The Journey to Talent Chief!

Picture of Tom Greet

Tom Greet

💥🏉The Rugby-Playing Recruiter!

Here it is, my first article as a recruitment business owner. Now there’s a line that I never thought I’d write.

A rollercoaster of a ride in recruitment has culminated in me doing something that I didn’t think was possible – Starting my own recruitment business!

I remember in my first interview for a recruitment role, I was asked the question:

“Where do you want to be in 5 years time?”

And at that time, having my own business didn’t even cross my mind, and I gave the typical “I’d like to be a Company Director” response. And in a way, I’ve managed to get there, but not the way I thought I would.

So what’s my journey? Let me take you back to 2017 to give you a well-rounded picture.

No alt text provided for this image
Back during my Estate Agency days!

It’s approaching the end of March, and I’m currently working for my 3rd Estate Agency in 4 years. A redundancy in January at the penultimate company had been followed up by working for one that I just simply wasn’t enjoying. Before starting, I had told myself that if this happened, then I would look for a new career as clearly, the passion had gone. Sure enough, I found myself scrolling through google to see which career I’d be best suited to.

It just so happened that a friend told me I’d be good at recruitment, and I should have a look around for recruitment companies near where I lived. As I was near Horsham, West Sussex at the time, this seemed like the right place to start looking. So I contacted Wisdom Recruitment and luckily, they were hiring. Better yet, they saw the value of someone with a strong sales background as a good fit for their company. A couple of interviews later, I started working there in Mid-April 2017. And boy, was it a culture shock.

In an estate agency, you make calls and knock on doors to win business, all the while meeting with prospective buyers and potential vendors. But in this style of recruitment, it was all phone based. I was given a directory of companies in the Bristol area (and admittedly, I wasn’t entirely sure where it was on a map at this point) and a phone and told to call as many as possible to win new clients. Within 6 months, the client list stood at close to 70, and I was regularly making 3-4 placements per month. Not a bad start I thought!

No alt text provided for this image
May 2017 – Minutes after making my first placement!

I was promoted to Associate Recruitment Manager in January 2018, and to Recruitment Manager in January 2019. Shortly after the second promotion, I came out of a long-term relationship that left me in a weird place. So I decided the best thing to do was to throw myself into my job. Speaking to people every day kept me sane, and it’s what got me through some very dark times, so this seemed like the best option.

I worked hard and eventually, 2020 arrived. Yes, 2020 – the year where EVERYTHING changed!

I got called into a meeting in the middle of March 2020 to be told the business was going to take a hit and they wouldn’t be able to pay us in full for the foreseeable future. Furlough wouldn’t be heardof for another couple of weeks, so I had no idea how I was going to pay my rent or any of my bills.

Even though this was daunting, I knew that similar chats were being had in every office building in the country, so at least it wasn’t just us.

I decided that, as the candidate market had dried up and I wasn’t being paid for that half of the month, I would take the opportunity to change my living arrangements.

I had started dating someone from Bristol a couple of months prior to this, and then the pandemic was here. I moved from my houseshare in Horsham to Bristol (which was always the eventual plan, albeit a few months earlier than scheduled) on the same day Boris Johnson announced the lockdown! So at least my partner and I both had company for this now!

No alt text provided for this image
August 2020 – Back working 8 hours per week

After 3 months of Tiger King, Takeaways, and several breaches of my sanity, I was asked to return for a few hours per week to Wisdom to help the company. However, my love for the business had waned slightly during the lockdown, and I started looking into my options. 3 and a half years was a decent amount of time for me there, so I left after securing a new role.

I tried Legal recruitment with a company called Inspire, which in all honesty was headed up by someone with very little knowledge of our industry, and thus this didn’t last long. Luckily, the day I was let go, I was headhunted by what felt like half of my network on LinkedIn, and I eventually chose Hamlyn Williams.

Different sector again, Fintech this time, and after a few months I knew that I just didn’t enjoy this sector. I didn’t even know what SAAS was in all honesty, and I just wasn’t getting my knowledge to a standard where I could talk to clients and candidates properly. So I was transferred to the Internal Recruitment team there, and I got to speak to actual recruiters again on a daily basis. This is where my passion for the rec2rec market was rejuvenated, and I realised that this is what I should have been doing this whole time.

It just so happened that an ex-colleague had started a rec2rec business and asked me to join to help expand it. I agreed and started in January 2022.

Now, the burning issue here was that, with the experience that I had in the rec2rec sector, I always wondered if I should bite the bullet and go it alone. And as time went on, this thought became more prominent in my mind. Nevertheless, I worked hard, made the company a tidy profit, and felt I was safe. I won’t go into fine detail about how my time ended here, but let’s just say that I didn’t feel it was ethical and ruined a friendship that had lasted 5 years.

