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ZOE RAPHAEL | INTERVIEW

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WHO IS ZOE RAPHAEL?

I’m a very social person, I love spending time with my partner Adam and our cat Lylah in our exciting new house that we recently moved into, as well as socialising with my family and friends. I’m a very caring person - I enjoy helping people and being an ear to listen or a friendly face for everyone in my life, and this is something I carry into my professional life as well. I’m dedicated, hardworking, highly motivated, meticulous and I always like to ensure things are done properly.

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 WHAT INTERESTS AND HOBBIES DO YOU HAVE OUTSIDE OF WORK?

Most weekends in summer I will be outdoors hunting the sun and aside from seeing my friends and family I love being busy in general. I enjoy delicious food, exercising and travelling. I am also the go-to “Event Planner” in my group of friends, and as I am fast approaching my 30th year I have been planning a number of 30th Birthdays as well as Hens Parties and Baby Showers which I really enjoy doing.

HOW DID YOU END UP IN RECRUITMENT?

I am passionate about helping people and being a part of a growing business, and I have found that working in recruitment is a way that I can achieve both. Over 5 years ago now I bumped into an old friend from University (Simon Cust, who is now a Partner of our Sydney business), who was running a team in recruitment himself at the time, and we started chatting about him possibly assisting me in finding a Marketing role, as this is what I had studied. After a few conversations though he mentioned that maybe I might like to explore the possibility of recruitment, and that he was actually hiring for his own team at that time. 5 years on, I am still in recruitment and I absolutely love it. The versatility that Sharp & Carter provides me along with the ability to help people and grow within a business is something I doubt I could find anywhere else and I couldn’t be happier to have made the decision to be in this field.


WHAT DOES YOUR ROLE AT SHARP & CARTER ENTAIL?

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I am a Director in the Business Support team at Sharp & Carter. In this role I recruit for high level Executive Assistant positions and also lead a team of 3 consultants and one administrator. While day to day recruitment is still a large part of my role, I also dedicate a lot of my time to mentoring and training my team so they can continue to develop their careers and service our clients to the best of their abilities, as well as to the standards set by the rest of the Sharp & Carter business.

WHAT MOTIVATES YOU AS A LEADER DEVELOPING A YOUNG TEAM?

As I have mentioned, I really love and enjoy helping and supporting people - it is probably the aspect of my role that I most enjoy. I lead a team of four, and have loved watching them all grow over the past two years since Elise and I launched Business Support. They are all extremely dedicated and we all share the same values which to me is super motivating. Working with an exciting, up and coming team, and seeing them develop and grow day by day is so rewarding and that in itself is motivating as well.


WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER THAT YOU FEEL HAVE HAD AN IMPACT ON YOUR SUCCESS?

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Elise Dawson and I launched Business Support in October 2016, which was a really exciting time. Being able to launch a business with my best friend is something I feel really lucky to be able to have had the opportunity to do, however I think one of the hardest parts of the role and of running a division and even of recruitment as a whole is knowing things are forever changing and that we have to continually adapt. The Business Support business has now just ticked over the two-year mark, and we are still growing and facing new challenges every day. Probably the challenge that has contributed most to me being where I am today is the challenge of stepping outside of the traditional recruitment role into a leadership position.  Although it was a process and a learning experience I have found it to be so rewarding and I am constantly learning more about not only my team, but also about myself and about running a business as a whole. I’m not sure there are many other companies out there that operate in the Partnership model that Sharp & Carter does, and so any challenges that are thrown my way are only more learning opportunities on the path to future success for the Business Support business, for me and for my team. 

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IN YOUR MIND, WHAT MAKES AN EFFECTIVE LEADER?

Communication is really important in being an effective leader, as is motivation, positivity, giving and receiving feedback, being passionate, being dedicated, leading by example and believing in yourself as well as in others.  As a leader I am so lucky to have the support of my team in all of our endeavours - we ride the highs and the lows together and try to make every day fun. We do personal training, yoga, Monday team breakfasts and we were even lucky enough to spend time on a boat over Christmas last year to celebrate an awesome year together.

WHAT MAKES ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO ARE INTERESTED IN RUNNING A DIVISION IN THEIR FUTURE?

Running a division is a very exciting challenge. I think as long as you have passion for what you do and the support of a great team and business leaders, then I would highly recommend it. It is a very rewarding job and truly makes me love what I do.

Zoe Raphael
Director - Business Support


STEPHEN CARTER | Partner - Sharp & Carter

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Over the weekend, Saturday the 2nd of March 2019 marked 10 years since Tim Sharp and I opened our business.

