Recruitment can be a high-pressure and demanding world to work in. It takes certain attributes to succeed, but if you do well, you can expect to climb the ladder quickly and really be rewarded for your efforts.
We spoke to Tom-Michael Nicholson-Pratt about his experience working for Nicoll Curtin, a global Recruitment Consultancy specialising in Financial Technology and Change. After graduating with a degree in Law with Business from the University of Brighton, Tom-Michael joined the team at Nicoll Curtin as a Trainee Recruitment Consultant in August 2014. In under three years, Tom-Michael has been promoted three times and is now a Team Leader. He manages a team of four people, which he says generates a revenue of over £800,000 per year.
We asked Tom-Michael about what it takes to succeed in Recruitment and progress in the Industry at the rate he has. He offers advice to graduates looking to enter Recruitment, and discusses what personality traits you need to develop to become a successful Team Leader.
Here’s what he had to say:
1. First impressions are important.
Tom-Michael acknowledged that people often think a role in Recruitment comes with “fast money” and “fast cars”. That is certainly, to some extent, the case. It’s meritocratic: Recruiters who consistently deliver typically walk away with commission on the deals they bring in, as well as bonuses, perks and incentives that can really add up.
But Tom-Michael was quick to stress that it’s important, when you first get your foot in the door at a Recruitment Consultancy, to show you’re someone who wants to put in the work and bring in business for the team.
He told GradTouch that perception and first impressions are everything: “even if you had the potential within you to be successful – if you’re not perceived to have the right ethic from the outset, you probably won’t be given a real enough opportunity to realise that and you’re probably going to sell yourself short.”
Tom-Michael said graduates who clearly could achieve a lot in Recruitment face getting “filtered out within the first few months” if they don’t demonstrate a strong work ethic to the team from Day 1. It's all about attitude.
2. Be prepared to put in the hard work and you’ll see big results and big perks.
When we asked what the single most important quality to succeed in Recruitment long-term is, Tom-Michael said "you have to be diligent.” He added: "don't be afraid of hard work”.
Tom-Michael says he chose this line of work in the first place because: “if I work hard enough, I can really write my own cheques”.
And he certainly is doing that now. In order to achieve that financial independence, Tom-Michael said, for some grads it takes “a slight shift in your mentality”. It helps if you’re really driven to succeed and if you’re competitive, even with yourself. If you have the strong work ethic and mentality Tom-Michael described, there’s a lot of satisfaction to be gained from building up your client base, forging relationships and exceeding targets with your team.
3. But work smart, too.
Though Tom-Michael said working hard is essential, that doesn’t mean you can’t work smart. In fact, he explained “one of the key things” all successful Recruitment Consultants understand is the need to “think outside of the box”.
He continued, “Recruitment for me is about being ahead of the curve, it’s about having foresight, being able to draw inferences and find patterns between projects.” Tom-Michael talked about “thinking laterally” and using that ability to maximise deals for the business.
So, if you’re looking at getting into Recruitment and see yourself as an outside-the-box thinker, you could be about to start something very exciting.
4. You need social and emotional intelligence to build relationships.
Recruitment isn’t all about selling. A lot of the role is chatting to people, whether that’s on the phone or face-to-face, to develop real connections with people.
Tom-Michael said he has “grown massively” as a person over his three years in the Industry. He has been able to broaden his skillset and personality and gets to speak to a variety of people he wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunity to meet.
Now that Tom-Michael is a Team Leader, rather than a Trainee, he said he's “grown into a relationship management role as well.”
He added, “I have to face off to our clients – our clients are Tier 1 investment banks, very old school, sort of blue blood, red brick sort of environment.”
It’s important for Tom-Michael “to have the correct etiquette, body language [and] vocabulary” that those clients expect.
This ability to get on with anyone, to be adept and adaptable and understand the person you’re speaking with, is something he’s carried into life outside of the office as well.
5. Finally, remember the importance of team-work, particularly if you want to progress.
Starting out in the industry, Tom-Michael said he was initially “very much thinking for myself;” the deals he personally could close and score commission for. However, now, he realises the role of a Recruiter is more complex, particularly as he has taken on responsibility for a team.
Tom-Michael prides himself on setting a good example for his team. In his efforts to “lead from the front,” he makes sure he is “the person that’s doing everything correctly”.
“More than that,” he continued, “I bring business back to the team as well.”
Tom-Michael said it’s important to be able to weigh up what’s best for the business and the team – not just what’s best for him.
Recruitment is an incredibly social job. If you have experience on a sports team, a society or you’re someone who just loves talking to and working with other people – it could really be somewhere you flourish. And, if you nurture those social skills, you could soon see yourself in a leadership role like Tom-Michael’s.
Think you've got what it takes to make it in Recruitment? Check out these 6 companies hiring now.