Meet our IRP Award Nominees


Whether you’re an interactive individual driven by the desire to give back to the community, or a chef who delights the palette by creating magic on a plate, our two nominees for the 2016 IRP Best Newcomer of the Year Award, Matthew Covell, Senior Hospitality Consultant in Crawley, and Michael Walker, Senior Medical Consultant in Manchester, prove that recruitment truly provides a platform to have it all, and then some!

We talk social responsibility, culinary arts and role models with these two fired up consultants who despite having only entered the realm of recruitment fairly recently, have already proven themselves to be trailblazers in the industry.


The Lure of Recruitment

Despite having kicked off their respective careers in different fields, both Michael and Matthew found themselves gravitating towards the exciting and challenging world of recruitment.

Upon meeting Michael, it’s easy to see how he contradicts the popular misconception that recruiters are nothing more then self-serving money chasers. He maintains that his decision to join Search was driven purely by unselfish motives. “I was initially attracted to recruitment based on the passion I saw in recruiters who had interviewed me for previous roles. I got the feeling that they felt a great sense of fulfilment from helping a candidate find their dream job, so I decided to get into recruitment because I too wanted to give something back to the community,” he says.

Matthew, a passionate chef with eight years of experience in the culinary industry, decided that he too needed a taste of a different career flavour. His experience working for a wide array of restaurants, pubs, hotels, contract caterers and even her Majesty the Queen, not only increased his love of great food but also fuelled his passion for building a strong and productive team.

“I found that my experience of working alongside an understanding of the importance of building and developing a sense of camaraderie enabled me to spot and recognise true talent in candidates,” he says. Surprisingly enough, hospitality recruitment wasn’t his first choice. “After going to an interview for an IT recruitment firm, where I initially did quite well until I was quizzed on java script and HTMLs, one of the consultants recommended that I try recruiting for hospitality at Search Consultancy, so that’s what I aimed to do.”

A promising track record

Since joining Search, these once fresh-faced consultants have swiftly and consistently proven themselves to be driven and passionate recruiters with a bright future ahead of them!

Despite having joined the industry with no previous recruitment experience, Michael was asked to develop a fledging business to provide care assistants, care managers and support workers in rural Cheshire. As a result of his effort to build a pool of candidates in the area, he now manages an account for the largest contract for his team, and his desk is now top billing in his team with £167,148 in just 14 months. This hasn't just come from the major account that he established upon joining Search, but also from relationships that he developed with the Cheshire local authorities and smaller companies in the region.

When asked about his journey with Search, he replies, “My journey with Search has been fast-paced and exciting! Throughout my entire time of working here, not a day has gone by where I thought, ‘Oh god, I have to go to work on Monday’!”

He maintains that the unpredictable nature of the job is one quality that drives him towards recruitment innovation. “Everyday is different!” he exclaims. “Although the area I cover can be challenging in terms of finding sought after candidates, it really motivates me to work harder, and be a powerful and positive representative of Search, proving to myself and other agencies that we’re a force to be reckoned with.” Given his determination and enthusiasm, it's no surprise that Michael was promoted to Senior Consultant just 10 months since joining Search.

One of the chefs

Matthew, also a newcomer into the world of recruitment, implemented a strategy whereby he could capitalise on his previous skills and experience in the culinary industry in order to provide a specialised service to both clients and candidates. He also brought his knowledge and connections from the catering industry to build an extensive database for Search. Since joining the company in October 2015, he has billed £145,000 in just 12 months!

He was promoted to Senior Consultant in October this year, and is currently tracking at a Senior Consultant weekly run rate. He has attended all quarterly high flyers events, received the Exemplary Impact award twice, and is second on the Sussex leaderboard for permanent consultants.

“My experience with Search has been brilliant, right from the word go! It’s been fascinating to see my career progress so quickly and consistently. It certainly helps that everyone in Search is always so positive and ready to offer a word of advice whenever you may be struggling.”

