20 years with HB – A chat with Anne Selman

Our General Manager, Anne Selman, recently celebrated her 20th anniversary with HB. So I sat down with Anne and asked her a few questions about her time with HB, the recruitment industry, and why she’s still doing it all.

What made you apply for your first job with HB?

I actually didn’t apply for a role with HB.  In 2001, I had two young children and was subsequently only seeking part-time employment.  A friend told me to register at Heather Bowen Personnel (now HB Group) as they sometimes had part-time roles on their books, so I did.  Three interviews later, I was offered the role of Recruitment Consultant.  I wasn’t really sure what the role entailed, however it was part-time and permanent so I accepted!

Do you remember your first day?

I do remember my first day.  The owner of a Recruitment Agency in Townsville had come to Toowoomba to train me.  She threw me completely in the deep end well before lunchtime.  A temp role came in via telephone and she told me to “sell” a particular candidate (whom I hadn’t met) to the client (that I didn’t know).  With little knowledge of the role or the candidate, I had to rattle off some sort of spiel (goodness knows what I said) before telling the client I needed to place him on hold.  I then told my trainer that she could finish off the sale – which she did!!  Anyway, I did come back the second day, and the next!

How has your job (or the recruitment industry) changed over the years?

The recruitment industry has changed considerably.  It is much more difficult to fill a job today than it was 20 years ago!  When I first started, we had candidates galore and a lot of my time was spent deciding which were the three or four best candidates to recommend to our clients.  Today, we are lucky to find three or four suitable candidates for any role (no offence to current candidates).  Our clients these days know exactly the type of candidate they would like in their business with cultural fit now almost as important as experience and education.

The recruitment industry is much more compliant in terms of workplace health and safety, discrimination, privacy, screening and of course, the new casual conversion changes – whilst still new – will create even more change to our sector.

In the past 20 years, I have seen so many changes including September 11; the GFC; the retrenchment of thousands of Government staff members in 2012; the downturn of the oil and gas sector in 2014; Covid in 2020; and now a candidate-short market in 2021.  Lots of ups and downs, but HB is still here and going strong!

What have been some of your biggest achievements or successes?

I think my biggest achievement is surviving in recruitment for 20 years!  Recruitment can be very frustrating as our “product” is people and people can be very unpredictable.  I have been let down and surprised by our product many, many times.  I still have some clients whom I worked with in the early days whom are still with the same organisation and using HB (and some whom have moved to other organisations and still using HB), and there are many candidates whom have returned time and time again to HB throughout this time.  I have interviewed thousands of candidates and filled hundreds of jobs and still haven’t got tired of it.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

My favourite part of the role is, still, filling a job.   There is nothing better than finding the perfect match and making someone’s day!  Sometimes people walk through our door at the perfect time and the placement is just “meant to be”. Oh – and I have worked with some great people at HB as well!

What’s some of your favourite memories over the last 20 years?

I associate my favourite memories with placing candidates into roles that I know the candidate really wanted, or finding the elusive “unicorn” for my clients.  There is always a new challenge in recruitment – on a daily basis – so it is never boring.

The best part of the role is helping people change careers; or to leave a role they are really unhappy in; or sometimes, just assisting them in returning to work after being at home or unemployed for an extended period.

Most people don’t last more than 2 years in recruitment. What makes you stay?

Because no 2 days are ever the same!  I never get tired of making that call offering a candidate their dream job.



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