For Sandra D’Amico, Managing Director of the largest recruiting company in Cambodia, the most important things are having good relationships and communicating with the clients.
D’Amico, who comes from Johannesburg, South Africa, started HR Inc in 2005 and remembers asking one of the HR consultants in her office if they had emailed a client.
The consultant answered no, because there were no new developments so far.
D’Amico told the consultant “nothing is something”.
She asked the consultant to contact the client and tell them that while no suitable person had yet been found to fill the position that HR Inc was still looking and want to let the client know they were on the job and would get in touch as soon as an appropriate candidate was located.
“Nothing is something,” said D’Amico. “Communicate with the client.”
“I think what makes the difference in good service is not replicating the same process over an over but genuinely taking an interest in the client or the candidate to really understand what they need and what they want,” she said.
Another important thing is distinguishing between what the job candidate wants to be and what they are capable of or suited for.
“For example you will get all the university graduates come in and you can ask them what do you want to be? They may answer they want to be a manager. But what is a manager? Are you really capable of being a manager?”
“It is about being able to give information and being able to ask the right questions so you can understand who you are talking to and be able to help them most effectively. In recruitment you have two kinds of clients: candidates and companies who are looking for candidates. I think for everybody what they are looking for is timely communication and constant communication.”
That’s why for D’Amico, relationships are so important.
“This is not placing someone in a job and forgetting about them. This is about continuously building relationships. This is not about what I get from either the client or the candidate. It is about what I am able to develop over a long period of time. Service excellence is about the continued relationships.”
D’Amico first came to Cambodia to take a break from corporate life, doing some teaching and working with a small startup firm. In South Africa she had studied production and design and worked in the consulting industry, including with airlines.
HR Inc has doubled in size since the middle of 2010.
“We’ve grown significantly, over 50 percent in staff since the middle of 2010 and we continue to grow,” she said.
While she would like to eventually return to Africa to be closer to her family, she wants to finish what she’s started at HR Inc first.
“I want to build Cambodian management, hand over the firm to Cambodian managers and partners.”
D’Amico says one of the most difficult things in service is “constructive inquisitiveness” and “really get to know your customer, whether you’re professional services, or restaurants, and to build intuition around understanding. Many people can ask you for an accountant, but accounts can mean different things to different people.”
According to D’Amico there’s an enormous amount of companies setting up business in Cambodia right now and there’s a price war going on in the recruitment industry.
“I don’t believe in undercutting. I believe in a healthy private sector is about competition. Competition just makes us better at what we do.
That is really important for me in this market. I have no issues with any of our competitors,” she said. “I welcome competition.”
One of HR Inc’s strengths, she said is the market intelligence on people and industries in Cambodia, a database that she takes pride in keeping “very, very secure.”
“Our database can never be abused. That is really important to me.”
As for candidates, D’Amico is looking to place people in companies who have stayed for a while in their previous jobs.
“If you send me your CV and you’ve moved every six months, I’m not interested in working with you. Our whole purpose is to build a company and to build an individual. Once we place somebody, we invest a lot of time in the candidate,” she said.
“We have a vested interest in growing somebody’s professional profile. I’m not going to send you to somewhere you are not happy. We place for career.
D’Amico sees a huge amount of opportunity for young people achieve their dreams in Cambodia.
“If they are inquisitive, explore an ask questions. Understand why you are doing something and what the consequence or impact of what you are doing. That is very important.”
She says ideal candidates are inquisitive, analytical and have a love for learning new things and trying to do things that are much bigger than they are.
“These are people who want really want to push themselves to the limit and who want to learn a lot of new things in a very short space of time. Everybody is so unbelievably different. When I look across the board at everybody, that’s what sticks out: Passion, inquisitiveness, wanting to learn and wanting to push yourself,” D’Amico said.