I started at Oyster Partnership in 2008, as a Trainee Recruitment Consultant. I became Managing Director here in 2015.
I know what I was like when I started – my first six months were tough, and I almost thought I wouldn’t make it. But it was the belief in me from Oyster’s Founder – Daniel Whomes, that enabled me to persevere.
Having started at the bottom and worked my way up, I think I now know what it is I’m looking for in a Recruitment Consultant. That’s not to say that it won’t change. At this stage in my career, I have interviewed hundreds, if not into the thousands of potential trainee recruiters and hundred-odd experienced ones too.
And the truth is, over the years my opinions have changed. Most likely I have changed a bit too. The fact is, that Oyster is like an extended family to me. They are my Tribe. My people. That means the attributes I look for when recruiting people into our fold need to match my own. I need to feel that I’d be happy and safe standing next to anyone of my team going into battle.
Daniel Whomes told me that the reasons they persevered with me, in spite of my struggles at the start, were down to “rock-solid principles, a ferocious work ethic, the strength of moral character, and a passionate ambition that has no limits.” I suppose that has created the foundation of what I look for in new people too.
These are the key attributes I look for when recruiting new staff:
Ferocious Work Ethic and Drive: Have they got drive, real drive? Do candidates have a reason to want to work twelve hours a day as a recruitment consultant in an industry they may well not really understand until they are in it? It is one of the hardest, if not the hardest sales roles in the marketplace. Simply put if you aren’t driven by something – and it doesn’t matter what it is, it can be anything from self-development to wanting money for nice things – then Oyster won’t be for you.
I need candidates to be able to demonstrate true grit & determination in an interview. It doesn’t matter to me how small the example of this is, but I need to see that it’s inside them. There needs to be a fire already there that shows me they’ll be able to stick it out for more than a few months with us.
In recruitment, things don’t just happen. Work ethic and drive are essential for my team because they need to know how to get out there and make things happen for themselves. It takes a certain individual to be that proactive and understand that in order to be successful, you will need to dedicate hours and hours of work to each project, person, and client.
On top of the attributes that Whomes gave me credit for, I now look for a bit more in my future recruits:
Are they a nice person? This is subjective of course, but manners cost nothing. Have they stood up to shake my hand, smiled, and engaged in conversation other than answering questions? Are they able to listen as well as respond? This is a really important one in the recruitment industry – active listening is a vital skill because, in order to ensure you fit the right candidate for the right job, you need to have been able to listen to both the requirements of the client and the suitability of the candidate. Active listening is very different from passive listening where you are listening only to respond. It is a skill that takes practice, but one I definitely look for in new recruits.
Have they made me laugh? Recruitment is about people. It’s about building relationships with both clients and candidates. By being able to make someone laugh (I laugh fairly easily, so it’s not that difficult of a task), shows that you are able to be relaxed around people and put them at ease. This is an important skill for a recruitment consultant. Long-standing success in our industry is directly correlated with your ability to build new relationships and strengthen existing ones with people. In order to do that, laughter is definitely a step in the right direction.
Have they got a story to tell? Are they interesting in their own way? I think this has been the biggest lesson I’ve learned over the years, is the person in front of me different? Will they stand out from the crowd and make a lasting impression? We’ve all grown up differently, been subjected to different people and things, had varying work-life experiences and education. What I need my candidates to do is express that. Show me how they are different – we are all unique, just tell me how.
Oyster’s diverse workforce proves that you don’t need to come from a sales background, a certain education, or be a certain ‘type’, this isn’t the Wolf of Wall Street, our most successful people are the most humble, kindest, and most courteous people I know. In fact, we wouldn’t tolerate it any other way.
If anything, the thing we don’t look for is a ‘salesman’, especially those that we can spot a mile off. I believe that the real key to our team to find someone that is different from the last. Someone memorable. Someone you want in your life and by your side for all the reasons I’ve mentioned above. Once I find them, I hold on to them and I look after them because I truly believe that investing in my team is a longer-term investment in the wider business.