If you've recently finished your university exams with the whole summer ahead of you, now is the time to start looking and applying for a graduate job!
We sat down with Ashley, who joined us at our Hertfordshire office a year ago as a graduate on our .NET team, so we can find out how his journey has been and what advice he has for anyone planning to follow in his footsteps for a successful career in recruitment.
Ashley has a masters degree in marketing and a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Brighton.
Ashley Frith - Graduate recruitment consultant (.NET Team)
Can you tell us a bit about your background prior to starting your recruitment career with UR?
I did all of my schooling in Hong Kong and then moved back to the UK to get my Bachelors degree in psychology. I wanted to understand how people work, why they do certain things and what motivates them. That then sparked an interest in marketing where I got my masters degree. Again, I was interested in the way people buy and interact with certain companies and even though I didn't enjoy it too much, I enjoyed learning about the thought processes and why people do certain things. Recruitment is the ultimate mix of sales, marketing and psychology combined.
How did you first hear about us?
I saw an advert on one of the job boards and then checked out the company website. I saw the promotional video, saw the pool table, nights out and company events and I liked the look of the work hard, play hard culture.
What appealed to you most about the role?
After applying, I spoke with Emily
, (internal recruiter) on the phone and we had a really good chat. She then invited me in for an interview and I thought the working environment seemed really cool.. there was music in the background and a lot of banter, even in the interview which made me feel relaxed. The office felt very energetic and some of the interview questions were different and fun.
How did you find the whole interview process?
Well, mine was slightly different to other peoples because I was still living in Brighton at the time and they didn't want me to have to travel back and forth. There's normally three interview stages, but they were happy for me to just have two. During the first stage, I spoke with Emily again, then James who is now my team leader, and also some other senior recruiters from different teams. This is where they will try and decide which team you would be best suited to join. I then met and spoke with Chris
(founding directors) where I was asked to return with a presentation. The presentation is about something you're interested in and how you can relate and apply it to recruitment, so I did mine on Rugby - both competitive and you have to get up when you get knocked down etc. I really appreciated the flexibility for my particular circumstances too as they were understanding to work around it.
What have you enjoyed the most in your role so far?
You don't know it until you've done it, but the feeling you get when you first place someone and get a deal is amazing. Especially when you've been working on it for the last few weeks for a candidate, then it finally pays off. Not just in a monetary sense but you've helped someone find their ideal job which is a great feeling. One of my best moments was when Chris (director) individually praised me for having great feedback from three different clients.
What difficulties have you faced?
I would say this job isn't easy and can have long working hours, but its very rewarding. The more you put in, the more you get out so your success will be based on your ambition. I'd say for me, the biggest thing, and this is relevant to other graduates, is having my first year without a university summer! Not having 3 months off whilst some friends are travelling feels weird. I have 22 days holiday this year so I'm having to be strategic with that and just getting into the swing of a work life balance as obviously you want to be successful here but still spend time with your family and friends. Luckily my closest friends are people from work, but figuring out a good balance is important.
What made you choose Understanding Recruitment over other companies?
I think the culture was the main thing that really stood out to me. My best friends in this area are now from work, there's great banter and also the football team, maybe a cheeky pint after the game or on a Friday after work. Also, the fact that if you dedicate yourself to the job, there are massive financial rewards, there's some consultants here earning over £100,000 a year and that's something you're not going to achieve in other roles which is very inviting too.
Could you give us a brief overview of your typical working day at 'UR?
Okay, so I work in a very strategic and methodical way. I get in around 8.15am, have some breakfast and a coffee to start the day, then no later than 8.30am start working. I start off by doing my sweeps. This means trying to find local candidates relevant to the roles I'm working with on the job boards. I work on two job boards and we split the rest between our team. Next is ad responses. We put out on average around 5 or 6 adverts a week for local roles we're recruiting for so need to look at all the people that have responded to those and see if there's anyone relevant. I usually then spend around 40 minutes on the CV's I've found in the morning and send them off to clients that I've spoken with them about.
Depending on the client, sometimes I have to do a little cognitive test with the candidate over the phone, but generally I don't need to. After that, I hop onto Bullhorn
which is our CRM system and its where we put all the good candidates we've seen or spoken with on our database. We can also see if there is anyone relevant for a role you haven't been able to fill either a week or month ago maybe. In the afternoon, I usually go on LinkedIn Recruiter for one particular role to try and find people who would be a perfect fit. I'll try and get hold of those people to chat about the role and see if they're interested. Around 5.30pm is when I stop resourcing and start sending CV's that I've found in the afternoon off to clients before 6.00pm. From 6.00pm I do what I call 'Social' where my team and I post two adverts and three articles or videos related to what we recruit for as part of brand building. Around 6.15pm I'll normally play a game of pool, stay here till around 6.45pm, sometimes earlier sometimes later depending on what I've got going on. It's pretty much the same most days apart from I do different jobs, like on a Wednesday I have what's called 'Social afternoon' which is where I build our network and push our brand for my team.
Lastly, do you have any advice to any graduates considering following in your footsteps?
What I would say is... if you do really well at the beginning, don't think you've cracked it. I was doing very well at the beginning and billed £13,000 in my second month and my target was £2,500 so I was massively above target, I was actually above my yearly target. I was thinking this recruitment thing is going to be easy, and my intensity went down, and then January/February I billed nothing when my target was higher. I then found I was playing catch up and I'm now doing really well. My boss has been in recruitment for 9 years and sometimes he has months where he does fantastically and sometimes really badly. Only get into recruitment if you can take a knock and pick yourself back up and give it your all because you definitely get out what you put in. Lots of the guys here work very hard, achieve promotions and have created their own business and client list and they're seeing massive financial rewards as well as a successful career.
P.s. Good luck!