Luke Percival – Manager in the Spotlight
Luke started at Whitehall after looking for a new career and a fresh start. After under five years, he has progressed from Recruitment Consultant to Business Manager of the SAP Contracts Team.
My background in sales
I started working in sales straight after college when I was around 17 years old. My first job was at a broadband company, and then I worked in different car dealerships, both private and commercial. I didn’t have much luck in the last two companies I worked for, one was broken into and had all the stock taken, and the second went bankrupt, so in my mid-twenties, I found myself back where I had started living with a friend without any money! In addition, I was engaged and had a wedding to pay for, so I decided to move away from the car industry. I wanted more than a job, I was looking for a career and needed something that would leave me financially better off.
My brother-in-law had worked in recruitment for over ten years and recommended I give it a try. I interviewed at a couple of companies but could see right away that some, e.g. medical recruitment, wasn’t for me. I was offered a place at Whitehall, and the rest is history!
What do you like the most about your job?
I like that it’s an ethical form of sales. In car sales, you are likely to be more successful in negotiation with people with less trading experience. An experienced dealer will always get more for their car than someone who is selling their first car. That doesn’t seem right. In recruitment on the other hand, it’s a win-win situation: the client is looking for a candidate, and the candidate is looking for a job.
I also like the financial aspect of recruitment. It was a motivation for me when I first joined and had bills to pay and still is. I always got a buzz when I made a placement, and now that I am a manager, I still love it when my team does ‘deals’. I like seeing my team members develop, seeing their earnings and becoming successful.
What do you like the most about Whitehall?
I’ve got a lot of love for Whitehall. I’ve never worked for anyone who gives so much back. I like the work-hard-play-hard ethos – put the effort in, and you’ll get the rewards. I like that if you follow the paths we set out and work hard, you will see results.
What is unique about your team?
Our aim is to generate new business for the company. It’s very fast-paced and you need to come to work motivated to work hard every day. In simple terms we find new clients, pick up available roles, find suitable candidates, shortlist and qualify them, submit their CVs for the role, arrange the interviews, pre-close agreements and arrange the contracts. During that cycle we also gain information that will lead us to another job requirement.
Our team was the first team that Trem, the managing director, first grew when he started the company. We are lucky to have him sit by our team – he’s very knowledgeable, helpful and is very involved day to day. In most companies the MD sits in an office in the corner and isn’t spoken to unless he calls you in. Trem isn’t like that, we get to work alongside someone that has worked in this industry for 15+ years and has many close client and candidate relationships going back just as far – that knowledge is priceless. It’s obvious he cares deeply about Whitehall’s success and loves seeing team members and the business grow.
What makes a good recruiter?
You need to be hardworking and resilient with the ability to bounce back when things don’t go your way. You really have to have to be hungry for success, and be able to deal with the highs and lows of recruitment – everyone can handle a bad day, but what about if a week doesn’t go your way, what about a month, or longer? It’s that kind of resilience that we look for and that kind of drive that makes a good recruitment consultant.
Also, it might sound basic but it’s important to have the ability to listen to a mentor, someone with more experience, listen to feedback and instruction, take it on board, process it and follow it.
What has been your highest achievement?
My development here. Only five years ago I was living with a friend and had nothing, I had to start fresh, came here with no experience or knowledge of the industry but hungry for success and in five years I went from Consultant, to Senior Consultant, to Team Lead, to Senior Team Lead, to Business Manager. I’m not perfect, I have strengths and weaknesses, but I listened to what others were telling me, I applied myself and worked hard. Whitehall gave me the platform to achieve what I have, and I am forever grateful.
What do you think of failure?
We have some great months, and others not so great. We could class them as a failure but to me it is more important to target the issues that led us there and to learn from the mistakes. I believe if my team doesn’t succeed, I am not doing my job properly, so it’s about moving on from your mistakes, picking yourself up and learning how not to fall again. I am now earning what I wanted to earn when I first started here, and I am proud of that, but the “problem” with sales is that you always want more. I want to keep moving forward and progressing.
What motivates you to continue and to come to work?
The financial rewards are a strong point, as I’d like to provide my family with a good life. I also wanted to build a career and that’s why I worked hard to become a manager. I like to see other people around me succeed and doing well, and at the same time see myself developing. That’s what inspires me to come to work.
What are your plans for the future?
I always saw joining Whitehall as the start of a long-term career. I am still finding my feet in my new role as a manager, so my main goal is to make sure that the SAP Contracts team is consistent and that we can branch out with other people managing new areas as the team grows. The company has given me the platform to do what I want to do, so now I’d like to give something back. I genuinely love working at Whitehall and I’d like to keep growing and see what’s next for me.
What would you tell people thinking on joining recruitment?
It’s extremely difficult, nine times out of ten things are not going to go as planned, and you’ll want to go home for the day. But that one day that you make it happen, it’s well worth it. It will give you all the rewards that you want in life, whether you want to progress, earn money, save for a house deposit or go on holiday. We will give you the blueprint on how it works and how to be successful, but we cannot give you the drive, so you need to be extremely hard working and resilient. With all that hard work comes bigger rewards than you would receive in other industries, so for those that make it, it’s well worth it.