Hello! Who are you and what’s your current role in recruitment?
Hello and thank you for actually taking the time to read this little Q&A with me – Jess Reid! I’m a recruitment business owner who took the leap into running my own business less than 5 months ago – ASJ Recruit. Prior to this, I enjoyed working for an agency, but always wanted to one day run my own company. As I am running ASJ on my own it means I am doing a variety of jobs, including day to day recruitment to accounts and marketing. I only recruit for permanent roles across the Construction and Property sector, and I cover all of the UK.
I put integrity and honesty above all else. I do this because it’s who I am outside of my business and I truly believe being successful in recruitment is about relationship building – no one wants to work with someone they can’t trust! As a result of my personal and business values, I will only ever work with candidates and clients who have integrity and honesty at the forefront of what they do.
A fun fact about my business is the meaning behind the name ‘ASJ’. It’s actually the initials of my children’s names and my name. After all, my family is my motivation.
A – Ava
S – Summer
J – Jess
About your company
Help us get to know the company you run or work for?
ASJ Recruit was built in May 2019 to work throughout the Construction and Property industry. This industry is the only one I’ve ever recruited in and is where my passion lies. At the moment, the company consists of just ME (and my dogs, who spend the days with me)!
As a recruitment business, we only recruit ‘white collar’ Construction and Property professionals (e.g. Surveyors, Project Managers, Engineers, Senior Management). We also only recruit on a permanent basis at the moment – both contingency and retained. The clients we work with include main-contractors, sub-contractors, property consultancies, local authorities and client-side businesses.
It’s difficult to describe the culture here at ASJ because it’s currently a solo operation, but my intentions as we grow are to:
- Demonstrate passion and work-ethic in all that we do!
- Know our market inside and out.
- Have fun along the way because recruitment is a rollercoaster of emotions.
The Early Days
How did you get into recruitment?
Unlike the majority of the recruitment population, I actually chose recruitment. After attending University, I began a career in the leisure industry working my way up and eventually moving into sales and management roles within leisure. Honestly, I was getting kind of fed up with the lack of income, especially for the time and effort I was putting in. In most sales industries, there is commission and bonuses for the work you do, but more than anything, I loved working with people and helping people. So, I researched and I found recruitment, and as I learned more I decided this was 100% what I wanted to do. I applied for my first Recruitment role and after 4 interview stages I became an Associate Recruiter! I honestly wouldn’t dream of changing my decision now, even on the tough days.
What were your first 12 months like?
As an Associate Recruiter, the first 6 months were a large learning curve and the following 6 months were a blur of frustrations, struggles and everyday battles. Even still, the first 12 months also hold some of the highlights of my career to date.
I began my career with a PLC and was put on to a temps Surveying and Property desk (white collar). I have to say, the first company I joined was pivotal in keeping me in recruitment and developing my skills. The training I received and the support from management were fantastic. I’d recommend really researching the companies training process if you’re new to recruitment before you join a business, because great training is the difference between making it and breaking it. Alongside the support from management and the training team, I joined on the same day as two other consultants (one at the same level as me and one who was more experienced) and I believe this played a big role in keeping me going on the tough days. We experienced the highs and lows together, we bounced ideas off one another, and we were thrown into the deep end together.
I succeeded past the 12 month mark by implementing the following strategies:
- I took time to understand the market I recruited within. I still do; if I don’t know something, I research it.
- I got comfortable having phone conversations as soon as possible, which helped avoid phone fear.
- I listened to and questioned experienced successful recruiters so I could pick up skills that I wanted to implement as a recruiter.
- I took part in any and all available training and fully immersed myself in each session.
- I arrived at the office early and I left late.
- I was just myself; honest, friendly, and with integrity.
During those first 12 months, there were some major highs and major lows. I think it’s really important to share these experiences with others.
- Lows: I remember about 5/6 months of having a steady temp book and being on track to achieve my promotion in month 9, when all of a sudden, without too much warning, I had 3 temps leave their roles. Suddenly my commission looked bleak and my chance of promotion seemed further away. Of course, this is an example of something you can turn around, but when you’re new in recruitment it feels like a much bigger problem. Plus, there were the usual lows of cancelled interviews, rejected offers and jobs being pulled.
- Highs: I experienced a few highs, such as achieving a place in the £20k club (billing £20k plus in a 4 week period) within my first 7 months, being nominated as Associate of the month, placing a Director level candidate, opening up new major clients for the company and the personal satisfaction that came from getting a graduate their first real opportunity.
