The key to attracting talent: why cultural fit and flexibility should be important elements of your recruitment strategy

Man at desk in a video call working from home in short pants

Jennifer, who’s been working for Brunel Canada as a Recruitment Manager for over a year now, tells us all about the growing importance of flexible work arrangements and cultural fit at the workplace.

Hi, Jennifer! You started working at Brunel Canada in June 2021. Tell us more about your role as Recruitment Manager. 

That’s right, I initially started as senior recruiter and then, not long after, I was given the title of Recruitment Lead. And in May of 2022, I became Recruitment Manager for the mining and energy team, which currently consists of four recruiters and myself. In terms of my day-to-day activities, I manage three accounts and am responsible for finding and recruiting candidates for their vacancies. And, of course, I supervise my team of recruiters and report on their performance.   


Even though you just recently joined Brunel, you’re not new to the recruitment world, are you? 

No, not at all. Before coming to Brunel, I had been working in recruitment for over ten years with another company, and I moved up the ranks there as well. 


That’s a long time! What prompted you to change jobs and join Brunel? 

Well, I was at a point where I wanted the opportunity to grow my career and I wasn’t seeing this opportunity with my previous employer. Joining Brunel felt like the right move for me as the business seemed to be busy and growing. In retrospect, it was the best decision I could’ve made, because what I was told about the people and the company culture was absolutely true. 

Jennifer Folkes

Jennifer Folkes

Recruitment Manager for Brunel Canada

Jennifer says that, with today’s talent pool shortage affecting many sectors, candidates can cherry-pick the roles that suit them best.


What exactly were you told, and how would you define Brunel’s culture now that you’re a part of the company? 

So, you know the “passion for people” hashtag that is used everywhere? Those words are not just fluff. What I’ve experienced is that senior leadership really takes time to listen to the needs of its employees and makes sure that people stay engaged, motivated and happy in their jobs – regardless of whether that’s just accomplished by providing ongoing workforce training or by helping with a personal issue. So, I do feel like everybody – from senior stakeholders to recruitment to the back-office operations – really stands by this slogan. 


Given your extensive experience in the recruiting industry, have you witnessed any major changes in the business in the last few years? 

In general, the recruitment cycle changes frequently as economic fluctuations have a direct impact on the recruiting market. Sometimes clients run the show and sometimes it’s the candidates. With today’s talent pool shortage affecting many sectors, candidates can cherry-pick the roles that suit them best, which puts recruiters in a tough spot. Apart from that, I would say that the entire hiring process has changed drastically due to Covid-19. 


How so?

Obviously, virtual interview processes have become the norm. But I’ve also seen an increased focus on cultural fit. A few years back, the questions I was asked were along the lines of: “How much are they paying me and what am I supposed to be doing?” and not necessarily about: “Will I be happy in this job?” or “Am I going to fit in?”. Nowadays, I have the conversation about company culture and workplace flexibility with candidates every day. So, for us as a recruitment agency, we must ensure that we know all about the company culture of the clients we are supporting. Also, we have to be able to advise specialists on whether they’ll fit in with a hiring company’s values and culture.   


You just mentioned workplace flexibility. I can imagine that candidates demand flexibility more than ever in the post-pandemic business world?

Absolutely! This is why it is crucial for organisations to implement flexible work models such as hybrid work, remote work and part time. And I feel like Brunel Canada is one of the companies that has really embraced the remote work culture. I’m actually a remote worker myself, and my entire team is spread from Calgary to Newfoundland. Even so, I should say that not all workers have remote-capable positions. Especially in some of the industries Brunel works in, working from home is simply not possible due to the nature of engineering work. 


What are your tips on successfully managing remote teams? 

First, you must demonstrate that you trust your staff. That is fundamental to any successful experience of working from home. Second, effective communication and collaboration are key to enhance productivity. Video calls with individual team members usually happen daily, but formal meetings between our mining and energy group, for instance, happen twice a week. And with new hires or junior recruiters, it is important to make sure they get the chance to sit in with you on a (video) call. 


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