Employee spotlight – Jo Sharp

My background

I love English literacy but I didn’t feel I could make a career of it, so I tried other things instead – I worked in the police as a case worker and in the IT department at the NHS doing administration work. I lived in Australia for a year and travelled around South East Asia, also had some temporary roles as a receptionist, switchboard and other office work. In 2010, I decided to come back to Colchester and a friend mentioned there was a vacancy in Whitehall as an Administrator. Once I started working here I didn’t want to leave.

Starting a career in recruitment

Some months after I joined, the company decided to create a new department that would focus on IT roles and they asked me if I would be interested so I started working as an IT resource point-of-contact for big clients like Capgemini and IBM. I had never done sales before but I found I was good at it and I soon became an Account Manager. Within the accounts team I still hold the records for quickest to Senior Consultant, quickest to second billing target and I also hold the record for biggest deal value for a single deal. The company kept expanding and so did the teams. I knew I liked working with clients and I wanted to bring better quality jobs to the team, so after five years of experience in the Accounts Team I was promoted to Client Services Manager and moved to a newly created client services team. This year I have been promoted to Senior Client Services Manager.

What do you like the most about your job?

I like to be the point of contact and the expert, I can find out what is best for my clients and how they do recruitment so we can streamline what we do to fit in how they work. If you understand your clients’ business and your candidates you can easily find a very good person for the role and confidently assure your client this is the person they need. The most rewarding part of recruitment is delivering the good news to a contractor when they get the job and receiving good feedback from our clients.

I also like that I get to know some very interesting people and hear lots of stories about them. We talk about holidays, weekend plans… I have a couple of ladies that like to tell me their disastrous dating stories and another contractor who is ex-forces and creates pyrotechnics for film sets in her spare time!

What do you think has made you successful in recruitment?

Having the ability to understand technology, the client’s business, their requirements and making sure that the candidate profiles we send to the clients are valuable for the role, and truly are the best candidates. This is something I learned through experience working with clients with a high volume of roles – it is difficult to find the right person for all of them, so it doesn’t always goes smoothly – however, you do learn where it can go wrong, why and how to avoid these challenges next time. Sometimes it is about asking the right questions, which can take time to learn.

The element of contractor care is also very important, building a relationship in which they know you truly care about them and they are not just another number. When you have a good relationship, you are also able to find the reasons behind a contractor not accepting a job, and it gives you the opportunity to do something about it rather than let the contractor go.

The key is to listen. Listening to the more experienced recruiters and managers and taking on board what they say, and listening to clients and candidates and remembering the details. It seems obvious but sometimes it’s not easy to do when you are trying to make every minute of the day count. But if you listen and remember, good things will come from it!

Good reputation helps

Recruitment can be challenging, there are always companies and contractors who don’t want to take your calls, but I’ve learned that we have a better name in the market than a lot of other recruitment companies, over the years we built a reputation of being the best and I can confidently say this to the clients.  When I speak with companies who don’t know who we are, we always have a good story to tell: the way the company works, the way that we recruit people or the way we are able to retain our staff, and it is genuine.

Awarded Most Improved Sales Person of the Year 2018

I am very proud of the awards I’ve received at Whitehall. In my first year I won Rookie of the Year and last year I won Most Improved Person of the Year. I wanted to win that title because my role in the CSM team is much more different than what I was used to do in the Accounts team and it has many more challenges than I expected, including lots of new business development involved. I have learned a lot.

What I like the most about working at Whitehall

I like the perks! The quarterly awards such as trips to Portugal, the incentives like evenings at the West End – where I went to watch “Kinky Boots” and stayed at the Marriot hotel, and the Lunch Clubs. I actually bought my house during a Lunch Club, three years after I joined Whitehall. I had saved my commissions for a while and I had put an offer in for a house I liked, but they said the offer was too low and they rejected it, but during a Lunch Club I asked one of our Managers what could I do to get the house and he encouraged me to close the deal so I called the estate agent, I asked what was the minimum they’d accept and luckily I could afford it so I offered that amount and they accepted it! As you can imagine I partied until late that night and shouted to anyone that would listen “I just bought my house on lunch club”!  It is through this job that I have been able to buy my house, a car I really like and go on nice holidays.

Advice for people starting in recruitment

The first 12 months are probably the best and the worst. Some recruiters make deals at the beginning of their career and might feel they understand recruitment within the first three months, but then don’t manage to make any more deals for a while even if they follow the process and are on top of their email and phone activity. They start to wonder if they are doing something wrong… why are the clients not returning their calls? But often they are not doing anything wrong, it is the natural course of recruitment. It can take 12 months to build relationships with clients, to establish yourself as a supplier and to earn their trust, but this can be achieved through true genuine interest, having different conversations, remembering details and moving those conversations forward. That is the hardest part of the job, but once the client wants to talk to you and gives you a role to fill, you start building your success. If you stick to the job for 12 months, you’ve cracked it, so don’t give up!

What is next for Jo?

I was recently promoted to my current Senior CSM role, so I would like to open another account, which means offering additional services to our clients in other areas of the business and becoming their main supplier. It has been quite an exciting journey so far, I have learned so much and I don’t imagine doing anything different now. I am looking forward to what comes next, maybe in the future I’ll think about becoming a Team Leader.


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