The time came in December 2014 to tell colleagues of my impending change of career. Reactions included astounded faces, gasps of disbelief and mutters of ‘but why?’… It was, of course, a big change in direction – on the face of it, the two career paths appear to completely contrast one another – although I’m surprised in hindsight that more people haven’t made the same move.
I started at Investigo in January 2015 working on the Strategy and Consulting desk. As I walked through the doors of the office, the differences between the two environments were immediately clear. The buzz was palpable - with phones ringing non-stop, people pacing around the office trying to close deals and a noise level approaching 100 decibels, my new home was worlds apart from the 5th floor of a bank where I had spent most of the previous year.
As the weeks went by, the differences became more apparent. I spent an increasing amount of time out of the office, meeting different clients and candidates and building my network. I would be making 20-30 calls a day to people I had never spoken to before and tapping into my creative side writing adverts for live jobs and working on pitch documents for prospective clients. All a far cry from my many hours spent on the aforementioned 5th floor, sat in silence, analysing vast quantities of data.
However, the longer I worked the more I realised the many parallels between consulting and recruitment and how important my past experience had been:
Network - In both industries, it is critical to establish and build a strong network. Relationships are at the heart of everything we do and you need to be the “go-to” person to be at the top of your field. To do this you must work tirelessly at building your own brand and reputation; both internally and externally.
Organisation – Skills picked up through project management and prioritisation have proved to be invaluable within recruitment. With a high volume of both jobs and candidates, many recruiters struggle to keep on top of their game. Who would have thought spreadsheets and pivot tables would be such a valuable tool outside of consulting!
Teamwork – As a management consultant, you are nearly always working in a team. Whilst you are ultimately running your own desk within recruitment, you are also part of a team. Without constant communication and sharing of leads, contacts and information you will drop balls and miss opportunities. Generally, as far as I can tell, the most successful teams are those who work most collaboratively.
Work ethic – From working on bids until 4am to CTOs announcing ‘fire drills’ when you are just about to go home, I certainly put the hours in as a management consultant. The competitive and buoyant nature of the Strategy and Consulting market means that I have to put the hours in to get the results I want. Without this foundation, I probably would have failed by now.
But by far the most important part of the transition from consultant to recruiter has been my ability to provide a unique insight and perspective to clients and candidates alike, having sat on their side of the fence.
Many recruiters seem to struggle with explaining the nuances of the market, specific firms and even the roles that management consultants do: “They walk into organisations and help solve business problems”, “they use tried and tested methodologies and tailor them to the problem in hand”, “they help organisations adapt to market conditions and maximise growth.”
Such explanations fail to make consulting ‘real’ and emphasise the difficulty that can exist for recruiters placing candidates into consulting, in explaining what they do. Not only that but the credibility gained knowing you have ‘been there and done that’ is invaluable.
With my first full (and by all accounts, successful) year fast approaching, the move is one which I am extremely happy to have made. The opportunities for growth and new challenges are endless and whilst on the face of it, the two careers are worlds apart it has been great to find an industry that I love and that plays to my strengths. Whilst the learning curve was steep, the successes have been hugely rewarding and I’ve genuinely found a career where what you put in has a direct correlation to what you get out.
Marc is Strategy Consulting Headhunter at Investigo. Please connect with Marc on LinkedIn, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on +44 (0) 20 7194 7944.