Recruitment Uncovered Part 2: One Year on the Inside
In this second part of Recruitment Uncovered I was back at Morgan McKinley looking to see if everything I'd been told was the company line or if I could get something extra from a graduate employee.
I was introduced to Sophie Loughe, a University of Leeds graduate who had studied Management. She was prepared to tell us everything about her experiences in the mysterious sector and her opinion of it as a career for graduates. It would be interesting to see how her experiences drew up against Natalie's, who was in charge of the graduate recruitment at Morgan McKinley.
One of the main concerns that I had heard about recruitment was that it is a revolving door with graduates being taken in and thrown out of the door if they were not exceeding high targets. This was something I was keen to get Sophie's opinion on.
However, before that, I asked Sophie to explain how she understands the practice and industry of Recruitment. 'A simplistic way to look at it is like "Snap" - matching the right person with the right job and vice versa. You have just got to keep going until you get a match.'
While there are many different sides to finding or sourcing candidates and contracting jobs, graduates can often find themselves making a lot of headway in this sector early on. It is not overly focused on technical skills, it does not require an Oxbridge analytical brain to be able to do it either. If you are prepared to put the time in, work hard and not take no for an answer, Recruitment is a viable option for graduates.
The role is tough, Sophie leaves me under no illusion that you've got to work hard, but the role is ideal for someone who wants to immerse themselves in the professional world. Sophie told me that graduates should consider a career in the world of Recruitment, but not enough people know about what it is or misconceptions prevent graduates following it up.
Misunderstood and misconceptions
'I went to a graduate fair in London, representing Morgan McKinley, and people were not sure about what it was. I found myself telling them Morgan McKinley worked with financial services firms and all I was asked about after that was how to get a job in Finance.' This misunderstanding is hard for the industry to shake off and makes it even more frustrating when trying to attract talented graduates.'
This can be even more difficult to deal with when looking at job descriptions as some of the salaries on offer can be quite high, especially when taking into consideration bonuses and commission. It creates an unfortunate discrepancy between what graduates think they are applying for and what the Recruitment firm think they're applying for.
'If people are not interviewed with the right attitude, of whether they can work in recruitment, you could be in there with all the academic skills and technically be able to do it but if you can't handle having the door slammed in your face then Recruitment isn't for you. Some people might not realise that until after they get the job.' Sophie says.
She is anxious to point out that many people do have the academic ability to perform the role, but it requires a specific kind of person to be able to get through some of the trials and tribulations that come with it. Sophie remarks that 'It is definitely a character and personality industry.'
Character and Personality
I begin to wonder then, whether the industry really required employees that were just resilient and hardworking, rather than academically astute or technically gifted, why graduates? Sophie studied Management at the University of Leeds but doesn't think it was necessary. She said 'A friend of mine here came from a History background and it hasn't held her back at all. During my degree I did some work on financial accounting modules which helped when I speak to Tax Managers who talk in complete jargon and I could pick up a bit when I first started. At the same time, you pick it up so quickly it doesn't really matter.'
So if they are looking for people without necessarily high academic qualifications, why not take on apprentices? What is it with Recruitment firms concentrating their Recruitment on graduates? I raised this with Sophie and she pointed another element of the role that employees, especially at Morgan McKinley, need to show drive and determination.
Sophie said 'It is because graduates have spent the last three years targeting yourself academically and always being driven to hitting a target, helps in recruitment as it is a very sales-like environment. Graduates are particularly hard workers and enthusiastic for what they can get.'
After a year at Morgan McKinley and in Recruitment, was it what she expected? Or had she been taken in by the dazzling offices and professional lifestyle, but found herself in a boiler room environment of cold calling and being given short shrift by PAs.
'They want to make sure they get the right people in the first place' Sophie said, going back to her first impressions of life in Recruitment and at Morgan McKinley. 'They really screen you to make sure you are the person for them. It is a mutual process. They didn't tell me everyone is really nice in the industry and everything will be great. I was told at the interview this job can be the best job in the world and sometimes you can ask yourself why you bother.'
It is interesting to note, however, that in Recruitment you are expected to follow through on your promise of being confident and sociable and ready to get stuck in. Sophie reminisces 'I was calling Tax Managers on my third day in the office and ringing people in massive companies pretending to know about their job and that I would be able to help them with their next step.'
Something that Recruitment finds itself knocked for is its Sales culture, but like many other things within sector it is misunderstood. While the Sales element of the role requires employees and recruitment consultants to drive towards a financial goal, making money for themselves as well as the company, Sophie agrees with Natalie Lightfoot and argues there is so much more to recruitment than that.
'There's a lot of career advice, helping people make the right decisions to help them get where they want to go. Lots of graduates don't understand what it is' Sophie said. Plus she also notes that 'There are other industries which make miles more money than recruitment. I think it is a bit of a myth. Obviously the bonus at the end is great, but you can't just base it on that. Not many people here do.'
It appears that despite the role being Sales based with all the performance indicators and targets that need hitting, Recruitment is still a people based role. With this graduates should consider it as a viable career. Recruitment Consultants are far from the vultures they are portrayed as, picking people out of jobs and disrupting business. After meeting with Natalie and Sophie, graduates should know that Recruitment isn't just sales and nor is it just finding people employment but a combination of the two.
By James Howell