasizes a key theme: change, change, change.
“The products are changing, and the culture is changing. The industry has already seen a lot of change due to digitization –– for growth, companies have been doing so through acquisition, which really shakes up the labour pool,” she adds. “Now, companies will have to adapt to a whole new way of working: a culture where the home office is the norm, and physical outside offices and business hubs are either shrinking or non-existent.”
And that’s not all –– a greener wave is on the way, too, with its own set of shifts.
“Business has become more complicated. Even issues of social governance and environmental stewardship have evolved, and that’s really reflected in the products. Just recently, I learned about new paper products from a client made of Bagasse, the agricultural waste of sugar cane. The paper’s not made from trees – apparently amazing paper and much more environmentally friendly, renewable and uses less carbon to create. What a change!”
Advice to Grow on in Business Products and Services
While the industry continues to evolve, Erica reminds teams that working with exceptional talent will always be a great way to get ahead. “Keep an eye out for the valued employees already making worthwhile contributions, be it at their current place of work or beyond,” she says. “Often, the best candidates are passive candidates, especially in a climate that’s this difficult and uncertain. We can help you find them. ”
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Industry Insiders: Erica MacDonald on Recruitment in Business Products and Services
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