With over 8 years of recruitment experience and a venturer mindset, Terry Hodges is a trailblazer of his own at NextWave Partners. In this interview, he tells us more about his journey into Technology recruitment, the impact of COVID-19 on the industry through 2020, and insights into his work in Australia.
Read the interview or watch the complete recordings below
What led you to Technology Recruitment and building your desk in that area?
Terry: The story is a very random one, so I started off in nuclear recruitment in London which is probably the most random market possible. Then I moved to Singapore and shifted to energy recruitment. I interviewed with Alex (our NextWave Director) in 2018, he suggested that it would be good to go after a market that has a lot to go after. He threw me a real curveball of cybersecurity. I went away, did my research and that's what we've fallen into now. The rest is was of history. Technology Recruitment was not something that I started off in or planned from the very start but it was a great turn of events because the industry is always moving forward and you're never bored.
How has the technology recruitment market been for NextWave in 2020?
Terry: We started off the year really strong. Then we obviously got the big COVID curve-ball shall we say. April and May last year were quite different than expected but I think it's brought a lot positive as well. Our Technology team came together amazingly and there were some great achievements across the board. We've also brought new consultants on board during that period, so although it was a difficult period, the last 6 months have been excellent from my side.
Essentially it has been business as usual. In the second quarter, everyone panicked, and rightly so, not knowing how it would affect business. Afterward, our clients had to carry on, their projects were still ongoing, and still need to deliver to their stakeholders. The industries that we work within Technology are mostly emerging technologies and most of our clients have already got the funding that they need and still had their milestones in place. So if anything, they are hiring more as they need to move things along.
Why choose to focus on Australia’s Technology industry?
Terry: Sometimes you have to go where the market taking you. A large portion of my business and my desk has come from Australia, not just in Sydney, but also Melbourne and Brisbane and some really good companies in Adelaide as well. The Australian Technology market is booming right and companies are hiring for talents more than ever so that's what led me down the Australia path.
What challenges are local actors facing? What is your take on them?
Terry: I've been in recruitment for 8 years now and I would say that lots of the challenges I've seen are the same then and now, whether it's in London, Singapore and Australia as well. It has changed to an extent, but the main ones, like lack of skillset and not being able to hire talent are pretty much the same across the board.
If we take cybersecurity in Australia as an example, the bid consensus at the moment is the lack of talent. But actually from experience, with the clients that I've worked with, when we break that down, it's usually maybe the way that they are presenting the role, maybe the way that they are rejecting candidates without having that initial call. I have lots of clients on the one side that are looking for cybersecurity talents. But at the same time, I have lots of candidates also looking for roles who are amazing cybersecurity professionals themselves.
I think it's about trying to bring those two sides together. Although the challenge may be the lack of talent, sometimes it's about another sort of issue beneath, that needs to be addressed.
What sort of solutions are you working on for your clients at the moment? What problems are they solving?
Terry: There are a number of different options I am working on right now.
We're working with some of our technology partners to help them set up their first offices in Australia. These could be businesses that are looking to expand and have the first person on the ground. So we provide the usual recruitment services to find their next hire.
But we also get to offer advice on what office to get, where are the best places to be and get involved in the smaller details. I've really enjoyed being a part of a bigger project rather than just working on the one position to fill. I feel much more attached to the company as well.
The other side of the solutions I'm working on is contract recruitment. And this has been a huge push because of the pandemic. Lots of clients are not as inclined to take on long-term and potentially riskier hires. So we've taken on board contract hires to come in for projects to get up to speed for 3-6 months or even to come in for a short period before the market changes and more permanent hires.
What would you like Technology employers to know about recruiting their next hire?
Terry: Sometimes hiring managers think that we are a very expensive service. But I know lots of amazing recruiters out there who are happy to give free advice and help you network within the Technology industry. My one big piece of advice for people looking to hire in the Technology is if you're having problems, speak to recruiters in the market. They'll be able to tell you what the trends are, the market value of salary benchmarks to hiring talents in your niche. Don't always think that if you call a recruiter, you have to pay them a fee, it's more about networking and speaking to the people who are on the ground. I know my phone is always open, please feel free to call !
I do not like having a one-size-fits-all approach for a new hire. For anyone who is looking to work with a recruitment company, the best thing to do is to have that initial meeting where you go into depth into what you're looking for and break things down to get a tailored plan finding your next talent.
There are lots of recruitment companies in Australia but why is NextWave different?
Terry: From a NextWave perspective, we are specialists in recruitment first thing first.
I see loads of recruitment consultants in Technology who are very well branded as specialists in data, cyber, etc. which is great because you do need to have that market knowledge.
But being a specialist recruitment consultant, you not only have to know the market and be able to talk about everything to do with your niche. You also need to be able to sell the company, the opportunity to prospective candidates, also most importantly manage a hiring process all the way through, so that the client gets the talent that they need and they retain it for a number of years.
At NextWave, we don't skip the recruitment specialty. We are not just specialists within our markets but we are recruitment specialists as well, and we never forget that.
What are you personally enthusiastic about your position?
Terry: In my personal view, it would be the consultants at NextWave and my colleagues.
Last year was a testament to this as we've managed to open new offices in the Gold Coast and other parts of the world, we've also expanded our team despite the trialing time.
We are a growing company with an exciting few years ahead. I think the reason we stand out is that we are on an accelerated path to growth and it's an exciting journey.