Hello! Who are you and what’s your current role in recruitment?
Hi, my name is Chris Hart and I’m a Recruiter.
My full-time job is as a Billing Manager for a company called Client Server in London, England. We also have an office in Australia. I manage four teams: Infrastructure, Security, QA and Data, which is all permanent focussed. I grew these teams out from one team of two people when I first started with Client Server nearly five years ago. I still push myself hard and lead from the front, and the next plan is to grow the teams out even further with some of the juniors stepping up into leadership roles, to allow me to focus more on the business and strategy of my part of Client Server.
I also, in my spare time, run The Recruiter Index, which is a blog and advisory site. The purpose of which is to give actual honest advice to the problems and situations we come up against. Even though I created it, I am not it’s only writer in residence. We have guest authors and regular authors providing their own content and advice, allowing them to use it as a platform to grow their own personal brand.
About Your Company
Help us get to know the company you run or work for?
Client Server is a Technology Recruitment Consultancy. There is currently approximately 50 billing Consultants, plus our Internal Recruitment, Marketing, Finance and Admin teams. The company started out in 1999, initially focussing on C++ Development, but now, we have teams that specialise in C#, Mobile, Open Source, Java, Front End, BA & PM and then my teams, Infrastructure, Security, Data and QA. We recruit in to both the permanent and contract markets.
The culture is the best I have been in, I’ve been in companies that make you stand up until you get a CV out, and won’t let you leave unless you’ve put in 3 hours on the phone, regardless of how many CV’s, Interviews or deals you have put through that day. Here, no one is in a suit, and if you want to go and grab a coffee you don’t need to put your hand up. We treat everyone like adults and encourage self-reliability, but with an amazing training function. It is by far the best company I have worked for.
The Recruiter Index, is technically not a business, because it doesn’t generate an income. I created it out of frustration. There is so much bad advice out there, and there are too many companies still doing Recruitment the way it was done in the 80’s. I felt sorry for the people in these companies who were being trained to think that the only way to be successful was to do 12-hour days and work yourself in to an early heart attack or nervous breakdown. I wanted to get some honest advice out there, not the paint by numbers style advice that too many people still train with. I wanted to talk about the actual problems we face and how to actually deal with them.
It’s been running for nearly 1.5 years now. It all started out with me in my dining room, stressing about how I was going to keep writing content, to now, where I have people wanting and asking to write for The Recruiter Index on a regular basis. It was named in the top 30 recruitment blogs of last year by UK Recruiter.
The plan is to keep growing the blog. I’m open minded, I like doing things differently and going against the norm. As I have a full-time job, I can’t devote 100% of my time to it, but it’s definitely on an upwards trajectory and I’m excited to see where it will be a year from now.
The Early Days
How did you get into recruitment?
I’m afraid I am no the exception to the rule. I worked in retail, mainly clothing shops, then became an Estate Agent and then fell in to Recruitment. 12 years ago, I was approached by a Rec2Rec, and that was it for me. It wasn’t a career choice, but I like to think I’m pretty good at and I haven’t looked back since.
What were your first 12 months like?
My first 12 months were not too bad actually, I somehow managed to do my first deal in 3 weeks. It was only a small office, part of the Re-Think brand, but we traded under a different name. I was the sole Resourcer to 12 Consultants who brought on work from everything to C++, Infrastructure to Mechanical and Defence Engineers. So, I had to learn a lot, and quickly too. I think these qualities still help me out today, I’m good at spotting good CV’s quickly and can adapt between technologies or markets.
Is it what you thought it would be?
I have no idea what I thought Recruitment would be like when I started 12 years ago. Looking back, I thought I had made it, going from a local Estate Agent on a very low salary, to working as a Recruiter being told I could earn a ton of money just by calling people and sending their CV’s out. Sounds easy right? Well, as you all know, it’s not that simple. I was brought down to earth very quickly, even with that early deal. I still get brought down to earth now.
When did you experience your ‘aha’ moment? When did you just ‘get it’?
There was no aha moment for me, I just understood very quickly that a process works. I’m a very black and white kinda guy; there’s very rarely an in-between. So I listened and learned pretty quickly that if you follow a process, a good process, you will be successful. I still follow the same process today, adapted slightly over the years because different things work at different companies. But the key is always the same: have a simple process and stick to it.
Best early advice or training you were given?