Ultimately I still believe that what you put in is what you get out. This mind-set helped me survive and thrive during my first 12 months on the job.
Is it what you thought it would be?
I came into recruitment thinking it can’t be that tough, right? But recruitment was, and still is, more complicated and challenging than I expected it to be – but in a good way. In this field, your job never really ends and it’s difficult to manage people and expectations. But, at the same time, recruitment has massively exceeded my expectations. I’ve achieved more than I believed I would, I’ve met some amazing people I could only have dreamt of meeting, I’ve learned more in a week than I have in my entire life, and I’ve felt a great sense of personal satisfaction by helping others find their perfect role and/or candidate.
The biggest surprise I’ve had during my recruitment career to date is seeing the negative reputation recruiters have. It’s shocking, it’s sad, and more needs to be done to change that.
When did you experience your ‘aha’ moment? When did you just ‘get it’?
I don’t think there was ever a specific ‘aha’ moment, but the more I had success the more I started to believe in my ability. Every time I placed someone, negotiated with someone, or offered solid recruitment advice I became increasingly confident. Now, I don’t mean that I thought I was the best, but I began to develop the confidence to not always run my ideas by others or ask for advice. I became aware that if I continued to work hard, I could absolutely make a career out of this.
I think those moments became more apparent after my 3 month and 6 month reviews in my first recruitment job; hearing experienced recruitment managers tell you they’re proud of you and how well you’re doing just makes you believe in yourself. Even though there may not have been a specific ‘aha’ moment – there is one moment that came close, which was during my first 8 months in recruitment when I was asked to do a Q&A with new trainees. They were asking me questions about recruitment and processes and I was able to answer all of the questions and give good advice. I left that session thinking I finally understand recruitment. Recruitment success comes down to believing in yourself, even on the bad days, and to knowing you will always be learning – you can never know everything.
Best early advice or training you were given?
There has been a lot of advice given to me, and if I had to give you the top 5 top tips that others have shared with me, they’d be;
- Do the task you’re most dreading first.
- If a call is put through to you then always take the call. I’ve seen so many recruiters dodge calls and it gives us a bad name – take the call and deal with whatever’s on the other line.
- A stupid question is the one you don’t ask. Ask questions, and learn from the answers.
- Always plan your day the night before.
- Never lead into a negotiation with a figure first, always try and get the other person to present their figure before you do.
What does your average day look like?
My average day is a product of my monthly goals. I set myself goals on an annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily basis. These goals are KPI’s: objectives and general outcomes I am looking to achieve. The goals I set myself work backwards, for example;
- I set myself a financial target (my goal),
- then I work out how many new starters I need to achieve my financial target.
- I consider how many offers need to be made to get x number of starters,
- I ask myself how many interviews will I need to get x number of offers,
- how many CV’s do I need to send to get x number of interviews
- how many candidate’s do I need to speak to in order to get x number of CV’s sent to clients
- and how many BD calls do I need to make to get x number of jobs in order to send out x number of CV’s?
I can plan my targets on a weekly and daily basis and then I set myself a daily plan (each night for the following day) that will enable me to achieve those goals. Of course, it’s okay to sometimes have a bad day where you don’t quite hit those targets, because on other days you’ll exceed. The trick is to tick things off as you do them and stay focussed.
My typical day has changed since I moved to my own recruitment business, so I’ll let you know what it looks like now:
7am – 7.45am: Check emails and LI messages, respond accordingly whilst juggling getting the kids ready for school/nursery.
8am – 9am: Drop offs.
9am – 11am: Candidate calls, usually pre-booked due to my market.
11am – 12pm: Marketing and administration.
12-1pm: Lunch (I often eat at my desk or take the dogs for a walk to clear my mind)
1-2.40pm: Business Development (calls, emails, LinkedIn).
2.40pm – 3.30pm: School pick-ups
3.30pm – 5pm: LinkedIn candidate attraction
5pm – 7pm: Family time
7pm – 9pm: Responding to emails and LinkedIn messages with the plan to book in calls for the following day. Catch up on any admin.
9pm onward: switch off for the day!
How do you prioritize tasks in such a fast-paced job?
What’s our commercial goal as a recruiter? It’s to make placements (as this makes us money). So, I prioritise based on this goal. If a new role comes in, but I also fancy doing some marketing, I’ll focus on resourcing and advertising my role first then move on to marketing. Ultimately, I am thinking of all the tasks I could be doing and which is most likely to result in a fee and a win for the business? Setting myself with daily objectives keeps me on track, because I know that ultimately those targets are what will make my day successful and if I don’t complete those tasks I will have failed in my day’s plan.
