It is likely that this is the most honest and vulnerable article that I have or will ever write. Although many people have congratulated me on my success, it comes at a price, and I must make more sacrifices if I wish to develop further.
After writing this I realise that: a) This is a pretty lengthy piece; and b) It will likely require a Part Two. For ease of reference, I have broken the article into the following sections:
- Work-Life Balance
- Winding Down
- Imposter Syndrome and Self-Doubt
- Candidate Management
Deep breath, let's get started!
What's that! I honestly can't remember the last time I packed up at the end of the day and was able to relax. As well as living almost 50km from the office, I usually do recruitment work or respond to emails when I am at home. A successful recruitment consultant is not a 9-to-5 job in my opinion; if someone knows a way, please share with me. To then manage and lead a company, well there aren't enough hours in the day.
I would advise those who wish to become recruiters to make sacrifices and add some time to their week outside of office hours when they are willing to do additional work. Although I cannot or would not force anyone to do this, I simply don't think you can be successful without putting in the extra effort. I must stress here: you can be successful working a 9-5, I just don’t know how.
You also need to make time for face to face engagements with clients and candidates and this often has to be outside of office hours.
It is often impossible for me to do this. At the end of the day there are so many balls to juggle my brain refuses to switch off and I struggle to sleep. It really is hard to let go. As I can't turn off my brain, I can't sleep as my mind is constantly thinking of things to do the next day.
I got married almost 3 years ago and whereas my wife and I are very happy there is an incredible strain on my relationship due to the business I am in. Luckily my wife is also a workaholic and often works 7 days a week. In fact, she makes me feel lazy. As a result of her hard work, she is becoming a very successful businesswoman.
We are at the stage where we are planning a family – to be honest, when you get home at the end of the day and it's the magic time to make babies, it often doesn't feel like the timing is right.
Wow, where do I start? At the beginning of 2022 I was weighing in at a hefty 92.5 kg (14.5 stone) and something needed to give. I was lucky to find a personal trainer to help me, and since I started training in late March, I have reduced my weight to 85kg. I still have a poor diet which is the result of not wanting to cook after a long day, and taking the chance when I can find the time to stuff my face. I am aware my eating habits are not conducive to good health, but needs must.
My hair! My ex-colleagues in the government in the UK will say I always had a 50p sized hole in the back of my head but now you can probably fit in a few in a couple of pounds’ worth. I have grayed at the sides – and let's not mention the wrinkles. My doctor says I am close to acute stress and need to manage this carefully. I have conducted personality tests which have shown I have an above average level of resilience, but I don't want to drop dead of a heart attack one day.
I have severely neglected my circle of friends in Thailand and the ones in the UK are almost non-existent, bar a few. My job involves talking, communicating, socialising and generally being good with people; and it's draining. I am not shy or introverted, but when socialising is part of the job, you also need some downtime.
Imposter Syndrome & Self-Doubt
As a child I was raised in a wonderful family that was very much working class. I grew up in a tough city. Although not involved myself in violence, drugs and crime, it was a part of daily life. I wasn't the best educated, as I worked from a young age to provide the material trappings I thought I needed. I was always taught by my father that I didn't have to be the smartest, I just had to outwork people, and this is a principal which has led to becoming a partner in my company.
That said, I do suffer from imposter syndrome. My accent and language are not the most polished; and whereas I have fantastic manners (thanks mum), I am not the most cultured. In my role negotiating with CEO's and MD's who are much more educated and higher class than me it can lead to self-doubt. It took me a long time to come to terms with this.
By far the hardest part of my job is being a manager and leader: the reason, simply put, is people. Without people (your staff), you are nothing. Nothing prepared me for being a manager in Thailand and the intimate details that you learn about their lives. I share the burden of their stresses to support them; to a large extent I need to be selfless.
As a person who admittedly can be selfish at times, this is a really tough challenge. I had to make the transition from being a top biller, to being a top manager who can still bill high while enabling others to become high billers too; it's a completely different job description.
On top of this, you need to have clear boundaries: whereas I would like to be closer friends with my staff, to maintain professionalism, I just can't.
As a recruiter, we are never the masters of our own destiny. As a recruiter you need to take criticism with a smile, disappointment with a shrug, and rejection as the norm. Failure to do so will result in the collapse of your career.
At my company I strive always to provide the best service. I see recruitment as a complex puzzle to solve. Sometimes you fail, and when the stakes are high, it really hurts.
I remember the first big deal I lost. I stupidly counted the commission before the deal was done and was planning all the lovely things, I was going to treat myself to. That was a mistake I have never repeated. I always educate my staff that we really don't matter in the grand scheme of things. We are a conduit to make things happen, and we can celebrate in the background.
This is something I have been teased and ridiculed on now for a few years and again it stings. I realize the importance of branding and social media and I do think sometimes the recruitment industry overdoes it.
I’ll let you in on a secret: we aren't posting to flaunt our successes; we are using social media as a tool to attract the best recruiters out there. Hiring is a big challenge, especially because we are trying to find consultants that want to grow and challenge themselves.
Working closely with Richard is tough. For those that know him he is a no-nonsense, workaholic who demands the very best. He will not ask people to do anything he wouldn't do himself –as the Managing Director he is our leader.
He is certainly my role model and coach and I have immense thanks and gratitude for him making me his partner – but that doesn't always mean we see eye to eye. We have had shouting matches that I probably lost, but what keeps us working together is that no grudges are held, we shake hands at the end of a heated discussion, and he is always right (I say that tongue in cheek).
Candidate relationships are massively important but sometimes it is impossible to speak to everyone that wants to talk to you. I receive a lot of messages and emails asking for consultations, but there are only so many hours in the day. I hate disappointing people, but as my role grows it is becoming nearly impossible to keep up with the demand. Without candidates, however, my role is redundant, so I try to meet as many as humanly possible.
If you found value in this piece, I am happy to follow up with a Part 2. For all other communications you can reach me on LinkedIn, or email at email@example.com
Published: 24 January 2022