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I’m different because I’m me!

To give what I’m about to say a bit of a backdrop, here’s a little about me:

I’ve been in sales since the age of 18, starting in electronic sales, moving onto mortgages and then event management. Now I am twenty years into my working career, progressing over the last decade within the recruitment industry. I worked for large corporate recruitment agencies then for myself from my bedroom for four years until I got married and adulthood slapped me in the face. It was then that I realised it was time to take my career seriously and so, three years ago, I returned to the office, swapping sales recruitment for ERP.

Throughout my recruitment career, I have worked in a variety of industries; seven years in sales, two and a half years in ERP, and four days in tech, focusing on software development (yes, I’m very new).

That’s enough about me, let’s move to the point…

How many of you, candidates and clients alike, get calls from about a hundred recruiters a day? I’m sure most of you are nodding your head in agreement with a small smirk on your face.

Throughout my time in sales recruitment, I encountered a lot of competition from other recruiters but I worked to a winning formula: source a big sales person with a black book of contacts and a proven track record, take the CV, talk to the decision maker and voila! – no objections.

Moving onto ERP, I was one of the first specialists in Europe to work in this sector and build a team to deliver. Again, with listening and understanding, I connected the right talent with the right decision makers, had a conversation and delivered results. I seldom faced the objection, “You’re the hundredth recruiter to call me today”.

And now to the latest chapter of my career, software development:

On day one I make my first new business call and within thirty seconds the client says, “you’re the fiftieth recruiter to call today. Why you? Why not one of the others?”.

This happened on every call. At first, I was a little flabbergasted that this was the standard opener, usurping my attempt to understand what they were looking for. I initially found this very difficult to counter knowing that the standard response, “I don’t waste time, I have the best candidates, I have the best network, I know a lot of candidates in this field”, wasn’t enough. Besides being incredibly clichéd, I’m so new to this sector that claiming most of the above would be untrue.

About three days in at around 4pm, I called a company who were looking for two Full Stack Developers and low and behold, “You’re the tenth person today. Why you?”.

At this point, I did something different, I asked for a moment to think before answering. After about a thirty second pause (silence is great in negotiating), he prompted, “Are you still there?”.

“Yes I’m still here” I respond:

“I’ve got to be honest, I’m a headhunter and I’ve been doing this for ten years. I know how to find people, I know how to talk to people and I don’t hide behind my computer. I’m not an expert in this technology yet, so if you are going to test me technically then we may as well end the call. However, if you help me understand what skills you are looking for and what is important to you I’ll find it. If I can’t, I’ll tell you I can’t. You’re not going to pay anything until I get you the right person. If I disappoint you, I won’t call you again.”

His next line, “What are your terms?”.

To recruiters, clients and candidates,

Like you, I take pride in my work, I value my time, I value your time and I value my team. My passion is developing people and my goal is to improve at least one person’s life. I’m human, I will make mistakes. I left university early and embarked on learning the old-fashioned way by having conversations.

Yes, there it is; my secret is that I speak to people. I have a conversation and I’m honest. I learn from those that I talk to and from those around me. I learn from my mistakes and also from the mistakes of others.

If I am to continue to succeed in this industry and teach others, now more than ever, I need to be a change agent and ready to learn. To learn I need to listen, to listen I need to speak to people… That’s right, not email, tag or message, but SPEAK. Hiding behind technology is not the answer. Being me, I can do what I like and go where I like; technology doesn’t go as far in helping me understand you as a person or the environment in which you will best succeed.

Technology may help me to learn about your skills, but technology won’t let you learn about me; you don’t know of my existence, so let’s have a conversation.

When we talk or meet you’ll see, “I’m different because I’m me!”.

Written by Paul Bhogal, Head of Technology at Graham Matthews

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