Sharp & Carter began in a month by month sub leased office next to the Wheelers Hill shopping centre on Jells Rd – a location with great fish and chips from the grumpiest fish and chip vendors you are ever likely to meet if you are out that way – but chosen specifically because… well, specifically because we had no money! Serviced offices were too expensive, and this building had interview rooms we could use for free as well as Skype phones which meant we only had a very small phone bill. For payment of a bottle of wine my friend Adam MacCanti designed an excel spreadsheet to use as a database, and another friend Tom Martin designed our logo for a 6 pack.

I am forever grateful for Tim who was crazy enough to start a business with me at the peak of the Global Financial Crisis and obviously there were times that had me seriously pondering how insane it was. How ridiculous to think that two guys sitting out in Wheelers Hill (albeit sustained by very good fish and chips) could really contemplate competing with global multinational companies like Robert Half, Robert Walters, Michael Page and Randstad!! But starting the business is often the biggest step and once you have, you have no choice but to work as hard as you can to make it successful. In the (paraphrased) words of two Australian guys who sold their mapping business to Google – which then became Google Maps – “By far the biggest and most common obstacle to achieving success in a business is the failure to start the business in the first place.”

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In the first twelve months of Sharp & Carter we made placements with BHP, Australia Post and realestate.com.au to name a few, but without doubt the most significant achievement of the first two years of operation was the staff we hired. While there are no barriers to start a recruitment business, when it comes to growing one there is a huge barrier – your ability to hire a team. When someone is looking for a job, one of the things that they consider when deciding which organisation to join is what sort of career path that company can offer them. And when you are two guys sitting in a sub leased office you can spin a good yarn about the blue sky and a well-designed spreadsheet, but there are no examples you can point to of people who have progressed their career within the business. So, the staff that came on board in those early days took a huge leap of faith for which I will be eternally grateful – Brad Turner, Rhys Buzza, Ricky Phare, Jonathan Prince, Bea Venuzwela and Bryony Greaves – thank you!


So, what are the top ten things that I have learnt over the past ten years?

1) It is the people you remember. The key to health is happiness and the key to happiness is relationships. I have developed lifelong friendships from working with people at Sharp & Carter – and the weddings I have been to, the staff that have had children, the life I have shared with my colleagues is what has been the most rewarding.

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2)  “A lot of people aiming for the stars neglect to see the flowers at their feet.” I have never been a big goal setter. Compared to an approach of grasping opportunities that you notice along the journey it really doesn’t work for me. In ten years at Sharp & Carter we have never had a growth plan of what the business should look like in 1, 2 or 5 years. Rather, we have found that we have achieved growth by simply focusing on our strategy of looking after our people. This strategy – which we also consider to be our competitive advantage – has not only rewarded us personally as per my above point, but it has also acted as a magnet for staff and for customers to our business.

 3) All of the customers that have utilised our services have used some of their internal capital to do so.  No-one has ever been obliged to use us and it is very humbling any time a customer entrusts us with their career move or with finding their new team member. People are absolutely wonderful in the way that they will sacrifice themselves for others.

 4) Focusing on doing the basics incredibly well is every bit as important as being innovative. Returning calls, giving people time and advice in an interview, keeping people in the loop, sending relevant candidates to a role is really our innovation in the world of recruitment. Crazy, huh?

5) Our business is what it is today because of our people and the only reason we have these people is because we treat them as we would like to be treated. They are treated as if they are the most important thing in our business. Why? Because they are.

Sharp & Carter family at Routeburn Track, New Zealand 2018

Sharp & Carter family at Routeburn Track, New Zealand 2018

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6) “As leaders, everything is our fault.” This has been incredibly important to us as it gives us a sense that we have some control over the situation. When a situation is someone else’s fault your only hope is that this other person changes or starts to behave differently – which is not only highly unlikely, but completely out of your control.

7) You are far better off trying to utilise and improve on someone’s strengths than you are trying to improve their weaknesses. This strength-based leadership approach is better for staff, leadership and customers.

 8) Our success has come much more from getting the best possible version of each person we have working with us than it has from nailing the hiring process. Whilst I think our ability to select the right ‘hires’ has improved over the years, far more important has been creating an environment in which people can be their best and flourish in their roles.

9) An individual’s work performance is hugely affected by what is happening in that individual’s personal life. You will never get the best out of someone if their personal life is in turmoil. We have had to take an active interest in what is happening in people’s lives in order to create a sustainably successful business.

10) Change is hard. We invest a huge amount of time and effort in helping our people grow and improve. It is not easy, and it is not for the faint hearted but it is incredibly rewarding and has been a huge component of our people first competitive advantage.

