New Year, New You, New Water Job?

Happy New Year! With the start of a new year, it’s the perfect time to look at new job opportunities, especially in the water industry. This field is about to see a big change. Many experienced people are retiring, leaving room for new talent to step in. This change, often called the ‘silver tsunami,’ is a big deal for the water sector. But it’s not just about people leaving; it’s also about new chances for innovation and technology.

This is where you come in. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to shift gears in your career, the water industry offers exciting and important job opportunities. Let’s talk about all the changes happening in the water world and what they mean for jobs. From understanding the impact of retiring experts to the growing role of technology, we’ll (hopefully!) cover it all. If you’re curious about where a career in water can take you, read on!

(Wanna get direct water job insights while reading? Then listen to the dedicated podcast episode ⬇️)

with 🎙️ Lyle King – Owner & Director at Influx Search

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Resources:

🔗 Have a look at Influx Search‘s website

🔗 Connect with Lyle King on LinkedIn

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Full Video:


Understanding the Silver Tsunami

The “silver tsunami” is a big wave of retirement hitting the water industry. Imagine this: many of the experts who’ve been working in water for decades are getting ready to retire. This is happening all over the industry, and it’s going to leave some pretty big shoes to fill.

(yes, I know, last year I spoke about a “Silver Wave” but it’s not me stressing this up, it’s Kendra Morris)

Why it Matters

When these experienced workers leave, they take with them years of knowledge and skills. This isn’t just about having fewer people around; it’s about losing a lot of what they know about water management. Picture this: your favorite teacher retires – the new one might be great, but there’s a lot of wisdom that walks out the door.

What’s at Stake?

The stakes are high. Water is essential for life, and managing it is a complex job. With fewer seasoned pros, there’s a worry that we might not have enough skilled people to keep everything running smoothly. Think about it: if the people who know the most about our water systems aren’t there anymore, who will make sure our water stays clean and safe?

The Opportunity

But it’s not all doom and gloom. This ‘silver tsunami’ is also a chance for new talent to come in. There’s room for fresh ideas, new approaches, and maybe even some breakthroughs in how we manage water. If you’ve ever thought about a career in water, now’s an exciting time to jump in.

Now that we’re clear on definitions, let’s talk about how the world of water is changing with digital tech and automation.

The water industry faces a significant challenge in attracting and retaining talent, particularly due to a looming generational turnover and the evolving skill sets required in the era of digitization and automation. This challenge calls for a strategic approach to recruitment, focusing on not just acquiring new talent but also on retaining and developing existing employees.

Water Job Market Podcast – What’s inside?

Lyle King, representing Influx Search, discusses the significant challenges facing the water industry in terms of talent management. The industry is undergoing a “silver tsunami,” with a large portion of its workforce approaching retirement, which will result in a major knowledge gap and the need for strategic succession planning. Additionally, there is a growing need for digital technologies and data management skills, indicating a shift in the industry’s skill requirements.

The conversation also highlights the challenges the water sector faces in attracting diverse and young talent. This is partly due to poor employer branding and the industry’s inability to effectively communicate its culture, values, and impact.

Furthermore, King emphasizes the importance of not only recruiting new talent but also focusing on retaining existing employees. He points out that it is much more cost-effective for organizations to keep their staff happy and engaged than to recruit new people continuously. The concept of employer branding is discussed as a critical element in attracting talent, with many companies struggling to communicate what it’s like to work for them effectively.

Lyle also discusses his journey from engineering to recruitment and his passion for the water industry. He shares insights about the differences between executive search and headhunting and the role of Influx Search in helping companies with both talent acquisition and retention strategies.

The podcast delves into the specifics of the water sector’s challenges, including the aging workforce, the need for a shift towards technological proficiency, and the importance of creating an attractive employer brand to draw in the right talent. Lyle finally provides insights into the evolving nature of job profiles in the water industry and the increasing significance of digital and data skills.

The Shift Towards Digital and Automation

In the water industry, like in many others, digital tech and automation are changing the game. It’s an exciting time, with new technologies offering better ways to manage and conserve our precious water resources.

Embracing Digital Transformation

The industry is moving beyond traditional methods. Now, we’re seeing things like digital sensors, advanced water treatment processes, and smart water meters. These technologies help in monitoring water quality, detecting leaks faster, and even predicting system failures before they happen.

Why This Matters (again!)

Why is this shift so important? For starters, it means we can manage water more efficiently and sustainably. Imagine being able to detect and fix a leak before it becomes a big problem. Or using data to figure out the best way to use and conserve water. This isn’t just good for the environment; it’s also great for businesses and communities.

New Skills and Opportunities

This move towards digital also means there are new kinds of jobs popping up in the water sector. We’re talking about roles like data analysts, automation engineers, and tech-savvy water managers. If you’re interested in tech and want to make a real-world impact, these are the kind of jobs that can give you that chance.

Challenges and Solutions

Of course, with new tech comes new challenges. There’s a need for training and upskilling so that people in the water industry can keep up with these changes. And, we have to make sure these tech solutions are accessible to all, not just the biggest players.

Challenges in Employer Branding and Talent Attraction

In the water industry, attracting diverse and young talent is a challenge that needs urgent attention. It’s about building a workforce that’s ready for the future.

The Image Problem

One big hurdle is how the water sector is perceived. Many young people don’t see it as a dynamic or innovative field. This is a problem because we need their fresh ideas and perspectives to keep the industry moving forward.

Breaking Stereotypes

To change this perception, the industry needs to do a better job of showcasing itself. We need to highlight the cool, tech-focused work that’s happening in water management. It’s not just about pipes and pumps; it’s about sustainable solutions, protecting the environment, and using cutting-edge technology.

Employer Branding

Companies in the water sector need to work on their employer branding. This means actively showing what it’s like to work in this field. It’s about more than just job descriptions; it’s about sharing stories, experiences, and the real impact of the work.

Engaging the Youth

How do we get young people interested? It starts with education and outreach. We need to get into schools, offer internships, and create programs that let young people see the possibilities in the water industry. Imagine a world where working in water is as coveted as a job in Silicon Valley. That’s what we should aim for.

Strategies for Talent Retention and Recruitment

In the water industry, it’s not just about finding new talent; it’s equally important to keep the talent you already have. Let’s dive into how companies can do both effectively.

Investing in Current Employees

It’s often cheaper and more beneficial to keep and develop your existing staff than to always look for new hires. This is where employee development programs come in. Offering training, opportunities for advancement, and a supportive work environment can make a big difference.

Attracting New Talent

But what about bringing in new people? Here, the focus should be on creating a workplace that’s attractive to potential employees. This means offering competitive salaries, good working conditions, and, importantly, a sense of purpose. People want to feel like their work matters, and in the water industry, it certainly does.

The Role of Company Culture

Company culture plays a big part in both retaining and recruiting employees. A culture that values innovation, sustainability, and employee wellbeing is likely to attract a workforce that’s committed and motivated. Think about what makes your company unique and how you can communicate that to both current and potential employees.

Collaboration with Educational Institutions

Forming partnerships with universities and technical schools can also be a great strategy. These collaborations can help ensure that new graduates have the skills and knowledge that the industry needs, making the transition from school to work smoother.

Flexibility and Adaptability

Finally, being flexible and adaptable is key. The water industry is changing, and companies need to be able to change with it. This means being open to new ideas and ways of working, and being willing to invest in the future of your employees.

Empowering a New Generation in the Water Sector

As we face the challenge of the ‘silver tsunami’, there’s a critical need to bring young, vibrant talent into the water industry. Let’s explore how this can be done effectively.

Why Young Talent Matters

The water sector needs more than just bodies to fill positions; it needs fresh ideas, energy, and a new perspective. Young professionals can bring innovative thinking and a tech-savvy approach, which is crucial for an industry on the brink of digital transformation.