Matthew notes that his skills and experience in the culinary industry have been instrumental in propelling his career in recruitment. “It has been so beneficial for me,” he says. “I think my skills and previous experience as a chef separates me from a lot of other recruiters out there. As soon as I mention to candidates or clients that I was once a part of their workforce, it’s almost as though their whole perception of me changes. All of a sudden I am not just a suit at the end of the phone, I am one of them, and I know what I am talking about. In turn, they respect me as an industry specialist, and not just a generic consultant.”

But who are they outside the office?

When these two driven and ambitious recruitment professionals aren’t smashing it at the office, they really are just two lads with a thirst for excitement and a bit of fun!

Michael, a music lover who once fancied himself an aspiring pop star, spends his free time at gigs and exploring Manchester’s vibrant arts and music scene, “I love everything about Manchester culture - the fashion, music, arts, attitude and the outlook on life! I love going to live music events and festivals every year, whether they be the Glastonbury or V Festival. I thoroughly enjoy living in this city because there is always a musical event on, and not just generic, commercialised big arena events.”

Matthew is more of an adrenaline junkie with a competitive edge. “I like to arrange go kart nights with my recruitment team, and it’s been good fun! We recently held a Southeast recruitment companies’ go kart race where our Crawley team managed to get second place,” he says. In addition, Matthew also competed in the Dragon Boat Race to raise funds for St Catherine's Hospice, where his team took home Bronze. When he's not speeding towards a finish line, he enjoys watching football, even though he confesses that he doesn’t play a great deal of contact sports.

Who inspires them?

“Someone who inspires me on a daily basis is Leanne Clowes, my Divisional Manager and mentor,” says Michael. “This is largely due to the fact that she began her recruitment career on a part-time basis to support herself in university, and this built up her confidence to the point where she is now Divisional Manager just six years down the line.” He also draws a great deal of inspiration from strong, assertive women who know what they want. “I cannot help but admire the Beyonces of this world, who despite sometimes receiving backlash, pursue their causes and deliver a powerful message regardless of what anyone else thinks.”

Matthew agrees that his Divisional Manager has been instrumental in shaping his career in recruitment. “Emma Tugwell has come from the same industry as me. She was an assistant manager at a pub before she started recruitment, and she’s got all the answers.” He is also motivated by self-made businessmen. “Mr. Sugar from The Apprentice has certainly done well for himself. I particularly admire how he emerged seemingly from nowhere, without a university degree to his name, and became the household name that he is today.”

A word of advice for aspiring recruiters

In closing, both Michael and Matthew disclose their secrets to recruitment success!

“Time management – be on top of it,” says Michael. “You need to be resilient in recruitment because it presents its fair share of challenges. The ability to bounce back from a closed opportunity, and not take no as a rejection but rather as a learning experience to improve your pitch next time round is crucial. Be yourself, because it will enable you to build long-term relationships with your clients and candidates and this increases your credibility, allowing you to create more business on the back of referrals generated by your stakeholders. Whatever you do, don’t ever try to be a big sales cheese full of tricks and gimmicks.”

“Always put your candidates first,” says Matthew. “Hospitality and many other industries out there are largely candidate driven. If you develop loyalty, and have complete commitment to and from whoever you are representing, then you will have a massive advantage over your competitors. Dig deep, focus on quality, and find out what your candidates are truly looking for, rather than haphazardly try to fill a large quantity of jobs.”

We at Search wish our nominees the best of luck. May the odds be ever in their favour!

About the Event!

The IRP Awards are unique in raising awareness of the positive roles models whose exceptional work, and candidate and client care, sets the bar for all recruitment professional to aspire to.

It all takes place on 7th Dec 2016 at The Park Plaza Westminster Bridge. 

Fancy a Career in Recruitment?

Are you an industry specialist who is contemplating a change in career? At Search, we recruit for a wide range of industries that include, but are not limited to Medical, Hospitality & Catering, Scientific, Financial Services, HR and IT. If you are looking for a fast-paced and exciting career that will still enable you to keep a foot in your industry, then recruitment is the perfect fit for you, and being a expert in your field will certainly give you the upper hand! You can find a comprehensive list of our vacancies here!

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