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When I first got into recruitment around 15 to 16 years ago, I noticed that the perception of recruiters by family, friends and the general public was of characters who talked the talk but certainly didn’t walk the walk.

However, contrary to what many people believe, there are several excellent recruiters out there who work tirelessly to do all they can for the people they support and represent. In this article, three industry-leading recruiters reveal what drove them to pursue a career in recruitment, and what continues to drive them today.

Ryan Luckman – Director at FMC Meditech

How did you get into recruitment and who do you work for?

I started in recruitment after graduating in 2007. I’d racked up an impressive student overdraft, so I needed to start earning, but it was also important for me to pursue a career that was rewarding and had plenty of room for personal development. Recruitment looked as meritocratic as a job could be, and I liked the thought of working in a competitive environment.

I currently work for FMC Global Talent, heading our medical and scientific business, FMC Meditech. In fact, I started the division from scratch and now employ eight full-time recruiters who are doing a sterling job of growing this arm. We specialise in growing sales and service teams for some of the world’s leading medical device and scientific instrument businesses. We are market leaders in the UK and also offer headhunting services to support recruitment requirements in Europe, the US and Asia.

How do you feel recruiters and recruitment are perceived?

I wasn’t that nervous about telling my parents that I’d gone into recruitment – it helped that my mum ran her own temp business for nearly nine years! That said, there was a stigma associated to the profession, largely that of cowboy recruiters who’d sell their own grandmother for a fee. I knew that if I played a straight bat and delivered on my promises, I could operate in this space with credibility.

The wheat is quickly separated from the chaff in this line of work and the jokers get found out quickly. A recruiter who has earned their stripes and has shown growth and commitment in one or two companies is far more likely to offer a higher quality of service versus the one-year job hopper who can’t hold a position down.

I’m proud to say that recruitment and talent acquisition as a whole has found its place as a respected career path. I take great pride in supporting my clients to build competitive advantage by bringing in the best talent. As such, I feel like the tide is turning in respect to how ‘good’ recruitment partners are being viewed. Unfortunately, there are still businesses out there living up to the industry’s negative preconceptions, but for the most part I am feeling positive about the health and perception of recruitment as a valued services business.

What has been the most rewarding moment in your career to date?

I started working with a candidate in 2013 who had moved from the military to the private sector. He was an outstanding leader and engineer and had just embarked on some Cranfield education to help build his commercial understanding of how service and R&D teams operate.

When I connected with him, he was like a ball of unlocked potential, boxed up in the wrong job and arguably the wrong company. He was earning £60k and his career path looked unclear. I knew he had world class leadership skills from his time in the forces, and his ability to lead change on a large scale was proven. I approached him about a service director role for a medical business – a role that required a strong engineer and leader to grow the company’s service proposition across Europe. He aced the interviews and was offered the role.

Naturally he was nervous about accepting. He was still adapting to life in the private sector and his current employer had taken a gamble on him, which he respected enormously. The client set a deadline of 9pm on Friday, and by 8pm I was resigned to the fact that the candidate had got cold feet. At 8:50pm, I sent a message to say, “Is this deal on or not?” A few tense moments passed, and at 8:56pm the candidate rang and said, “Ryan, let’s do this.”

I closed the deal and then watched his career launch into the stratosphere. From Director to VP, from VP to SVP and now Global SVP of an international medical business. His salary has now quadrupled in four years, and I’m pleased to say I still regularly meet up with him for a free fish and chips – it’s the least he could do. That one evening in 2013 changed his and my future. That’s the power of a real candidate relationship and of using the right recruitment partner.

Why do you do what you do?

For moments like those I mentioned above. Let’s be honest, it doesn’t always end that well. For every candidate that gets the job, you have to let down at least one other. I do it because irrespective of how small, I am making a difference to my candidates and my clients. I’ve got a wife and a little boy now too – not that I needed any extra motivation but wanting to give him a good start in life certainly helps keep me going.

Ryan can be reached at https://www.linkedin.com/in/ryangilson/

Annabel Plowman – Business Manager

How did you get into recruitment and who do you work for?