Bridging the Gap

There’s a noticeable gap between the retiring generation and the newcomers. To bridge this gap, we need to focus on mentorship and knowledge transfer. Experienced professionals have a wealth of knowledge to share, and young talent can bring new skills and approaches to the table.

Universities and schools play a pivotal role. By offering scholarships and courses focused on water management, we can encourage more students to consider careers in this field. It’s also about raising awareness at a younger age about the importance and impact of the water sector.

Showcasing the Cool Factor

The water industry needs to shake off its outdated image and showcase its cool, impactful side. This includes emphasizing the sector’s role in addressing global challenges like climate change and water scarcity. It’s about showing how working in water is not just a job, but a mission to make a real difference.

The Role of Technology

Embracing and integrating technology is key. Young professionals are drawn to sectors that are innovative and tech-forward. By highlighting the technological advancements in water management, we can make the sector more appealing to a younger audience.

Creating Opportunities for Growth

Finally, young professionals want to see a clear path for growth and development. The water sector can attract more young talent by offering opportunities for career advancement, continuous learning, and engagement in meaningful projects.

In conclusion, empowering a new generation in the water industry is not just about filling jobs; it’s about building a sustainable future for the sector. With the right approach, we can attract a workforce that’s not only skilled but also passionate about making a difference.

Conclusion: Charting the Future of Water Careers

As we conclude, it’s clear that the water industry is at a pivotal crossroads. The ‘silver tsunami’ of retirements presents challenges, but also a unique opportunity to inject new life and ideas into this vital sector.

Embracing Change

Change can be daunting, but it’s also a chance for growth and innovation. The water industry, traditionally seen as static, is evolving rapidly, embracing digital technologies, and offering exciting opportunities for those willing to dive in.

The Role of Each Individual

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a newcomer to the field, your contribution matters. For veterans, it’s about passing on knowledge and mentoring the next generation. For the new talent, it’s about bringing fresh perspectives and embracing the tech-driven future of the industry.

A Call to Action

As we step into this new era, the water industry calls for passionate individuals who see beyond just a job. It’s about being part of something bigger – ensuring sustainable water management and making a real impact on our planet and future generations.

The Future is Bright

The future of water careers is not just promising; it’s essential. As we face global challenges like climate change and water scarcity, the industry needs bright minds and dedicated souls. There’s never been a more exciting or important time to be part of the water sector.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Are you inspired to explore a career in water? Do you see other opportunities for the industry to evolve and attract talent? Share your ideas, and let’s continue to shape the future of water together.

Thank you for joining this exploration. We wish you all the best in your career endeavors, especially if they lead you to the dynamic and impactful world of water management.

Full Transcript:

These are computer-generated, so expect some typos 🙂

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Antoine Walter: Hi, Lyle. Welcome to the show.

Lyle King: Hi Antoine. Yeah. Thank you very much for having me.

Antoine Walter: I’m super happy to have you because the topic we’ll be discussing today is something which is on my plate of topics I’d like to address since almost the day I started this podcast, it’s one of the key topics in the industry we don’t talk enough about because there’s kind of a taboo about, you know, if you have a job, if you have an employer, you should not discuss about opportunities in the market.

You shouldn’t discuss about what’s in demand, what’s not, what skills that you get. And I think That’s a pity that’s a very wordy introduction.

Let me cut to the chase and ask you what’s your elevator pitch to Influx Search?

Lyle King: My elevator pitch to Influx Search is that we are a global Recruitment consultancy and headhunting organization.

We are specialized across the water industry, but I suppose that there is a bit of a caveat there that it’s basically working with. a variety of businesses that work across a water application. It isn’t necessarily specific to just, you know, municipal applications. It could be industrial water or wastewater applications.

It could be, you know, commercial and residential applications, but it is essentially working with businesses across the water sphere more generally. And it is working with those businesses of all shapes and sizes in helping with talent strategies more generally. there’s a quite common misconception that recruitment is specifically about going out and finding new people.

But what we’re trying to do, being specialized within an industry is one thing, but also what we are trying to do more and more of is work with businesses in actually retaining their staff. It’s much cheaper for an organization to keep their existing staff and keep them happy.

that it is to actually go out and find somebody new. We work with businesses across attraction, acquisition, but also, and I think, you know, more importantly on the retention side as well.

Antoine Walter: I’ll put that topic in the fridge because it’s super interesting. I’d like to just come back to what you said in the very beginning. You said you’re. A global executive and specialty search recruitment and a headhunting. What’s the difference between the two?

Lyle King: Yeah, I mean, they’re somewhat synonymous, I’ll be honest. I think, you know, the main thing is that executive search is working with senior executives and senior leaders within a business, but we also help businesses that are looking for what can be quite hard to find talent. It’s essentially just working with businesses that are looking for specific talent, be it at more of an executive level or for what is very specialized talent. I mean, I can give you a good example of that is a position that I have been working on more recently was a principal hydraulic metrologist.

And obviously you don’t find a million of those around in the world. But yeah it’s basically just like saying it’s working with businesses that are just looking for very specific talent.

Antoine Walter: Before we get into the details of the deep dive, I looked up your path and I was expecting you to come from, I don’t know, business school or something like that because I was associating HR topics and recruitment topic to that. kind of skillset, but you’re an engineer. So how did you turn from an engineer to doing what you’re doing today?

Lyle King: Yeah, it’s a good question. I always wanted to be a pilot. I mean, I know that’s kind of like one of the fairytale type career paths that everybody when they’re really young wants to do. But I actually failed for medical reasons. So I was kind of at a point in my life where it was, there was no real plan B,

at the time I was working in engineering and I do think I’m probably, you know, like an engineer at heart. I do quite like getting into the weeds with technical. Solutions and things. And I think that this actually plays quite well into working in this industry. When we are dealing with businesses that have what is a very specific technical solution that I feel like I’ve got a bit of an affinity and actually being able to understand how it works, even if it is just top level.

But yeah, at the time I had a friend that was working in recruitment and I gave it a go. You know, it’s really quite simple as that. And so here we are eight years later still working in this space. And to be really honest, I absolutely love it. There’s a reason that I’ve now sort of set up my own business to continue doing this.

Antoine Walter: That was my question. Why did you want to create your own business there?

Lyle King: Yeah, I’ve always wanted to work for myself and I’ve always wanted to set up a business that I suppose I had a little bit more.

Direction in the way that the business goes really. And obviously now I’ve got a lot of experience when it comes to working in this space. And I really now, the plan with influx is to be, and I get that this is like really overarching goals, but I want it to be synonymous with recruitment across the water industry.

You know, when businesses that are working in this field, think about potentially using an external partner or, you know, when it comes to sort of talent strategies, more generally, I really do want influx search to be. The name that comes to people’s minds. And I get that, you know, this is like head in the clouds thinking right now we’re four months old.

But you know, that’s the sort of overall goal with it. And that’s really where I want this this business to be in X amount of years time down the line.

Antoine Walter: We’ll see down the line in the deep dive, how the road leads to that and what’s specific about that sector and how you can build upon that. I’d like to start the deep dive with the conversation I had with Kendra Morris from Veolia when I was sitting down with her in New York this year. And we were discussing.

what I was calling at the time, the silver wave, which is what I’ve always heard. And she corrected me and said, no, at that stage, it’s not a wave anymore. It’s a tsunami. what’s your opinion on that? you also see that tsunami happening? Is it getting worse? And what’s the challenge associated with that?

Lyle King: Yeah. I mean, yeah, you hear silver wave, silver tsunami, gray wave, gray tsunami. There’s loads of different I suppose terms that get thrown about. And yeah, I mean, I think it’s a big problem that, you know, a lot of organizations are having to face. I don’t think it’s. specific to the water industry.

I think there’s a number of industries that are facing it. you look at, you know, construction more generally, they’re probably in a somewhat of a similar field.

Antoine Walter: Sorry to cut you off, but by the numbers, the water sector, I just checked a couple of Brookings Institute studies, the water sector is older by five years than the average of the economy. So it might not be the only sector in that case, but it sounds like we’re a bit more.

