*All names have been changed

The Candidate

Michelle* came from a large corporate background. Her experience was mainly in supporting large teams within large financial institutions. She came to First Recruit* looking for something similar. She was at risk of redundancy and wanted to make sure she wasn’t left without a job. She had only been with UK Bank* for 18 months so she knew any redundancy package wasn’t going to be brilliant.

She had just moved into her first home on her own and needed some security around her professional life. She was doing some work on her property and didn’t need the stress of not knowing if she was going to have a job every morning when she went into the office.


The Company

Boux Finance* was a small boutique Asset Manager. They had been set up by Brian* who, after building up a 12-year track record of market outperformance at his previous company, had started up on his own with a couple of ex-colleagues. They had secured some seed funding from a large bank in the US and had already started investing.

Their office was in Soho – a small setup within a building of other offices. They had already done most of the fit-out and needed someone to come in and take care of them and their new office.

The job spec was generic, but they needed someone a little bit special whom they could rely on to get things done which they wouldn’t even think of.


The Recruiter

Janice* worked at First Recruit and always met with candidates before sending them roles, and scoped out the offices and team members of companies before sending anyone to see them.

Janice tried to get to the roots of what companies and candidates wanted, and would use her years of expertise to read between the lines. Often candidates would want to stay with something familiar to them rather than exploring new challenges. She quizzed candidates on what motivated them and often found that it was nothing to do with the specifics they were asking for in a new role.

She would visit the offices of companies to better understand the atmosphere and culture which just wouldn’t come across when talking over the phone or sitting in a meeting room. Companies often wanted people with experience working in environments very similar to their own.

It was common to find tiny companies with really buzzing offices, or large companies where the role would be completely isolated so Janice made sure to look at each company on their own merits.


The Process

Michelle came to visit Janice, explaining that she wanted a role in a large bank. That was where her skills were, and that was where she was most comfortable. Janice probed and learned that it was mainly because Michelle could talk confidently about the processes and procedures within a large organisation. She learned that Michelle often struggled with the bureaucracy and red tape because it meant that some of the improvements that she had wanted to make in her company were impossible to push forward. She had become a little disheartened, and had largely given up trying to do anything outside of her role. But she was very good at what she did, and wasn’t all that familiar with what a smaller company could possibly offer her. So she was firmly sticking with what she knew.

Brian at Boux Finance was looking for a candidate who had worked in a start-up environment before and who understood what things to look out for. Things that perhaps he and his team hadn’t even thought about. He really needed someone who was going to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in to whatever needed doing – be that making teas and coffees for guests, or working on their client reporting. Literally anything that anyone in the office needed help with.

When Janice went to visit Brian, she was very impressed with their offices. They had just been refurbished and looked really stylish. She noticed quite a lot of things in the office straight away which needed sorting out. For example, they didn’t have any matching cups, or coasters. A couple of the doors were missing door handles. They didn’t have enough chairs so had to pull them in from other meeting rooms. She soon realised that they needed someone to take care of them and their office, but someone who would also notice these things too. Janice had placed many people into small offices, but often they were well established and just needed maintaining.

She further learned that with Brian’s background in working for large corporate companies, he felt that the assistants he had worked with before simply wouldn’t have the drive and skills to be able to transfer into a small company. They all seemed to like the structure and security of a large company, even though they seemed to make entire teams redundant on an almost-daily basis.


The Outcome

outcomeJanice placed Michelle at Boux Finance (hopefully that was obvious from the start of this article!). She had known she would be a good fit for several reasons. Firstly, Michelle was doing up her new home – meaning that she will be used to rolling her sleeves up and getting stuck in (quite literally!!). She lived on her own so Janice knew that she would be good at noticing all of the smaller things which need doing and just getting on with them, knowing that no-one else would do them. Secondly, Michelle had tried to make improvements at her previous role at UK Bank, but had failed because of all the red tape. She knew her heart was in the right place at trying to make her office a better place, but was restricted from making any actual changes.  Thirdly, Janice understood that Brian had the backing of a large company, and after pressing him with questions, discovered that as a worse-case scenario, the company had enough cash to survive without making any money for at least 18 months – providing Michelle with some level of security that her role would be safe.

Three months into the role, Janice went and visited Michelle at her new office. When she walked in she instantly knew that Michelle had been the perfect fit.

There was a new company logo sign in the lift lobby, directing people into the office. The door handles had all been fitted, and there were cups with the company logo on them. She had introduced apps and software that she had used in larger companies to make things more efficient, and had even started writing company policies for when they got bigger. She had read through so many over her career that she practically knew them off by heart anyway!

Michelle explained that she felt like her wings had been “un-clipped” and she was now free to make this role completely her own. For the first time in her career she felt like she was actually adding value to her colleagues and not just by making sure their expenses were done on time. She felt knowledgeable in her role, and she had gained the trust of Brian who listened to her when she made suggestions. She was learning so many new things, such as how the new pension rules were going to affect them, and was genuinely grateful and excited about the opportunity that she would never have considered had it not been for Janice.


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