Samantha-Leigh Hayward: Global Tech Recruiter’s tips on effective communication

Samantha Hayward for Teamdash

Teamdash’s ‘Meet the Expert’ series travels to beautiful South Africa again.

This time, we’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Samantha-Leigh Hayward, Global Tech Recruiter at S. Hayward Consulting and the Head of Talent Acquisition at Dijkstrack.

From overcoming challenges to sharing experiences as a candidate and tips for effective outreach – this interview covers them all and more!

How did you get started in recruitment? Was working in talent management something you always wanted to do?

Let’s be honest, recruitment isn’t a chosen path for most people, myself included. I studied Marketing and my first corporate job as in intern was in recruitment, and as they say, the rest is history.

What would you say is a common misconception about the work of a recruiter?

That you need to be an extrovert to do this work. Quite the opposite actually. I believe introverts thrive more in these fields.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve managed to overcome or improve on during your career so far?

My biggest challenge in my 20s and early 30s was taking things personally. My job used to break my heart, and the highs would go extremely high, and visa versa, the lows would disable me. As I’ve matured, I’ve learned that nothing is personal and we’re all just doing our best.

What are some of the most rewarding experiences or achievements you’ve had in your career so far?

My most rewarding experience thus far is starting South Africa’s first recruitment conference in Cape Town, Recruiters Unite. Our community doesn’t have a lot of camaraderie, and it has always been my dream to get our industry collaborating and talking. We’re now headed towards our 2nd event in March. So proud.

What kind of experiences have you had as a candidate yourself?

Oh goodness, 2020 for a brief moment I thought I would stop contracting and enter the world of permanent work. Job searching gave me so much anxiety. Companies never replying. Interviews that were so nerve-wracking, needless to say I quit that short experiment after a couple of weeks. After that I really jacked up my services to ensure no candidate ever felt like I did.

I’m super excited that people are talking about becoming more human amongst all the AI chat. As much as I respect the fact that AI has it’s place and it’s going to add value. It also means that it’s going to be easier to stand out and deliver an outstanding service just by being human.

What do you feel is unique about your current place of work? What makes the people stay?

I’m currently contracting at a start-up, Dijkstrack. We’re building tech engineers teams in South Africa. We’re super fresh and just getting running, but that’s so exciting to me – new beginnings and fresh starts and, of course, opportunities to build a culture that we believe in.

What tools that you use in your day-to-day work are the most valuable to you?

At the moment, I’m not a huge AI tools recruiter. I have my ATS, LinkedIn Recruiter, saved Boolean searches, ChatGPT, and sometimes use Rocketreach.

In your opinion, what are the most critical skills and qualities a recruiter should possess to be successful in this field?

Empathy. Someone who has a strong gut sense and can read people well. And a great listener. People will always tell you what you need to know.

How do you approach diversity and inclusion in the hiring process, and how do you ensure fair and unbiased recruitment?

Honestly, this isn’t a new concept in South Africa, and I feel it comes quite naturally to us, especially with our diverse demographics. It’s not something we specifically have to look for.

Do you track any metrics/KPIs in your day-to-day work? If you’ve managed to improve any of them recently, what did you do to achieve better results?

  • I track my outreach vs response.
  • 1st interview vs offer.

My outreach response has always been fairly high, but I think my approach is unique. I give all the details in my first contact, including hiring managers’ contacts, salary, and detailed company info – and I feel this gains immediate respect to those that I contact.

How would you define a good candidate experience? What strategies do you use to offer one?

A good candidate experience – always be communicating. Even if you don’t have feedback, communicate that. Even if you can’t make a decision in a couple of weeks, communicate that and stay in touch.

Build on the relationship, and don’t use people as a commodity.

No specific strategies – but always try to exceed expectations.

Recommend us 3 books/TV shows/podcasts and let us know why you love them.

  1. ‘The Happiest Man on Earth’ by Eddie Jaku – you’ll need to read it. I just love it so much!
  2. ‘The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself ‘- I am a huge fan of self-help books, and this one was super powerful.
  3. ‘Manage your money like a f*cking grown-up’ – Samantha Beckbessinger. Finances have never been my strong point – so this was a great starting point for me.

How do you know when it’s time to take some time off to avoid burnout and take care of your mental health?

I have high-functioning anxiety and have learnt over the years to pick up signs super early. I absolutely refuse to get to any breaking point (I’ve been there before, and it’s just not worth it). I exercise every single day – it’s my mental health lifesaver.

What motivates you professionally? What is your biggest professional goal for 2024?

We have some of the most amazing humans in our industry, and watching them grow, build, share their ideas, and open their networks inspires me daily to be better.
I’m currently studying Executive Coaching as well as Enneagram Coaching, and I cannot wait to start offering these services to my clients and new clients.

How would you describe your job to people considering transitioning into recruitment/talent management? Any tips on where to start?

Imagine a job where you can positively affect people’s lives just with a phone call. Or making an impact in an organisation that can alter the entire direction it was taking. I don’t know many careers where you can positively affect so many people’s lives – we’re absolutely blessed to be in this career. Where to start? Join a kickass agency!

Thank you, Samantha, for sharing your story and thoughts with our community.

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Merilyn Uudmae


Content Marketing Manager

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