Lyle King: Yeah, no, yeah, it is. I mean, I was looking at a study the day actually, and this is specific to the UK in particular, but it’s, I don’t think it’s quite 50%, but it’s close to 50 percent of the UK’s water engineering force is or will be retired in the next 20 years or so.

And I get that is obviously, you know, it’s a long time scale that we are working with, but you know, realistically, 50 percent of the workforce is going to have to be replaced in the next two decades. And obviously that presents its own challenge. There’s a big knowledge gap there that needs to be replaced.

And you need to pass down the knowledge for an organization to run as it is running. Now, the challenges obviously that presents is firstly. Contingency planning and making sure that you’ve got staff that are coming up and being upskilled in the skills that will be, lost, , post retirement, but I also think that there’s a slight shift in the workforce as well.

 Some of those roles that will be coming up for retirement might well be replaced by more digital technologies and I think one of the biggest challenges for leaders of organisations is obviously understanding which skills are essential, which skills are going to be required, you know, almost indefinitely, and then obviously putting a contingency plan in place to make sure that they don’t lose that knowledge gap.

Antoine Walter: so we’re not all getting replaced by robots. We will still need some, some

Lyle King: Not yet. You’ve still got to be polite to the AI platforms though, because you just never know.

Antoine Walter: That’s a good one. I had that conversation very long time ago with Imre Takacs about modeling and how the digitization of the plants will change job profile of people within the plants. And he. very rightfully told me, you know, an AI platform is never going to grease a pump. So it sounds like some of the tasks, which are also the ones where it’s the more tense right now in the job market, because we can’t find the people fill in the roles.

Those tasks won’t be eliminated by AI or shifted by AI. So it sounds like the problem is just intensifying. Do you feel that way?

Lyle King: Who can realistically say at this point which jobs are going to be replaced by automation and artificial intelligence and everything like that? You need a crystal ball to be able to really pin that answer down. But systematically there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

There is, it’s somewhat of a challenge in attracting people into the industry

Antoine Walter: How would you define it? This attractivity issue?

Lyle King: I think that there are a few challenges that need to be overcome in order to define it properly.

I think generally speaking, there’s a, challenge at the, you know, the school college and university level when it comes to attracting people into it, I think there’s a lot more that can be done from, you know, career choice, sort of decision making and actually moving into the water industry or water focused.

I think there’s a lot that can be done when it comes to Diversity more generally, the engineer type sort of workforce is predominantly male and predominantly white, you know, there’s a lot more that can be done there. I do also think though, and I suppose just to, to caveat that there has been a lot more done on DNI, you know, that is a far more talked about thing, it’s not so much a taboo topic anymore as what it once was, but there is still a long way to go with it.

And then I suppose, you know, more. Specifically within organizations. More generally, you do have then an attraction issue to organizations specifically. lot of work that needs to be done across all three and they are their own challenges, almost independently of one another.

But that, you know, you start to tackle those individual challenges and all of a sudden you then start to feed back into what we were originally discussing, which is that you will have more of a contingency plan for what is upcoming retiring workforce. Thank you.

Antoine Walter: I guess the heart of what water companies can work on is the attractivity. Because the other parameters are a bit more societal. And that one is really the one where you should be able to come over that. But I noticed that, you know, imagine H2O has job board where all the companies, which they have in portfolio can share their jobs.

And when you look at the job board, it sounds like just the series of all the dream jobs of a young engineer, or even. a qualified engineer or a senior engineer, everything is there and still those companies struggle to find people to fill those positions. And again, if I revert back to my conversation with Kendra Morris, that’s the other end of the food chain.

So the very big guys, and they are investing heavily into training people to get the skills. be able to take on those water jobs. no strings attached. It’s not because you’re taking the Veolia school that you have to work for Veolia, but they think they have to do it because if not, will simply not find the right profiles in, in, in the talent pool.

So it sounds like attractivity is a problem all across the board and. I’m obviously very biased. I love that sector. I can’t figure out why we’re not attractive.

Lyle King: I really do agree with that point. The way that I would always sort of position it to a client or a hiring manager that is going to be looking at bringing in anyone is, there’s three things that you need to be able to clearly communicate.

To a prospect candidate. And the first is obviously what the job is, which, you know, 99 times out of 100, they can clearly communicate what the job is. I mean, there are obviously one or two times where they maybe can’t. They need to be able to understand what the product or services. And I suppose what I mean by that is, can you explain what your business does?

What product is it that you’re selling? What services that you’re offering, etc. But then the one area where I think that there is perhaps a little bit more work to do is, and this is what you’ve been alluding to, is What’s it like to work for your business? And it’s not necessarily giving a quick five second, we’re a great company.

We’ve got, you know, great benefits and we’ve got a great team. It’s actually pulling together more of an employer brand so that prospect candidates can really understand what it’s like to work for. So that when you’ve got somebody that is perhaps a little bit on the fence, they are actually getting a full picture as to what this opportunity is.

You can use employer branding more generally than specifically for just recruitment because there’s a whole range of like benefits to having a strong employer brand and then strong employer brand presence online. But this is an area that I think does need a lot of work.

 A lot of time people can answer those first two questions. It’s the third one that can sometimes go amiss. Or if they do have a very clear definition of what their employer brand is, it’s maybe not often that visible. So that when you do have a, prospect candidate that’s potentially looking at joining an organization, it’s not front and center.

And this is something that we’ve started to do more and more work with clients and is building out that, that employer brand.

Antoine Walter: Yeah. How do you do that?

Lyle King: , I can give you a good example. We ran a workshop recently with three senior leaders of a business, and it started with something as simple as writing down individually what they thought their employer brand was, or what the value proposition was for a potential employee working for this business.

And each senior leader during this workshop, an hour long meeting in the beginning. Wrote down something completely different, you know, individually, they’re all great, but each person wrote down something completely different and albeit that is great. And that means that there’s obviously more than one good thing about that business.

It’s not necessarily the really concise employer brand that you really want to be pushing out to a, more online presence and you. To potential passes by that might be a little bit more interested. I mean, I think that’s the starting point. You can then obviously build out an employer brand by having your values actually written down on paper, and then you can start to build things out.

I mean, there’s loads of things that you can do when it comes to like employee testimonial and and other things like that, that can really engage prospect candidates. Into why a business is good to work for. Historically people just use like online forums to get a sense of what it was like, but the reason that you build out your employer brand is to counteract the what can be sometimes negative forums, a lot of the time. If you were to leave a review it’s because you either love leaving reviews or you’ve had a bad experience and you know the vast majority of the time it’s because you’ve had a bad experience you go and leave a review but then obviously those forums can become somewhat of a negative space and it’s about counteracting that.

Antoine Walter: on this value topic, when you look at the value of any kind of company and that’s not specific to the water sector, they seem to me sometimes unspecific. I don’t see that being like really the decisive factor for you to choose a company over another, because most of the time, if you don’t see the logo, the name of the company, you might have a hard time to associate one set of values to one specific company.

So is that really the decisive criterion you’d put as number one, which will change the attractivity of a business?

Lyle King: No, but I think when you factor it in with everything else, it helps. This conversation is referring to like a prospect candidate that’s potentially looking at starting with a particular business. And I think when you then have a clear idea of what a particular job is that you are.

exploring. You have obviously a very good understanding of what the business is because corporate websites are naturally geared towards giving a good idea as to what the business does. And then you have a strong employer brand presence. It then gives you a much more rounded overview as to what the business is like to work for.

I don’t think if you just rely on the employer branding that then opens the floodgates of really strong prospect candidates that are naturally coming towards you. But I think it shifts the needle. back in your favor somewhat than not having it at all. Like I say, it’s not this game changer that then goes, right, great we’ve solved recruitment, but it does help shift the needle back in your favor somewhat.

