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Industry Insiders: Bruce Proctor on Recruiting

Summit Search Group

Bruce Proctor

Managing Partner

Bruce Proctor

Managing Partner

As Summit Search Group (SSG)) celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2020 it’s important to look back at the origins of the organization. The company was started in Calgary in 2000 by Bruce Proctor and shortly thereafter Robert Gosine, owner of Gosine Sulley & Associates in Halifax, moved to Calgary and joined forces. Over the next few years, they partnered to build the Summit Search Group brand, collaborating with talented recruiting industry professionals across Canada. In 2007, SSG expanded to include several locations across the country with key partners including Cynthia McCutcheon in Halifax, Chad Rutherford and David Litherland in Vancouver, and Chris Boyd and Grainne Walsh in Toronto. Finally, in 2010 Winnipeg came aboard with partner Chris Good (formerly Chris Good and Associates). In 2013, Matt Erhard acquired the Winnipeg operation. In the following years, the team in Ontario grew to become our largest branch and expanded into the Ottawa market with partner Bruce McEachern.

The work ethic at Summit Search Group is tenacious, and it’s no coincidence. Bruce Proctor is celebrating 20 years at Summit Search Group with the same philosophy as day one: he takes on every recruiting project with the passion and dedication and tenacity needed to win.

Bruce works in our Calgary office, the original home of SSG. After building the business from the ground up and expanding into every major Canadian city, he’s seen it all. Bruce applies his broad recruiting experience to his current area of expertise: industrial, manufacturing and oil and gas.

What led you to doing what you do here with Summit?

Over the years, my core recruiting specialty has always been in sales, management, and operational roles within a number of different industries. Alberta is oil and gas country, so I’ve had the chance to focus and develop a dedicated expertise in this complex and technical market in addition to other industrial sectors. After all these years, I’m still here, and I love the recruiting business!

What has surprised you the most about working in recruiting? What keeps you on your toes?

That’s a good question. I did a fair amount of research and had a lot of conversations with key people in the recruiting industry before I entered this business. Based on that research I was well prepared so it was a “natural landing spot for me.”

At Summit, we have a great group of client partners — and each one is unique. Their expectations and needs are different, and they’re all equally important. So, in a sense, there’s more pressure because you have to come to this job every day with drive, motivation, and a considerable sense of urgency. You can’t ever be off your game. With each day that goes by, there’s a chance to fall behind so we must be diligent, efficient and aware. A good recruiter never rests on their successes and always remembers – “you are only as good as your last recruiting project”.

Give us the good stuff: how do you do it? What drives your recruiting strategy?

Technology has been incredible for our business and it’s really changed this game.

But technology alone will never do the job for us. We must always be on top of the latest technology and the tools that will help us gain an edge in places like social media — which is absolutely critical in the industry today to promote our brand and credibility.

Technology aside, recruiting still comes down to the fundamentals of what we do: we’re in the “people” business. If we lose that direct contact with people via tools like the old-fashioned cold call, I think we lose our competitive advantage.

Everything we do has an impact. When we do a great job, it touches our client in a very real way — it makes a direct positive impact on their organization. And for a candidate, finding a new career can change every aspect of that person’s life. This is very rewarding.

What sets a great candidate apart from the rest?

Personality – a candidate that is motivated and driven to succeed with the will to win — that’s the personality a company wants to hire. People don’t lose “star power” and they carry those characteristics with them, and they will seize each new job opportunity with the same spark.

As a recruiter, it’s about uncovering the fundamentals of who the candidate is as an individual and isolating these winning qualities. If someone is successful with one company, chances are they will succeed in their next organization too.

Top performers have the ability to make people around them better, and it inspires a whole sales team or a whole management team to up their game when they join a new company. They have a tendency to raise the bar. The idea of a good candidate versus a great candidate all comes down to impact. You can never win a game with one person — but one person can make a significant difference in what happens out there.

And what sets a great recruiter apart from the rest? What do you wish people knew?

I think one of the most important aspects in the recruiting process is to truly spend the time with your client to understand what their company is really looking for. Companies engage us to find the talent that they do not have the time or ability to source. Once we have a clear understanding of our clients’ needs it allows us to move forward with a clear vision.

There are a couple things. Quite frankly, there are many job boards are out there but it takes more than that to do a deep dive into the industry — any industry — and find the best talent.
To find great talent, you have to make calls – network – talk to industry players – find out who’s really good, and not so good. You need professional insight. A recruiter who’s doing the job properly is truly discriminating. They’re evaluating a whole pool of candidates and selecting the best that are available at any given time.

Sometimes, the best candidate isn’t even looking for a new role. It’s our job to find the best talent, and to educate them on a new opportunity that could provide them more scope, growth, opportunity, or compensation – whichever is important to them.

A professional recruiting specialist can do the job quicker and more effectively than anyone else. We have expertise in an industry, and we know the people that are at the top of their game.

What’s the best part of your job?

It’s very satisfying when you get a call from a candidate, months later, thanking you for placing them in a new role and they’re happy and doing well with their new company. This is a win-win because the placing a top producer with your client means their company thrives so everyone is happy. You have earned the right to get their next call on their next hire, and it always feels great when you do.

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Industry Insiders: Bruce Proctor on Recruiting

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