How to listen. Sounds easy, but this is one of the biggest mistakes people make. An old boss of mine called it ‘Happy Ears’ , where you hear what you want to hear, rather than what is being said. This requires being honest with yourself rather than fooling yourself into thinking that everything is going well. This cost so many people so many placements, just because they didn’t listen to what their candidates were telling them, and didn’t spot the red flags and the concerns they had.
What does your average day look like?
If we take out my management responsibilities to start with, my day is the same as the people on my team, which looks like this:
- Basic Admin.
- Anything urgent to deal with.
- Call through follow up’s and ad responses.
- (Get all the above done by 9:30am, 10am at the latest.)
- Format and send out any CV’s from the morning calls.
- Start working job number 1.
Then literally repeat the same process for the afternoon, making sure to go through my follow up calls once more before I leave for the day.
One other piece of advice I would share on this is to make sure you voicemail and email every candidate every time they don’t answer the phone. I will voicemail and email a candidate 3 times in a day if needed. If they look that good, then why wouldn’t you? I’ve also never had a candidate complain.
If you want to add in my management tasks, on a Monday I will remind them of their individual tasks for the week as discussed during the previous Friday’s 121. I will also send the Infrastructure team the ‘hot jobs’ to work on and ask the Senior Consultants in the QA and Data teams to do the same. I will also update a spreadsheet I keep with all the final interviews on to keep on top of any potential deals for that week. I then do the same on a Wednesday morning. And on Friday I spend most of the day doing the team 121’s to go over their week and tasks for the following week.
How do you prioritize tasks in such a fast-paced job?
For me, this is easy. If something comes up that is not as important as following the day plan, then it doesn’t need to be deal with straight away. So, an example would be, an Interview Request, I would class that as urgent and that takes priority over the day plan so that needs to be actioned immediately. But in the case of general emails, basic admin can wait. Stick to your day plan, but you need to decide what tasks take priority over the day plan, and if they don’t, then save them for another time in the day.
I also use a to-do sheet every day. I am lost without it. Sometimes, if I have a lot of tasks to complete outside of the day plan, I will number them in order of priority and complete them in that order. It’s a very helpful exercise.
How do you manage the typical peaks and troughs of recruitment cycles?
Again, this is where a good process comes in, but make it adaptable. For example, if you work to a certain amount of leads as a KPI, then increase that when before the jobs dry up, not once they’ve dried up. This is one of the reasons why I ask my teams to send out the hot jobs list 2-3 times a week. A team may technically have 20+ jobs, but are they all hot? No. So when that hot jobs list starts to diminish, that’s when you set a target to increase the leads over the coming weeks.
As long as you can track the key info, CV’s out, Interviews booked, Hot Jobs, Offers etc. Then you should be able to spot the warning signs in enough time to adapt your teams tasks for the week ahead.
Myths you’d like to dispel?
Working 12-hour days and staying late is the only way you will be successful. I hate this approach. It’s so old school. And it’s this myth that makes so many young Recruiters quit before they get the chance to be successful because they’ve burnt themselves out or have decided there’s easier ways to make money. I have very rarely stayed late, in fact, I almost deliberately make a point of not staying late. Yes, sometimes it’s needed, but the fact that it’s an expectation is ridiculous. My advice is that if you work in a place now that raises an eyebrow when you get up to leave at 5:30, even if you have sent out 3 CV’s that day and are over target: leave. Leave now, get up, and go.
What do you find most rewarding?
Money aside, I genuinely like solving problems, I like spotting problems that other people may miss, red flags with candidates when it comes to offers, etc. I also like seeing a Consultant go from billing zero to becoming consistent.
There’s no point in letting the offer rejections get to you, it happens and it’s part of the job. Whether it’s a small fee or a record-breaking fee, do not let it get to you if it doesn’t go your way. If you do, you won’t last very long.
The biggest perk is simple, well for me anyway, and it’s Money. I’m not going to lie, recruiting is not the best job in the world. Yes, the high points are high, very high, but if the money wasn’t there, then the low points would be unbearable. It’s a hard job and it’s also very repetitive. So, for me, the money makes up for all of that. I’m past the fancy lunches and client nights out, I’m too old for that now anyway.
What have you learned being a recruiter that you wouldn’t have known if you had only ever been the job seeker or client?
Easy, that it’s not just a case of sending a few CV’s out. If it was, everybody would be doing it and we’d all be millionaires. I probably rule out 99% of the candidates I speak to. And that what the client wants doesn’t always exist, there is sometimes an expectation of ‘go and find me one of those’. Most of the time this is fine, but when they’ve decided to invent a role that’s never existed, it’s not that simple.