Antoine Walter: So at that stage. The prospect is engaged with industry, is engaged with the company. And so it’s shifting the needle and might help to get him on board. If we just zoom out a little bit in the first place, that same prospect might have the opportunity to go in the water industry, but maybe also, I don’t know, in carbon capture and sustainability, or even in a totally different business.

So who takes care of the sector’s attractivity? It can’t be an individual brand.

Lyle King: Yeah, I mean, that is a very good question. I think if you break it down into its constituent parts, and this is relying on a lot of people doing a lot of things in order to achieve this, but if everybody that worked within the water industry sang the praises of the water industry, everybody would want to work in the water industry.

You can’t take that with a pinch of salt. But do you know what I mean? Like, I feel like the more you sing about, it’s more the single praises of something, the more positive the outlook from the outside is.

Antoine Walter: So, what you’re saying is that it’s a devil’s circle,

because we’ve discussed on that microphone several times how the water sector is not a natural in marketing. And that shows in the adoption rate of technologies that shows in our propension to move towards digitization and stuff like that, that shows in our shift in phase compared to other sectors, which makes us kind of a laggard.

And what you’re saying is that the same causes drive to the same consequences when it comes to. sector branding and attractivity. Because if I’m engineer, I take my engineering hat on, I’ll assume everybody knows that if they open their tap, they get water. It’s because the water sector is awesome. So I won’t sing the song of the water industry is awesome.

And then people won’t notice. And then people won’t want to work in the sector. So it’s really catch 22.

Lyle King: A lot of people that we speak to. That are within the industry, you know, the main reason that they like working within the industry is because they feel that they are promoting something good in the world.

That I think does have quite a big attraction element to it. You’re working with organizations that are trying to make the world a little bit of a better place. You’re leaving the world a little bit better than what it was when you first joined,

Antoine Walter: that’s interesting because I didn’t want to jump headfirst into that, but that means purpose trumps money.

Lyle King: You would like to think so, wouldn’t you?

Antoine Walter: Okay, . That’s what I thought.

So the, the number one argument stays money or does purpose catch up or take the lead.

Lyle King: it depends who you ask. in an ideal world, I think everybody would like to be able to answer that by saying the purpose trumps money, but realistically, when it comes to it, money talks, and at the end of the day, you’ve already got us, , a certain standard of living. And unless you can at least maintain that, you’re not really going to entertain something unless it is, you know, an incredible opportunity.

You just can’t turn it down. When it comes to attracting businesses, yeah, the mission and vision, and I suppose this is also like alluding to what we’ve been discussing here. Mission and vision of a business is part of it that does feed into the employer branding side of things that we’ve been discussing.

But at the same time, you would be unrealistic to expect somebody that to have their salary to, to come and join a business. it’s just not going to work out. We can live in a dreamland and pretend that it will, but realistically it’s not.

Antoine Walter: Haling the salary would be like impossible. That’s where that all the Brooking Institute studies in is interesting because it shows that 180 of the 212 watch occupations that they looked up were giving a better pay than average compared to similar qualification levels. So it would.

tend to think that 90 percent of the jobs within the water industry pay better than average, which kind of challenges why we can’t feel them, but you’re. specialty is in the top 10 persons, executive search. And that’s the tier in that study where the water sector is paying 15 percent less than the average.

So that’s the section where money. Isn’t the best argument anymore, but it’s 15 percent it’s not cutting your salary in two. So would that be a showstopper

Lyle King: again it’s so subjective. That it’s really difficult to answer this because I was actually thinking about this the other day could we pull together some, holistic salary survey report, they vary so much, you know, around the world that if you have a salary report for a specific region, let’s just say that you’ve got, you know, New York or, you know, California, and you’ve got a very specific report for that one state for those specific functions, then yes, it would be working.

It would have value. But you could compare someone’s salary from Europe as an example, someone’s that’s like a mid to senior level in Italy or Spain is going to be comparable to that of a relatively junior graduate in Germany or Switzerland.

 Money’s a very difficult one. Salaries are always very difficult because they’re very subjective. It’s dependent on the business and, you know, it’s dependent on what that particular business is looking to hire. And you’ve kind of got to take it case by case.

Antoine Walter: but still from your gut feelings, so subjective about that topic, when you’re looking to feel a role and you get the feedback that it’s paying slightly less than the average profile of people, which you’re. addressing. How do you play against the odds?

Lyle King: way that you get around it is by being quite clear with clients at the very beginning. We always do a kickoff to really understand what it is that they’re looking for that. Not only for the job profile, but even, you know, the specifics of the candidate that they’re really looking for.

And we’ll get a very good sense from that kickoff meeting if the budget is in line with what they’re looking for. So, you know, we can already have conversations really early on in the process if we think that the budget might need to be revisited. it can’t be, then obviously then we just need to be a little bit more realistic on expectations as to what you’re actually going to get for, you know, a specific budget that you’ve got in place. It’s just a level of compromise that you need to work through and communicate clearly with any given business.

Antoine Walter: If I try to bring back stuff on the Maslow pyramid, salary would be somewhat lower and hence important because it needs to be fulfilled before you go to the next step of the And then the next one might be purpose. My question here is salary or show stopper? Or is it something where the candidates you’re speaking with are, yeah, not so happy about the budget, but still would entertain the discussion because purpose might trump it?

Lyle King: Let’s just use a random example that if we’ve got 10 candidates on a shortlist, five are within the budget and five are either there or thereabouts are potentially above the budget. I would say of those 10 candidates, 90 percent of the time, the top five. Don’t entertain it.

 Realistically, and I suppose this is what I was alluding to earlier, that unless you can maintain your standard of living, or unless you’ve got extenuating circumstances whereby money’s really not an option anymore, which for some people it is because, you know, some people have worked very hard in their careers and, you know, they can then entertain much lower salaries.

The salary level is fundamentally one of the main decision makers. For a particular candidate, if you take it back to my previous job where I was managing a, somewhat larger team, that would be the main reason why a candidate didn’t work out is because they were just not in line with budget.

And it’s not necessarily to say that candidates won’t take a slight step down or that, you know, that vision can sometimes outstrip it, but it’s just about being incredibly open and communicating that from the very beginning. if that is the route that you’re going down, then you’ve got to be crystal clear with them at the beginning and set expectations from, day one, rather than dropping it on them during the offer stage where it’s a complete shock and a complete surprise to someone.

Antoine Walter: Does that mean that you wouldn’t see it as an insult if the first answer of a potential candidate, which you’re looking for is what’s the budget?

Lyle King: It usually is. Yeah, no, I mean, the sort of process there, I think, I mean, this isn’t going to be revolutionary. I think most people will do this and if they don’t, they shouldn’t be. But, you know, when you speak to a candidate for a particular role for the first time, the whole purpose of that is just to have a very top level discussion, roughly understand if they’re right for the role.

Ultimately, one of the main reasons that you’re having that call is to see if they’re going to fit within a budget. So it worked both ways, you know, it’s obviously for them to understand if they fit and if they sort of are attracted by the budget that’s been given. But it’s also our opportunity to understand if it’s going to work out, roughly speaking.

And if it is, then you obviously go into more detail and you really start to discuss the details further from there.

Antoine Walter: Okay. Maybe I’m a terrible small talker that’s absolutely possible. not going to break any secrets here. I have been talking with some of your peers in the past and not that I would recall a single of the first conversation was about the budget. was even surprised because, I’ve made my entire career in Switzerland.

So I do know that I’m anyways expensive. That’s why I’m not even entertaining the conversations first, because I’m super happy in my position today. But also because I know that anyways, even if it was a super cool opportunity somewhere, which is not in Switzerland, I’m going to be too expensive.

So

Lyle King: Yeah.

Antoine Walter: do you really think it’s a, practice to always start that conversation with money, because that’s not my experience.

Lyle King: Of processes that maybe haven’t worked out, or, you know, with candidates that haven’t worked out, we’re focusing on sort of, I suppose, some negatives here, but you know, of examples where candidates haven’t worked out, there are obviously extenuating circumstances for some of those reasons, but I would say the vast majority has been because there hasn’t been an alignment on what the salary is

 It’s not the first question I ask when I speak to somebody for the first time, I don’t want them to, you know, send me their pay slip or anything like that.