How do you manage the typical peaks and troughs of recruitment cycles?
Usually in perm recruitment, you work 3 months in advance, so the trick is to keep working hard even if you’re having a low fee month. It’s really easy to take a confidence knock when you have a “zero” month – trust me I’ve been there and done that – but you must keep trying and keep going. There are always going to be quiet months, and the quicker you can learn when these may be the more likely you can plan for them (e.g. in construction it’s quiet during December and January and in recruitment August is quiet due to holiday’s).
Therefore, more work needs to be put in to the months leading up to the quiet months. If you do end up getting a quiet month, then at least you were expecting it, and remember not to take it too personally if you’ve done everything you can.
Myths you’d like to dispel?
The myth that recruiters only care about money is the biggest one I would like to dispel. I think it’s the case for some recruiters, but for me, it’s really not. The way I see it, if you care about your candidate and client, you consult with them, you manage the process, you go above and beyond, you’re honest and reliable, you show morals, and then it’s more likely you’ll place someone and therefore money gets taken care of. Money is just a product of good recruitment.
The other myth is that recruiting is all about KPI’s. It’s really not. KPI’s are sometimes used in the wrong way, but actually targets and KPI’s should be used to see how you can improve and where things went wrong if you don’t hit your ultimate financial target.
What you see on google about recruiting isn’t all real; there are some pretty awesome, honest and reliable recruiters out there.
What do you find most rewarding?
Now I purely recruit for permanent and salaried roles, and I find the most rewarding part of my job is actually making a difference in a candidate’s life. Sometimes it’s something personal like having a child to provide for, and for others it might be in relation to their professional development (e.g. APC support to become a Chartered Surveyor). That feeling of doing something worthwhile is the best feeling you can get.
I think of a personal level, making a placement and therefore getting a large amount of commission is also rewarding, because I can then provide for my children and treat them to special things.
You can’t trust everyone. I am a very reliable, trustworthy person, and coming into recruitment I expected that anything a client or candidate said to me would be true. I quickly realised everyone has their own agenda; you’ll find people who are honest, but you’ll also find people who aren’t. I set up my own recruitment agency so I could decide to only work with people I can trust.
The financial reward. With any sales based role, there’s a financial incentive, and with recruitment what you put in is what you get out. The opportunities to earn are endless and therefore the biggest ‘perk’ is the money you can earn if you work hard.
What have you learned being a recruiter that you wouldn’t have known if you had only ever been the job seeker or client?
It’s so much more than sending a CV over to a job role. There’s so much more going on; managing people, research, negotiating, selling a company to a candidate, working beyond office hours, and more.
A lot of the time, we work from the moment we wake up until the moment we go to sleep, even if it’s just responding to emails or LinkedIn messages about vacancies and candidates. We go above and beyond a 9-5 schedule.
In the candidate short markets, such as the one I operate in, the best time to speak to people is outside of working hours. So, even if a client may have gone home for the day, we will still be working to try and get them placed.
What are the top 3 traits that the high performers you have met, always have?
- Resilience: they have the confidence to know that even on the worst of days, things will turn around again. They keep going when the going gets tough.
- Work smart, not hard: an ex manager of mine would receive a call from a client and immediately know the candidate they’d send over, they’d sell an interview over the phone and because of the relationships they had the client would trust them and so would the candidate – job filled. This was a temp market but it goes to show if you know your market, the people within it and what companies want – you can fill roles in a much shorter time than someone who spends 2 days resourcing for that temp role and doesn’t find the right person – therefore losing out.
- Know your market; it’s important to be an expert in your sector. This makes you credible. The best recruiters I’ve ever had the pleasure of working and speaking with know their sector.
What do you wish you knew when you started out that you know now?
I wish I’d known that even on the bad days, things can turn around. I probably spent far too much time worrying when candidates dropped out or jobs got pulled and didn’t just believe in the process.
I wish I’d known from day 1 that the ‘candidate is king’ – i.e. look after your candidates and the rest will take care of itself.
I wish I’d known that you should always work ahead of time. For example, this quarters leg work is for next quarter. You can tell when you’ve done what you need to do the quarter before, because your current quarter won’t be on target.
What has made you successful?
Personally, I wouldn’t say I am successful yet . I’d say I’ve had some successes in terms of billings and accounts won, but I am not where I want to be and I have a lot to learn.
I do think; however, that I am not afraid to work hard to get to where I want to be. I’ve learned to keep pushing through no matter what – even when it feels hopeless. I’ve learned that if you put candidates first, you’ll have more success, and I’d absolutely recommend being candidate led to up and coming recruiters.
