The First 12 Months

Recruitment Industry
lessons on first 12 months

Before I started in my current role, I was given an assurance that the job was going to be tough, and the desk was colder than the Antarctic, and this proved to be the case! It was a challenging, yet rewarding first 12 months, and during this year I have learnt a lot. Here are my top five lessons that helped me get through the first 12 months, which despite the challenging moments, I enjoyed very much.

Trust the process

Just like for any other job, there is a process in place with recruitment, but it’s the execution that has to be spot on. It’s important to learn the process, but also to take the time to complete it with accuracy and precision. One particular thing I learnt in those early months is the value of being patient throughout the process. Being upfront about what’s going on with both the client and candidate is also key. I often sit back and think about the results, imagining outcomes good and bad, but I have now learnt to focus more on the process and know that the results will come.

Set expectations

Being the ‘man in the middle’ as a recruiter often is, requires transparency and openness. It is crucial that you set clear expectations for both the client and candidate. You cannot please everyone, but being open will help both parties understand the process and potential outcomes, and can also eliminate time wasters. In saying that too, my current team leader who is the very person who employed me, set very clear expectations during our first meeting about working at Madison. He explained to me what recruitment is about: it requires thick skin, perseverance and patience – a lot of it. I went in to the job knowing what to expect, and it is exactly what I was told it was going to be, which was incredibly reassuring. Because my expectations were met, I’ve had a lot of confidence and trust in my boss, which is massively helpful for a first year recruiter.

Focus on quality activities

The recruitment industry is tough and it is an activity-driven business. Business development (BD) drives everything. The more BD you do = visits to clients and prospects, which generates jobs = candidate interviews = CVs out. The quality of the activities determines your success and I believe you are only limited by your own motivation. This is easier said than done. Picking up the phone to cold-call a potential client is a frightening task, even when you really believe in your service. As our fearless leader would always say “eat the frog”. If you’ve not heard this before, it originates from a Mark Twain quote[1] and essentially is a way to avoid procrastinating and complete things on your list that you need to get done. I’ve found that in recruitment, ‘eating the frog’ and making those calls is what drives the best quality results.

Have a life outside of work

As a first year recruiter, you want to impress, you are eager and just want to be the best, and it’s easy to spend more time at work than you should. Sometimes it’s just a busy period, or maybe poor time management is having an impact. What I have found is that what I do outside the office can also help with work. I love getting out and exploring, finding the nearest beach in summer or a new destination to check out. Also I referee rugby on Saturdays which I enjoy very much. Doing something outside of work takes your mind off the pressure and stress, and this in turn helps you to be refreshed and ready for the next work challenge.

Alignment matters

Recruitment takes a lot of time, effort and hard work but it is even harder if the team you are part of isn’t all on the same page. I like the word alignment because the team’s obligations should be aligned to achieve the bigger picture. The team should be singing from the same song sheet, understanding the branch strategic plan. I found that my job is made easier by the people around me as we are all willing to help each and work together to achieve a goal. I strongly believe in being in a team, contributing and having a voice. For this to work, on a personal level you have to be open minded, and be a team player that is willing to work hard for yourself – and the team.


If you are a new consultant or thinking about getting into recruitment, here are a few things to think about: Are you ready to console a distressed candidate who is devastated about not getting the job? Can you deal with a client calling on a Friday at 5pm looking for temp candidates to start on Monday at 8am? Don’t get me wrong, it is an extremely rewarding industry. The best phone calls are when the client gives you exclusivity of the job, and even better is when you call a candidate to let them know they are being offered their dream role. These are the greatest moments, and you will meet people from all walks of life which I also love. People make this job what it is, and I love it because of its forever changing and evolving nature.



[1] “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”—Mark Twain