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Claire joined Smile almost a year ago now after leaving another agency. We sat down with her to find out what attracted her to Smile.
I have worked in recruitment for 11 years. One year in high street commercial recruitment and the last 10 years in education recruitment.
I heard about Smile through social media back in 2015. They always shared lots of fun updates and posts on LinkedIn. I could see how quickly the company was growing and always felt the culture would suit me.
One thing that caught my eye, in particular, was the Smile board game. I loved the way they tracked their consultant's achievements from the beginning of their Smile journey using a visual ladder of success, with clear goals and rewards for all. What a great way of showcasing just how quickly people were progressing within the company.
Smile’s social media always made them stand out from the crowd. They were always sharing fun videos, boomerangs and photographs of the team and celebrating their successes. It was almost infectious and you just couldn’t help but want to be a part of it.
But it wasn’t just Smile’s social media that made me want to join them, I had for as long as I could remember always wanted to work for a smaller, local agency. The companies I had worked for previously had always been headed in London which meant that they were often run ‘the London way’, which I didn’t feel was necessarily suited to other areas of the country. Smile, on the other hand, was a home-grown West Midlands-based agency that worked with West Midlands-based schools and teachers.
To get the job at Smile, I didn’t go through the typical application process as I already had connections in the company. I had known, Leasa, director of SLT Education, Smile’s sister company, for a few years and had always gotten on with her well. In fact, she had previously contacted me about a role at Smile a few years before but at the time I wasn’t ready to move.
However, 5 years on from that, when I was looking for a career move, I contacted Leasa myself, who then put me in touch with Smile’s MD, Katy. After a chat with Katy, I was then ready to sign on the dotted line and started my career at Smile during Easter 2018.
On my first day, everyone was very welcoming and friendly. To help me get to know my team they took me out for lunch. This helped to break the ice and make me feel included.
My next few weeks were spent learning about the Smile way and the systems that they used. During that time, the team remained supportive and patient ensuring that all of my questions were answered.
The one thing that personally stands out for me is that I get to work as part of a secondary team rather than on my own (which had been the case at my previous employer). I really like that we all work together to fill school bookings and how we share candidates, which means every booking is filled and every candidate able to work.
Unlike other agencies that I have worked for Smile is hands-on, which is something that I love and that I think sets us apart from other agencies. We often take time out of our day to go and support the schools that we work with. Since working at Smile I have delivered advice on CV writing and given interview tips to 14-16-year-olds in local secondary schools.
One of the things I love most about my job is that I get to make a difference in people’s lives. For me, my role is about more than just numbers or how many placements I make. Even though I have worked in education recruitment for a long time, I still get the same feeling of achievement & happiness when I find the right teacher for a school or school for a teacher.
One of the biggest I faced when joining Smile was learning to trust the secondary team and sharing candidates as this wasn’t something I was used to. I also had to get used having a smaller patch of schools and candidates to work with than in previous roles. While this seemed daunting at first, it has given me the opportunity to build new relationships and I am pleased to say it is going well so far!
Smile is really passionate about investing in their team and so paid for me to undertake a training session with the Recruitment Network. The session talked about how the education sector is changing and thriving and how we as recruitment consultants adapt to that. It was
the best and most relevant training session I have ever had and has really made me think about the way in which I recruit.
Smile is very different to companies I have previously worked for. There is a real family feel - not just inside the office but outside too. It might sound cheesy but there is a genuinely unique culture at Smile that I have not experienced anywhere else.
Recruitment often gets a bad name but spend one day at our office and your view will change entirely! We might work in a competitive and lively environment but we always treat each other with respect and celebrate each other's successes, no matter how big or small.
Trust your gut feelings! When I had that niggle in the back of my mind I often told myself the grass isn’t always greener. However - when there are more bad days than good days for an extended period of time, for whatever reason it’s time to move on. I did and I have never looked back!
So, be brave, make use of your LinkedIn connections, see what else is out there. Believe in yourself and your proven abilities, if you are in the right business, with the right culture and the right people, you will blossom and you will be successful.
If you are interested in becoming part of the Smile team, then please get in touch with us. You can contact Olivia confidentially via email at olivia@smile-education or call/text her on 07824 775 244.