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A few minutes with Rebecca Clarke

E kitea ai ngā taonga o te moana, me mākū koe.

If you seek the treasures of the ocean, you’d better get wet.

Only when you truly get involved, can you discover ways to create positive change

Tell me a bit about yourself; what gets you out of bed each day and what’s your top tip to keeping sharp each day?

I have been described as an enigma, but I think that’s because I’m much more curious about other people and so would rather hear your stories than tell you mine! You’ll find me at the intersection of conversations online and in real life across a number of tribes fuelled by my interest in business, creativity, philanthropy and the arts.

What gets me out of bed each day is the drive to make a positive impact on the world as well as find joy in each day. What better way to do that than by helping businesses to grow, communities to prosper and people to love their work. Being part of the RCSA team enables me to contribute to something bigger from an industry perspective and the variety of conversations and strategic drivers means that there is always meaningful to be involved in.

One of the best things I’ve done this year has been to stop binge-watching the news, replacing this with reading books and listening to music. This has done wonders for my wellbeing and energy levels. Reading a minimum of 20 pages at the start and the end of the day is a tip that I’ve certainly implemented.

Walk me through your career and how it led you to recruitment and staffing? What are you passionate about within the field?

If I couldn’t be Pat Benatar, I was going to be an Algebra teacher or an Accountant and I was going to be the first person in my family to get a tertiary education. After a time in retail, learning how to manage multi-million-dollar businesses, and working within a variety of roles, a few rounds of restructuring forced me to suddenly consider something new. I could play it safe and move into something more aligned to what I’d been doing, but the toughest interview and recruitment process of my life led me to recruitment, starting up a new Auckland branch for a Wellington based business. That was 19 years ago!

Employability was a massive driver for me after being through redundancy. I soon discovered recruitment to be an amazing career option because you are always learning about businesses, people, workforce trends, changes in skill needs, and you have to always be at least two steps ahead.

Can you describe a time where you saw a clear gap in the sector and how you (or in collaboration with others), addressed it for the better?

I was in conversation with internal and external recruiters at an open mic meetup about candidate care and a debate ensued. Applications are certainly not all equal when it comes to calculating ROI on our time invested, and that will vary according to who we are, and what role we’re recruiting for. I’d been in the industry long enough to know about the importance of placement driven activity, and I had coached my teams on it, but I’d also been in the industry long enough to know we kept going round in circles blaming applicant behaviour and arguing with each other about it.

I started #AskARecruiter in 2016 as a response to this – a way of bringing internal and external recruiters together as a panel in an #AskMeAnything session. Recruiters who have taken part in these events see the difference it makes to the people that attend, and it also keeps their skills sharp by hearing different perspectives and always learning new things about applicant behaviour.

This was a small way that I could debunk recruiter myths and help to raise the profile and purpose of our industry. I am thankful every day that I get to do this on a bigger scale through raising the profile of our members and the work I do via the RCSA.

Considering the core focuses for RCSA NZ, tell me what sort of pathways to professionalism have been created and what impact this has had on your members?

It has been great to see our members responding with pride to the online #codeofconductchallenge as our new values-based code of conduct has come into place this year. By sharing what part of the RCSA code you connect with, and why you are proud to be a professional recruiter, we’ve also seen clients and candidates weighing in with their positive feedback providing unsolicited testimonials.

In our industry we talk about our people as being our key differentiators but without getting specific it’s rhetoric. Recruiters, you need to know who you are, what you stand for, and how you can really help in this market. Why are you in recruitment? Why do you love what you do? Putting the effort into working on your own values can also help you to extract this info from your clients and candidates to help them to stand out.

Our L& D team have been running a series of webinars with Ross Clennett discussing different ethical scenarios in practice because great recruitment outcomes are the result of a series of often complex decisions. This also highlights the skill of our industry – while the path to placement may seem simple for anyone outside of recruitment, there is a difference between making a placement out of luck rather than by design.