I have also learned from others along the way and I’d say this is the best thing I could have ever done – learn from successful recruiters and then put a spin on it so it’s your own way of recruiting.
What keeps you motivated?
Thinking back to why I started this. Why did I begin my own company? What’s my motivation? For me, it’s my kids and my family. So when the days are tough and I am struggling to keep going (it happens to everyone) I think about those little ones and how the work I do will provide for them and their future – and most importantly set a good example for them.
I also have this part of my brain that won’t let me sit back and relax – it’s a sense of guilt – it keeps me going, even if it’s not healthy!
What platform/tools do you use in your day to day and/or for your business?
I don’t use a lot of tools because I don’t think they are all needed, particularly not in this stage of my business.
I have used several CRM’s such as; ITRIS (temp led) and JobDiva (perm led).
I use boolean searches always.
I 100% use LinkedIn daily (premium version)! For business development and candidate sourcing. Sometimes I use a LinkedIn x-ray search tool.
I use job boards such as; REED, Jobsite, Indeed and CV Library.
For marketing I have used Mailchimp which is a great tool.
I also use software that allows me to set up my LinkedIn posts for the week; Hootsuite.
I have just begun using Trello to organise my day.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like for you?
At the moment I have several key objectives:
- Hit my financial target in my first 12 months of trading.
- Increase my brand awareness via regular marketing and use of social media.
- Get the foundations set; for example, is this the right CRM for me? Are there tools I should be using?
Good news – I’ve begun making placements and I am regularly posting on social media. I have begun gaining followers and I am continuing on that route. I’ve also begun implementing new pieces of software and I am currently reviewing my CRM use.
At the end of month 12, I’d like to be in a position to bring one other person on board; initially at a resourcer. I have my financial objectives set for year 2 already. But in all honesty, the first 12 months of a new business are key and I am trying to concentrate on this first 12 months before I look too much beyond that period of time.
I have daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly KPI’s I work towards and these are as they would be working for someone else. Because, at the moment I have a LTD company, but I am an independent recruiter and my day runs as any recruiters would. Keep it simple.
Advice for other recruitment professionals who want to get started or are just starting out?
Please learn from others. Sit with them, listen to them, question them… basically, just learn anything you can.
Keep going! The first 12 months in recruitment are tough, they bring you to breaking point, you’ll cry with sadness, you’ll cry with happiness, you’ll feel like giving up – but don’t. If you can push past 12 months you’re much more likely to continue. The first thing I was ever told in recruitment is that you WILL cry during your first 3 months – and that’s okay, because even the Directors of the company have been there.
I see a lot of people make the mistake of coming in barely on time and leaving when your contract says to leave. I’d advise that in your first 12 months, do what you can to me in early and leave late – if you can’t because of other commitments then pick some work up when you’re home. The more you put in, the quicker you’ll have success.
I’d 100% recommend a career in recruitment to anyone who wants to be challenged, have fun and earn good money. Who doesn’t want to make a difference in peoples lives as well as their own? Recruitment is exciting. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions, but the buzz you get from success is unlike any other.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, influencers or other resources in your career or personal life?
I’d recommend listening to the Recruitment Rollercoaster Podcast by Hishem Azzouz. This podcast inspired me to make the jump into being a business owner, it inspired me to invest more time in my personal branding and to dedicate more time into utilising LinkedIn. It’s a podcast that doesn’t just showcase the good, but it also talks about the bad days – it reminds you that we are all human and you’re not alone in whatever you’re feeling at that moment.
Getting In Contact With You
Are there any specific types of job seekers or clients you would always love to hear from?
I am always happy to hear from Construction and Property professionals, both candidates and clients, based anywhere within the UK. These may be people specialising in:
- Building Surveying
- Quantity Surveying and Estimating
- Project Management
- General Practice Surveying
- Residential Surveying
- Rural and Utility Surveying
- Site Managers
- Contracts Managers
- Architects, technicians and managers
- Director level candidates
- Buyers and procurement
- Sales and business development
- And much more!!!
I do however only recruit for permanent/salaried roles.
Where can they go to get in touch with you?
Company website: www.asjrecruit.com
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact number: 01522 420603
Personal LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessreidrec/
Company Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ASJRecruit/
LinkedIn company page: https://www.linkedin.com/company/asj-recruit/?viewAsMember=true
Company page on construction.co.uk: https://www.construction.co.uk/c/683449/asj-recruit