Candid Reflections of a Recruitment Industry Leader

What an opportunity to share relevant knowledge of what works in this extremely competitive market space! 

In conversation with Peter Tanner who first began in the early days of the industry in the early 1980’s. 

Why & how did you start Tanner Menzies?  

I started this firm as I wanted to work for myself and get back to something I loved doing and am good at.  Don Menzies, who was my mentor, is a partner in this venture.

What did you consider as your greatest challenges?   

We started in November 1988.  We were new and I didn’t have a network back then, as I had been out of the industry for 5 years.  1989 saw a mini recession as well.

It was a matter of head down and concentrating on delivering customer service that was second to none.  For both clients and candidates. 

Did you have a mentor?  

Don Menzies was my partner and mentor; he was 25 years older than me and we had worked together previously in the early 80’s in another Executive Selection business.

Another was Jim Bailey who had been my manager in the same business.  Jim remained my mentor until a few years ago.

What are your greatest achievements? 

Surviving the recession for one!  Building a business that was respected for the quality of its consultants. Being in the top 5 Recruiters in Australia and developing a client and candidate management program that still exists today.

If you did it again, what would you change?

Probably not a lot.  Might have moved into the Interim Management earlier.

What’s changed in the industry? 

We are more technology driven than ever before.  People are still the same with the similar needs and wants.  The industry takes turns in being client or candidate driven at any point in time.   It is still a thrill to ensure that you identify the right candidate for the right client and vice versa.

How do the next 5 years look like?  

Exciting, as new generations come into the labour market. They are more discerning in what they want from a potential employer. Candidates now interview the companies about their values, where the company is heading and what they offer as a career.  This trend will continue. 

Advice to anyone considering going into their own business? 

Take the leap if you have it in you.  I had a strong feeling about working for myself and taking a chance.  You must back yourself in. Do be wary of the unexpected as it will likely happen, both good and bad. If possible, have a mentor or guidance from proven performers whom you can trust.

Anything else to add?  

Think about what you can be and what you offer to the industry.  It’s a great career step and a role that offers more than just somewhere to go and work.  Recruitment gives you so many opportunities and presents the occasional pit fall.  

It’s worth the risk and provides for a great career with significant rewards.

Peter Tanner is still an active member of the Recruitment Industry and not only continues to recruit at a senior level but is also the Chairman of three companies including Tanner Menzies, as well as acting as a board member and advisor to a number of firms operating in the sector in Australia and New Zealand. Peter has worked with many successful professionals within the recruitment space and is respected as a leader.

If you are interested in starting your own business or joining the existing Tanner Menzies team as a high performing recruiter across Australia, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

You can reach out to Peter Gleeson, Ian Stacy or Peter Tanner at (03) 9190 8904 or visit