And there you have it – ten things I have learnt in ten years.

Now, while looking back is wonderful to do – as if you don’t understand your past you can’t understand your present – I must say I am almost more excited about the ten years to come. Our model of putting people first seems to be relatively unique in the world of recruitment, and I am looking forward to the new friends we are going to find, the difference we can make and the legacy we can leave.

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Stephen Carter
Partner, Sharp & Carter
0411 543 833

 

DANIEL CLOSE | INTERVIEW

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WHO IS DANIEL CLOSE?

I grew up in a ‘close-knit’ family with Mum, Dad and two brothers in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, but where we were given absolutely no choice but to support the Western Bulldogs! We still head along to the footy every weekend together and up until 2018, when my son was born and I got married, 2016 had been the best year in my life.

I’m now father to a beautiful boy, Charlie, and husband to an incredible wife, Shannon. I’m a recently retired amateur footballer and should be better at golf considering how much I play.

In 2011 I was diagnosed with epilepsy. It was certainly a shock at the time and an illness I have been learning to deal with ever since.

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WHAT DOES YOUR ROLE AT SHARP & CARTER ENTAIL?

I’m a Partner of our Accounting Clerical division at Sharp & Carter and personally have over 8 years’ experience recruiting within the industry. We have an awesome team that have been together for quite a while now recruiting accounts payable, receivable and payroll positions all over Melbourne. My role is still very much involved with the day to day recruiting for our clients. However, making sure the staff in our team have a fulfilling and enjoyable career working for Sharp & Carter is also paramount to my role.

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WHAT INTERESTS AND HOBBIES DO YOU HAVE OUTSIDE OF WORK?

My main love outside of work is spending time with my amazing little boy Charlie who is only 6 months old, and my wife Shannon who I only married a few weeks ago!

Apart from that, I really enjoy all sports, a fit and active lifestyle and spending time with friends and family on the weekend.


YOU RECENTLY UNDERTOOK A “YEAR WITHOUT BEER” - CAN YOU TELL US YOUR PURPOSE BEHIND THIS ENDEAVOR?

Our ‘Year Without Beer’ campaign was an idea my brothers, Josh and Brendan and I came up with in October 2017. Collectively, we decided to abstain from all forms of alcohol for 12 months and whilst doing this, our aim was to raise both money and awareness for the Epilepsy Foundation.

Our Mum, Jennie, also suffers from the condition so it is one that is very close to our hearts. On top of that, alcohol consumption has been proven to be a seizure trigger for epileptics, so we thought it was a pretty good idea!

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TALK US THROUGH YOUR JOURNEY FROM WHEN YOU STARTED TO HOW YOU FEEL NOW AFTER A YEAR WITH NO BEER?

Prior to commencing the journey, our initial goal was to hopefully raise some awareness, raise a little bit of money from friends and family and obviously to not give in to temptation throughout the year! It left us feeling very healthy as a result!

Incredibly, after the first 24 hours, we had already raised $3,500 (the Epilepsy Foundation called us thinking it was a hoax!) and I think it was at that point that we realised we could do something special.

Fast forward 12 months and we were able to raise $55,000 for the cause which was an incredible result! What wasn’t expected was the rewarding new relationships, the level of interest from the community and the enjoyment we all got from completing the 12 months.

WHAT DID YOU FIND CHALLENGING THROUGHOUT THIS PROCESS?

Alcohol is such a common place in our culture. It was prevalent in nearly every social group in my life. Whether it’s outside of work with friends wanting to catch up on the weekend, at the local football club or at work with clients or colleagues for Friday night drinks, saying ‘no’ took a little while to get used to, but over time I started enjoying it more and thought about it less.

Over the course of the year, friends’ weddings, bucks’ parties and the Christmas period were all hurdles, but we got through them all in one piece. In actual fact, we found that once we started to gather momentum we really started to actually embrace these challenges.

DID YOU PARTICIPATE IN ANY ACTIVITIES INVOLVED IN RAISING AWARENESS FOR THE CAUSE? IF SO, CAN YOU ELABORATE?

Outside of the day to day fundraising, there were several activities we ran throughout the year.

Some of these included:

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  • The Woodshed, Boss Gym & Live Fun Fit running personal training events

  • VAFA Football Club Swinburne participated in ‘Purple sock round’, which is the colour of the Epilepsy Foundation

  • Discussed our campaign on both podcast and radio

  • Completing the 2018 Melbourne Half Marathon

  • Josh, Brendan & I were ambassadors for the inaugural ‘Walk for Epilepsy’ in October

  • Local newspapers and the Herald Sun website published the story

  • Channel Nine News held an interview with us that aired on the Sunday night news

Finally, we hosted a ‘First Beers in a Year’ fundraiser that was held at the Albion Hotel in South Melbourne and was attended by over 200 people, including many of the staff from the Epilepsy Foundation.

