17 Sep 2018

Annie's story. New Starter to Senior Consultant in just 11 months!


Annie Davison is making a lot of progress in a very short amount of time. Despite only being with Propel for 11 months she has already risen to the level of Senior Consultant. We sat down for a chat to find out how she got here and what has driven her to get so far so quickly.

Tell us about your background.

I muddled along at school. I wasn't really a great student, to be honest. I remember very clearly my GSCE results day and my friends all did really well.  I knew I should and could be doing better if I really applied myself. And also, I knew that whilst I love where I’m from, it’s such a small village and there would be no opportunities for me. I knew I needed to start being better, start stretching myself and I found myself getting very competitive.

That competitive streak has only got stronger in me. To be honest I’m competing with myself to be better, to work harder, to go the extra mile for my clients. I’ve become a lot more single-minded. If I’ve got a task to complete, I’m head-down until its done. I don’t like to be distracted whilst I'm working.

Why recruitment?

I wasn’t moving back to my village after university (Annie studied English Literature at Durham). All my friends were from London and I knew that I wanted to find an opportunity that worked for me. London has loads of stuff going on, so I felt I had to come here. I had no family in London and very little support network. I needed a job that allowed me to earn well and keep my brain busy. That’s when I realized that recruitment would tick all my boxes. I love to talk to people about their careers, and to companies about what they do and what they need. Working at Propel has allowed me to get both personal and professional autonomy and I love that.

What were the first few weeks like at Propel?

Totally terrifying! I couldn’t work out why they were trusting me with this job. It was so fast. One day I was learning the systems and going to meetings with my manager and then suddenly I was going out for meetings by myself. I realized how quickly I could progress and that really appealed to me. I knew that if I did well, I could be a success pretty quickly. It was also quite scary as the responsibility mounted up pretty quickly as well. There was no time making coffees for the team like other jobs you get straight out of uni. I was actually making a difference almost immediately.

I was also totally new to London. I had barely used the tube and didn’t really know my way around and you can understand that this was a challenging time.  I was always lost until I got CityMapper. Whoever invented Citymapper deserves a huge hug! But Propel and my team, in particular, helped me through. Sinead (Annie’s manager) was just brilliant. She was so patient, so encouraging. She knew what I was going through and pulled me through it. And also, due to the progression, you can get here, I was always learning and doing new things. I didn’t have time to think about what was going on. I was working to pass my probation and did that, working to become a consultant and did that, working to be a senior consultant, did that and now I’m working on being a great principal consultant. That’s a lot of stages to go through in eleven months.

Why have you made such good progression?

You have to be good with people and that’s always been something I could do. So much of this role is being able to connect with people, being able to actually listen to people. You really have to work on making sure that both the client and the candidate feel that they are being listened to and understood. You cannot wing it, there’s no point pretending you understand an issue when you don’t. I’ve never been afraid of asking questions if I’m not sure I totally understand something. But mostly you must make people feel valued. One thing which gives some recruiters a bad name is when they don’t treat their candidates and clients well. You cannot treat people like products. You need to remember that changing jobs is huge for people and hiring people can be very stressful for companies.

Can it be stressful for the actual recruiter though?

I think recruitment is a lot more emotional than a lot of people let on. You get a lot of ‘no’s’, you get a lot of people changing their mind. You cannot take it personally. If a client tells me that a candidate isn’t right then I just ask myself If I’ve got the search exactly right and if not then tweak it until you get it right.

Also, some people really don’t understand what we do. I was out with some friends of friends who work in a different industry and they were saying awful things about recruiters. I really had to bite my tongue. It was horrible to hear how they felt about their recruitment market. On the flipside, I have heard some awful stories about what some recruiters have done to both candidates and clients. Those stories can be quite disheartening especially when that’s so far away from the way we work. It's not about making a quick buck. We want to build relationships.

What has made you most proud?

When a client comes back to me and says that I’ve gone the extra mile. It's not just about getting the deal, I really like it when I’m able to make a difference in a contract that means something to the candidate or the client. I also try and make sure that I do something that will ensure that they will come back to us again for their next role.

Who has been your biggest influence at Propel

Without Sinead, it might have been a different story. She always takes the time to talk to me, lets me discuss any problems I’ve got and makes me look at the bigger picture. And she is so patient with me. I ask her so many questions!  She’s actually got a set of written answers for some of my questions. She has been so important to my career, encouraging me when I’ve needed it and also letting me know when I’ve got it wrong.

Would you like to manage?

Not yet. I want to keep progressing and gaining experience. That being said I have enjoyed mentoring some of the new staff. I know how much I valued understanding that the problems I was having weren’t new and unusual. I love passing on that knowledge to people just starting in their careers here. Sometimes I think not always hearing from a line manager can be good. Its good to hear from people who were in your shoes not so long ago.

So, you’ve earned a fair bit of commission now. What have you splashed the cash on? To be honest, I’m a bit stingy! I don’t like throwing money around. However, I did have a really good August, so I thought I’m really going to splash out, I’m going to buy a Dyson hairdryer. I really wanted one. It's so beautiful! Even the packaging is lovely.

So what’s next?

I just want to keep beating my personal record in terms of how much I bill. I really want to specialize in the digital marketing industry, I want to really get to be an expert in that field. I want to keep doing well. I love it when clients are genuinely appreciative of the work you do. I want that to keep happening.

What advice would you new recruits at Propel?

If you’ve got a question then ask. Don’t try and guess. Be really honest with candidates, clients, and colleagues. Understand it’s not personal when people say no. Work as hard as you can but always try and enjoy yourself. I’ve had so much fun in the last eleven months.


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