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My early days in recruitment

Prior to my first day working at Harvey John as their new legal recruitment consultant, I was told that I wasn’t going to be mollycoddled or bubble-wrapped through the training process, and in fact I was more or less going to be chucked headfirst into the deep end. On day one I was shown my desk; my telephone, my computer and the other tools at my disposal. By day two I was talking to people I didn’t know, about things I had little to no knowledge of. It was extremely daunting at first, but in all honesty I don’t think I would have liked it any other way. You can’t be trained in having a conversation with someone. Of course you can be given direction with regards to the questions you ask and the avenues of enquiry you take, but other than that it comes down to being confident in yourself and your willingness to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

I have never worked in an office environment previously, let alone one that requires you to be on the phone for a good portion of your day. So I think it is fair to say that during my first month I found myself testing my levels of comfort more so than I had ever done in the past. The fear of sounding incompetent and the worry of not being able to do what was expected of me sent me home feeling a little worse for wear. But I wouldn’t say this was a bad thing. Going home aware of what I needed to do in order to ready myself for the next hurdle allowed me to gradually improve and progress. The amount I had learned in the space of a month was astounding – I was by no means a professional, but there was clear evidence of improvement. Before long I was actually talking to clients about roles that they needed assistance with filling, and at the same time I was beginning to recognise the qualities of good candidates.

Even though I am now at the point where I have moved past my initial fears and reservations that does not mean to say that I am not still learning. Whether it is asking one of my colleagues on the legal desk the meaning of a particular term that I have not encountered yet, or asking the directors for their advice on the best way to handle a particular situation, there is always something new to be learned. So upon reflection my first month as a consultant was daunting to say the least, but that means nothing when I consider the fact that it helped to shape me into a much more knowledgeable, investigative and confident person with an eagerness to learn.

As this goes to press, I currently have a candidate who is preparing himself for his second interview at a leading law firm in Kent. He is likely preparing himself in a composed and professional manner, whilst I'm here biting my nails and fidgeting in my seat as I’m getting very close to making my first ever placement! Scary stuff!

Top 5 tips for somebody starting out in recruitment:

1. Don't fear the telephone! - I consider myself to be a rather talkative and approachable person, but this didn't stop me from being daunted by the prospect of speaking on the phone to people who are effectively strangers. Just throw yourself into it. Your first few calls will not be great - which is totally normal. Constant practice is the only way to overcome any doubt!

2. Constantly explore your market - If you're a specialist recruiter, it is down to you to get to know the ins and outs of the market to improve your credibility with both candidates and clients. Create a glossary to help you remember tricky acronyms and terms, watch on-line seminars and webinars, subscribe to publications/profiles that will keep you in the loop about important developments.

3. Ditch the script - It is great to have an idea of the questions you are going to ask a client/candidate, but if you structure your correspondence too much you will likely be caught off-guard and be left floundering. Have a structure in mind, but let the conversation flow naturally - this will ensure that you come across as a human and will strengthen the professional relationship.

4. Don't be scared of being the 'new-guy' - Any new job/role will inherently cause you to feel a little isolated and cut-off from the rest of the team. Chances are you will be sat in an office with people who have been doing the job for years - but this is by no means a bad thing. They are there to help you learn and develop. Get to the point where your first port of call for a question or query is one of your colleagues, not the internet. I was always worried that I was asking too many questions, until one of my colleagues on the legal desk told me that she loves it when I come to her for advice/assistance!

5. Build your professional network - One of the best tools at your disposal is your network. Get yourself LinkedIn and start connecting with people relevant to your market and also attend local networking events. This creates a platform which will not only improve your searches and target audience, but it opens up the possibility of referrals as and when you start to gain credibility in your market.

Contact Brandon, 01273 651039


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