An innovative trainee scheme is giving Just Recruitment’s new starters a thorough grounding in the industry, says Tim Gibson
It is early morning at Just Recruitment Group’s Ipswich office and the pale spring sun is still rising in the sky.
Inside, the kettle has already boiled and a group of eager trainee recruitment consultants are well into their working day. Notepads at the ready, they’re gathered around their mentor, Jody, as she talks them through the dos and don’ts of calling candidates.
Listening in, I’m struck by the rapt attention Jody receives from her young colleagues. They don’t want to miss a single word, in case it disadvantages them when they come to making their calls.
“Recruitment is a tough business,” muses Just Recruitment’s director, Peter Foy. “A consultant lives or dies by their results. If they do an effective job of placing people in the right jobs, they’ll develop their career and have impressive earning power. But if they can’t master that art, they’ll almost certainly leave the industry within the first six months.”
A consequence of the sector’s competitive edge is that the churn of staff can be quite high. Just Recruitment manages to break this trend, and prides itself on having a long-serving and very loyal workforce. But, as Mr Foy observes, “There’s always room to improve staff engagement and help your team become even more effective in their roles.”
An important aspect of this is Just’s introduction of a trainee scheme – something that is by no means the norm among recruitment specialists.
“It’s fairly standard for a new consultant to be thrown in at the deep end,” Mr Foy reports. “For some people, that’s really stimulating, and they very quickly get up to speed. But to ensure you give new recruits the best possible chance to flourish, it makes sense to give them a thorough grounding in the industry before they get stuck into the daily rhythms of life in an agency.”
So it is that Just Recruitment’s new trainees have gathered in Ipswich for a day to hone their communication skills. “This is just one element of the training we’re providing,” explains Jody Collings, a senior consultant at the company who has been tasked with mentoring the cohort. “We’ve put together a programme that gives candidates a broad experience of the job, enabling them to develop their skills while learning from highly experienced and successful colleagues.”
“I think it’s great to be given this level of support when starting a new job,” says Molly, a trainee who joined after working in Fashion Retail. “We have the chance to learn as we go, safe in the knowledge that everyone is here to help.”
That is certainly the ethos that Ms Collings hopes to embody in the new programme. “We want to create a supportive environment where people can learn from their mistakes and develop confidence over time,” she says.
To achieve this, the programme follows a gradual progression towards working on live vacancies. So while at every turn the trainees have some experience of dealing with clients and candidates, it is not until the end of their training that they will be given responsibility for managing the whole process without supervision.
“I like the fact that we build our skills over time,” says Megan, a trainee who’s joined from an administrative job in the NHS. “There’s plenty to challenge us every day, which is really stimulating. I can honestly say I’ve never been happier than I am in this job.”
Megan is by no means alone. Positivity is the group’s standout feature. After their mentoring session, the trainees are dispatched to research a vacancy that Just Recruitment has been asked to fill in the manufacturing industry. This gives them a chance to hone their job-matching skills, by looking up the skills and competencies required in the role, and developing a profile of suitable candidates to put forward from Just Recruitment’s database and wider networks.
After a workshop on writing successful job advertisements and a brief break for lunch, the trainees hit the phones to sound out potential candidates during the afternoon. Always under Ms Collings’s watchful eye, this is a chance for real-life conversations with people who are on the lookout for their next career move.
They all sound highly adept as they quiz their candidates about their skills, ambitions and suitability for the role available. It’s hard to believe some of them have only been in post for a handful of weeks.
Of course, that’s the point of a trainee programme: it invests in staff before they’ve started bringing in any money, because it recognises the long-term value of personnel who are on top of their game.
Judging by the dedication and enthusiasm shown by many of the trainees as the end of the day approaches, it’s clear the programme is making an impact. “They do seem to be willing to put in the hours,” Ms Collings reflects. “There’s a genuine hunger in this group, which is crucial if you want to succeed as a recruitment consultant.”
It is clear that, thanks to the grounding they are receiving at this early stage in their career, many of these trainees are destined for success. So Just Recruitment has created a trainee scheme that’s demanding, rewarding, empowering and exciting. It’s about as good a start in recruitment as anyone could wish for – even if it does involve the occasional early morning.
© 2017 Just Recruitment Group Ltd.
Posted on Tuesday Mar 28