#RealRecruiters Series: April Littlejohn, Managing Consultant at Robert Walters San Francisco
Over a year and a half ago, April Littlejohn joined the San Francisco office of Robert Walters as a recruitment consultant on the product management team. April has since become an expert in her field, developing lasting business relationships that have benefitted the company and contributed to her own personal fulfillment. Hear about April’s experience working in San Francisco, and her journey to management at Robert Walters.
How did you hear about Robert Walters, and what were you doing before your career as a recruitment consultant?
I was working in restaurant management at a company called Hillstone Restaurant Group, where I did a management training program with them right out of college. It was four months of intensive training, and then they basically send you off somewhere in the US to perform a management role. I moved directly to New York, lived in the city for a few months for training, and then worked in the Hamptons for a year before coming to their San Francisco location. I found out about Robert Walters through AngelList when I started looking for work. I checked out their website, reached out to someone on LinkedIn who worked there, and the rest is history.
What made you want to work for Robert Walters San Francisco, vs other job offers you were considering?
I was casting a really wide net in terms of what kinds of roles I was looking for, and recruitment was just one that I started exploring on a whim. It was my interview at Robert Walters that really won me over. I felt a really strong connection with the type of personalities in the office, and the way that the interviews were conducted helped me recognize that it was a really good fit for me.
I also liked that I would be sitting on the forefront of the start-up space (which is unique compared to any other recruiting jobs in San Francisco), and that I could utilize my people skills and my ability to be empathetic and understand people's motivations.
Working internationally was also a big pull for me. I've always been really curious about living or working internationally, and knowing that I have that ability is really empowering.
Robert Walter’s international presence also means the team is extremely diverse. People here are energetic and like-minded, but there is diversity of thought, culture, and background.
Did you have any preconceived notions about what it would be like to be a recruiter? Have your opinions changed since starting at Robert Walters?
When I got the job, I thought that recruiters and headhunters were kind of synonymous, but there's so much more that goes into this role. It's not sitting at a desk and cold calling; there is much more of a consultative piece to it. I think the expectation is that recruiters are transactional and that they regularly deal with a high volume of people. In reality, it’s about building relationships and being able to impact the way companies hire and how candidates go through the entry process.
What sorts of clients and candidates do you work with?
I work on the product management team, so product managers from the senior individual contributor level to VP level. We work with companies across all areas including B2B and B2C from the seed stage to Series D and beyond.
What skills or qualities do you think have helped you be successful in a recruitment role?
Being “hungry” and having intrinsic motivation to succeed are both qualities that have helped me in this role. It also helps to be able to feed off of the energy around you.
The nature of recruiting is very up and down. You can have a really strong quarter, and then the next quarter might be less fruitful. Sometimes deals fall through, and it can be completely out of your control. So, resiliency, composure, and being able to the see the bigger picture are all qualities that are important for recruitment consultants.
How would you describe the office culture in the Robert Walters San Francisco office?
I always look forward to coming to work, and I love the people that I work with. I think we’ve fostered a culture of intelligent, determined, and passionate people who also care about one another. It's rare to find a team that works so well together because in other instances, a lot of extroverted personalities in one room can lead to ego. In our case, it’s collaborative, and everyone wants to see each other succeed, and I think that’s really neat.
The bottom line for me is that I want to be around people who bring out the best in me and push me, but whom I can also have fun with.
How has your career progressed since you joined?
I joined in August of 2017 as a consultant on the product team. This December I was promoted to managing consultant.
I went from managing my own desk and billing to managing two junior members of the product team as well as a new hire who started in January. So that's been the most recent progression for me, is moving into that managerial role.
For people who may not be familiar, can you describe what it means to manage your own desk and billing as a recruitment consultant?
As a consultant you manage your own client relationships. This includes sourcing candidates, managing a pipeline of those candidates, and then consulting with those individuals throughout the interview processes (which includes extending offers and negotiation).
On the client side, we are responsible for business development, which means fostering new client relationships. Billing entails successful placements of candidates with our current client partners.
What do you hope to learn/how do you hope to grow in the next 1-5 years?
First and foremost, my priority is to be the best manager that I can. It's paramount to the success of our company to empower new recruitment consultants and show them their growth potential in the company.
I want to continue to foster positive relationships with the people that I mentor to help them find their own success and progress their career in the direction they want.
Beyond that, I've recently become more familiar with how many opportunities there are within Robert Walters. It’s not a “strict ladder” like you might see in other corporations of the same size, and there are many opportunities to play to your strengths. For me, I want to continue exploring where my strengths are within the team that exists. There's a lot of potential for how we'll divide our teams in the future as our office in San Francisco grows, so I’m excited to have some influence over how we continue that growth.
What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about being a recruitment consultant at Robert Walters San Francisco?
You'd probably be surprised at how quickly you become comfortable with being in a 360 degree process. When I first started, I basically knew nothing about my particular industry. I didn’t even know what a “product manager” was before joining Robert Walters. Now I feel like I have a good grasp on the market, and that enables me to counsel candidates through offer negotiations.
You will really gain so much of a voice in this role. The confidence you’ll gain from growing rapidly is really empowering.
I think another misconception about recruiting is that it’s a cold calling situation, and that recruiters are just there to produce numbers. In truth, we make a huge impact on people’s lives, and the positivity that comes from that spills over into other areas of my life as well.
We do work really, really hard. There's this idea that when you work in an environment that's performance-based, it's kind of like you have to be a slave to your job, but I think that finding work-life balance is something that Robert Walters encourages. We are always having happy hours and off-sites, and I go to the gym with a group of consultants every day at lunch to break up the day. I think it's really cool that you get to manage your own time and find a balance that works for you.
Are you curious to learn more about working for Robert Walters as a recruitment consultant? Send an email to Liz Boston, at email@example.com
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