I’m just trying to get obviously a sense of what they would be potentially looking for if an opportunity was to come up. And I do feel like it helps streamline things a little bit because at the same time as it’s making sure that profiles are in line and candidates, roughly speaking are in line with budget.

It’s also. Making sure that we’re not taking up too much of their time because there’s no point in interviewing someone for 45 minutes to an hour To then at the end of it to go. Oh, actually you are Incredibly over budget So it’s just about setting expectations at the very beginning and like I say We don’t want to take up people’s time if realistically it’s not going to work out So it’s just about you know Open communication at the very beginning of a process to make sure that we’re not taking up too much time more than anything

Antoine Walter: The reason I insisted is because when you were junior and you use Google as your advisor, Google tells you don’t speak about money. The first who speaks about money loses this kind of stuff. And in, in my very humble personal experience As you just said, it’s just a waste of everyone’s time if you’re not aligned on money.

I agree as well. It shouldn’t be like, hi, how much are you paid? Or hi, here’s what I expect. But. Yeah, it’s one of the ticks you have to cross in order to then discuss the next steps, if I keep my Maslow analogy.

Lyle King: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. It’s just about being open and not as, I mean, you don’t necessarily have to be ridiculously open. Like I say, you don’t have to send people a pay slip, but it’s just about setting expectations from the very beginning. And I suppose what I’m referring to here is with when you’re speaking to a.

Potential recruitment consultant or somebody that’s a third party. I think that the conversation is somewhat different when you’re speaking to a hiring manager directly. I firmly agree that, you know, let’s not talk about salary. Let’s make sure that the opportunity in front of you is in line with what you’re looking for.

And we’ll talk about the finances later down the line. But particularly with a, you know, a third party and one that is ultimately commissioned to go out and find somebody to fill a job then. then that’s definitely one way you get the expectations crystal clear and in front of face.

Antoine Walter: Now that you mentioned the third party, that gives me the best segue to my next question, which is a muggle question. All the companies we’re discussing with probably the exception of small startups would have someone in charge of HR. So when do they work with you? When do they. Call a third party and say, look, I think we have better odds by having professional supporters with that.

Lyle King: Yeah, good question. It varies. I’ve said subjective so many times in this podcast but it is, it’s very subjective again. So I can give you good examples where, we have partnership agreements with multinationals, you know, huge brands within the war industry, and they have dedicated not only HR, but talent acquisition teams.

Now those talent acquisition teams will be given a certain time period of which that they can try and source candidates internally. If for whatever reason, within that certain time period, sometimes it’s 30 days, sometimes it’s 60 days. Sometimes it can even be a little bit longer. Sometimes it can be a little bit shorter depending on how critical the role is.

But if within that given time period, they don’t come up with the right candidate or. You know, they’re then assigned another however many roles that they need to fill that it’s at that point that they will then outsource. But at the same time, and again, on the flip to it, you know, if we’re working with a business of a hundred people that maybe don’t necessarily have dedicated HR or talent acquisition teams, we can come in and ultimately act as an extension to their.

non existent HR departments.

Antoine Walter: they have talent acquisition teams, then you would be like the Joker card if they can’t do it themselves. And if they don’t have talent acquisition, that’s a specific skill. So they would have to outsource it to you.

Lyle King: it really does vary. Some businesses, let’s just use another example there that there might be a multinational business that’s actually looking for something that is confidential. You know, it might be actually be for a replacement that they can’t advertise internally in which point.

They want to use a third party because they can manage it completely externally and I suppose control the narrative a little bit more. So there’s another example of where even with a huge conglomerate business, that they might actually use a third party from day one, as opposed to letting their TA teams have a crack at it.

But it, it really varies different businesses have different TA policies. And it’s, I suppose, what we always. Want to at least try and get across to a particular businesses that we can be relatively flexible in how we work with it with the business, you know, if you want us to come in and do a complete job because you don’t necessarily have the HR teams or the TA teams to find you the right people, then we can do that.

If it’s to act as an extension to your TA teams after they’ve had a look internally, we can do that. It’s we Very much a flexible, you know, relationship that we have with these businesses.

Antoine Walter: seeing. An empty wall behind you. So I guess it must not be on that wall, but on the other one, which I’m not seeing where you have all these paper sheets with the hunter profiles and the reward and everything, because I see that as far West don’t correct me on that. I want to live my dream and to think that’s the truth. If you look at that theoretical wall where you see all those pictures, do you see a pattern in the type of jobs you’re looking for and the type of profiles you’re looking for? What is the most. Researched profile in your experience.

Lyle King: I don’t want to say subjective again, because I’ve said it so many times. But it really is. It just depends on what that business is looking for at the time. This year, I’ve seen quite a lot of activity in the UK’s water market. And what I mean by that is, is foreign businesses looking to establish themselves within the UK.

You know, particularly with the sort of water utilities up and down the UK. That’s been quite a hot profile that we’ve been working on. But I think more generally, just with the way that the industry is going. and I’m a firm believer that data and digital technologies are going to become more and more prevalent within the industry.

Software engineers, anything that’s software based are going to become more and more sought after talent. And then obviously anything associated with a software based business, so be it account executives, customer success managers, things like that, they’re becoming more and more prevalent that if you know, you take it back.

10 years, 15 years or so would probably be less common within the industry. But again, like it really does just depend on what particular business is looking for. The value that we bring is that we can go out and find. the talent that has been somehow difficult to find. It isn’t necessarily marketing candidates that are interest more generally.

It’s very bespoke to what that particular client is looking for. But there’s sort of two examples of positions that I think are going to be, you know, coming.

Antoine Walter: But should I be concerned that you mentioned digital software, customer success manager, which to me would be the kind of positions for which you’re going to be in competition with really cool kids out there. So if I have a one job opportunity with open AI and the other with. What are my chances that I’m picking Thames water?

Lyle King: Yeah, no, I mean, that is a big sticking point. I think that feeds back to what we were discussing earlier in the podcast, where you’ve got to have a very clear employer brand in order to be able to attract the right talent. You know, it feeds back into the attraction piece and it’s even pre acquisition.

It’s making sure that you are competing with the Googles of the world or, you know, anybody in that tech space that can and will pay more and probably don’t have to do as much in their job, to be honest. So it feeds back into what the job is, like what they’re going to be doing and even more importantly, why someone should consider working for them in order to shift the needle back in their favor.

Antoine Walter: But that’s where, what you said in the very beginning sounds super interesting to me because you are in a position where you can notice those patterns and trends where you can say to an employer, look right now, you’re not the only one which is looking for that type of profile. It’s really in demand and it might be tricky to find the right candidates just because competition is super high.

On the other hand. It’s much cheaper to keep your employees and to have them happy. So if you marry those two, it might sound like a place where you have to advise your interlocutor to maybe train their team to become customer success managers. If in the past they were, I don’t know, R and D engineers.

I’m taking like a stupid example, but the idea would be. These keep your people strategy sounds like something where you would have to train them accordingly. Or do I see that role wrong? How do you keep people?

Lyle King: There’s a lot that can be done on the retention piece. But I think it all is fundamentally the reason that retention should be high on any senior leadership’s agenda is because it is significantly cheaper to retain your staff than it is to go out and source new talent.

I mean, it’s the same when it comes to sales, , it’s far cheaper to keep an existing customer than it is to go out and source a new customer. So if you are seeing patterns when it comes to, you know, we have people that work for us for three years, four years, five years, but then they leave , what is happening, you know, in the interim that’s causing people to then potentially leave, you know, is it a lack of career progression?

Is it a lack of training? There’s obviously a number of things that it could be, but, you know, if you can, try and tackle those challenges, you know, does that then mean that you can retain more staff? And again, it’s really difficult to say what the fundamental reasons are that you’re losing staff until you actually really start to dig into it.

