One year in recruitment – what have I learnt?

A little over 12 months ago, I set up my own recruitment business. I’d been working for 13 years in the digital sector, for both domestic and global clients, and decided to take the leap. After one year in business, what have I learnt?

You get out what you put in

Simple really. If you don’t engage, get out there and sweat your network you aren’t going to build a successful business. Set high standards. Go above and beyond. Meet with clients. And get under the skin of a company culture; understanding their ways of working as well as the set of skills and values they’re after. Only then can you be successful in recruitment.

But that also extends to clients and candidates. You won’t find great talent if you don’t invest the time in your recruitment partners and your recruitment process. Likewise, a dream job isn’t going to fall in your lap if you only engage via email and judge roles by the job spec. As a candidate, you’ve got to put the time in; working with good recruiters and establishing professional relationships.

Build relationships

My experience with finding new roles throughout my career has been extremely transactional, and only the minority invest in creating long-term relationships or partnerships.

After 13 years of working at digital agencies, I still make an effort to know, see and speak to many of my past colleagues, clients and contacts. They keep me in-tune with what’s going on in the industry and give me a great insight into the constantly moving tectonic plates of digital.

I want to do great work with great people. Great people gravitate towards each other and that’s why continually nurturing these relationships will lead to a strong reputation, recommendations, new relationships and new clients.

Be generous

I believe that what goes around comes around. If I give some of my expertise away for free, then I’m sure it will come back around further down the line.

When I can help a candidate, even if I’m not placing them in a role or sending them to an interview, then I will. Whether it’s a point of view on companies they’re considering, how to set out their CV better, advice on creating a portfolio, or to provide insight into the strategic direction of a digital business – then all they need to do is pick up the phone.

Ultimately this plays into the first two points; it builds credibility across the market, forms new relationships and will pay back over the long term, in one form or another.

Don’t judge a job by its job spec

Job specs: I’ve never seen anyone get excited by one. Which is why they can be both good and bad.

They provide details of the requirements and responsibilities of a role, but don’t provide any level of detail about an organisation, a team, leadership, business strategy, values or culture. If you judge an opportunity on a job spec, 99 times out of 100 you’ll reject it because it doesn’t sound like the “kind of role you’re looking for”.

Instead, I’ve learnt to research – through both my network and the client – to build insight, key information, context and a vision around a role. This allows me to define the opportunity so the relevant people can get excited by it.

Keep on keeping on

The world is getting smaller, the face of business is changing and our behaviours are evolving.

If you don’t keep on moving, learning, connecting and evolving with it, then you may as well shut up shop and go home. You aren’t going to make it happen from sitting behind a desk or at the end of the phone; you’ve got to get out there.

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