From estate agent to recruiter – Ella Wolff in the spotlight

Ella joined Whitehall in 2016 and has recently earned herself a promotion to Senior Consultant, so we had a chat to find out more about her journey in recruitment.

Ella, why recruitment?

I had been working as an estate agent for a while and I was looking for a change and a better income, so I thought, why not? I remember that in the estate agent industry they used to say  “recruitment was for failed estate agents”, so I had my doubts in the beginning but I am very glad I made the move, recruitment is so much better! Working for an estate agent is also a commission-based role but you earn a lot less and the work is non-stop – including evenings and weekends. At Whitehall you very rarely work out of office hours and you can earn much better commission – it depends on how many placements you make and their value, of course, but overall there’s definitely great opportunity in recruitment. I would recommend it to anyone that’s considering a career change.

Can you tell us about your journey here?

It was very slow to begin with, but I don’t think many people in this industry have a fast start anyway. There were lots of things that kept knocking me down and I needed a lot of perseverance. It took me a year to make my own first self-generated deal and 17 months to get to 10 contractors and also to hit my first billing target. It was challenging, because when I moved here I had just bought my own flat and I had bills to pay, I used to compare myself to others and I almost gave up, but it had been made clear about the time it would take and I knew it wasn’t going to happen overnight so I kept going. My team leader also kept motivating me to work hard and to keep trying, which helped me to stay positive. I am glad I did! I recently sold my flat and have moved to a lovely cottage in the middle of nowhere so I can take care of my horses without worrying. I wouldn’t had been able to achieve that as an estate agent.

My promotion to senior consultant

Becoming a senior consultant is not just about hitting a billing target, I also had to cover certain competencies like working as a team, finding new business, working with new clients and resourcing roles. Some of these competencies I found very challenging but I just kept working on developing my skills and eventually everything set into place. I had a real sense of achievement when it did. Now after just two and a half years I’ve been promoted to Senior Consultant.  It might sound a long period of time, but if you think about it, in other industries it can take you much longer to get promoted and especially to increase your income at such a high rate. I think the difference between now and then is that now that I’ve built strong relationships with my clients it runs a lot smoother and I also learned how to manage my time and prioritise tasks much better.

How do you set your targets?

We work together with our team leaders to set monthly and annual targets but I also like to set my own personal targets. Last month I broke my own personal record and I am working towards breaking team records at the moment.

In regards to progression, once you get to senior consultant and have gained more experience, you have a better understanding of whether you want to manage people or if you would like to continue working for yourself, and at this point you can set a career plan with your team leader to work towards your goals and the direction you would like to take. This is not something I’ve personally done yet as I would like to focus on my new targets as a senior consultant first.

What’s a day like in the contracts team?

There isn’t such thing as a “normal day” in the contracts world. Some days you come in not knowing what you are going to do and plan accordingly, other times you barely have time to take notes because you’ll have people queuing up on the phone. It is important to pace yourself because after speaking to 50 different candidates you won’t remember what each one said unless you are disciplined at listening and taking notes. I like that I get to speak with lots of lovely people and develop my own network of people I enjoying talking to, not just about work but also about family or hobbies.

How would you describe your team?

We have a really nice team. If you aren’t having a good day, they are always there to pick you up. There is a lot of chat and everyone is always there to help you out when you need it. Just a few weeks ago I had so many roles to work on that I had to ask my colleagues for help so we could deliver to all the clients. Sharing roles with peers means that if we are successful placing the candidates, we also share the commission, it works for everyone. Some days might be stressful, but they are definitely exciting and rewarding.

Our team is very competitive because we manage our own clients and our desk is our billing station, you cannot drop the ball, you have to be switched on. In comparison with other teams, the benefit of the contracts team is that you can work as many roles as you like and have the potential to earn as much as you like.

What do you like the most about Whitehall?

It’s a great company to work for. Everyone is very nice and I love coming into work every day. I know recruitment isn’t for everyone but I personally really enjoy my job. I also like the benefits provided by the company – rewards, incentives, parties etc. – they are incomparable to what other businesses offer. For me it is a great place to be and a nice environment.

What are your plans for the future?

I am focused on hitting my targets at the moment. I am not currently thinking in what direction I would like to take next but it is good to keep aiming for progression. In regards to my personal goals, I would like to buy a place with land within the next five years so I can keep my horses with me rather than having them in a livery yard. I also booked a holiday to go to Las Vegas this year, I am so excited!

Any advice for people considering a career in recruitment?

Just keep at it. It can be a roller coaster, especially at the beginning but just take it as it comes, don’t take life too seriously. If a deal doesn’t fall into place, don’t worry and keep it going, it will eventually happen and it is worth the effort.

Would you like to join the team? Take a look at our vacancies, we’d love to hear from you.