But if you can tackle them head on and I think a lot of it comes down to just having quite open and honest conversations with your staff and your employees about what they’re looking for, you know, their career objectives are and their goals are moving forward. Because if you can address those, then.

You are far more likely to keep them.

Antoine Walter: mentioned the roles which are in demand, which are right now around digital over the last year that was your feedback. If now we drill a little bit into it, what would be the skills? Is it technical skills, which are in demand? Is it human and interpersonal or soft skills, which are in demand?

What is the gold thing to have in 2023 or 2024?

Lyle King: If you’re looking at the software side of things, I think, you know, even if you’re looking at a software engineer the tech stack in which you’re familiar with is far more important than the industry connections that you have. But then again, if you were to flip that on its head a little bit, and you were looking for somebody on the sales side, don’t necessarily need to know the tech stack, you need to understand the industry and you need to understand the connections, but I think overarching like skills that.

The hiring managers want to see accountability, you know, they need to know that you can be accountable. They need to know that you are reliable. They need to know that you’re driven. They need to know that you’re trustworthy. I’m trying to think of obviously like skills that are more overarching and less dependent on function as opposed to sort of functional specific skills.

And then I think as well, on the flip side to that, then, so when we’re looking at a candidate, That’s potentially looking at a prospect employer what they’re looking to see is and this again feeds back into the employer branding side of things is they’re looking to see that there is a good company culture, you know, they’re looking to make sure that the team that they’re going to be working with is a good team.

They’re looking for flexibility. And I think that In a post pandemic world, flexibility seems to be talked about more and more. And then again, the mission and the vision is incredibly important when it comes to exploring an opportunity. You’ve got to be bought into what that business is trying to achieve moving forward.

Antoine Walter: When you say culture, does that mean that people would be looking at is there a table football or what are we discussing here

Lyle King: yeah, I mean, I think it’s just making sure that, the culture is in line with what they want, if we are talking about a graduate, but they’re going into a a team of almost retiree type staff, you know, is that culture quite in line with what they’re looking for or, you know, on the flip side, it may well be that you’ve perhaps got someone with a little bit more experience that’s 20, 30 years in the industry.

Okay. But we’re actually working with a really interesting tech startup and, the culture might not quite be there.

Antoine Walter: But do you have a superpower to spot these kinds of things? You know, I’m a big fan of a book called the mom test by Rob Fitzpatrick, where he’s outlaying a way to, to raise questions so that even your mom. can’t lie to you. And it’s specific to product ideas or business ideas. Now in, your own word, do you have like one specific question, which enables you to drill down into a candidate and vice versa, one specific question, which you’ve seen candidates asking, which drilled down into the company so that, All the smoke, which usually is in the room when there’s an interview, just settles and now we’re face to face and super honest about things. .

Lyle King: I don’t think there’s one like killer question, but I think the way that we try and get around it is firstly let’s talk about when we’re trying to understand it. Company’s culture, for, you know, those that are UK based, but could be working with a business in the U S we could be working with a business in Singapore, you know, it could be anywhere in the world is very difficult to understand the culture when you’re speaking, you know, through a screen.

But it is about, taking down the smoke screens and just really digging into it. I don’t think there’s one like killer question in particular, but it’s just really trying to understand it. And one way that you do get a clearer idea of what a company culture is by speaking to more than one person from that business.

Because obviously if one person says one thing, another person says another, and another person says something else altogether, you know that there’s perhaps a mismatch. But if you speak to various people or, you know, different people within that organization. And they’re all singing from the same hymn sheet.

You’ve got a very good idea that it is probably quite in line.

Antoine Walter: But does a candidate always have that opportunity to have like, I’m trying not to put myself in the head of a candidate. You’re having an interview. It’s going great. You think there might be a match. You want to double check the culture. Now you’re asking, can I meet all the people within the company? There might be a risk that the company say, Oh, that person is difficult.

 I’m not going to go with that person.

Lyle King: a lot of time if again, it does ask that they will try and, you know, put plans in place so that they can go out and meet the team for that very reason. But I think, I suppose just what I was alluding to earlier is that once we’ve understood it as a third party, we can then communicate that a little bit better outside of what could be, not to say that interviews are hostile environments, but do you know what I mean?

They are perhaps. A little bit more intimidating so we can at least communicate that a little bit earlier when it is a bit more informal, as opposed to when they’re in a full formal setting. But I do think, you know, to your point there, in my experience anyway, as soon as a candidate asks to meet other members of the team, just so they can get a sense of what they’re like as people, nine times out of ten that wish is granted and, you know, there’s a plan in place so that they can get in front of other people.

Particularly, you know, for later down the line, maybe not if it was the first 30 minute conversation or something like that. But, you know, if that business is genuinely interested in bringing them on board, then yeah, you make sure that candidate feels happy in the environment that they’re potentially going to be working in.

Antoine Walter: So that’s your advice for. The candidates and that’s your role as the third party to help making happen. If you feel like that’s going to be decisive and that, that needs to happen, how about other way around, how does a company establish that the candidates is the right fit for the culture?

Lyle King: one way that is perhaps missing a little bit now is to get them on site. And obviously get them just as a candidate might ask to have a sit down with the team is to get the team to have a sit down with a candidate in a, informal sort of setting as possible. Now, naturally, post pandemic, and so I’ve alluded to this earlier that, you know, flexibility and hybrid working models have become more and more of a thing and perhaps starting to see that reverse a little bit.

That can often be difficult to do. And there are plenty of examples where, you know, we’ve worked with businesses that have hired people that they’ve never met, they’ve just entirely hired people through teams and zoom and everything like that. And just through video interviewing. I think the answer to that when you can’t potentially get them an office and meeting face to faces is just to get them to meet.

As many different people as possible and, get different opinions from different members of the team. The only caveat that I would throw in with that is that be slightly conscious of how many interviews you get a candidate to go through.

There is definitely a need to assess cultural fit, but just be conscious of how many interviews that candidate might be going through.

Antoine Walter: How much is too much?

Lyle King: I was working with a business earlier this year that went through nine different interview

Antoine Walter: Sounds too much.

Lyle King: I would say that was maybe one too many.

I get that like, you know, everybody’s got their own policies and procedures in place. I would say that is a little bit too many. I would try and keep it to. three, maximum four, really nine was definitely a little bit too many.

Antoine Walter: So that gives us the helicopter view on the industry that gives us now a bit more the detailed view on which kind of profiles are in demand, what skills are in demand, what to do in the process. What I’d like to understand now is how you specifically work, which starts with that very straightforward, simple question.

What’s your business model?

Lyle King: The business model, I mean, I suppose fundamentally is that, you know, clients pay us a fee or a commission once we’ve filled a particular position or if it’s a larger hiring project, once that project has been completed So it’s a, you know, it’s a retained business model whereby they pay a very small deposit upfront.

And then we do become an extension to their HR and TA teams to provide a third party sourcing, interviewing. And partnership model

Antoine Walter: so it’s performance based. You’re paid when you succeed.

Lyle King: there’s a deposit paid at the very beginning.

Antoine Walter: Most of it. Yeah.

Lyle King: it’s basically a two part payment model, small deposit at the beginning, the small deposit that’s paid at the very beginning is then deducted from the completion at the end of the day.

Antoine Walter: How do you source the best talents in 2023? AKA does bro marketing on LinkedIn pay off

Lyle King: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s multi channel, it’s multi touch, it’s networking more generally, it’s networking day in, day out and speaking to as many people as possible from within the industry. You’d be surprised how many. referrals that you get from networking. Just making connections within the industry. We do obviously use LinkedIn a lot. We use job boards a lot and everything like that. I think the thing that we most add value to is that there’s a stat that goes around this.

It’s something like 80 percent of the talent market is only ever passively looking for a job. And obviously I know you mentioned earlier about like imagine H2Os, job boards and burnt island ventures, you know, they’re obviously great tools because they’re very industry specific. So if you want to go and work with some of these cool startups that are coming out of that accelerator program, great, but you are, and I’m not saying that it’s.

