A day in the life of a recruitment consultant at SThree

If you want to know what it’s really like in recruitment, here are some honest insights from five members of our team, in conversation with Mark Watson, Head of Talent Acquisition at SThree.

Sales team of young professionals sat around a table in weekly meeting

Considering recruitment as a career path? Recruitment is a fast-paced, rewarding career that can open up a world of opportunity, particularly when you’re working in STEM – helping to build the future. But it can be hard; it is a sales job, not an HR role, and comes with KPIs and expectations.

Mark Watson, Head of Talent Acquisition here at SThree, talks to recruits all with no prior experience in recruitment. They describe the role, including the importance of being able to build relationships and how the business development side of being a recruitment consultant is also key.

We hear from:

  • Senior Recruitment Consultant Lauren Ziff, formerly a PA at a law firm and with SThree for more than two years.
  • Recruitment Consultant Evie Grant, who is 12 months into her recruitment career, straight from university.
  • Recruitment Consultant David Mitchell, previously a ski instructor before joining us in September 2022.
  • Recruitment Consultant Harrison Avery, who started in February 2023, with a sales background in mortgage companies.
  • Associate Recruitment Consultant Martin Lewis, a new joiner of just a few months who used to be a tennis coach.

What does a typical day in recruitment look like for you?

Martin: I’m quite a process-driven person so I use a day plan. You adjust, depending on what’s going on, but I like having this structure to fall back on. On the client side, I’m just starting to develop my own relationships. As they grow, I’ll be looking to be out on site much more.

Lauren: I have daily check ins with the team to make sure their days are set up. I've built up relationships with candidates and aim to meet them in person for a coffee or lunch when I can. Around 30% of my meetings are on site, the rest are via Teams. But I’m trying to push it up to 50%.

David: First thing, I get set up, have a cuppa and catch up with the team, and then catch up on emails. When you start out, mornings are all about getting on the phone to candidates, learning how to do calls, and using these opportunities to understand your market, what they do, what the job titles are and where they’re based

Evie: I recruit for contract roles, so it’s fast paced and quite niche. No day is ever really the same, but I usually split my mornings and afternoons between candidates and clients. I’ll check in with people whose contracts are coming to an end soon, to see if they’ve heard about an extension and are still available. Client side includes reaching out to past clients, and approaching new clients too. I also go to a lot of digital transformation events, which are great for networking, understanding what projects are coming up and what’s going on in the market.

Ultimately, this job comes down to your ability to build relationships with people and if you're good at that, you should succeed in this role and be the best you can be. What is your approach?

Evie: With candidates especially, the key is being transparent: keeping them updated every step of the way. With clients, meeting in person and building that rapport face to face is really important. If you put in the effort to build these relationships, people will do the same. Let them know you’re doing it in good heart, that you’re passionate about your sector and you want to help them. Get to know them as a person, not just a skillset.

Lauren: You need that personal touch: ask candidates about their lives and be open about your life too. It’s also about making yourself available, which means there are times you will need to meet with people after work. Building relationships also means really listening to clients and candidates.

David: It’s important to remember that a client or candidate is also just another human being and they want to be treated with transparency, honesty and given a good service. So that’s what I aim to do.

Harrison: All the aspects I enjoyed in my previous jobs are key elements of recruitment: being face to face with customers and being on the phone to them. That said, you can have all the people skills in the world but if you’re not doing the basics - giving feedback and following up on a candidate - then people skills don’t mean anything.

At SThree, we give you the training and tools to succeed but you need to put them into action. Business development (BD) is an important part of the job. What is your experience so far?

Lauren: Coming into SThree, I wasn’t afraid to admit I was new to engineering and would ask candidates and clients to go into a lot more detail about roles and skillsets, which helped me to learn a lot about the industry and the market. The first nine months were the toughest. It all feels quite slow, and you do sometimes second guess yourself. But after that, I started to see some results, and that was from the BD work I’d done three months prior, so it is important.

Martin: It was made clear to me when I joined that BD would be a key part of this role and that this isn’t a job where you’re going to get instant gratification. You might be lucky and get a couple of quick wins. But I’m very aware of the need to build that strong foundation, have these warm calls and show hiring managers and decision makers that I’m here when they need me.

David: Business development is a huge part of the role. I’ve been speaking to one hiring manager for eight months and now have an opportunity to help him with a requirement . You’ve got to have a lot of patience. You’ve got to put in the hard work – getting your personal brand out there, who you are as a recruiter, how you operate with candidates and clients.

When did you understand what the job was all about and feel it was right for you? Has it met expectations?

Harrison: I’m no stranger to a sales environment, but recruitment is a different kettle of fish. I thought I’d hit the ground running but there have been times where I’ve been quite disheartened. But if you start to see the bigger picture and appreciate that what you’re doing now is going to pay you back in the long run, it really helps.

Martin: I’d always had a vague understanding of recruitment but hadn’t thought of it as a fruitful job financially until I talked to people already working in recruitment. Day to day, it’s not easy. But if you fully apply yourself, you’ll be fully rewarded.

Evie: I did HR at university but my whole family works in sales, so I knew this job was going to involve KPIs. It’s definitely what I wanted to do but it’s harder than you think. You’ve got to put in the effort to see something come out of it, but the everyday challenges get easier the longer you’ve been with the company.

Lauren: In the interview, I knew it was what I wanted to do. You do sometimes second guess yourself at the start. But if you work hard and do the training, you will see the results.

David: I had interviews with different recruitment companies, which helped me understand it could suit me. As a ski instructor, I interacted with people of all ages and backgrounds, who would return year after year and only ski with me. I wanted to carry on using these existing skills and knew the customer relationship side is key in recruitment. There are highs and lows every day but just because it’s not going well straight away, it doesn’t mean this job isn’t for you.

How much of an attraction was it to work for a STEM-focused organisation, all about building the future, and how rewarding is the role?

Lauren: When you place candidates into roles that make them happy and enable them to provide for their families by getting paid fairly for the skills they have, that in itself is rewarding. And to know that these individuals are helping towards something meaningful is amazing.

Martin: Because I’ve come from a very different world, it’s been quite eye-opening, not just in my work within the NHS, but hearing about the impact other our teams are having across different industries. I do some admin shifts at the local hospital too, and working at SThree means I can see first-hand the difference being made at the top end of these organisations, which is brilliant.

Harrison: These people work in the core industry sectors that are building the future and changing lives, so it doesn’t get much more rewarding than that.

David: Being part of the STEM world and putting people into the NHS means a lot. We place candidates who make a really positive impact by improving hospital services for regular people and it’s a brilliant feel-good factor.

Do you have any tips for new starters?

Lauren: Listen to people in senior management, take their advice on board and bottle it. These people have been there and done it. They’ve worked their way up, and many of the leaders at SThree have been with the business for a long time.

Harrison: Celebrate the small wins.

David: Have confidence but learn from your mistakes; go at it again and just keep going. And don’t be shy about asking for help. You’re only going to get better and if you have that drive to learn from any mistakes, you’ll go far.


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