From Brown to Green: Recruitment then and now
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Sjur Sekse, a prominent figure in recruitment and executive search within the energy, technology, and industrial sectors, has witnessed significant changes in the recruitment landscape over the past three decades. In this interview, we delve into Sjur’s journey from the establishment of Sekse & Hogstad to his current venture, InterSearch Norway, and explore the important transformations and enduring similarities in the recruitment process.
Sjur’s foray into the recruitment industry was preceded by an impressive background in the oil and service sectors, encompassing eight years in the oil industry and five years as a manager. When he joined an international executive search company in Norway, his pre-existing relationship with a key client played a pivotal role in establishing his own venture. Sjur highlights the significance of trust in recruitment, emphasizing that cultivating relationships is at the core of every successful hiring endeavor. Sjur nurtured a client relationship spanning three decades, becoming a recognized expert in the oil and gas industry. Consequently, InterSearch Norway naturally leveraged his industry expertise to participate in the green transition.
Sekse AS was founded in August 1992, and a few years later, Hogstad merged with the organization, leading to the establishment of Sekse og Hogstad AS. This collaboration between Hogstad, experienced in management positions and board roles, and Sjur, with a recruitment background, formed a formidable team with extensive expertise.
Sjur points out the myriad changes that have transformed recruitment practices today compared to three decades ago. Technological advancements, such as the emergence of platforms like LinkedIn and the prevalence of electronic communication, have revolutionized the way recruiters operate. Building and utilizing networks wisely while establishing trust remain vital in the industry, but the advent of technology has accelerated the pace of recruitment.
Drawing from his experience as a former elite handball player, Sjur underscores the importance of team building, structure, and systematic approaches in recruitment. Developing a comprehensive interview technique was his first step in the recruitment process. He dedicated 100% of his time to self-study, delving into books and familiarizing himself with various techniques. Sjur devised his own system to understand and connect with candidates, particularly during initial meetings. He examined crucial aspects of their lives, including finances, health, experience, and leadership abilities. Recognizing that not everyone possesses leadership qualities, Sjur also took into account candidates’ family circumstances and personal characteristics.
To augment the recruitment process, Sjur collaborated with a psychologist specializing in assessing high-risk personnel such as pilots and conductors, utilizing the psychologist’s testing system. Back then, the communication involved faxing papers, which could delay responses by up to a week. Fortunately, today’s society offers smoother processes and greater agility. This collaboration with a psychologist reinforced the structure and system surrounding recruitment.
Despite the evolution of recruitment practices, certain elements remain consistent. Physical meetings continue to play a pivotal role in the recruitment process, as face-to-face interactions are crucial. Internal recruitment remains highly valuable, often leading to the most profitable outcomes. Sjur emphasizes the ease with which some people assume recruiting is simple. He stresses the importance of establishing trust and building relationships from the first phone call. Three key points hold significance in the process: assessing candidates’ position on the career ladder, gauging their interest in new opportunities and readiness for job changes, and evaluating their qualifications and conducting thorough background checks.
Sjur notes that prospective candidates can stay on recruiters’ radar for several years. Finding the right opportunity and ensuring that candidates are prepared for change are essential for success. The presence of ability, talent, and motivation is crucial, and understanding both the company and the candidate is pivotal for a fruitful match. Sjur emphasizes the significance of respecting differences, as everyone possesses unique perspectives and inherent qualities. Sjur has infused this wealth of knowledge into the establishment of InterSearch Norway, where he currently serves as a board member. Traditionally focused on the oil sector, the company has expanded its horizons since 2018 to include technology companies within the renewable energy field. InterSearch Norway represents the Norwegian arm of InterSearch Worldwide, a global recruitment agency operating in 50 countries.
Sjur stresses the importance of recruiting international candidates with industry experience when establishing new sectors. In recent years, InterSearch Norway has successfully recruited both Norwegian and international managers for emerging industries such as batteries, hydrogen, wind, and aquaculture. Sjur underscores the significance of teamwork and leveraging each other’s expertise to build strong relationships. His unwavering commitment to delivering excellent results has been the guiding principle throughout his career, as integrity and exemplary task management play critical roles in securing more assignments.
In closing, Sjur offers a piece of advice: “Do not take everything too seriously and do not immerse yourself in the chapter of sorrow.”
About InterSearch Norway
InterSearch Norway is a leading Executive Search firm working with Norwegian and international clients in recruiting senior executives and specialists, in addition to offering advisory services connected to company strategy, organisation and leadership. Our strength lies in key focus areas where our senior consultants bring relevant, sector-specific experience and expertise in the dialogue with clients and candidates alike. Our internal collaborative model, working together in a joint effort to maximise the quality of each assignment, bring added comfort and objectivity to the work we perform on behalf of our clients. We are efficient and flexible but never compromise on quality. Our strength and passion lie in the dialogue with people, and in seeing opportunities where there is untapped potential. In our focus on building honest and trustworthy relationships we create longevity by bringing our clients and candidates together, securing the ultimate match.