I started working in recruitment just over four years ago. I had been working as a retail manager for the past ten years and was ready for a change. However, I was keen to ensure my skills and understanding of the market were not wasted. A few people I knew had moved into recruitment from store management, so I made some enquiries. Through these enquiries, I was offered a role recruiting retail ops. Around two years ago, I changed markets and switched to recruiting in retail head office, specialising in buying and merchandising.

How do you feel recruiters and recruitment are perceived?

I think this very much depends on the client or candidate you are dealing with and their prior experience of dealing with recruiters. Unfortunately, however, the recruitment market can have a bad reputation at times. This is due to a few key things:

  1. A client having a bad experience, as a candidate, with a recruiter
  2. A client or candidate’s lack of understanding of the services that recruiters can offer – however, it is the recruiter’s responsibility to explain what they do to manage expectations from the start
  3. Lack of communication – on both sides

My recommendation to both clients and candidates is to find a recruiter that specialises in your field and build a relationship with them. The relationship should be equal, with neither party expecting more from the other than what they are prepared to give themselves. Keep in touch with them even when you are not actively looking, as you never know when your perfect opportunity may arise.

What has been the most rewarding moment in your career to date?

Back in 2015 I was working on a retained assignment.  Everything was going smoothly, and I helped the client to select the perfect candidate for the role.  However, the night before the candidate was due to start in the role they were taken ill, and they withdrew from the process.  This wasn’t easy to turn into a positive as the client was pretty set on this candidate, however they were no longer available, and we needed to find someone else as quickly as possible.  We went back to the shortlist and I also did another search just in case anyone new had become active.

On the second attempt I managed to find the client two more candidates that the client liked, so much so that both candidates were offered a role – the client was over the moon and this helped them kick start the retail arm of their business. Three years later both candidates are still there and have both been promoted!

Why do you do what you do?

My main driver is people, the pride I take in doing a good job for clients and candidates, and my passion and understanding of the retail market.

Tom Mills – Managing Director at The Field Solutions Group

How did you got into recruitment and who do you work for?

I started in recruitment in 2011. I was applying for graduate positions and ended up working for the recruitment business that was advertising the roles. I remember meeting my managers for the first time and thinking I fancy a go at this. Seven years later, I am now the MD of The Field Solutions Group. We support organisations that are built around a mobile workforce supplying field engineers and field sales professionals.

How do you feel recruiters and recruitment are perceived?

I feel there is a mixed opinion of the industry currently. As with all markets, you have transactional, commodity recruiters who often focus on the quick wins. Then you have consultative, relationship-driven recruiters who focus more on building long-term business partnerships. I have seen recruiters go into companies and add tangible value to a client’s growth plans and objectives, and these clients tend to have a great opinion of their suppliers. However, you also see the other side where the service standards don’t appear to be there, and this unfortunately gives the industry a bad name.

What has been the most rewarding moment in your career to date?

I remember once working with a chap who felt he had exhausted all avenues in his job search. I went to meet him and discussed how he should change his approach slightly and what markets he should focus on based on his career objectives. I am sure he wouldn’t mind me saying that he had a “Primani special” suit on – and a bright pink tie – and clearly didn’t know how to use the iron! A few years down the line, he is now a sales director overseeing a team of over 50 staff.

Why do you do what you do?

If I gave the cliché line of “I love making people happy” as my main motivation, then I would be lying. This is a great perk to the role, but my main motivation is spoiling my children. Professionally, the main satisfaction for me is going into a business that we have worked with for a number of years and seeing how our candidates have helped the company achieve its growth plans. That’s when you can visibly see the difference you have made to both your clients and candidates alike.

You can connect with Tom at https://www.linkedin.com/in/tommillsfsg/.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve had bad experiences with recruiters, this article will have hopefully shown you that there are some good eggs out there. So, whether you’re looking for a new opportunity or simply seeking some career advice, feel free to contact DB Charles or any of the other featured businesses.