After a combined 12 years in the recruitment industry, Isabelle Senecal and Wayne Johnstone recognized a gap in recruitment services in the North. Their company, Calstone Search Group is filling a niche, dedicating its resources to sourcing and filling senior positions in mining.
“Our competitors mainly treat executive recruitment as an afterthought, or an added service,” says Johnstone. “We are the only firm in Sudbury focusing solely on contingency-based permanent recruitment for mining and mining support companies.”
“There was a need for a firm such as ours based in Northern Ontario, considering that (according to the Canadian Institute of Mining) 60 per cent of underground hard rock mining in Canada happens within 300 miles of Sudbury,” Senecal says. “So a local firm focused on attracting top talent to the mining and mining support industry was essential in our area.”
Calstone Search Group assists its clients in securing high-quality candidates for specialized, skills-based roles; engineers, geologists, project managers, metallurgists and controllers are amongst the positions they fill. Their multi-national clients range from mining firms to consulting companies to equipment manufacturers, and they’ve placed candidates in locations across North America.
As international recruitment consultants, they focus on the specialized searches a firm’s human resources department doesn’t have the time or expertise to do.
“We are like any other consultant—we are the experts in our field,” Johnstone says. When done right, Johnstone believes job-specific recruitment can work in tandem with a firm’s human resources department to fill a company’s ranks with the best people.
“When an HR department publicly posts a position, the audience is often those who are unemployed or candidates who might be looking to make a career move for the wrong reason, perhaps because they’re displeased with their current situation,” Johnstone says.
“At Calstone, we rarely post on job boards, relying on our ability to network to find candidates who aren’t actively looking for their next career. When an employee’s worth to a company can be hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions, using a contingency-based search firm means they’ll have the opportunity to interview candidates who are motivated to make the move for the right reasons.”
Calstone advises the company from the moment the search begins—sourcing candidates, co-ordinating interviews, making travel arrangements, negotiating hiring packages—until the successful candidate starts in their new position. More than just filling a vacancy, Calstone aims for a smooth transition for both the client and the candidate.
“We play a part in ensuring the match is successful, that the person doesn’t just have the technical skills required for the position, but that if relocation is involved, the new hire will also know they’re going to have a place here in Northern Ontario,” Senecal says. Doing so helps a company with their employee retention strategy, and new employees are less likely to leave, which reduces costs.
Within the next year, the firm plans to hire three more people, while future plans include extending their physical presence to other heavy mining areas in Canada such as Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Alberta, or even Newfoundland and Labrador.
“There’s no reason we can’t compete with other firms that are national and international,” Johnstone says. “Most of our clients, including Sudbury-based companies, compete globally, and there’s nothing stopping us from doing the same.”
Northerners by birth and by choice, Senecal and Johnstone bring a complementary set of skills to their partnership. University-educated with a strong network of key industry representatives, each has proven successes as professionals in a competitive field.
The pair is keen to make Calstone Search Group the primary firm engaged by Northern Ontario-based companies in their recruitment for senior positions.
Too often, they note, companies doing business in Northern Ontario use Southern Ontario firms in their recruitment campaigns, but a local firm often has a better understanding of its clients’ needs.
“We understand the mining industry and its importance in the North. As local consultants we spend more time on client sites, and can better appreciate a company’s corporate culture and the key individuals required for their success” Senecal says. “Rather than a recruiter who’s never been there and has zero exposure to the environment.”
A secondary goal is to boost the North’s economy by hiring locally and enhancing the services provided in the North.
“We want to hire a group of people here in Sudbury and keep local business in Northern Ontario,” Johnstone says. “By creating jobs in the North we can better service all the local companies that are currently using Southern Ontario firms.”
Satisfaction for the pair comes from arranging a successful match. When a client lands an important contract because the right people are in place, or a candidate establishes a new career in the North, that’s when Senecal and Johnstone feel it’s been a job well done. “We often have clients and candidates come by the office unannounced, shake our hands and thank us.”
The key is to put themselves in the candidates’ shoes, and understand how difficult it can be to make such a big change in their lives.
“A career move for anyone, especially when it involves relocation, is a big deal,” Senecal says. “To play a part in that is very rewarding.”