By Clive Hutchings
I noticed recruitment when I first worked for TAV; I worked in a chicken factory during the summer term when I was 16, and used to get bussed in and rapidly bussed out. I then went onto work in accounts and came across recruitment when looking for a new job after successfully completing an HNC Business & Finance course in 1993. I wanted a role that would use my communication skills, hard work ethic and ‘do it now’ approach.
The agency I first walked into was full of mature men who didn’t appear to notice me, but I kept it in the back of my mind. I used to get very nervous being interviewed so thought it would be great fun to interview other people whilst I was in control. I liked the idea.
After a trip on Camp America which developed my independence and confidence, and a brief stint in sales, I chose recruitment – I didn’t fall into it as many people do, I knew it was a good match for my skills and personality. Recruitment combines entrepreneurial opportunity together with the ability to deliver a great service to clients and candidates. It sounds cheesy, but I get a huge amount of satisfaction in “changing people’s lives” for the better.
I started my Recruitment career in 1996 with SPL; a technical agency established for 20 years and run by Peter Stephenson & Chris Watling. It had a staff count of just 4 people, and was essentially 4 men in a room that interviewed at desk (old school & before PC’s, it was a card system). I had what can only be described as the most charged, aggressive training experience with them that anyone would ever receive, in a dark, damp basement. I went sick on day 3, genuine and they had bets on whether I would return.
I did return and took the training on board; this can be described as an apprenticeship in the world of recruitment. I feared making the first canvass call every day but spectacularly never viewed myself as a salesman or that these were sales calls. I thought of canvassing as offering a service opportunity to clients, if I was told ‘we never use agencies’, I took that as a not yet and a personal challenge, ‘never’ didn’t even come into my vocabulary.
In 2000, together with my business partner, Richard Crawley I started STR. The STR Group are innovators in recruitment for the Technical, Professional and Health industries. Today, the company has nearly 100 members of staff, and continues to thrive and develop its portfolio of brands.
Recruitment has provided me with a complete career; I’ve worked in every area of our business and most sectors, from training manager through to account management in the health sectors to Oil & Gas, as a result I have a varied and thorough understanding of the areas we specialise in.
Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to build some fantastic relationships with applicants and clients; some that I have maintained over 15 years, and some that have become close friends.
I’ve enjoyed success but worked hard when it’s not been so easy, not giving up and sheer determination is a strength of mine, along with motivating others to have the same ‘can do’ approach. Whilst this success has brought me great commissions and our highest fee ever of £60k, a high high point! I’ve also had the fortune to enjoy sailing regattas on the IOW, fly-fishing in Iceland, global travel and lots more with clients and candidates. These relationships are really important to me.
Some of the aspects I’ve really loved have been when candidates have personally thanked me for finding them work, in particular is the story of Alberto Pilotti who hadn’t worked for some 6 months on arriving on Hayling Island from Italy. He was desperate and I thought he was a great candidate and sent him out for an interview, the initial client thought he wasn’t suitable, I disagreed and sent him to their competitor who loved him and promptly offered him a job. Alberto was over the moon.
Alberto then came in to see me and surprised me with 5 bottles of liquor from Italy and an envelope, containing a cheque for £500. I thanked Alberto for the drinks and gladly accepted them but returned the cheque, which was the right thing to do.
Whilst I enjoy the thrill of the chase, making the placement and sending the invoice, the best aspect of recruitment is without doubt the satisfaction that you get when changing people’s lives and the occasional free drink from an applicant!