We interviewed one of our alumni, Shaun Carlton, about his career to date. Shaun graduated from the BSc (Hons) Psychology in 2015 and went on to do an MSc in Organizational Psychology. He now works as an Associate Consultant at a Talent Strategy Consultancy firm.
Which course(s) did you do at Northumbria and what have you done since graduating?
I studied BSc Psychology at Northumbria between 2012-2015 and I’ve done all sorts since graduating, really.
My first role was with a small independent mental health hospital where I was responsible for supporting individuals with a range of mental health challenges, predominantly Schizophrenia and Personality Disorders. I’d always wanted to get into mental health care but after a year in role it didn’t feel like the career path that I wanted to pursue long-term.
I decided to go on to study MSc Organizational Psychology at the University of Leeds. While I was (and still am) fascinated by human behaviour, I decided that I was most interested in applying this to a ‘work’ context rather than a healthcare context… My BSc dissertation was actually on how an alcohol hangover can affect workplace performance, so my interest was always there!
I then moved to London to work in recruitment, before making the move into consulting, which I’ve been doing for the past 3 years.
This month I’ll actually be starting a new role as Talent Development Partner at a local government authority back in North Yorkshire. I’m really looking forward to move into the public sector, and to bring my consulting and psychology expertise to support the North Yorkshire community.
What is your current job title and what does your job involve?
I’m currently an Associate Consultant at a Talent Strategy consultancy focused on helping clients realise the full potential of their people. This typically involves me working with senior executives to support them with assessment, development, workforce insight, talent mobility and succession planning amongst other things.
A large part of my role involves using tools including psychometric assessments (measuring intellect/ aptitude, personality and motivations) and behavioural based assessments to understand and predict the type of person who is likely to thrive in a particular organisation. The approach is theoretically grounded in the idea that looking at experience alone is one of the worst predictors of future performance (Schmidt & Hunter, 1988), so we help organisations to increase the accuracy by which they make people decisions in order to unlock performance.
What inspired you to follow your career path?
How many times have you heard someone complain about a rough day at work or how much they hate their jobs? This fundamentally should not happen, ever.
I absolutely believe that if we can change how organisations support, recruit, develop and manage their people then we can increase employee engagement and job satisfaction; both of which have been found to improve the individual’s wellbeing, and organisational performance… everyone wins (see Roberton & Cooper, 2010).
I also think that we can increase fairness and equality in a world riddled with bias. From a hiring perspective I often hear clients talk about, or see in job descriptions the desire for a degree from a certain university, in a certain subject, at a certain grade… My question is, “why”? Do they know that someone who gets a 2:1 from Harvard would be better at the job than someone who gets a 2:1 from a different university? If not, then why measure it in the hiring process?
I’ve worked on projects where clients narrow their potential talent pool down to such an extreme level to look for qualifications that they think relate to performance, but actually have no impact whatsoever. So many people miss out on opportunities through no fault of their own, but through an unjust and biased system… This needs to change.
What advice would you give to current students wanting to follow a similar path?
Stay curious, follow your passions, and believe in yourself. When I studied at Northumbria, I was set on going into healthcare, but I quickly realised it wasn’t for me. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times where I felt anxious about my next step – not knowing what I’d be doing, where I’d be working, or having a clear career plan mapped out. I’ve since realised that this is okay, just enjoy the journey and keep learning.
I’d also recommend setting up a LinkedIn profile and joining groups of like-minded individuals, following companies you’re interested in, and reaching out to others who work in a job/ organisation that sound interesting to you. Most people would be happy to help out and give you some advice, or maybe even introduce you to someone who could help.
I’m always happy to connect too. You can find me at: linkedin.com/in/shauncarlton/
What was your favourite thing about studying at Northumbria?
I don’t even know where to start… Living in Newcastle was great! I loved the nightlife, the culture and the people. I’ve also made some friends for life and only have great memories – I’d highly recommend it to anyone!
References and useful links
Robertson, I. T., & Cooper, C. L. (2010). Full engagement: the integration of employee engagement and psychological well‐being. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 31(4), 324-336.
Schmidt, F. L., & Hunter, J. E. (1998). The validity and utility of selection methods in personnel psychology: Practical and theoretical implications of 85 years of research findings. Psychological bulletin, 124(2), 262-274.
Want to hear more about careers in psychology? Head over to our Careers in Psychology blog