This time last year, I had a nagging feeling in my stomach that I wasn’t happy, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. I was exercising almost daily, was fitter than I’d ever been and I had an autonomous job that paid well and allowed me the flexibility to work from home or from my WeWork office, and gave travel opportunities multiple times per year. I thought I had everything I’d always wanted, and I didn’t feel like I deserved to feel unhappy, so I ignored the feeling. (Note - please don't do this, your unhappiness will always catch up with you and regardless of what Marge Simpson teaches us you can't push it down to your feet and hope it goes away!)
I went to the Byron Hinterland for a long weekend in June and met up with Nikki Beaumont, who I’d met through the RCSA a few times and had always enjoyed talking to and respected hugely. If I’m honest I’d always been drawn to Nikki, Nina and the team and culture they had built at Beaumont, and I thought it would be nice to meet for coffee and find out how her life was going.
We got chatting about work, and my body language and face said I wasn’t happy, so she asked me what I wanted to do, and I gave a vague answer about writing a book and natural health, (I didn’t have a clue really) and she asked me if I’d considered being a recruiter.
At this point, I’d spent 10 years selling software, and I had always thought that was my career path and veering from the software world was out of my reach. I genuinely didn’t think I could do anything else, so hadn’t looked outside of the sector.
But recruitment? Me? Surely not! I’d gotten to know a fair few people over 5 years as a supplier to the recruitment industry in Sydney and although I had some great relationships (I ended up marrying one of them!) I wasn’t a recruiter, and I wasn’t going to consider becoming one now…
…Fast forward to October 2019 and I started my first day in recruitment at Beaumont People. That was just over 6 months ago, and now I’m about to embark on my next adventure as a new mum for a few months (another story for another day!) before I’m back for more!
So what have I learned in my first 6 months as a recruiter?
Placing people first – Beaumont People’s motto and something that everyone in the business truly lives by. Despite knowing I was going back into a world that required setting myself KPIs to build up my network in a new industry, for the first time in my career I was using an approach that wasn’t about overcoming objections from the second I got on the phone (anyone who’s been in software will know how ruthless this can be). Client calls were genuinely about building long term relationships and registering candidates was a lesson in empathy and care as much as it was about uncovering their talents and suitability for jobs. Not only this, but I had also entered a culture unlike any other I’d worked in. One where at every level in the business, colleagues and Managers went out of their way to help me upskill and feel like a valued member of the team. I have always prided myself on the strengths of my relationships within the industries I’ve worked in, but never more so than now. I still have a long way to go but I am already looking forward to coming back to work after maternity leave to build on the great relationships I’ve started.
Patience – not one of my natural strengths, and when I bullishly put up a slide during my final interview with my projected figures, ratios and all, I naively thought that transitioning from one industry to another would generate the same results I was used to seeing in a year. Building a recruitment desk takes time. It takes time for people to trust you, and it takes time for you to make the mistakes you need to make in order to become a great recruiter. I have no doubt that I will still be a rookie at this for at least another 2 years, and I accept this with humility after trying to fight it by telling myself I was failing in my first 3 months when I wasn’t billing the big numbers. I have learned a lot from my colleagues, most of whom have been with Beaumont, or at least recruiters in their sectors for years, and have learned too that patience and persistence are needed to keep going in this business.
Meaningful work – I wasn’t quite prepared for the rush of emotions I get every time I have a great interview, or match a candidate to a job they get and love, or help to solve a staffing issue a client has been struggling with. I mean yes, the pregnancy may* also be heightening my emotional response but I have never felt more joy in a job than I have here, and I’m only at the beginning of the journey! The thing I couldn’t put my finger on before that I was missing was meaningful work. I feel extremely privileged to be in a position that enables others to do meaningful work too, placing people in organisations they love, and I can now see why so many of my team have been there longer than most marriages last! Yes there is lots of technology out there to help recruiters do their jobs but nothing can or will replace the feeling when you know you’re making a difference to somebody's life; it’s a real honour. *Yes I've been a different version of myself the last few months but the sense of meaning I get from my work has really helped me to deal with all the other things going on in my life.
It’s all about how you make people feel – an extension of my first point – I can’t thank my manager Kate Larkin enough for all her support during my first 6 months. The number of times I’ve cried in our meetings and she’s given me just the right tone to get myself back into gear, she deserves a medal. I’ve come to her with ideas she has disagreed with, with frustrations she’s heard a thousand times before, and yet I’ve never walked away from a meeting feeling anything other than supported and valued, despite my hot head. Knowing that she does this for the whole NFP team deserves a lifetime achievement award for sure! Thanks, Kate, you’re one in a million! It’s not just Kate who does this, I have a fabulous MD in Nina Mapson Bone who makes an effort to talk to the team regularly in a way that makes you feel like she’s a long-standing friend and an equally fabulous and inspiring CEO in Nikki Beaumont, who continues to make me laugh and whose smile is infectious. Not forgetting the rest of the team, who have made me feel so welcome that I feel like I’ve been at Beaumont for a lot longer than 6 months! From Treat Yo Self day to kitchen chats and your acceptance of my cheese and jam toast obsession in my second trimester, I am lucky to work with a group who share the same values and genuinely care about each other.
It’s nothing like how I expected it would be! One of my greatest reservations about recruitment was that I didn’t want to be in a hardcore sales environment with a ‘go hard or go home’ culture. My drinking days are well behind me, but I still had a hangover idea that I’d be going into a ‘champagne and razorblades’ scenario. I was apprehensive about the pressure I would be under to perform, and quickly. Don’t get me wrong, there is pressure and a lot of it is self-generated (I’m a salesperson with a naturally competitive streak, so this was always going to be an attraction and a deterrent) as well as having concrete goals to achieve every month, and yet, the transparency across the business and the support given along the way make it feel like we are all in this together. Lifting someone up when they’re having a down day, and celebrating someone else’s success as well as sharing ideas are the norm here, so I feel like we are all on the rollercoaster together. It’s a great feeling. Organisation and drive are super important to keep going, but with a supportive team working alongside you anything is possible.
I love it so much I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner. This last few months have been some of the most challenging and most rewarding of my life. I’ve upgraded my belief system, I’ve thrown myself into a new industry after working for 10 years to get to the top of a previous one, and I became un-expectantly pregnant along the way, which explained my exhaustion in the first 3 months of my new job, and gave me a sense of urgency and purpose I’ve never had before (although not something I would necessarily recommend if you want to be having easy conversations with your new boss, but all part of life’s rich tapestry!) What we do as recruiters changes people’s lives whether we place them or not, and having shaken off the inherited beliefs about a profession I really didn’t know as well as I thought I did has been great for my growth and development as a person as well as a recruiter.
So now I am off on another adventure as a new mother and will be back with a fresh perspective and more to learn after maternity leave. Thank you to everyone who believed in me in taking this leap, and to those who continually support me to do my best work in placing people first.
The Beaumont People Career Coaching and Transition Team provide professional advice and guidance to both individuals and companies who are taking a new direction at this time.
We help you to navigate through these changing times with a personalised, one on one experience including supporting tools and documentation, to enable you to carve out a clear pathway for yourself, your business or your team.
Our Career Coaching and Transition team offer expert support and online training with packages starting at $324. Contact us for more information and to talk through options.