#RealRecruiters Series: Josh Longnecker, Recruitment Consultant at Robert Walters San Francisco
What kinds of backgrounds do #RealRecruiters in the San Francisco office come from? Josh Longnecker has a background in sales, selling furniture and copiers. After working for a staffing agency that filled contract positions, Josh transitioned into recruiting for permanent roles at Robert Walters. Hear about his career journey, his thoughts on the Robert Walter’s office culture, and his reasoning for joining our team.
Where did you grow up, and what school did you attend?
I grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee. I went to The University of Tennessee my first year, and later decided that I’d rather live in a city. I then transferred to Loyola University of Chicago, which is where I got my degree.
How did you hear about Robert Walters, and what were you doing before your career as a recruitment consultant?
My dad’s business is in furniture, so I thought that I would take that path out of college. I started off in retail furniture sales to get some ground floor experience, expecting to transition later to work for my dad. I started as a sales manager in Long Island, New York, and eventually got a chance to move out to the Bay Area and expand operations. After that, I had a brief stint selling copiers, which are a difficult sell now that everything is digitized.
While I knew I didn’t want to sell copiers any longer, I knew that I wanted to continue in sales. I began working in a staffing/recruiting agency recruiting for finance and accounting contract roles, where I worked for about two and a half years. I would make placements for all kinds of roles from accounts payable, staff accountants, all the way up to senior technical banking positions like AML/BSA (anti-money laundering) and basel regulatory roles. It was great to start out in recruiting, but I didn’t like the transactional nature of the business. I think it was just not a good fit for me, and I wanted to transition into permanent recruiting.
I had a lot of colleagues that had left and gone into internal recruiting, which inspired me to search for similar roles. During my search, I came across Robert Walters and applied on LinkedIn. After having a conversation with Simon Bromwell, I really liked what he had to say and felt that Robert Walters’ approach to recruiting was completely different.
What is your current role at Robert Walters and what sorts of clients and candidates do you work with?
I am a consultant for sales and marketing, so my clients are tech start-up companies in various industries across the board. I typically work directly with VPs of marketing, CMOs, and founders. Our team is split up between B2B and B2C, and I work on the B2B side. Marketing has become more specialized over the years, so we work on specialist roles like product marketing, demand generation, growth, and corporate comms.
How has your career progressed since you joined?
I have been here since March of 2018, so a little over a year.
There are jobs where you can learn one year of experience in three years, and there are other jobs where you can learn three years of experience in one year; I feel like it’s the latter here.
My communication skills have become more polished, I’ve become a faster worker, and I’ve also improved my relationship building skills. A lot of that has come from the training here, but also from working with people who are really smart, have a lot of experience, and have done the job before and done it very well.
You have previous sales and recruitment experience. What skills did you develop in your previous roles that have helped you succeed in your current role?
I definitely have an advantage coming in already having had so much exposure working with candidates, conducting candidate interviews, and discussing compensation. Conversely, I was not as strong on the sales or client management side, and that's something that I think I’ve really improved a lot over the past year.
The nice thing about when you run a “full desk” is that candidates become clients and clients become candidates. Over time, you build warm relationships, and those can lead into introductions, etc.
How would you describe the office culture in the Robert Walters San Francisco office?
I really enjoy everyone we have here. Everyone here from leadership to consultant is pretty genuine and willing to help if you have questions about anything. We’re always keeping our ears perked up for new jobs for other people, too. It's not just me “trying to get my numbers”; It's a really collaborative environment.
We also do quarterly events, Friday happy hours, and networking events that are a lot of fun.
What sorts of personality traits do you think someone needs to have to succeed as a recruitment consultant?
You don't have to be super bubbly or outgoing, but you should be genuine and a “people-person”. We have quite a few people here in the office who I would consider very introverted, too. Being passionate about helping people is important because ultimately, this is a sales job in which you can help people.
All of the intangible sort of soft skills are also important, like being an effective communicator, and knowing how to prioritize and multitask.
Do you have any anecdotal stories you’d like to share?
My favorite part is learning about people's lives and their stories. I like taking people out to lunch to congratulate after they get placed in a new role.
I went to lunch recently with a candidate and learned that he has two twin babies, and that he had been sort of miserable at his last job. He said his wife told him that he now comes home as a happier person, and his overall personal home life has improved, too. That's something that you don't see on a resume, and that's something you don't get on an initial call. It feels really good to have such a positive impact on people’s lives.