When I joined APS I knew nothing about management consulting. I didn’t really know anything about recruitment either. I also didn’t have the advantage of being a fresh-faced graduate just out of university. It was hard, REALLY hard.
I’d been in my previous job for over 10 years. It was relatively straightforward, I could run on autopilot. It didn’t require a great deal of thinking and creativity. This was one of the main reasons I had left but the shock to the system when I realised just how stagnant I’d become was massive.
3 months in I was close to giving up. Management consulting recruitment is not right if you are looking for quick wins. Interview processes can take months. The candidate pool is small. Clients are, justifiably, extremely selective. I hadn’t yet made a deal. Graduates who had joined at a similar time were sailing past me. Frankly I was embarrassed.
Rather than walking away with my tail between my legs I decided I was going to make things work. I’m nothing if not stubborn. I stayed late at the office most days. I didn’t go to the pub on a Friday lunchtime and join in the fun. As anyone who knows me won’t hesitate to say, there’s nothing I like more than a few drinks, but I could go to the pub after work. I listened carefully to other consultant’s conversations, asked candidates lots of questions and started having more natural conversations with them.
After almost 5 months I made my first deal, it felt good but wasn’t a particularly big deal. I was still lagging behind. 6 month review time and I’d still only made one deal. I started wondering whether I’d made a horrible mistake. I decided to give it 3 more months.
In month seven I made my 2nd deal, again it wasn’t huge but it came as a relief. I also started getting more final rounds up on the board. I had a couple of other offers, rejected but at least I was putting forward good candidates. As I got to the end of my 3rd quarter in the job I placed two more people, one of which was high value. Quarter four went quite well, and I was no longer bottom of the billings. My confidence was growing.
Four years later and I’ve just passed my five year anniversary with Ascent and I’ve just had a record quarter. I’ve brought juniors through and helped them achieve promotion and am delivering on my own clients. I can talk comfortably with candidates and clients and can give genuine advice on the consulting market. The moral of my story is to be diligent and stick with it; the first few months, or in my case even longer, will not be easy.
Things start becoming easier when you learn and develop in your industry, build your network, develop a specialisation. I see lots of people in recruitment chop and change jobs and sectors every year or so, to me that does not make sense. You are never going to become an expert in your field if you don’t give it time.
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