From hospitality to recruitment – Spotlight on Chris

After a career in catering spanning 13 years as a chef and five years running his own kitchen with two AA Rosettes, Chris decided that it was time for a new challenge and a more enjoyable work-life balance. Chris has now been at Whitehall for almost two years and is enjoying the rewards of recruitment.

My background

When I worked in hospitality, I was very passionate about my job. The downside is that I used to live to work, with 12 to 14 hours-a-day shifts and weekend work. I could see other people going out on weekends and having fun, but that was not something I could treat myself to… whenever I did it, I felt guilty. Hospitality can be a very difficult industry, especially when you are planning on having a family and children, so I decided I needed a change and a career that offered better work-life balance.

Why Whitehall?

I have a friend who works in recruitment, who also used to work in hospitality. He told me about the rewards, incentives, the good money you can earn, how he worked eight hours a day and had a great time at the weekend. I had a look into it, liked what I saw and applied to join Whitehall. When I researched the company, I learned about SAP – a software company I hadn’t heard about before. As I read more about SAP I began to realise it’s  everywhere as it’s used by many well-known companies around the world including BBC, McLaren and Heineken. I thought the industry Whitehall works with was very interesting and when I came to my interview I really liked the values of the company and the company atmosphere. I was already looking for a new challenge so it seemed the right thing to do.

I’ve heard you like track days and karting, would you say you are naturally a competitive person?

I am competitive. That doesn’t go very well sometimes for me though because I can get frustrated if things don’t go the way I was expecting– which is very common in recruitment. I like winning! But it is definitely a good trait to have as a recruiter! Resilience, good work ethic and being personable are also important skills to have, as placing a candidate is not just about matching the candidate’s work experience to the job description.

A CV can often look good on paper, but when the candidate meets face to face with the client, they might not be a good match. We need to look at personality and motivations. There are some clients for example with a more laid-back office atmosphere, with dog-friendly offices where they have a beer pump and offer free lunches every day, and other clients who are more traditional or have stricter company policies. Not every candidate would necessarily feel comfortable in either of those environments. Matching candidates to a client is a skill and it’s a great feeling when it goes right!

What do you like the most about Whitehall?

The people – everyone here is really nice. I also like the opportunities to build your own career, take the path of your choice and go as far as you like. The sky’s the limit and there are rewards every step of the way which is something I had not seen before in any other workplace.

What do you like the most about your job?

I love talking to people, learning about different technologies, building rapport and ultimately seeing the end result of hard work paying off. The feeling when you’ve placed a candidate in a role they’re enjoying is second to none. When you receive positive feedback from both the client and the candidate side… that’s the icing on the cake.

I get satisfaction from placing a candidate in a job role, to me it means I am making a difference to someone else’s life. In recruitment, seeing the results of your efforts can take some time though. In my previous life a chef, you can get the satisfaction of your hard work in as little as a few minutes when completing a dish. Whilst recruitment isn’t that quick, the financial rewards and the sense of achievement are much better.

I also love building long-lasting relationships with our clients and have the opportunity to pursue and win new business with companies across different industries. As I have a big interest in cars, engines and anything automotive, the prospect of working with clients in that sector really stands out and I think it’s an amazing opportunity.

What do you dislike the most about your job?

Not being able to do everything you wanted to achieve. It could be for example, that you phoned candidates all day long and no one picked up, meaning you cannot move forward to work on the next stage – but I guess that is a motivation to keep trying. The day just doesn’t have enough hours… Every day is very different so one day you might have this challenge and the next day could be something completely different.

What has been your best achievement here?

I would say placing 12 candidates within my first year in recruitment. I did my first placement during my sixth week here but it wasn’t plain sailing from there, I had my ups and downs. In technology permanent recruitment, completing 12 placements in your first year is a very good number. My other biggest achievement is to have been promoted to Senior Consultant four months ago, just after year and a half in the business.

What are your plans for the future?

At the moment I am focusing on my current goals as a Senior Consultant, but I’d like to work towards a further promotion for the future.

What tip would you give to people starting in recruitment?

Be patient, listen to the advice you are given, work hard and don’t give up.

Take a look at Chris’ life at Whitehall!

  • Whitehall night out

  • Lunch Club

  • Christmas party

  • Champers winners

  • Team karting day

  • UKISUG exhibition

  • Christmas jumper day