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Carly Williams

Carly Williams

Carly Williams, Talent Partner at Sylvera

  • Location: London, UK 

  • Title: Talent Partner, Tech 

  • Company: Sylvera 

  • Sector: Climate Tech 

  • Degree: BSc Psychology, University of Southhampton

How does your usual day look like?

My day depends on whether I’m heading into London from where I live in Hertfordshire, or working remotely (most talent roles are hybrid by nature).

If I’m working from home, my day starts at 8am, when my working cocker spaniel Connie wakes me up for her breakfast. We normally have a muddy morning walk by the canal, and then it’s coffee and emails by 9am for me.

I like to book some morning admin time first thing, where I can answer any questions from candidates about offers or interview processes and catch up on Slack messages. I’ll also book some ‘quick wins’ sourcing time, where I’ll review streams I’ve set up based on skillset on platforms like Cord and Otta - have any new candidates popped up overnight, who might be a good fit for any of my open roles?

The rest of my day is spent in meetings. Externally, this is mostly screening calls with candidates, or to give feedback in terms of an offer, or to share interview feedback. Internally, it’s hiring manager catch ups - kicking off new roles, syncing up on progress on active roles, and ‘debriefing’ roles for which we’ve concluded the interview process, and are hopefully looking to make an offer on.

I always make a point of breaking for lunch, and trying to make something interesting and delicious. Current favourite as we’re going into autumn is tomato soup and cheese toastie.

I like to time block my afternoon meeting-free time, so I have dedicated focus time. I’ll spend this reviewing direct applications and candidates submitted by agencies, and sourcing candidates using LinkedIn Recruiter and other relevant channels. As an internal recruiter there’s also a whole host of projects to get involved with, and I’m normally used to working on at least one at a time - historically this has been anything from data retrospectives, to employer branding.

That having been said, I literally just joined a new business Sylvera, which is a new industry for me, focussing on climate tech. This means I’m spending a lot of my time developing my product understanding, meeting the new hiring managers I’ll be working with and understanding their team’s priorities and challenges.

I try to finish up between 6-6:30pm, and on my weekday evenings I’ll head out to dance class, have dinner or go to the cinema with friends, or if I fancy it, make a nice dinner and have cuddles with Connie on the sofa.

What are the things you like the most about your job?

For a lot of people, interview processes are incredibly scary. The chance to reframe this into an empowering process and take an efficient and honest approach to guiding candidates through the interview process, connecting them to exciting opportunities with genuinely competitive packages, is an exciting one.

What are some of the skills you utilise the most in your day-to-day at work?

The ability to push back constructively. Sometimes a hiring manager is unclear in their description of a role requirement, or in feedback they give following an interview. Equally, sometimes candidates aren’t super specific in terms of what they’re looking for salary and equity-wise, or what will be most important to them in their next opportunity. Asking the right questions to gather this key information is instrumental in connecting candidates to the right opportunities, and ultimately not wasting anyone’s time!

What was one of your happiest days in your career and why?

It was incredibly exciting to have joined Codat just after announcing their Series B, but also to have been part of the team as they secured their Series C funding, which was $100million, led by J.P. Morgan. This was an incredibly exciting and proud time for the founders, and for everyone currently with the business whose hard work had been instrumental in this. To have brought many of these individuals into the team was a great feeling.

What was the toughest career decision you ever made?

Given the above, to have recently left Codat! It’s very tough to move on from a business with an absolutely amazing team (both personally and professionally), and a product and mission you can really get behind. But, it’s a hugely exciting thing to take all of the brilliant stuff you’ve learnt with one business, and to apply it to another business, especially one in a new and hugely interesting industry, as with Sylvera.

What is something you had to learn to become better at your work?

To balance the need for process with being biased towards action. My first business was a large corporate, but my second was a startup - I learnt fast that it’s just not an option to wait until every possible eventuality is mapped out and perfection is achieved - often it’s better to ‘fail fast’ and then iterate. That having been said, it’s important to map out a process whenever you can, and then run a retrospective once you’re finished up to make improvements where required, and nail things second time round.

How did you get to become a Talent Partner?

