Employee spotlight – Matt Woods

After studying Drama and Performing Arts and enjoying the social lifestyle of being a student, Matt stumped across a recruitment job and never looked back. Matt enjoys the social aspect of it, the earning potential, the opportunity to ‘choose your own destiny’ and the satisfaction of helping people find their dream job. He is certainly achieving it all as he recently completed his 100th candidate placement!

How did you start working in recruitment?

I studied Drama and Performing Arts and used to work as a bartender. I liked the social aspect of it and I was hoping to continue that lifestyle. When I was looking for more hospitality work I came across a hospitality recruitment company and they offered me a job there. I enjoyed the role but after almost three years there, I wanted a new challenge. Someone I know recommended me to look at Whitehall. I liked the look of the company and the location, so I took the job and I’ve been here for almost eight years now.

How is IT recruitment different to hospitality recruitment?

The main difference is the earning potential. In hospitality recruitment you can’t really make much commission. Salaries in hospitality are low and the highest role you would be working on would be around £35,000, while at Whitehall, that’s the salary for an entry level role from our clients. As you can imagine, the commission in our specialist IT market is much higher.

How has your journey been at Whitehall?

It has gone quick. The job itself can be tough sometimes but it is very rewarding, I enjoy coming into work. It has been great to see the company growing and to know I have contributed to its growth and success. It has also been fun as Whitehall is a very social place with great people, lots of events, incentives, the villa in Portugal…I love it!

In regards to my career, I originally joined as Consultant, and worked my way up to Senior Consultant, to Principal and I am now a Team Lead in the UK Permanent Team. It wasn’t always easy, as any recruiter I had difficult months at times, but I was resilient and came back up and I am now managing a small team. I am enjoying it a lot.

What is a day like in the permanent team?

Every day is different, you never know what the day is going to bring. We always have fun and we see our team as a family. Days go really quick, we are always busy and it’s home time before you know it.  We also encourage healthy competition because we are competing against other recruitment agencies, but we keep it fun, distributing the work, sharing the same goal and achieving as a team.

What are your main motivations?

Success, satisfaction and money.  I like to feel successful and to be recognised. It feels great when people in this business contact me because they know I can help them. If you do it right, you get to deliver good results and money will come as a reward.

Being a Team Lead is also a motivation. I like to be responsible for people, training and supporting them and pushing them through the path to success to see them grow. My role has helped me to understand that every person is different and even if we all have the same goal, we go about it in different ways.  I’ve learned to work with different personalities, to be empathetic and sympathetic, and to balance my time to help everyone equally whilst also looking after my own performance. There is a lot to juggle but I’ve learned how to achieve this with the support of my team and with the skills I learned in the Leadership program.

What’s the Leadership program?

It is an internal training program to support emerging talent in building leadership skills. Before Whitehall I used to manage people too but I used to feel really frustrated, and I could be snappy or even irrational. As part of my development here, I have been able to join the Leadership course as soon as I started a management role, which is not something you can do in every company – especially for free! I have completed Level 1 and I am currently doing Level 2. The Leadership program has helped me to reflect on myself and identify what type of person and manager I am. Now I know how to better approach situations and deal with them in a confident way. The course truly helps you to become someone you want to be and I believe it had a big impact in my team’s success.

Breaking milestones with my 100th candidate placement

Our business manager in the permanent team started a little recognition program not long ago. Every time you break your own milestones you get a casino-style chip to make your 5, 10, 50 closed deals official.

I am the first consultant at Whitehall to make 100 permanent placements. I get satisfaction from knowing I had a positive impact in people’s lives and that I helped them. To mention an example, I recently came across a candidate who wanted to move with her family from Germany to the UK because they wanted their child to grow up here. I found both my candidate and her husband a job and they are moving to the UK in a week’s time now. They are very pleased that they can go ahead with their plans, the client is happy and I am happy, it can be very humbling… but that’s the importance of listening, people have different reasons for getting a job – it can be money or location but it can also be work-life balance or family.

You’ve also won some Whitehall Awards…

Yes, and I am very proud of it.  I won ‘Most Improved Consultant of the Year’ in 2013 and then ‘Permanent Consultant of the Year’  on three occasions, including two consecutive years (2017 and 2018) which is a big challenge. I have also worked hard with my team to get them to build up for an award and I am very pleased that one of them was nominated for ‘Rookie of the Year’ in our latest Whitehall Awards.

What has been your biggest challenge?

That period that every recruiter comes across at some point. Everything is going well and suddenly something just doesn’t work… I always explain this to my team, it will happen at some point but the most important thing is to learn from our mistakes, to be resilient and to pick yourself up. There are some things you cannot control, because we ‘sell’ people and people are the only product that can say ‘no’ to a client, meaning that our candidates also decide whether they are taking a job or not. That is not something we can control, but we can learn to identify when it is about to happen, and we can build a plan around it. This comes with experience.

What do you like the most about Whitehall?

Naturally, I like the people, there are a lot of different personalities in the business, but we all have the same goal, everyone is great in a different way.  But the biggest thing for me is that at Whitehall, you are not determined by a path but rather carve your own path in Whitehall history. I like that if you have an idea, we’ll give it a go and you get supported all the way. Feeling this kind of freedom is very important to this role.

What are your plans for the future?

To continue growing my career in Whitehall to become Senior Team Lead and beyond, and to continue enjoying my job in the same way I’ve done it since I joined almost eight years ago. I am also looking forward to see my team grow, succeeding and breaking milestones and enjoying their job as much as I do.

What would you tell people thinking about recruitment as a career?

Give it a go. What do you have to lose? It might not work out, but what if it is for you? You would be missing out a lot.  When I compare my income to my previous salaries, I just find it unbelievable. I never thought this could be me.  You’ve got nothing to lose, try it.

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