It’s an exact science, but you’re limiting yourself to one in five people that are actually going out of their way to find that job. And obviously what the value that a headhunter like we are, or, you know, that kind of service is that it then opens up that 80 percent of the market that isn’t necessarily actively looking.

When we say passively looking, it is a combination of people that could be interested, people that probably might not be interested, and then obviously there is a big portion of that is definitely not interested. But it is just opening up and maximizing the chances of bringing somebody in from that part of the network.

Antoine Walter: Trying to weigh in the two different aspects, which is the in person meetups, the referrals you’re obviously incredibly connected within the industry. I noticed that several times. There’s a reason why I was happy to bump AquaTech, which is. Your name was absolutely top of mind when I wanted to have the conversation we were having today.

So I’m not at all minimizing that aspect. But on the LinkedIn side, you know, it sounds like I did the experiment myself this year. I put a job offering on LinkedIn and I had hundreds of candidates, not that all the hundreds of candidates would be the right fit for the position. But I’m wondering how do you sort out the clutter on these kinds of platforms?

Lyle King: yeah. So you’re looking for the industry secrets. Yeah, I mean, we, obviously we use job adverts and job boards. They serve a purpose, but the vast majority of placements that we make or I’ve ever made throughout my career have been from a direct approach. So if, let’s just say Antoine, as an example, there was a business that needed somebody that was in business development that also had their own podcast recording. then I wouldn’t necessarily put a job advert up and hope that Antoine Walter applies to it. I would reach out to Antoine Walter directly and have a conversation with Antoine Walter about that position. So, you know, it is very much a direct approach

Antoine Walter: example now is pretty specific. So let’s rule that one out because with three in the word. So there’s a chance that you can find those profiles that way, but let’s take some things a bit broader. You’re looking for, I don’t know, someone who does sales in, has experience with. membranes and has an engineering background because the position you’re looking for is kind of technical sales. Would you expect people to optimize the LinkedIn profiles? And so you can find them easily. Because I guess if you go into one of their premium accounts.

like job hunter or whatever, and you enter the keywords, membrane, sales, engineering, you’re still going to have hundreds of thousands of results.

So what’s the right one,

Lyle King: there’s a correct way to, to look for people. It’s something that obviously you learn by, I suppose it’s just a time served thing that you learn throughout your career, you know, there is a better way to search for people. But I think what that fundamentally comes down to is that if a membrane business asked us to go and find somebody in sales that was perhaps a little bit more technical, you immediately know roughly which types of businesses are going to be sources of that kind of talent.

Because if they need to know RO membranes, or UF membranes, or, you know, whatever it is You know those businesses because you’ve worked in the industry for so long, and that’s of the reasons why a business should or would engage somebody from within the industry is because they know it.

 It’s not just searching for things because you are very right in that. You’re then relying on someone having tagged their profile perfectly and it needs to say technical sales and, UF membranes and they’ve got a bachelor’s engineering degree. But if you know roughly where that talent is hiding, you can go out and uncover it.

Antoine Walter: which circles perfectly with what you said in the opening, which is that you want to be that powerhouse specialized in the water sector. And that now answers the question of what’s going to have, which was how do you fence it so that you’re the obvious way in the water sector was what you just explained is that you don’t need to search on Google, who are the companies who are doing membranes.

They’re not reliant on someone telling you the right answer because you know it, you know, that if someone needs to have an experience in RO, well, those are the three, four top RO companies. So probably the right talents would have some experience at some point with those companies or would be working with those companies right now.

Lyle King: You factor that in with getting a little bit craftier with the way that you can search through LinkedIn and other job boards and things like that. And before you know it, you’ve actually got a long list of candidates that you then have to start taking through your own selection process.

Antoine Walter: Let’s look at the negatives. What is the. Number one mistake you see companies doing repeatedly. And what is the number one mistake you see talents doing repeatedly?

Lyle King: One of the biggest mistakes, and I kind of alluded to it earlier, actually, is time to make a decision. Don’t take an interview process past the nine step process. Time to make a decision once you’ve got a CV.

And if they are of interest, you know, get them in for an interview. And if they are still of interest, get them in for that second stage. And if they’re still of interest, get them in for the third stage. I know that’s like perfect scenario. But if you have somebody that is of interest, the quickest way to turn them off.

Is by delaying feedback or delaying the interview procedures, unless it’s been openly communicated throughout. Leaving somebody in the dark is one of the worst things that you could do. If for whatever reason, you know, availability isn’t quite there and, you know, somebody’s traveling and, you know, they’re going to be away for two weeks, then obviously that’s absolutely fine.

But just make sure that everybody’s kept in the loop throughout that period. So, yeah, for hiring companies, just once you’ve got somebody that is of interest, don’t delay for the sake of delaying. in and make a decision on them, be it a yes or a

Antoine Walter: And for talent,

Lyle King: I would say not taking a call.

And I know that that’s going to have mixed reviews because some people are going to say, well, I don’t want to move, but only reason I say that is the amount of times where people haven’t been interested in a position, or haven’t considered making a change, but have ultimately then joined a new business.

Not to say that it’s this groundbreaking thing, but you know, incredibly excited by the prospect after taking that first call. , there’s a reason that we’re trying to get in touch with these people, and if you’re not interested, then that’s absolutely fine.

But just let us know either way.

Antoine Walter: I’d like to understand that one well, because you mentioned 20 percent of the people are actually looking for a job. 80 percent are passively not really looking for a job, but might be interested. Does that mean 100 percent of the job market might be looking for a job? Or is there also like a small percentage of people which will not move whatsoever?

Lyle King: Yeah. I mean, within that 80%, there’s going to be obviously a significant percentage of people that they are lifelong employees of a particular business.

Antoine Walter: but what you’re saying is that if you belong to this 80 percent which are not actually looking for a job, you should nevertheless take the calls. It might be a three minute conversation where you’re saying, look, I love my company and my bones and guts belong to that company. And I’m never going to move, but at least take the call because you never know, it might be NASA and then you might go into the moon and yeah, you missed

Lyle King: Exactly, yeah. You just never know where that one conversation is going to take you. Like I say, I can fully appreciate that. There’ll be people listening that think why would I have to take the call? But it’s not to say that you’ve got to take the call and you’ve got to go to an interview.

It’s just, you know, take the call and just hear them out. Whoever it is that’s calling, because you just never know where that one call might land you in the future. And I suppose I’ll caveat that further by saying that just because the opportunity that person is introducing at that point isn’t right.

They may then be working on something that is more in line and you’ve obviously got the opportunity to just say no, that isn’t quite right. That’s not what I’m looking for. But if something like this comes up, let me know. So, you know, you’ve made a contact for the future.

Antoine Walter: one thing I wanted to ask you, which is historically, you know, there was this thing of headhunters. would think of a hand hunter in the eighties or nineties would tell you I’m putting you in my database and then if there’s anything with show ups, and I’m tempted to think that in 2023, those databases don’t really exist anymore, just because anyways, LinkedIn exists. Am I totally wrong? Do you still have like a database or is the database in your brain? And you do know that person eventually told you that and you took a note and then you might think of that person, but it’s not like you have an access. I think that’s, what’s the name of these databases and access database where you have all your contacts, which would then be a duplicate of what exists on LinkedIn anyways.

Lyle King: LinkedIn is arguably one of the biggest databases for talent generally. But yeah, I mean, unless you are Rain Man and you can remember absolutely everything about everybody that you ever speak to in the world. I think you do. Yeah, funny you should say that. You’ve got to have some form of a database because, you know, otherwise you speak to 20, 30, 40, 50 people, then, you know, the first person that you spoke to is very difficult To remember what was said.

So yeah, I mean, I always make notes of people.

