Say hello to Jan Kavanagh, founder behind Optimum Recruitment and Optimum Talent.


A short summary of what your business is and why you started it?

 I was a General Manager of a publicly listed recruitment group. It was a good company and I had a great team but I secretly always desired to run my own business. I thought I would regret if I didn’t at least try. I started Optimum Recruitment in January 2003 (I can’t believe it has been 15 years!!) It has evolved over time and we now specialise in technology, engineering, health and energy. Part of our focus is to identify and engage with female talent in these sectors.

Is there anything exciting you are working on over the next 2-3 weeks or any big wins that you would like us to highlight?

Over the past 10 years I have consistently had feedback from clients regarding female STEM graduates and early career professionals that I have found unsettling. Firstly, many females lack the confidence to apply for certain roles if they feel they do not meet 100% of the job criteria. Secondly, many females do not perform well in the interview - they lack the confidence to articulate their story and they are too humble to talk about their success and passion in their studies. Bottom line – they don’t get the job. To tackle this issue, we are about to launch Optimum Talent. The first offering is workshops and coaching programs that focus on building the confidence and self-awareness of female candidates and equip them with the tools to change their job search behaviours. We want them to value their own personal brand and effectively communicate their professional passion. Finally, we want these females to apply for the jobs that excite them and then we want them to authentically present themselves to secure their first role.

Biggest tip for someone starting a business?

Don’t take on other people’s fear (well meaning or not) in response to you starting a business. Be brave and bold and privately surround yourself with a few cheerleaders who are on your side. There will be days when you need them to cheer! The other thing I took a while to learn is if something isn’t working, you need to address it, assess the risks and act. You need to have the discipline to act early rather than later.

What do you find beneficial when it comes to working from a co-working space such as One Roof?

After renting offices in the CBD for the past 15 years, my lease was up for renewal and I just thought I don’t want to work like this anymore. I needed to do something different and work in a different space that would energise me. The move to One Roof achieved this. On our first day my Accountant called to check in and see how it was going. I said ‘ People are smiling, you can hear laughter and everyone walks with purpose – it’s going to be great!’ I knew I would be exposed to more ideas, emerging industries and interesting, passionate entrepreneurs. For the past 12 months I have been surrounded by such good, decent, smart and fun people who make up this community.

Tell us about YOU, what do you like doing when you unplug from work?

I love travel, nature and in particular wilderness. I am off next month to trek in Patagonia and then we are taking a Russian research vessel down to Antarctica. It is hauntingly beautiful. Random fact, your hair seriously doesn’t get dirty when you are down there.

How can people get involved with Optimum Talent?

If you know of organisations that have recruitment needs then we would love any referrals. With regards to Optimum Talent, stay tuned.

What have you found most rewarding about starting Optimum Talent?

It is rewarding to feel engaged in what you do. I can honestly say that in over 15 years I have never been bored – I’ve been scared, anxious, exhilarated, disappointed, stretched, rewarded, excited, proud but never bored. I still love seeing people being placed into jobs that you know is the right career move for them. I also love the work we do in helping people find roles when they are facing some type of barrier to employment.

Life motto?

 ‘Every day is a new beginning. Treat it that way. Stay away from what might have been and move on. Don’t let negative words or actions of others affect your smile. Decide that today… is going to be a good day. (Unknown but I like it!)


Find her on Facebook here, follow her on Instagram here, or check out her website here.


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