Why I didn’t enjoy recruitment.

Some people hate recruiters, they’re one rung down from estate agents, often seen as swindling, untrustworthy, and out for a quick win.

In truth, I didn’t love my first year or two in recruitment. Partly because I wasn’t very good, but also because I felt that whilst the money wasn’t bad, the quality of the work was poor. It was simply a numbers game, the lowest common denominator. My old firm called themselves “consultative” to both clients and candidates, but we barely knew what it meant to be a true recruitment partner, and I don’t think anyone really believed us when we said it.

Essentially, if Ellwood Atfield hadn’t come along, I doubt I’d be in recruitment anymore. Now, two years after joining the communications and advocacy headhunter, I can’t see myself doing anything else.

What makes EA so special I hear you ask? Well for one it’s the people, I never thought I’d get the quality of colleague I have here working in a recruitment firm. It’s not that I haven’t had colleagues I liked working with or got on with in the past, I just didn’t have colleagues that challenged me both professionally and intellectually in the same way.

It’s also the challenge of what it means to deliver an EA shortlist compared to where I used to be. We often talk about this in the office; every time we interact with a client or a candidate, we put the EA brand on the line. The pressure to deliver comes from the name, and it means something. The pressure doesn’t come from a desire to compete with my colleagues or step on people’s toes. While we love to talk politics, this isn’t a political environment.

One of the great things about working at EA is the way in which different threads come together through our hard-won and maintained relationships. I love the impact that our work has on organisations we work with. Whether it’s a senior and mid-level appointment; we can have a measurable impact on a small communications team at high profile organisations and I always keep an eye out to see how public perceptions of the clients we work with change after I place someone. I’ve been lucky enough to place people who have had a real impact at a wide range of different organisations including the Investment Association, FIA Foundation, LandSec, and Imperial War Museums. Connecting great people with organisations where they can have a big impact is the best thing about the job.

Ironically, we find it quite challenging hiring people for the business. I think it’s down to what it means to be a consultant at EA and how different we are compared to many other recruitment firms. So, if you’re interested, and thinking about joining us, here are a few points that might help you work out if we’re right for you.

“The pressure to deliver comes from the name, and it means something. The pressure doesn’t come from a desire to compete with my colleagues or step on people’s toes.”

We’re not an organisation for job title hunters. There are plenty of firms where you can enjoy 15 different job title changes in 10 years – all largely meaningless – and feel as though you’re climbing some mythical ladder. That isn’t EA. We do however appreciate growth and effort, neither of which go un-rewarded.

Our leadership practice all have over 15 years in the game, and almost all of them have been with EA for 10 years or more. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a group of people with a better network in our space or a deeper knowledge of the sectors we recruit in. They’re an amazing resource, and I’ve learned so much from them in just two years.

Working with people with such intelligence and understanding of their space is going to drive you to be better and to know more, and that can be quite scary at first. Whilst this isn’t a ‘tough’ place to be, it will challenge you and ask more of you than anywhere else. It’s the exceptional quality of our team and the willingness to park our egos at the door and learn from one another that makes us the best at what we do.

Our senior consultants all have a minimum of 4/5 years’ experience. This isn’t to say that there aren’t exceptions to rules, but if you’re a senior consultant in your current firm, that may not translate across at EA. One of the key criteria when hiring people is our ability to trust them in front of our most valued and senior clients, in the knowledge that they will do themselves and us credit in the process.

You need to be able to envisage another way of working, and you need to buy into our culture and our approach. That doesn’t mean you can’t bring your way of doing things to the table, but you do need to be ready to leave certain behaviours behind and adopt new ones.

It’s not for everyone, but if you can see another way, then maybe EA is the place for you. The leap from a ‘numbers game’ recruiter to EA consultant is a huge one, the first 6 months here will likely be the hardest of your professional career to date. Not because you’ll feel isolated, unsupported, or pressurised, indeed quite the opposite. It is because of the brilliant people you’ll be surrounded by, the support you’ll get and the expectation that you return that support by delivering a quality EA shortlist every time.

If that scares you, then you’re probably already in the right place.

If it excites you, then you should definitely give us a call.

Would you like to advance your career or appoint someone?