Can you tell me about a time you were proud of an initiative you enabled with you members?

It has been great to see how our members have rallied to support each other through our Collab sessions this year. We began these on a weekly basis during lockdown, and we have continued to hold these monthly.

Recruitment is an industry that is always on; it operates around the clock and recruiters are performance oriented and often prone to burnout. Before you can help anyone else, you need to ensure you have the capacity, not just the capability. It’s as simple as that.

We have been able to create a safe space for people to contribute and build trust. These sessions focus on social connection and engagement and encourage diversity of participants with differing views and experience.

We’ll be continuing these in Kiwi Collabs in 2021 as anti-agenda meetings - anything goes, they are co-created and curated by the attendees. We create space for recruiters and owners to connect about issues they care about, to pose a question, or just to connect and know that you’re not on your own. If this helps to grow your business, your capability, your love of your work or your wellbeing, then we’ve fulfilled our objective.

What is your vision for the future of RCSA NZ?

We are on a growth trajectory while fostering, supporting and celebrating the growth of our members‘ businesses and individual careers. We are growing the profile of the contribution our industry makes to ensure that we have a stronger voice in crucial decisions and discussions. We will continue to raise our profile with key stakeholders beyond our industry. If anyone is looking for a single source of truth about Recruitment Consulting and Staffing in Aotearoa, RCSA will be the go-to.

A key reason that members join us is to know what’s coming down the pipe that they need to prepare for, rather than us simply being an echo chamber of already-held views and information.

To lead in the world of work we seek feedback from our members about areas that they need help with, but we must also challenge existing thinking.

My vision for RCSA NZ is that people know what contribution our members make to individuals, businesses, and workforces. We can amplify this message and impact and we need your help. You should and can continue to access all the benefits of your membership. But beyond that I encourage you to get involved and help us to shape the future of recruitment and staffing in Aotearoa. And I’m super energised and excited about the possibility and potential of what we can do together in 2021.

2021 Vision: visible, valuable and vital. How’s that?

What is the best piece of advice that could help members with their everyday business?

From my own experience, when you’re building a desk your single focus becomes to grow your specialty and so you immerse yourself in that world. Outside in learning is important and often the biggest shifts happen from taking something from another sector and applying it to your business. But don’t take your eye off investing in your ongoing professional development of your own industry skills. Otherwise, what value are you bringing to the table if you’re getting so good at knowing all there is to know about their industry, having lost touch with what’s happening in your own.

Our industry and our membership is highly diverse these days. We represent a range of business models, a variety of workforce solutions and internal teams, and our people specialise in all the sectors that are growing! Clients and candidates also like to hear that you’re involved in your own industry – if you’re only learning about theirs, how are you bringing new value and industry expertise to them?

I’d absolutely encourage you to engage with our partner community, as well as continue to get outside your specialty, out into the community to understand shared challenges.

There is no better time to be proud of the contribution recruitment, talent acquisition and staffing professionals make – we’re in the industry of jobs and getting people into employment and this has never been more important for mental health and economic development.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Here’s my challenge to you. When you have a platform to speak do you showcase what it means to be a professional recruiter? Do you tell people why you do what you do? Do they know what a typical day looks like and do have they have an idea of the skill involved?

How much do you tell people about what you do? Sharing these things doesn’t dilute your influence. It actually grows it exponentially. I love hearing your stories.

Tag me and @RCSA into your posts!

I’ve signed up to Inspiring The Future and would encourage our NZ members to do the same to let students, career advisers, parents and teachers get an insight into what an amazing career recruitment is, and the value our industry brings

And as it’s Christmas time, THANK YOU for the gift of your attention! It’s been a hell of a year, and attention is in high demand and ever decreasing supply so we appreciate you. If there’s something you’d like us to start, stop, continue – please also give us the gift of your feedback. We are here for you, we are listening, and we #loveyourwork #arohatōmahi. Give us a review on Google, or Facebook NZ and AU pages, or simply email

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