Pragnesh Karunakaran of Red Recruitment talks all things recruitment with sales coach Stephen Murtagh, a.k.a. The Exhibition Guy.
For me it’s all about real people and its great having all the qualifications in the world but attitude and creativity are the real success factors. The exhibition industry is a very dynamic and demanding space so having people who really buy into the concept of what we do is really important.
What can companies do differently to attract potential staff?
Work and structures have changed a lot since I started my career over 30 years ago and as we move with the times, it’s important we as employers give our team more flexibility in the way they work, be it remotely or the actual hours they do. Companies need to look more at individuals’ situations rather than adopt a blanket work practice across the board.
What skills are lacking in the industry and what are companies looking for?
Training continues to play a big role in people development and more and more of the younger generation are buying into the real value of being better at what they do. As an industry I feel that sales people are relying too much on digital and not getting in front of their clients more. It’s ironic that as an industry we are promoting a face-to-face medium via digital.
What are the key attributes you look for in candidates?
Business as in life has changed and the day of the flash salesperson is gone and for me its very simple, I look for people who are real and can build a strong relationship with our clients that is built on trust and delivering for them every time. I look for people who are not afraid to back themselves and take a chance but who will also admit when they are wrong. I look for candidates who are not afraid to question things if they are wrong. Our clients are real people and so are our employees.
How much importance do you place on CVs?
There is an old expression that ‘Paper never refused ink’ and the more glamorous the CV, the more sceptical I am. I would offer someone a job based more on how we get on face-to-face than on paper. I look for the progression in their career and the length of time they spent with employers. I am also very interested in their outside work interests are as this can give you a great feel for their roundedness. Personally, college degrees and masters are no match for how well they can interact within my business.
What could the industry do to attract more talent?
As an industry we should be looking at promoting the dynamic side of the business and how as an industry you can work across multiple sectors and also how transferrable these skills are. On the negative side, I feel the event industry can be guilty of promoting it as a totally fun place to work all the time and this can lead to disillusionment when people work in it for a long time.