University to Recruitment – Charlie Calderbank

Charley Calderbank

Life before Whitehall

I was only 22 when I finished my degree in Criminology and Sociology. I aspired to work in youth centres helping young offenders, but I was told I wouldn’t be seen as an authority figure as I was too young, so my options were to do another degree in social care for three years – meaning by the time I finished I would be 25 and have no work experience – or find something else. I decided to look for a job instead, and I started working as a waitress at a local restaurant. I eventually found the GradJobs website, and after filling in my profile, I got a call from Whitehall.

From Uni to recruitment

At the time, I didn’t know anything about IT recruitment and I didn’t even realise that the phone call was my first interview. I just chatted away (as I do), and they invited me to a face-to-face interview with the managers. I liked that everything about the job and the industry was explained at the level that I needed, as having no experience at all, I‘d had been lost otherwise. They also asked me to do a presentation (which was part of the process at the time). Luckily, I like presenting and I had lots of experience from university, so I was comfortable doing it and I got the job! 

That’s the first time I realised how the skills I learned at Uni were transferrable into the workplace. Persistence is probably one of the most important ones. At Uni, I was always either taking lessons, studying or at the library. I also had to work to pay my rent, meaning I was never at my student house or had time to go to parties or hang out with my friends, I barely had time for a shower or to sleep. I knew that’s what I had to do if I wanted to succeed and get my final grade, so I learned to work hard and to be persistent. It’s that attitude that helps me in my job now: when things aren’t easy, when they don’t go the way I’d like them to go, when I struggle to find the answers, it is persistence, the mental drive and the ability to stay positive that keeps me going. University also showed me what hard work actually is, the 14 hours at the bar at weekends serving pints were not the difficult part, it was the sitting down, studying and putting the time and effort to work on my assignments. That was a good lesson to learn.

What makes a good resourcer?

In the Key Accounts Team we have existing clients who give us job roles to work on and we resource candidates to try to find the best match. Resourcing involves speaking with lots of candidates, finding out more about them to see if they match the job role, and if they are happy with the terms of the role. I’d say the most important things would be to be able to talk to people and ask the right questions and also to listen. It is imperative to understand what the candidate wants, as much as what the client wants. In this industry, you could have a candidate with the correct skill set, but if they don’t like the location or the pay, it won’t work. But if you ask the right questions on time, you will be able to understand whether you found a match or not, or the different challenges you can potentially work on. Listening is not only important when it comes to candidates and clients, it is important to listen to your team and senior team members and speak truthfully, it is only with true information that things will work.

What do you like the most about your job?

Every time I pick up the phone I speak with different people who all want different things. I like to talk to them and hear their stories, there is always something new. It can be hard at times too, because we deal with a lot of rejection or people not being in the best mood, but most of the time, it is very interesting.

Becoming a Team Lead

I’ve been here for five and a half years now. The first three months of my journey were a learning curve. I was scared of picking up the phone and saying the wrong thing, but my manager explained to me that unless I was being rude to candidates I had nothing to worry about, and that if I forgot to ask a question, I could always call them again. I applied myself and made two placements during my probation period. I then had a small period where I didn’t place anyone and then I had two full years placing candidates month after month, which is quite an achievement.

There were other challenges: Around Christmas time, businesses make changes, and this industry isn’t any different. The first Christmas I was here, I had around 17 contractors working for me and in a space of a few weeks I lost about 10 of them, either because they handed over their notice or they had been let go by the client. It was difficult, but I recognised that it was out of my control and I stayed positive, building the number of contractors again. I set myself a goal to get to 20 contractors the following year so I could be promoted to Senior Consultant. I did reach my target and got the promotion I was looking for. My manager then suggested that I should consider becoming a Team Lead – it took a while to hit all the targets for that but I was promoted again at the start of the year.

What do you like about being a Team Lead?

I like watching people grow and develop at work. Being a Team Lead isn’t easy because you have a group of people to guide, mentor and to look after, and they are often a priority over your own work. You must help them keep positive and motivated, even when you are not having a great day yourself. It is like having children in a way – you feel proud about their achievements. I like my team, I care about them and I know they care about me too. We are a team.

What has been your biggest challenge as a Team Lead?

Not taking everything to heart. Seeing people frustrated, demotivated or being negative is really hard to watch, but I had to understand that part of my team’s learning process is to fail. I try to motivate my team, but I always tell them that they have to be the ones with the drive to succeed and that only they can motivate themselves. It’s on them to look at their work and accept when they might require further training, for example. Learning isn’t embarrassing or a failure, it’s an opportunity to refresh knowledge or to develop something skills. I personally would get training every day if I could, why not? It’s something that you can take advantage of. Naturally, I want to protect them, but as I learned on our internal Leadership program, I need to take a step back and let them fall so they come back stronger.

