Six years ago I joined a small recruitment business with huge ambitions. That ambition proved infectious and six years later I now sit here a Director.
Six years sounds like an awfully long time, but it’s gone so fast. They say time flies when you’re having fun and I think that’s definitely been the case. Most of the time anyway.
When I moved to Birmingham in 2009 I didn’t really know what recruitment was. I was that candidate that didn’t call back or didn’t know where my CV had been sent. My experience of recruitment ‘consultants’ was confined to the stereotypical recruiter talking about the biggest fee they’d made that week, loudly and arrogantly at the bar.
In all honesty, the more I encountered the sector, the less it appealed to me and it certainly wasn’t a career I’d considered entering. It seemed aggressive, egotistical and the cold calling element really didn’t float my boat.
I started my career in beauty therapy, working in a local salon in a small town and this was all I knew before moving into a sales and admin role when I relocated to Birmingham. It was in that admin role that I met Rob and Ollie who introduced me to the Pitch way of recruitment.
A year after meeting them they offered me my first recruitment job. I accepted and two became three. My decision to leave my secure, but fairly boring job to join a relative start-up didn’t go down well with my Dad; he thought it was a crazy decision, not his definition of a secure move and his experience of recruiters, like mine, had never been positive. As stubborn as I am, this only drove me to want to do it more and six years on he’s had to eat a little bit of humble pie.
My first role at Pitch was a Resourcer and it was my job to qualify suitable candidates for roles clients were briefing us on, under the guidance of the Directors. I loved this role and it makes me smile when I think about it. I’ve learnt so much in every stage of my career but this was the first hurdle and when you make your first placement there is no feeling like it – that’s where the addiction begins!
I threw myself into the job, I made mistakes…. more than I’d like to admit. I also made placements and gained knowledge, plus given the sector we specialise in, found myself looking at TV adverts in a different way, thinking about social media differently, Googling what SEO was and how PPC worked. I never previously knew where the ideas for these adverts came from, yet alone who created them, but now I did and it was exciting; I felt like part of something so much bigger and I wanted to find out more.
Pitch pushed me out of my comfort zone time and time again and it worked. I remember being asked to write copy for job ads. I could have cried it was so far out of my comfort zone. Rob and Ollie probably cried when they read it – I’m not a good writer. The first year at Pitch was a mixture of emotions, highs and lows, but all of it left me wanting more.
I had my first intro to cold calling as a Resourcer and it’s fair to say it wasn’t my favourite part of the job. I soon realised that trying to fit three sentences into one breath so you feel like you’ve said everything you need to before the person on the other end of the phone could speak doesn’t produce a lot of new business. Surprising really. It was then I learned not to be afraid of the silence at the end of the phone. I listened to the client and sold back, understood the challenges and started to offer advice. It suddenly didn’t feel so much like cold calling, but more a consultancy service; and I started to see results. Pitch did too, we started to grow, Resourcers and Consultants going from three, to four and then five.
My third year at Pitch was one of the most challenging I’d experienced so far. By this point, I’d honed by business development skills and we were really going places. I was introduced to management which I was adamant I was so ready for. I learned very quickly that it is not as easy as people make it look! My challenge this time was no longer business development, but the management of people. To date being a manager has been the single most challenging aspect of my career, but also one of the most rewarding. I overcame those challenges and whilst it’s a role you never stop learning in, leading a team is now one of my favourite parts of my job.
Every step of the way Pitch supported me with coaching and training, helping me to see things from a different perspective, which was key to my progression and my sanity. Management taught me a huge amount about myself, it taught me to be better at my job and this reasserted my focus.
It was around this time that I began craving more, a new challenge. From this, the Manchester office idea was developed and I was asked to put a business plan together to make the case… at the time I didn’t truly know what a business plan was. This was the first time I’d ventured away from doing recruitment. A daunting prospect, but I couldn’t have been more excited. With the basics in place and agreed, the business development began. Initially working from Birmingham, then a few days a week in Manchester, we quickly gained momentum and moved in to our dedicated Manchester office in 2016. With a few clients under our belt and a team member willing to make the move with me we relocated one rainy Manchester day – the first of many!
It’s fair to say the coming months were not the fairytale I’d pictured in my head. There were no easy wins, shortcuts or magic spells. It was back to basics, back to years 1 and 2 at Pitch, using all those skills like never before. We came out of those six months better equipped, better prepared and more capable of attacking the challenges we faced.
The story above is a small snapshot of the road I travelled to get to where I am and the highs and lows I’ve faced along the way. The next part of my journey as a Director has really only just begun; I’m a year in and I’ve already made plenty of mistakes, doubted myself, struggled, panicked, stressed and then doubted myself again.
The last twelve months have undoubtedly been the most reflective of my career to date. I naively thought reaching Director level was the end goal and that when I got here I would know what to do. The truth is I didn’t really have a clue, despite the impression my new job title suggested! I suddenly realised how Ollie and Rob must have felt when they set the business up in 2007 - both an exciting and terrifying feeling. Yet here we are together, about to celebrate 10 years in business.
Six years in recruitment has taught me a huge amount, but the last year has been all about perspective – finding it, interpreting it and applying it. Pitch North is growing, we’re about to move into new, high-tech offices, and the business has so much potential. I’ve witnessed how our Birmingham head office grew from the ground up and I’m so excited about watching Manchester do the same. It means I have to live through all those growing pains all over again, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
A different perspective challenges and changes what you always believed to be true and being a Director is the single biggest shift in perspective I’ve had in my career to date. Twelve months in I’d like to think I’m settling into my role, but truth be told it surprises me every day. With this, a key perspective shift is that, rather than fear them, or try to avoid them, I now invite the challenges, and relish finding the best possible outcome for Pitch and the team.
I couldn’t wrap this up without mentioning the team. Without them, I couldn't have made it through the tough times or enjoyed the high points as much as I have. The culture and the team at Pitch is second to none. I’ve never met such a dedicated, professional, friendly (and slightly crazy) bunch of people. And I never dread my day ahead when the alarm goes off, regardless of the challenges it will inevitably bring. Here’s to the next six years with Team Pitch!