Antoine Walter: So the advice in 2023 or in 2024 or even further in the future stays true. If you’re not interested in a position, but you might be interested in a specific type of role, it’s worth mentioning to the headhunter contacting you, so that eventually, if that unicorn pops up, he knows.

Lyle King: my one bit of advice is just to take the call. I’m not saying you’ve got to jump ship. It’s just take the call because you just never know what that person might be introducing. And I think that stands true for a whole range of different conversations that you might have with somebody.

Antoine Walter: Interesting piece of advice. I’ve A crystal ball question to round it off, which is we spoke in the beginning of the attractivity of the sector. I noticed that there is apparently a sector effort to make us more attractive. a shift in the marketplace because of digitization, because of new technologies.

We don’t know where the shift exactly is heading. And still I’m asking you to look into the crystal ball and to tell me what’s happening towards the end of the decade. Where do you see water job markets? by the end of this decade.

Lyle King: I would like to think that there have been a, whole like range of new products, technologies and systems that have been incorporated to the water industry. And there are so many like automated processes that there are loads of manual jobs that are no longer available because of all transitioned into automation or, you know, software focused jobs.

Knowing the conservative nature in which, technologies like that are adopted. I imagine that we’ll be along that process, but probably not where I’ve just sort of said. I think it, you know, realistically I’m trying to take it back to what we were saying earlier that data, digital technology is automation, they are all going to start to play a bigger and bigger part, in my opinion, within the water industry.

And with that, there is going to be talent that’s required that can fulfill that type of work. And again there’s a whole breadth. There’s a whole podcast just on that alone. But it’s going to be a shift towards that. And obviously the talent that’s required is obviously ones that can then implement those types of solutions.

So it’s going to be, like I say, a shift towards it. I doubt that by the end of the decade that, you know, it’s going to be this. Beautiful, all singing, all dancing, automated industry, because realistically it’s not. It’s going to be a few more years down the line, but we’ll have at least taken steps towards it.

Antoine Walter: Which is an interesting battle to fight. It’s a conversation I had with Eric Simmons, the mayor of Greenville. I hope I have the city right. But he was explaining how he was explaining to school kids that, yes, Samsung and Apple are super attractive. But the exact same jobs exist in an industry, which has maybe an even greater purpose, which is the water sector.

So you’re right. It’s worth an entire podcast on that. But I have to be cautious every time you’ve been super kind to to give me so much of your time and so much of your insights to round off these interviews, I have a set of rapid fire questions. If that’s fine for you, I would switch to that part.

Lyle King: Yep. Yeah. Cool. Fire away.

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Rapid fire questions:

Antoine Walter: The rule is simple, short questions, which lead to short answers. You notice the one which is going through segues is me, not you, but I’m never cutting the microphone. If you want to be super long, my first question is what is the most exciting project you’ve been working on and why

Lyle King: I would say it’s a project that we’re doing at the minute with a US based business. There is an expansion project where we’re helping them appoint key leaders across Europe and the Middle East. And then once those key leaders are in place, we are then helping those regional leaders appoint their own management teams more, more locally.

Antoine Walter: you can’t name the company.

Lyle King: I’d rather not on this point. But you know, projects like that, that are expansion projects are always exciting

Antoine Walter: Can you name one thing that you’ve learned the hard way?

Lyle King: can name a lot of things that I’ve learned the hard way. I think, you know, fundamentally it’s the everyone and every business is different, you know, you’ve got to be adaptable to the needs and requirements of a particular person. When you look at the recruitment industry more generally, it’s a very dynamic industry, it’s a very emotional industry, you know, you are dealing with people at the end of the day, people can change their minds and you’ve got to be incredibly adaptive and responsive to that.

So it’s just, I suppose being adaptable, you know, more generally, when I first started, I was, I maybe thought I was selling computers when I wasn’t.

Antoine Walter: Is there something you are doing today in your job that you will not be doing in 10 years?

Lyle King: Hopefully, I won’t be managing a startup in 10 years time, it will be a much larger business.

Antoine Walter: How large,

Lyle King: to really have to put my finger on it. I would say 25 people. I’m going to conservatively say 25 people, Antoine, but you really put me on the spot there. But I think, you know, more generally, I think it ties in what we were saying earlier about the war industry. More generally, same goes for, you know, recruitment and I suppose a lot of other industries that automation and digital technologies are starting to become part and parcel of the game.

I don’t think it changes fundamentally the process that you follow, but it does help you. streamline the process a little bit. I don’t think, that it’s going to be one that will be replaced by the robots. I know we mentioned them at the very beginning. It Emotions go into it a lot.

So it’s, I think it’s going to be one that will always have a place in the world, but there’s going to be some compromise between what’s automated and what’s not.

Antoine Walter: what’s the trend to watch out for in the water sector?

Lyle King: Data data. Yeah. I mean, again, we’ve alluded to this already as well, that I think. Data, digital technologies and, you know, just I suppose technology more generally is evolving quicker and quicker. We’re going to start to see that get adopted more and more. And I find it quite shocking that, you know, you could have a water utility or a water authority that’s losing millions of liters of water.

And they don’t yet have a solution in place that allows them to better track where that water is going. I think I was a little bit naive when I first started in this industry, thinking that was just a thing that, you know, everybody would have adopted these types of technologies, but obviously that was just naivety.

But yeah, data and digital solutions.

Antoine Walter: I’m not going to open a segue here and just mentioning that it’s not you being naive. It’s I think every single water professional starting his career has this thinking that’s so obvious is going to get adopted. And then you get a bit more seniority and you understand how the sector ticks and you notice it’s not that straightforward, unfortunately, but yeah, not opening the segue. If I instantly became your assistant, what’s the number one task or mission you’d delegate to me that would help you in your job? And I never promised I’m going to do it.

Lyle King: I mean, there’s a number of jobs that he’d be very good at Antoine, but I think setting up recording and editing a new podcast series for Influx Search, that would be. Yeah,

Antoine Walter: a podcast at some point, right?

Lyle King: We did one in partnership with ATI with Gary Tabor. We did the talking water quality podcast, which is fun and definitely like to get, well, it was, it is something that I’d like to pick up at some point.

Antoine Walter: Will you have someone to recommend me that I should definitely invite as soon as possible?

Lyle King: It’s genuinely hard to say. I’ve spoken to so many, like really interesting people over the years that it’s really hard to narrow it down to one, but we’ve already just mentioned the fact that did have or. Did do a mini podcast series with somebody in the industry. So if I had to name one person, it probably would be Gary Tabar from ATI and obviously now BadgerMeter.

He can chat to anyone about anything. So you couldn’t throw anything at him and he’d be able to speak to you.

Antoine Walter: Awesome. Thanks for the recommendation. Usually I ask to people where they should be , contacted the best, but it sounds like people would know where to find you. My question is slightly different to you, which is, would you be interested in people proactively reaching out to you and saying, I’m interested, or is that something you’re Totally not interested.

Lyle King: Yeah, I’m always keen to speak to anybody from within the industry, you know, if you just want to have a chat about the market, if you’re actively looking for a new opportunity, or if you are looking to build out a team, or you’re looking, you know, for a particular headcount, whatever it is, I’m always keen to have a chat.

And obviously, yeah, you can find me on LinkedIn. Or whatever sort of social media channel, just yeah, reach out. Always keen to have a chat.

Antoine Walter: Your website is in the building. Do you plan to build it or LinkedIn is enough?

Lyle King: Yeah, no, we’ve got, we do have a website, but it’s still in, I suppose it’s in beta phase now. But yeah, www. infoatsearch. com. It does direct you pretty much to LinkedIn at this point, but we will be building that out in the short term.

Antoine Walter: Awesome. Well, Lyle, thanks a lot for your time. Thanks a lot for the insights you shared. And I hope to have another discussion with you down the line to see how those trends are moving. I’m super interested to see if the lines are moving and if they do to which direction. So really, thanks a lot.

Lyle King: Yeah, no, Antoine, thank you very much for having me. It’s been great to, to be as part of the podcast.

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