It’s a common misconception that to become an internal recruiter, you have to work on the agency side first. I personally never did (although I recognise how useful this pathway can be from some of my hugely talented colleagues).

I always knew I wanted to be an internal (or inhouse) recruiter and hire for a specific business, so I started out as a Recruitment Coordinator as a graduate, booking interviews and overall looking after candidate experience. This allowed me to move into a Talent Specialist role, where I sourced candidates which I’d then pass over to a Talent Partner, to look after the interview process and offer stage. Once I had that down, I chose to move into a Talent Partner role myself, where I look after the whole candidate process.

What's the one piece of career advice you have for anyone interested in following your footsteps?

Get your data understanding down early. Success in talent will always be measured by key numerical KPIs - namely metrics like time to hire, offer acceptance rate, and of course hires. The goal is to screen only the candidates who are most relevant for the position - that way you’re respecting everyone’s time. Understanding how many candidates you’ll need to realistically speak with, and roughly how long an interview process will take to conclude, will be super helpful in terms of planning your time (as well as managing expectations on both hiring manager and candidate side).

A bonus one - maintain your empathy. Although you’re dealing with a lot of data, this is representative of individuals considering making a massive change, by looking for a new job. Showing empathy in providing prompt feedback and not keeping candidates in the dark, and taking steps to ensure candidates secure fair offers is so important.

What's your number one productivity hack / when or how are you most effective?

When I’m really struggling to apply myself in focus time, I like to use the pomodoro technique - 25 minutes of work, 5 minute break, repeat. I like this website for managing this - you can even enter tasks you need to tackle during each work period:

What makes you gracefullyBOLD?

I try very hard to not let difficult experiences harden me, or diminish my optimism, and my kindness for others. We all go through difficult experiences both personally and professionally, but irrespective of whether I’ve had some tough news at home, or perhaps made a mistake at work (we all do it sometimes!), I’ll always bring my determination, positivity and consideration of others to my job, as I really genuinely care about my craft.

How do you spend your weekend or downtimes?

My partner plays a lot of sport, so often we’ll have breakfast together and I’ll spend time supporting him in this. We’re also renovating our first home, so there’s always a DIY job or two to catch up on. My two closest friends live a little further away, so it’s often weekends away with the dogs, and catching up with them. My main hobbies these days are Latin and Ballroom (I dance once or twice a week), baking (I recently made a wedding cake, never again!), reading and running.

How do you deal with stress and build resilience?

Whilst it can feel counterproductive, often if I feel very overwhelmed or stressed about a situation, I press pause.

When CVs start to blur into one, or when I feel like I’m drowning in Slack messages, a short walk or a quick coffee break away from my desk genuinely does wonders - changing my environment I’ve found to be so powerful. I’ve been fortunate enough to work for businesses who are output-focussed rather than hours-focussed and who just ‘get it’. There’s no rush to respond to a difficult Slack message or solve a challenging problem - better to take a short break to recharge slightly, before tackling a challenge with renewed energy and your full attention.

Who is a female professional that inspired you along your career journey?

The co-founders of Female Invest, Anna Hartvigsen and Camilla Falkenberg. Female Invest is an educational platform geared specifically towards women, which helps with anything from personal finance and budgeting, to getting started in investing. I think they’re an excellent example of people who’ve spotted a problem that they’re passionate about fixing, which they’ve created a clear mission to solve (to close the gender investment gap), and which they’re now pursuing with unrelenting tenacity. I’ve just pre-ordered their new book - Girls Just Wanna Have Impact Funds, focussed on investing with a sustainability focus.

One word answers & quick fire round. Let's go!

  • Your superpower: My resilience

  • Favourite beauty product: Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Filter

  • Favourite perfume: Prade Paradoxe

  • Book recommendation: Ready Player One - Ernest Cline

  • Next holiday destination: Amalfi Coast

  • Your hobby: Latin and Ballroom dancing

  • Who inspires you: My parents - they’ve run their own business for as long as I can remember, and have an unrivalled work ethic

  • Tea or Coffee: Tea

  • Red wine or White wine: Red wine

  • Morning bird or Night owl: Night owl

  • Cat person or Dog person: Dog person

Thank you Carly for sharing your journey & wisdom with us!

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