Celebrating 20 years at Swisslinx: An interview with Director Colin Tivendale

Posting date: 06 March 2020
Swisslinx is celebrating its 20th birthday this year, and to celebrate, we’re speaking to some of the people who’ve helped make Swisslinx become the business it is today.

Colin Tivendale started his career working in journalism and event promotion before entering the recruitment industry in 2002, where he’s remained ever since. Working within the recruitment markets of Digital & Technology and Change & Consulting, he’s worked his way up to Director level at Swisslinx and is looking forward to seeing the company continue to grow into the future. Here’s his story:

“I worked in multi-lingual call centres before moving to recruitment”

After moving on from his work in call centres, Colin first gained an insight intro recruitment when he worked at S3 in London on one of their Swiss desks. As an English, French and German speaker, Colin was able to further develop his multi-lingual skills during these early days of his career, before deciding to venture into more of a business development role.

“I wanted to be based in Zurich at a company that placed a high value on the customer experience”

Colin had his sights set on a boutique company where he could make a meaningful impact and commit to a long-term career. Swisslinx fit the bill – he joined in 2002 to specialise in technology, finance and business support, and has since added executive search, program resourcing and consulting to his skillset. His journey has seen him touch on most sales topics, including business development, research and account management across technology, corporate functions, finance and executive search, spanning the regions of Zurich, Geneva, Dubai/Abu Dhabi and London.

“I manage a team of four in a space that is ripe for disruption”

Colin’s team’s focus is primarily developing the business lines of the future for Swisslinx, which he believes to be Consulting/Professional Services and Executive Search for CIO/CDO and CTO functions. These spaces are primed and ready for disruption and Colin says better service levels can be delivered to customers by providing more transparency, a shorter timeline from engagement to hire and a more direct and delivery-focused execution style. 

“There have been so many highlights since I joined the company”

Swisslinx has grown enormously during Colin’s tenure. When he joined the offering was mainly banking, and he’s proud of helping hedge this portfolio by introducing two large key accounts, one in reinsurance and one in industrial, garnering CHF 20-30 million per year spends. He’s also worked on the majority of the firm’s largest fee generating searches and placements.

“I never thought I’d enjoy management as much as I do”

Having seen the company grow from fewer than 10 people in one office to a 50 person company with offices around the globe, Colin says Swisslinx’s development has been significant – but there’s still a long way to go. He’s grateful to have who he believes are some of the most talented people in the local and international markets on his team and says their potential to grow and develop is unlimited.

“If I ever start feeling too comfortable in my chair, I ask for a new project”

Colin remains stimulated in his work thanks to the autonomy he is afforded at Swisslinx. He says he’s been given the freedom to develop business lines and add new elements to existing areas, which has resulted in the introduction of the Commodities and Natural Resources business and the recent focus on Consulting and Professional Services. The former was instrumental in Swisslinx moving away from being a generalist recruitment agency towards the highly specialised boutique model of today. Meanwhile, the Consulting and Professional Services offering provides customers with a sustainable and credible alternative to the established management and tech consulting firms.

“Good recruiters are at their best when they are the broker directly communicating with the client and candidate”

While Colin counts himself lucky to have started in recruitment in the early days of LinkedIn and new technology platforms, he maintains that the personal touch of a recruiter cannot be digitalised. As client needs continue to evolve at pace, Recruiters and Swisslinx as a business must be proactive to keep developing. 

“Here we are given enough freedom to innovate and create, coupled with just the right amount of support to succeed”

In addition to having the autonomy and ability to craft, design and implement business plans, Colin loves working alongside people who are passionate about what they do. From the partners who have been with Swisslinx since day one to the management team and new joiners, he believes the most important elements are in place to continue to exceed expectations. 

