​Ringing in the New Year always encourages us to reflect on the previous year and look forward to new starts and new resolutions in the next. Moving into 2015, I’ve been reflecting on my first 8 months in the recruitment industry, having moved from my previous role as a market researcher in mid 2014. So what has been my experience?

Not all recruitment companies are created equal

When I first considered changing industry, what I’d heard about recruiters, as well as my own experience, was pretty mixed… some good but lots of stories of stealing candidates/clients, backstabbing, shoving people into jobs they’re not keen on, cold calling, unobtainable sales targets - you get the picture!

Fortunately, that’s not been my experience at Aspire! Aspire has a very collegiate culture where everyone tries to help each other out and wants you to achieve your best for the benefit of the team but also for yourself. Yes, we have targets which push us but they’re set after discussions with your manager based on what is realistic. We ‘share’ candidates between the London, Singapore and Hong Kong offices and internally between different specialisms where relevant to help find the right job for the candidate. We try, as far as geography will allow, to meet our candidates face to face or at least on Skype. You’re stuck and someone senior is at a meeting- call someone in another office, drop the Chairman an email- it really is a ‘More Together’ environment from top to bottom.

A fun and friendly culture

Changing careers definitely hasn’t been a walk in the park. One month I was doing conjoint analysis on pharmaceuticals, the next month I’m learning about sales and recruitment terms/fees- things I’ve never done before! Starting a new desk - having to find candidates, find clients, meet people, get terms negotiated and signed, sell myself and Aspire - it was a steep learning curve and a lot of hard work. It took a fair bit of time to see the fruits of my labour but whilst there is still plenty more to be done, 8 months in everything has settled down and I can see the hard work coming to the fore.

Despite the hard work, it’s been a load of fun. I love meeting people and couldn’t have met a broader mix of candidates and clients from all over the world. Getting to know them, their stories, is something I find really rewarding. Beyond day to day work, one thing I had heard about recruiters was their propensity to drink and In this respect the stereotype was true! You have to get out there and meet people in the industry… like we do! So we often enjoy a glass of wine in Club Street or at a networking party.

Aspire also has a great culture of fun. If you check out our Instagram - @aspiresingapore or Facebook - Aspire Global Network Asia pages you’ll see lots of pictures of the team in the office; most recently having afternoon cupcakes, partying on a boat for Christmas, and at the IAB party. Yes, we work hard but we party hard too!

It’s not just about sending CVs

We’re not a CV matching service. Relationships are key. We get to know our candidates. We – find out what makes them tick, what they like, what they don’t. They might say they want to leave their job because they want more money but when it boils down to it they are bored and unhappy or they might have had a falling out with someone in the team. If they don’t trust you they might not be honest with you. If you don’t understand the why, you might place them in a job which provides better money but is a similar culture to the one they disliked at their previous company, so they won’t end up staying in that job. Similarly, taking the time to get to know your client means you can truly get them the right candidates for them and their company culture. The personal touch is invaluable. The more we get to know our candidates and clients, the more trust you build and the better the relationship will be. Strong relationships are the lynch pin of good recruiters – people work with who they like.

As well as getting to know candidates and clients, as recruiters we should be industry experts. At Aspire we write blogs, we share articles on Linkedin, we attend conferences so our fingers are on the pulse of the industry. I’ve met with many recruiters who clearly have no understanding of the industry they work in. It’s a frustrating experience and a waste of a candidates’ time. The more we understand the industry we work in, the better placed we are to better match people into job as well as becoming ‘trusted advisors’ to our clients.

Patience is a virtue

Probably my biggest learning. Recruitment can be very faced paced and some weeks I’m flying round Singapore meeting candidates and clients but often timing is of the essence. It’s budget time so there is a hiring freeze; you met a great candidate but they’ve already been sent by another recruiter; the candidate’s partner doesn’t want to move to Hong Kong/Philippines/Indonesia. There are often road blocks or frustrations to overcome but you either have to learn from them and forget about them or work out a way round them. Unfortunately in recruitment, you are dealing with people, so circumstances change, people change their minds, things happen that are out of your control. Learning that I just have to move on and get on with it has been my biggest achievement!