ProudConnector Unveiled: Kathleen Peirsman | Legal Recruitment Consultant
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What’s your role at YouConnect?
Legal Recruitment Consultant
What did you do before you started at YouConnect?
I started my career as a tax consultant at a Big 4 office. A very pleasant and instructive period. After 6 years, it was time for something else, and I started working as a real estate officer at an energy company. A few years later, and after I had my first child, my father asked if I’d like to join him in the accountancy firm he managed. So I worked with him for 11 years. When he retired, I felt it was time for something new again, and I ended up at YouConnect—a company I’d been doing the accounting for when working for my dad. I’d always thought it would be a nice company to work for, and I was right!
What attracted you to your role at YouConnect?
The prospect of helping and advising people who are looking for new jobs. We spend a large part of our lives at work, so where we work and how we work can have an enormous impact, and I wanted to be able to help people with that. Meeting new clients and candidates every day in such a pleasant company setting was also a major attraction.
What motivates you each day?
When I decided to look for a new job, the idea of "being able to help people" was at the top of my list. I didn't know exactly how it would come about. But, in fact, it’s what I'm doing now: helping candidates get the jobs they want and clients get the employees they need. Mission accomplished I would say!
What do you think are the most important skills a recruitment consultant should have?
A willingness to listen.
What makes YouConnect so unique as a company?
I would say it’s our soft, quite velvety approach. And I don’t mean that negatively in any way—quite the opposite. The way we operate is thorough and sustainable. Rather than putting people under pressure, we aim to put them at ease and build strong and lasting relationships. Something that bothered me in my personal dealings with recruiters was their pushiness—their insistence on suggesting jobs that didn't really suit me. The YouConnect approach fits perfectly with my own standards and values.
How would you describe the atmosphere between you and all your colleagues at YouConnect?
We all like to have fun, but no one’s afraid of hard work, and we all help each other out. There is a great team spirit, and we’ve all got the good of the company at heart.
Which is your favorite workplace and why?
I prefer to work in our Antwerp office—Stokers in the Green Quarter, to be precise. It is quiet and intimate, and because it’s a co-working space, you are always meeting new faces.
Where do you get your energy from?
From good connections with candidates! The feeling you get when you step into the selection process. You’re in it with them, on the same wavelength, and that gives me energy. And then, when it’s clear that the candidate is a perfect match for the client’s needs, it’s an absolute thrill for all concerned!
How do you ensure that things run efficiently?
Tight structure and good planning.
Which interview question or approach do you find the most productive?
I always start with a short presentation of YouConnect as a company. Then I ask candidates to introduce themselves as individuals, independent of their educational or work experience. You often get quite unexpected answers that reveal something about the person behind the suit or the beautiful blouse that you would never have guessed.
What type of interviewer are you?
I’d describe myself as an involved interviewer. I listen carefully, but I also speak, especially when it helps to put candidates at ease. If the atmosphere is good, you build trust, and that takes the conversation to another level.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
I'm no better or worse at either extreme. I function pretty well throughout the day. I don't get up at the crack of dawn, and I don't go to bed very late so that I can go through my day full of energy.
What is your record at the 5 km?
Unfortunately, last year I injured my ankle really badly in a skiing accident, so I couldn’t even walk. But, once upon a time, in the dim and distant past, I ran 5 km in under 30 minutes.
What was your last online purchase?
A plaid jacket for my daughter.
What is your favorite Eurovision hit?
There’s one song I remember well from my childhood and that is Diggy-loo Diggy-ley by the Herreys, the Eurovision winners in 1984. The band was formed by 3 Swedish brothers and at the time I thought they were handsome boys. And I was brave enough to sing the song on a stage at the seaside.
What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
I have a few favorites! Pistachio, preferably with some crushed pistachio nuts in it, mocha and caramel, or even better, a combination of both in a delicious coupe brésilienne. My favorite ice cream parlor is Crèmerie François.
Do follow any unusual rituals? And if so, what are they?
I don’t know whether you can really call it a ritual, but getting up is invariably accompanied by making the bed, brushing my teeth, having a shower, and waking the children. And if it’s not, the day doesn’t seem to start so well. And at some time during these four rituals, I try to read for half an hour before I start my working day.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
When I was 28, I did a tandem parachute jump. I wasn’t scared, but the moment the instructor sat down on the edge of the plane and linked us together and we had to let go, that was very exciting. At that moment, I suddenly realized: if something’s gone wrong, this is it.
If you could go back in time, to what time would you go?
The Age of Enlightenment! But as a member of the aristocracy if at all possible. Hooped skirts and gala balls, that must have been fantastic.
What moves you?
I’ve noticed lately that I’m moved more and more by children who do something really sweet for their parents or grandparents. An amazing sporting performance and the reaction of the delighted sportsman or woman can bring a tear to my eye. When cyclist Greg Van Avermaet became an Olympic champion, I was in floods.
Imagine you wake up tomorrow with a brand new quality or skill, what would it be?
I would love to be able to take beautiful pictures.
Do you like music? If so, what is your all-time favorite track?
Yes, I love music. I used to be a huge David Bowie fan. I fainted during one of his concerts. I was squashed between four big men in leather jackets, and I just couldn't breathe. When I came round, I was crowd surfing! I often listen to Studio Brussel and in the evening Joe FM plays some great stuff.
What was your last holiday destination?
South Africa—a fantastic destination. Cape Town is one of my favorite cities. My husband took part in the Cape Town Cycle Tour last year.
Which book do you think everyone should read?
Well, I personally love to read fiction because it really relaxes me. I like historical novels by writers like Arthur Japin and Sarah Lark. But for everyone else…? I guess it’s “different strokes for different folks”!
What is your motto for life?
Whatever you do, do your best!