What has been your biggest achievement?

After my two-year run of back-to-back placements, I was one of the top five billers of the year. I was also the top female biller in the company. I never thought that is something I could have achieved.

What do you like the most about Whitehall?

Everything. I like the training opportunities provided through our Learning & Development team but also how great the support system is in general. I can talk to the managers if I need help resolving and issue, or I can talk to HR if I need advice. Recruitment is a stressful industry, but Whitehall is an easy place to work. Everyone is different and unique, and everyone here accepts you for who you are. There is no mould or standard to fit, it is very inclusive, and they try to help everyone to their own needs. You can simply be yourself.

What is next for you?

Keep learning, keep enjoying my work, not losing hope or feeling I failed because I haven’t been able to help someone. Keep encouraging people who want to take their next career step. Be proud of that and enjoy it. I’d also like to become Senior Team Lead which will mean growing and developing a successful team even further.

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After working at Whitehall for a number of years now, I look back and wonder why I didn’t get into recruitment sooner. The company values, team spirit and the atmosphere is what makes Whitehall the place to be. On top of that, the commission structure, company rewards and career progression are second to none and I am excited for what my future holds and the goals I can reach.

Nicola Saxham - Senior Consultant – International (DACH) team

Since I started working at Whitehall, I am the happiest I have ever been in my career. The company really do look after you and I enjoy coming into work every day. The operations team always get included in all the incentive schemes, so no one is ever left out. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me here at Whitehall.

Keeley Bell – Operations Coordinator

I have worked at Whitehall for a long time now and it has been a pleasure to be part of the company’s continued growth. It is an exceptional place to work, with a family orientated mentality, and you are rewarded for working hard and being dedicated. I have loved my time here so far and look forward to progressing further.

Jason Wood – Credit Control Supervisor

Whitehall has really helped me curate my career into one I can be proud of – starting as an admin assistant,  I was promoted to the Facilities & Senior Administrator after just 18 months! Just recently, I was part of a project to help the company become Carbon Neutral, which is the best news!! The camaraderie of the whole team is wonderful, and I would thoroughly recommend Whitehall to anyone who is looking to kickstart their career into something amazing!

Abbie Elwood – Facilities & Senior Administrator

I joined the company as an entry-level consultant in the newly formed Key Accounts team back in 2010. Throughout those years I have progressed within the company and have had multiple promotions along the way and have never once looked back. At the moment, I’m looking to continue the growth of my team by adding to the current headcount and in supporting their development to help them to achieve their aspirations.

Adam Edgell – Associate Director – Key Accounts Delivery

The environment here is second to none, I am constantly learning and improving thanks to those around me and from the support of my managers. This is a company that rewards hard work and gives you all the tools you need to develop and succeed. I would recommend Whitehall to anyone, from those looking to start their journey into recruitment to those who already have a number of years’ experience as you will be joining a close-knit team and have the opportunity to thrive and work with some of the best in the industry.

Nathan Joseph – Principal Consultant – UK Permanent – ERP & IT Client Development

Since joining Whitehall Resources, they have given me the opportunity to grow and develop from a trainee position. Whitehall Resources is the ideal company if you are looking for career progression.

Kirsty Small – Contracts Administrator

I joined Whitehall with no experience in recruitment or IT and I could barely use a computer myself. Since joining, I have built a career and a joined a family here. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity I have been given and the guidance I have received from my managers and colleagues (friends). With hard work and a bit of tenacity, Whitehall can give you the chance to change your life for the better.

Jacob Lee – Executive Consultant – UK SAP Contracts

I joined Whitehall Resources with zero recruitment experience and a background in pharmaceuticals. Fast forward six years I have been promoted on multiple occasions and can vouch first hand that Whitehall Resources is a great place for career progression whilst having lots of fun along the way. On top of the career available you get to win lots of incentives including holidays abroad and overall, it is a great place to work.

Georgia Pike - Executive CSM - CSM

After joining Whitehall, I have really found myself within recruitment and even achieved rookie of the year! I am continuously learning and growing. I am looking forward to challenging myself in the future and seeing what I can achieve here at Whitehall.

Hannah Pile – Consultant – UK SAP Perm

I joined Whitehall in late 2015 as IT Support Engineer and have now progressed to Team Lead. Whitehall is a fantastic place to work, where hard work and a strong work ethic is rewarded in both Sales and Operations alike.

Dan Appleby – IT Team Lead