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Kash, now one of our Executive Associate Directors, was once a graduate trainee just starting out in the recruitment industry. So, we felt it was only right to grab him for a sit down to talk about his journey and time working for Smile Education.
Why did you choose to work in recruitment?
From a young age, I had always been very ambitious. I always aspired to and wanted more. I did well at school in my exams and completed university with a 2:1 degree in International Politics and Strategic Studies at Aberystwyth University. When looking for my next challenge, I stumbled upon recruitment. After reading about what it involved, I thought it sounded like a good challenge and liked the benefits that it could offer.
Why did you choose Smile?
Before saying yes to Smile, I attended a few interviews for different recruitment companies all supporting different industries. At this point I wasn’t sure what type of recruitment I wanted to do, just that I wanted to work in recruitment.
My interview was with Katy. I was asked to complete a presentation which was then followed by a round table discussion. Katy was very honest during the interview about the work recruitment entailed including the long hours. Of course, they talked about the benefits too but they were very clear that this wasn’t something you could do half-heartedly. This was something I really appreciated. In fact, it’s one of the many reasons that I choose to work for Smile because they were honest. Smile seemed to know what they were talking about and that made them a solid employer and a great choice.
Meeting the team was something that sealed the deal for me. Following a successful interview, Katy asked me to come back to the Smile offices to meet with the Birmingham Primary Team, which at the time was made up of Mary and Leasa. We got on really well and they made me feel so comfortable. From that meeting onwards I knew for definite that I wanted to work at Smile.
How long have you worked at Smile now? Why have you stayed at Smile so long?
I have been at Smile for almost 6 years now and it’s flown by. In that time I have gone from Graduate Trainee to Executive Associate Director learning so much along the way. Why have I stayed? Well, there’s many reasons - but I’ll give you two. Firstly, Smile have a great promotion structure that’s both realistic and achievable. Having this in place helps to motivate you and pushes you to keep going. There was no way I was going to stop until I got to the top!
Secondly, having an established desk means that I now have time to focus on other aspects of my life. For me that meant more time to focus on personal things. In the past year or so I have taken up both running and gardening which have been good for me mentally.
Your promotions - when did you get them? When did you get them?
I achieved my first promotion with just 4 months of working at Smile. Thanks to a lot of long days and 50-60 hour weeks. Once I’d hit my first promotion there was no stopping me and on average I was getting promoted every three to six months.
I have been in my current role of Executive Associate Director for two years. Of course, as a person I always want more and to help my achieve this Katy, the company’s Managing Director, and I have regular check-ins and plans and options in place.
What do you like about working at Smile?
There are three things that stand out for me when asked this question.
Number 1 - the people. Especially those in the Birmingham Primary Team, who I work so closely with. It’s true that the people make the business.
Number 2 - the generous annual leave. As an Executive Associate Director I now get more annual leave than ever which has allowed me to take month-long holidays to lots of different places around the world including Colombia, Thailand, Vietnam and Canada.
Number 3 - Champagne Club and other celebrations that involve food. I love to eat so any celebration that involves food is right up there for me!
What is the hardest part of working in recruitment?
Recruitment, whether it be education or otherwise, isn’t for the faint hearted. It is a lot of work. Something I have particular struggled with is switching off from work and there is an exception from clients/schools that we are available all the time. Sometimes this can be tough and many dinners, family occasions and nights out have been interrupted by work which is obviously not ideal! It’s a real balancing act.
If you could give graduates applying to work at Smile one piece of advice what would it be?
Firstly, as I stated above recruitment is hard work so make sure you are prepared to put that in before you apply. If you aren’t serious about recruitment or you're looking for an easy life - recruitment is not for you! To be a high-billing consultant, you need lots of skills as essentially you are managing a mini business within a business. To be a great recruitment consultant you need to be committed and you must have the ability to adapt according to who you are meeting with at any given point.
If you decide that recruitment is the right choice for you then my biggest piece of advice would be to set boundaries and exceptions with clients to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Make sure that both your candidates and your clients/schools know when you work and when you’ll respond to them. Communication is key as they say.
How did Smile support you as a graduate and how do they support you in your current role now?
Smile were great to me and still are. They have lots of different training opportunities on offer for both graduates and their current staff. Smile’s graduate training gave me all the skills and tools I needed to be a recruitment consultant and set me off on the right path. But when you become more experienced, the training doesn’t stop and they have continued to support me providing me training to help me become a better manager and develop my skills.
If you are a graduate who is interested in joining our team and starting a career in recruitment then, we’d love to hear from you. We are always on the lookout for new team members. You can start the process right now, by sending your CV to us or if you’d like to learn more check out our ‘work for us’ page.