Interested in learning more about what it’s like to work at Swisslinx or do business with the company? View our blog to find out more, or click here to meet other members of the team

How to get your first executive job

It’s widely reported that more than 50% of jobs aren’t advertised, and this proportion stretches much higher when it comes to executive roles. Therefore, landing your first executive job will be an entirely different process from any other job you’ve gone after. With fewer executive roles on the market, securing one of these coveted positions can be a highly competitive process. You need to strategise how you will distinguish yourself and position yourself on executive recruiters’ radars. Here’s our advice on getting your first executive job, right from the point of personal development up to preparing for your interview: Develop your personal brand  45% of executives agree that a CEO’s reputation will directly impact the reputation of the company. So it will come as no surprise that an executive’s reputation – or personal brand – comes under serious consideration during the hiring process. Just as it’s important for any company’s success to have a strong brand, your personal brand is a powerful way of showing hiring managers why you’re a good fit for the role. When portrayed correctly your brand will highlight your ROI and specifically how you will add value to the organisation if you get the job. Since many professionals at this level work with Personal Branding Strategists and Career Coaches you can’t afford to leave your reputation as just an afterthought. Your personal brand should be crafted so that it accurately reflects not just who you are but how you solve problems, your authority areas and ultimately what your unique positioning is. Though this may seem a daunting process, Blue Step’s Global Guide to Personal Branding for Executives offers helpful advice, starting with the question “What do you want to be known for?”. Start by asking yourself this and the rest of your approach should come easily. Get personal with an executive search firm On average it takes 71 days to place a C-suite candidate, which is considerably longer than the 43 days spent filling the average role. But for the job seeker, finding an executive role can sometimes take six months – or longer - because these senior positions aren’t as common as the jobs you’ve searched for before. So you need to position yourself on executive recruiters’ radars and you want them to know you on a personal level. One way of doing this is to share your career goals with these expert recruiters. As they’re in the business of finding candidates for executive roles they can provide insight as to whether you have the right skill set or experience. If they advise that you need more time to hone your leadership skills, don’t despair - you now have that contact at an executive search firm to reach out to once you’ve hit the necessary experience level. These recruiters have seen thousands of CVs and applications so you can trust their verdict. Remember that it’s about nurturing these relationships with executive recruiters. You won’t land a job in a few weeks, it can take months to find the right executive role so you need to stay in touch with them. Get networking  The Executive Career Brand reports that only 10% of executives are hired from job board advertisements. This supports the notion that your chance of getting an executive job is heavily reliant on networking and a great place to begin is by developing a strong online presence. It’s no new information that your LinkedIn profile is a powerful tool in the job-hunting process but have you considered optimising yours for search engines? To improve your LinkedIn profile’s visibility you need to include targeted skills and keywords, set your location and industry, and use all the characters available in each section. This will ensure executive recruiters find your profile and will help you make connections in your field of work. Consider upping your game and establish yourself as a thought leader on LinkedIn by posting and sharing articles on topics in your industry. Beyond the digital world, you should be attending industry conferences and reaching out to old contacts. After all, networking isn’t always about making new connections. Time for the interview You’ve put a lot of time into your personal development and nurturing connections – the next step is impressing at the interview stage. A good executive recruiter will only put forward a very small number of candidates for roles at this level, most of which will have exclusivity, so if you make it to interview stage you have a strong chance of securing the role. Now all that’s left to do is show the company how serious you are about working for them and improving their bottom line. Beyond a deep understanding of the organisation's verticals, the current state of the market and opportunities for you to add value, you should also research the business's financial status and their current challenges. Some businesses will have an investor relations tab on their website which will tell you a lot about how they are performing. To delve a little further, search their company filings and public financial statements - and if the company you’re interviewing for is private you can get a good picture of their status from news releases and articles. As for the competitors, beyond knowing who they are you need to search how the company is performing compared to them and what they have in the pipeline. Having this knowledge for the interview will show that you’re invested in the company and will allow you to have a genuine conversation about what you plan to do within your first three months. Think of this research as background information to create your 90-day plan.Take your next career step with Swisslinx Want more advice on finding your first executive job? As a market-leading recruitment firm in Switzerland, our expert consultants can offer valuable guidance when looking for your next senior-level position. Whether you’re job searching in financial services, digital and technology, or healthcare and life sciences we’ve got two decades of insight to help you.

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COVID-19 - Swisslinx is fully operational at this time!

We want to reassure you that Swisslinx is prepared and working to ensure continued service delivery during these challenging times. To facilitate business continuity we remain fully operational, with our motivated and dedicated teams set up to work remotely, as well as from our offices. Our internal processes and systems allow us to continue offering seamless service delivery to Clients and Candidates, from any location using virtual tools. Swisslinx is closely following developments relating to employment and immigration and is happy to provide guidance on these matters. Despite current market volatility, we assure you of our continued commitment to offering complete talent solutions. We wish you and your families good health and remain available for any queries should you require assistance during this time. ​Kind regardsOlivier RuedinCEO

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