This was our final fundraiser and we were able to raise $15,000 from that day alone!


DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE DEALING WITH EPILEPSY THEMSELVES, OR WHO KNOWS SOMEONE WHO IS DEALING WITH THE CONDITION?

After being diagnosed with the condition in 2011, at times I’ve battled personally with the best way to handle it as some of the side effects can be quite debilitating.

People dealing with epilepsy speak of being confronted with depression, anxiety, constant fatigue and headaches to mention just a few debilitating health effects. These can make living a ‘normal’ lifestyle difficult.

The best way in which I’ve found to eliminate these is through communication with other people who have epilepsy or speaking with people that I love and trust such as family and friends.

If anyone was to read this that has epilepsy or knows someone who does and is unsure on how to best deal with it, I’m always happy to have a conversation with someone to try and help!

Daniel Close
Partner - Accounting Clerical


STEPHEN CARTER | Partner - Sharp & Carter

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WHAT IS THE VALUE OF MARKETING YOUR BUSINESS WHEN YOU BELIEVE RECRUITMENT IS ABOUT INDIVIDUAL RELATIONSHIPS?

Over the ten years our business has been operating, Sharp & Carter has never done any marketing as a business. Obviously in the first few years of a new business you are really just trying to survive, but in the last four to five years this has been a deliberate choice.

In order to give you some background to the reasons for this decision I need to outline how we see the recruitment industry and how different recruiters approach the market. There are lots of recruitment companies who believe the key to running a successful recruitment business is the process – these recruiters are often known as “transactional” recruiters. The transactional formula focuses on just getting enough people in a recruitment business making sales calls, conducting interviews, going on client meetings and sending resumes out the door. This process leads to a certain number of jobs to be recruited, a certain number of candidates interviewing for those jobs and then a certain number of fees!

And to be fair to these types of recruiters this process has worked for years now (I think with automation and technology the days of it working are numbered but that is a topic for another day). But one of the downsides to this type of approach to recruitment is that these types of recruitment companies tend to suffer from high staff turnover, because this endless focus on the process and on targets causes recruiters to either burn out or leave in search of something more meaningful – something that doesn’t feel like they are just part of a production line.

We believe the key to recruitment is not the process but THE RELATIONSHIP between a recruiter and a customer. We believe that a customer would prefer to deal with an INDIVIDUAL who knows them, understands their company, their culture and the hidden talent in their market that can make the difference between a good team and a great team. As such, the focus of the leaders at Sharp & Carter is to retain our staff for the long term so that we can retain the relationships and the knowledge of a market that a recruiter holds.

Given this belief, we have never done any marketing about Sharp & Carter as a firm because:

1) We have been focused much more on retaining our staff and;

2) We don’t believe customers engage with recruitment brands, they engage with individuals that they have a relationship with.
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Now having said all that, I recently encountered a situation which caused me to ponder the sustainability of our marketing free business. A situation that highlighted our inability to own the narrative around our business if we don’t ever speak out, and which in turn led me to this path of sharing my thoughts and experiences via this medium – something I am hoping to do regularly from this point forward.

So, what happened? Well, we recently hired a new consultant from a large global competitor, and when I asked this person how their resignation process went, they said it was really tough…

They really slated you guys…. they said that:

1) You have made a number of bad hires recently;

2) You have had really high staff turnover and;

3) If I went to you there would be nothing in it for me and I would only be working for my manager.

Now I don’t have any issue with their opinion on whether we have made a number of bad hires because that is just that – an opinion. However, the high staff turnover piece is a lie. In actual fact, we have averaged 8% staff turnover p.a. over the last 4 years – a stark comparison to this other firm whom our consultant discovered during their exit process had 100% staff turnover in the past 12 months. In addition, the statement that there would be nothing in it for this person is also wildly untrue, as I know we pay our consultants significantly more than this firm. But how is our consultant supposed to know this if we do no marketing?

If we do no marketing, there is nowhere to check these facts, and there is a void that can be filled with lies. Considering that we are now a 115+ person business with a national presence I feel the time is right to complement (rather than replace) our relationship driven approach to recruitment with some first-person accounts of our Sharp & Carter way.

I want to write about what we stand for and what we believe in. Explain how treating people well has been the key to our success and share a few stories along the way. I will endeavour to make the articles informative, interesting, and humorous.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

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Stephen Carter
Partner, Sharp & Carter
0411 543 833