Fishing The Perfect Talents For Your Business: An Interview with Fabien Guerin
We talk to Fabien Guerin about his company Talent Fishers and how to attract the right candidates to a job offer.
Tiffany studied Language and Economics, and now likes to write about business topics and conduct interviews with interesting people. She spends her free time looking after her plants and with her dog.
Fabien Guerin was clear about what he wanted to achieve during his career. That’s the reason why he founded Talent Fishers, a recruitment and HR consulting company, which not only matches talents to roles and functions but also bridges cultures. He shares with Mailbutler, among other things, how to attract the right candidates to a job offer!
Hi Fabien! Nice to meet you! Thank you for being a part of #mailbutlerstories. You founded Talent Fishers, a recruitment and HR consulting company, in 2007. Could you describe the services you offer?
Sure. What we do is quite simple. We help international organizations to recruit for mid and top-level positions all over Asia. We also support those organizations to optimize their Human Resources organizations. Finally, we coach executives to ensure they enjoy their role and deliver optimized performances. How we do it and why we do it this way is a bit more specific.
Could you explain it? Why is it specific?
We mostly don’t hire people coming from the search industry. Or only those who have this special thing in the eye when they talk about what they do. We believe that our daily job has a huge impact on everyone’s overall life and social interaction. Therefore, changing function or company has a huge impact on one’s life. As we present new roles to talents, we need to have a great sense of responsibility to help them make the right decision. Same for companies, the wrong person in a specific role can ruin everyone’s effort. This is our role and we do it with much passion, ethics, and transparency.
So you help other people change their lives. Was it complicated for a company to adapt to the Asian market?
It was and still is but that’s the reason why we exist. We do not only match professional skills and personal traits to roles and functions, but we also bridge cultures. We have 6 offices in the regions with very strong cultural specificities and we work for clients headquartered all over the world. Searching for an India Country Manager for a German Industrial group in Mumbai is different than finding the right APAC CEO based in Shanghai for an American Food company. That’s why it is fun!
Yeah, I see. What would you say are the essential characteristics a candidate should have to fit a company’s needs?
Cultural convergence, strong interest if not passion for the role and the industry, potential to grow within the role and the organization, and ability to communicate efficiently despite the distance and differences.
And how can a company attract more candidates to a job offer?
To me, the point is not to attract more candidates as it generates more work to qualify the matching ones and communicate properly with those not selected. The goal is to attract the right ones. To do this, a company first needs to objectively assess who they are, what they have to offer, where they are going, and how. Once this is clear, a company needs to polish its HR branding clearly communicating on who would fit the role and the ecosystem.
Alright! Is it important for a company to have internal development programs for its employees?
Yes! I should not say it too loud as it might kill part of my business but the best talents are the ones who are already inside and happy to be as long as you take care of them.
You are right! And how can a company retain its personnel?
Same ingredients, same recipe. Constantly know who you are and where you are going, how you are evolving, assess who is converging, invest in developing them, and let go of those who are not matching the proposition anymore. You can’t retain everyone and shouldn’t. At some point, personal career and a company project diverge.
Let’s go back to your career. Prior to moving to China, you worked for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the French Embassy to South Korean and in the French Embassy to the European Union. What were the main tasks you carried out there?
I was in charge of cultural cooperation projects. Promoting the French Cinema industry, book edition, co-organizing festivals, … trying to find or support additional revenue streams through international cooperations for our cultural industries and spread the French culture and language in the countries.
Wow! Sounds really interesting. Why did you decide then to change your career and found your own company, Talent Fishers?
I needed more freedom and possibilities to do what I had in mind. I attended a select career fair for multilingual professionals with international background when I was still working at the Embassy in Brussels. I went out to smoke a cigarette…
A man engaged in conversation and asked me what I thought about the event. I told him what I liked and what I would have done differently. He was the CEO of the organizing group. He offered me a job to organize similar events all around Europe. That’s how I started in the recruitment business. When the group was sold, I moved back to Asia. And when I had my first daughter I thought It was time to create another “baby”, hence Talent Fishers.
Ohh, it is a fascinating story! You said that what makes you different and successful is your commitment to long-term and quality relationships. Could you explain what you mean by that?
It means that most headhunters (not all of course) have short views and tend to go for quick wins, even through unethical manoeuvers, to place candidates at the higher possible fees. Talent Fishers position itself at the exact opposite angle: we are a business and we are meant to generate revenue. But we believe that the best way to do that, with pleasure and pride, is to always act in the best interest of the clients and the candidates, through objective partnerships.
If we have doubts, even if the two other parties are ready to sign, we express them. We lose our fees but we maintain the trust and develop a healthy relationship. We are not headhunters, we are Talent Fishers.
It is a great way to do so! What is it like to live in Asia? What are the biggest differences you have experienced?
I live in China and travel extensively in Asia. Each country is so different that it is amazingly exotic to fly from Shanghai to Mumbai, to Hanoi and Bangkok and the next week in Tokyo. What I love is to be an alien everywhere I go. I only see the positive and the richness. And I am blessed with four daughters who have the privilege to discover the cultures. The less positive, I am aware of but I don’t judge. I handle it but I am free to leave when I want.
Wow! It is great to have the possibility to discover new places! Last question: How do you use Mailbutler to improve your workflow?
I love Mailbutler because it helps me manage my written interactions with all external stakeholders. I have a golden rule which is to never leave the office until I have 10 or fewer emails in my inbox. With Mailbutler, I snooze, I take notes, I set reminders …
Also, I send hundreds of emails every day. And sometimes, I am about to send the message without discussed attachment, or the wrong attachment, or need to add recipients… There are no “Oups” anymore. When I have to confirm if I wish to send it, I already had the time to process if there was an issue. And in case of doubt, I do not send it and review the message one more time. So many features to make my life easier!
Thanks for the words, we are so happy to hear that! It has been a pleasure talking to you today, it was very interesting. Hope you enjoyed it as well. We wish you all the best, Fabien!
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