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The Resilient Recruiter

Jan 21, 2020

How do you build a successful recruiting agency? What mindsets are needed to thrive as a business? When Erin Devlin became the managing director of people2people in the state of Victoria, Australia, she achieved 70% growth in a 3-year timespan. 

Erin humbly claims that when she merged her firm, Devlin Alliance with people2people that they had already established a brand with amazing leadership and accomplished recruiters. She simply built on their success when she launched their Melbourne division.

Join me as I talk with Erin about how her company plays to the strengths of its recruiters, their hiring process, and their staff development strategies. Erin also talks about the characteristics from her professional career as a ballerina that led to her success as a recruiter. Don’t miss her unusual and inspiring story!

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:06] Meet Erin Devlin—Managing Director of people2people
  • [2:57] Why did Erin merge her firm with people2people?
  • [4:03] What Erin means by ‘celebrating wins’
  • [7:51] How are team members allowed to leverage their strengths?
  • [11:21] Professional Recruiter of the Year with RCSA - why was she selected?
  • [13:35] Why the 360-degree recruiting model works for people2people
  • [15:05] Developing a team member from rookie to consultant
  • [21:58] Back to the hiring process: how do you assess those things
  • [24:50] Erin’s background as a professional ballerina
  • [30:18] The mentoring program at people2people
  • [33:09] What is Infront Sports Consulting?
  • [36:50] Leveraging success to give back
  • [40:19] Technology as a key to success

Celebrating wins and leveraging strengths is the backbone of people2people

Erin points out that in order to be successful as a recruitment team, you must provide adequate recognition for the accomplishments of your team in every stage of success. It can be as simple as verbal recognition for a job well done—or a spa day for the whole team. Telling people they’ve done a great job is a wonderful motivator for success. How does people2people accomplish that? 

On Mondays they highlight the successes of the previous week in their team meetings. Perhaps placements that occurred, targets reached, or company growth. On Fridays, they celebrate together and talk about the best thing that happened and what they enjoyed the most that week. People show up and do their best when they’re rewarded for it, even in the smallest of ways. 

At people2people they allow their team to play to their strengths. They set goals and have a general guideline of what the process to reach those goals could look like. But when it comes down to the nitty-gritty work, they allow their staff to accomplish it in a way that fits them best. They don’t dictate how things get done. Erin states, “We definitely do have a high-performance culture, but there is that flexibility and autonomy in how they achieve the outcome”. 

What sets their hiring and development standards apart from the rest? 

When hiring recruiters, Erin notes that they don’t always hire the most experienced person in the industry. Instead, they look for people who have demonstrated commitment, shown that they’re responsible, and demonstrate success—whether it was as an athlete or in academics. They want someone empathetic, intellectual, and team-oriented. Above all, they look for people who have strong interpersonal and communication skills and a positive attitude.

Once hired, their new team member has a plethora of growth opportunities available to them. They have structured classroom-style training, access to Recruitment Juice, RCSA courses—as well as on-the-job training. They have weekly mini-training lunches where a topic is chosen and discussed for half an hour. These opportunities are very simple, yet so effective for continuous learning. To hear how Erin assesses experienced recruiters, what their interview process is like, and the unique way they vet applicants—listen to our whole conversation. 

Erin’s story from accomplished Ballerina to Managing Director and CEO

Erin wasn’t always in the recruiting field. She got her start as a professional ballerina with the Australian Ballet. After 7 years, she found herself burned out. She ended up traveling the world but was soon ready for her next challenge—a transition into a long-term career. She started as a temp at a company but was hired full-time within an hour of starting. After observing their recruiting department, she asked if they’d allow her to give it a shot. With that leap of faith, she found a role that resonated with her and fit her unique skill set. 

Being a ballerina had encompassed her whole world. It was all-consuming, and there was no balance in her life. But it taught her discipline and drive. She cultivated the ability to work as a team, mastered empathy, and learned to understand people's emotions. These are all skills that transition well into recruiting. In 2010, Erin launched Devlin Alliance, a recruiting firm that specialized in sales and marketing recruitment. 5 years later, her firm merged with people2people and she transitioned into her role as Managing Director.

Erin also serves as CEO with Infront Sports Consulting, which people2people is the parent company of. They specialize in helping professional athletes transition out of sports and into a long-term career. We talk more about this role and why it is close to Erin’s heart, so keep listening. 

How mentoring someone else is a win for everyone involved

Erin has had the opportunity to be part of the RCSA’s mentoring program. She was mentored by many successful recruiters, including Greg Savage and Mark Smith. Erin had a great experience and wanted to give back herself, so she started mentoring others. She feels it is a privilege to help grow the next generation of leaders. Erin and I agree that mentoring positively impacts both the mentee and mentor and that both can learn from each other.

There is also an informal mentoring program at people2people where members are encouraged to seek out a mentor. The company’s only ask is that anyone being mentored, in turn, is willing to mentor someone else. It’s a once-a-month commitment where the individual gets to pick their mentor's brain and learn industry tools and strategies. The most successful people are those who are always learning and growing. 

And according to Erin, “If you want to be successful you have to invest in your development”—something she is always striving to do. 

Erin’s company firmly believes in giving back to the community. You've likely seen the recent devastation from the Australian bushfires that have been painted across the news worldwide. Erin and I wanted to take this opportunity to share the Recruiters for Fire Relief GoFundMe, linked below in the notes. If you feel inclined, check out their cause and donate.

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