In truth, the timing of my departure couldn’t have come at a worse time. We’d just upsized to a bigger house, which of course came with a substantial mortgage, and the stress of everything took a toll on me. I started to wonder if I was cut out for the recruitment world, as this was the second time I’d been let down job-wise by someone I had considered a close friend.

Look to the positives though – I got to spend a couple of months doing DIY around the new house, and put shelves up EVERYWHERE! Nearly 5 months on from moving in, we’re nearly where we want to be in terms of decor, and are looking forward to when summer arrives and we can work on the garden!

At this time, this is where my LinkedIn network really helped me a lot, as well as a couple of close friends. Those who see my content will know that I post every day without fail. After being off the platform for a couple of weeks, I got a number of messages from my connections, asking if I was ok, and to let them know if I needed to talk. To each and every one of them, thank you! You helped create Talent Chief Ltd without even realising it!

One of my closest friends, and also a recruitment maestro, then said I should definitely start my own business, as they felt that I would be successful doing so. I won’t mention them by name on here as it’ll probably embarrass them. But that person is one of the main reasons that this all started. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

My partner has been in the recruitment industry for a while and thus gets approached by rec2recs all the time. She was the one who initially planted the self-employed seed in my head years ago, as she’d had first-hand experience of being one of my candidates.

My dad on the other hand, who knows very little about the industry as he’s not involved in it, had a more cautious approach. His main thoughts were “Will you be safe?” and “Can you afford to do it?”. I feel this combination of people behind me helped me stay focused and methodical during this process of setting up.

So many of the people that messaged said something along the lines of:

“Tom, you’re one of the most honest and empathetic recruiters I’ve ever met. I’ll always work with you!”

With that, and everything mentioned before, it was settled. This needed to happen. So with nothing to lose and all the time in the world (it was nearly Christmas after all), I started putting together a list of everything I would need.

I registered the company name, bought insurance, and put the deposit down for the website. And what came next was loads of Zoom meetings, phone calls and emails back and forth getting the branding/logo right and making sure that everything aligned with what I wanted. In other words, a LOT more work than you’d ever imagine!

No alt text provided for this image
The inspiration for the company colour scheme!

One of the most simple decisions was regarding the colour scheme. Anyone who knows me will realise that outside of work my three passions are family, rugby and Plymouth Argyle. Thus, green felt like a no-brainer!

I set myself a deadline to launch on 8th February 2023. Nothing significant about that date, but I felt the second week in February might be one to get some good traction when announcing the launch.

Sure enough, everything came together, and the day finally arrived. That morning, I created the LinkedIn Company Page and told the web developers to hit the launch button! Then, I changed my Job title on LI, and made a post about the launch of the business.

No alt text provided for this image
The Official Launch Post!

I didn’t expect much engagement on this in truth, as I’d been away from regular LI usage for 3 months by this point. But much to my elation, the above is what happened. Over 100 likes and so many comments of people excited to see something new from me. And that’s on top of the private messages that I received as well!

The first few days of the business were an emotional rollercoaster. My message box was full of well-wishes, and people offering support if I needed it. I must single out a couple of people for their support – Leanne Cunningham and Adam Massie – you both gave me valuable advice at the start and I will never forget it. If I can ever return the favour, you know where I am!

Within the first 3 weeks of trading, we had our first placement in the bag, which was beyond my expectations. I haven’t felt that sense of joy since my very first placement in recruitment 6 years ago.

We have a brilliant client base and every day I speak to some amazing people who want to better their careers and their lives. And this, above all else, is the reason that I still do rec2rec.

No alt text provided for this image
Being back to playing rugby every week after 3 years on and off has also been a big sanity cleanser for me!

The journey here has had its ups and downs. But if you were to ask me:

“Would you do this all again?”

Yes, absolutely.

Because the lessons that I’ve learned along the way have been valuable and the path has led me here. I wouldn’t change that for anything.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and as always, if you ever need new recruiters for your business or are looking for something new yourself, message me!

Have a brilliant day!

Tag Post :
Share This :

Recent News

Have a minute? Stay informed by reading our latest news postings brought to you by the team at Talent Chief.

Homeworking – How to Remain Focussed

Homeworking – How to Remain Focussed

In the last few years, hybrid and home working have both become very popular. Whilst there are a few…

The Truth – Impossible To Trip Over

The Truth – Impossible To Trip Over

There’s an old saying that I’ve used throughout my life – and it’s this: “You can trip over a…

The Value of Being Kind On LinkedIn

The Value of Being Kind On LinkedIn

Another month, which can only mean one thing: It’s the return of another article by yours truly. To those…