What are the top 3 traits that the high performers you have met, always have?
- Being able to ask the right questions.
- Listening rather than hearing what they want to hear.
- Being able to react to the information you get from the above.
What do you wish you knew when you started out that you know now?
Not every Recruitment company is the same. Not every company is a boiler room style environment. Yes, this style works for some people and companies, but not everyone, and there is definitely the impression that all Recruitment companies are the like that. They are not.
What has made you successful?
A process, sticking to it, having a to-do sheet and knowing when to do what.
What keeps you motivated?
The money, definitely. I am very money motivated, but I am also quite creative, so creating The Recruiter Index has kept me sane. It has also opened my eyes to how other people do this job and the new, weird and wonderful tools they use to do it.
What platform/tools do you use in your day to day and/or for your business?
Our set up is a little different, we have a separate BD team, meaning the Consultants are all delivery focussed, they can do BD of they like, but it’s not an official requirement. At Client Server we use RDB, it looks quite old school, but it works, and it makes you follow the process. We don’t use job boards for searching for candidates; we do use them for adverts though. We also use LinkedIn Recruiter. So we populate our database with the best of the best candidates and work the database to fill our roles.
Leadership & Management
Advice for managing a team
You need to be willing to do what you ask of your team. I definitely do not do as much hands-on recruitment as the guys in my team, but I pull it out of the bag if needed. You don’t always need to be the top biller in your team (although I am, currently). Too many young Managers seem to think it’s all about out billing the team. It’s not.
You just need to be prepared to do whatever you ask your team to do. Setting tasks is key. When I do the 121’s on a Friday I will set each Consultant tasks for the following week. But they will be agreed tasks and, more importantly, achievable.
However setting the tasks is not everything. You need to follow up and check if those tasks are being completed. An old boss used to say to me, ‘people do not do what you ask them to do, they do what you inspect’. It sounds a bit micro-management oriented, but it’s true. There’s no point in setting a task and then not checking if the person has completed it.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like for you?
So far 2019 has been pretty good. There are definitely some bad points, but myself and the teams are billing well. And the ones that are behind target are not that far behind, and have enough time to make up the deficit before the end of the year.
My focus, for now, is to finish the year strong, but I am working on succession plans for next year and planning how the teams will look in terms of size and seniority.
For The Recruiter Index, I deliberately do not set too many goals. It is not my day job, after all. My responsibility is to Client Server. But I would like to do more public speaking next year. I would like to be seen a someone that can offer genuine advice and talk on the subject.
Advice for other recruitment professionals who want to get started or are just starting out?
Do your research, do not join a company just because they have fake grass and a ping pong table. At the end of the day this job is about finding your clients the best candidates. Yes, all that fluffy stuff is nice to have, but it doesn’t mean you will be in the best place to learn.
Avoid companies that treat KPI’s as targets rather than what they are meant to be used for. KPI’s are indicators, a guide, and a tool to measure how you are performing, rather than hard and fast targets on top of your billing target.
Even though Recruitment was never my first choice as a career, I learned pretty quickly that I was good at it. If you are good at it, you will earn lots of money. But the reason why it’s so good to get into now is because the industry seems to be changing. The old school way of doing Recruitment is dying, and dying fast. They are so many new toys out there now, it’s not just the usual stuff people like me have had to work with for over a decade. There seems to be this general vibe of creativity in Recruitment now and that if you have a different idea of how to do it, then people will listen and help you achieve that.
I am genuinely excited to see what Recruitment will look like in a year from now, let alone 5 years from now.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, influencers or other resources in your career or personal life?
The books that have helped me out massively are:
- The One Thing by Gary Keller
- The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
- The ‘You are a Bad Ass’ series by Jen Sincero
I’ve also been very grateful to have the following people help me out and get involved with The Recruiter Index: Alex Moyle, Louise Triance and Hishem Azzouz. You should check them all out on LinkedIn.
Getting In Contact With You
Are there any specific types of job seekers or clients you would always love to hear from?
Myself and Client Server are always happy to hear from technologists, whether it be in London, the surrounding areas, or in Australia. We regard ourselves as having a high bar to entry and working with the best of the best. So, if you think that is you, then get in touch.
I am also keen to speak with any Recruiters who want to get involved with The Recruiter Index, whether it’s to write a blog, a video podcast or a business idea then please do get in touch.
Where can they go to get in touch with you?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Thanks to Jamie Robshaw who asked me to be a part of this, and I look forward to seeing Recruiterly continue to grow.