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Loren Von Sternberg

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Loren Von Sternberg

Talent Acquisition Manager

I manage the HR and Talent function here at Pro and am responsible for recruiting and onboarding all hires into the business. We are in a period of growth and looking to hire at all levels, from grads/trainees up to Senior Managers.

 

I fell into my career in recruitment after starting in sales jobs and have never looked back since.

 

Outside of work I am always planning my next holiday, whether it be a short city break, exotic beach or travelling around and experiencing different cultures (and food!). One of my favourite recent trips was travelling around Bali and Indonesia – although I did manage to do it in style!

loren's articles

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Is There Flexibility for Parents in Recruitment?

Posted by Loren Von Sternberg

Recruitment is typically an industry where hours are long and the majority of days are in the office - the number of headhunt calls I have made whilst making dinner of an evening, stirring the Bolognese, sorting the days' post, tidying around, at the same time as speaking to passive candidates about opportunities and their career plans for the future were endless. Adding children to that mix would have been insane! One thing the pandemic has done is given us that flexibility and time back, and now more than ever Recruitment can really be a family-friendly career. At Pro we have always considered ourselves ‘family friendly’, but over the last couple of years, that has really changed and developed much so that now you are truly supported as a parent.  Flashback to 3 years ago, we were in the office every day, yes you could work from home, but it wasn’t the norm, there were more junior consultants in the business and a lot of the perks and benefits around going out, posh restaurants, meeting for drinks, and all those fab glam things you see recruiters do that may not be as conducive to family life as they could be. Now the majority of our staff are experienced with long tenures, a bit more mature and grown-up – looking across our Senior Management team, nearly half now have children under 2, we have had 2 new arrivals this year so far and another on the way (I am due in a matter of weeks!)! Couple this with the effect of the flexibility the pandemic has allowed us, really does make Pro a much more family-inclusive company, with a real understanding for those with young children who still want a career but don’t want to be, or are required to be, chained to their desk every minute of the day! I recently polled my LinkedIn followers on how supported they feel by their employer around maternity/ paternity /adoption/ shared parental leave benefits/policies and how happy they were. Shockingly only 33% of people felt supported by their company around parental benefits/rights, and interestingly 53% of people were only offered statutory pay for parental leave. This is something that we wanted to change at Pro and to reflect the employee base we currently have.  We have recently updated our maternity, paternity, adoption, and shared parental leave policies to give a little bit more to our employees, we are all working from home at least 4 days a week, we are offering part-time opportunities, and Managers and Directors are understanding about doing school runs or needing to be flexible on hours depending on childcare or any other emergencies – you are trusted to do your job, your way! Of course, doing all these things have been brilliant, especially for me, an expectant mum, with no idea what it will be like returning to work after my first child, but the fact I have the support from other Senior Managers and Directors around me is so encouraging. Yes, there is more we can do, and that will come in time, but changing so dramatically from the recruitment norms out there and making these small steps towards a change are exciting and leading the way in an industry that really hasn’t been the most family-friendly career choice! If you are feeling like your employer is not supportive of you and your family, maybe it's time to make a change. Get in touch with us now to talk about your career and opportunities. Call Loren on 07539 888 231 or email loren@pro-recruitment.co.uk

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How Has The Pandemic Changed Recruitment Agencies - What Agency Recruiters Are Looking for in Their Next Move

Posted by Loren Von Sternberg

After a very strange 18 months in recruitment, the industry that seemed to be struggling last year has bounced back with an absolute bang and the number of roles and demand out there for experienced recruiters, in what has always been a very candidate short market, is higher than ever! Most agencies have always mixed up hiring new and junior consultants along with making experienced hires (some agencies and industries have only hired juniors to train up) but the effects of the pandemic seem to have changed that significantly. Yes, there are still some agencies out there hiring grads and candidates with no recruitment experience (although these seem to be the agencies who are telling their staff that they must be in the office 5 days a week and have not offered any flexibility through the pandemic) but the majority of role out there are for experienced recruiters. The cause of this shift in hiring patterns? Simply put – a pandemic and flexible working! Whilst working from home, not being in the office to train develop and listen to newer and inexperienced recruiters on the phones being able to coach and nurture them has become much harder. Also, most agency recruiters are busier than ever, with more jobs than ever, and the need for employers is someone who can hit the ground running. Due to this, good agency recruiters are being headhunted and approached more than ever – in fact, one person I approached recently had been approached 11 times in 1 week!  Recruiters are notoriously the worst for taking their own advice – they always encourage candidates to have that career conversation with them, but never want to have it themselves. Is it because they truly are happy, or is it that when you are approached that many times all roles sound the same? Or another reason altogether? What do recruiters want? I recently conducted a poll to my Linkedin connections. The result showed there has been a shift in what recruiters are looking for when they do make that move. Recruitment has traditionally been an industry where you are in the office 5 days a week and working longer hours than most (when else are you going to speak to candidates who work but before and after working hours!?) but if the pandemic has taught us anything its that it doesn’t have to be this way. In my poll, 44% of recruiters said the most important thing they will be looking for in their next recruitment role is flexibility. From an industry that has not been known for flexibility, this is a huge shift! In fact, the majority of conversations I have been having since earlier this year is that people have not felt comfortable being told they have to be in the office every day for long hours and would prefer the work-life balance that has and will continue to be the new norm. Interestingly, a lot of recruiters got into the industry for a quick career progression route in a way that was clear cut and set out from day 1, only 19% stated clear career progression would be important when looking for their next move, while 35% would be looking at the salary, commission and benefits package on offer. Of course, the ideal is to have a mix of all of the above, but in a sales and target driven environment like recruitment, it's interesting to see the shift towards flexibility rather than it being all about money and promotions. As a recruiter reading this – what’s the most important thing to you and will you be looking for in your next role? If you want to find out more about how we are doing things differently at Pro and how we just might hit the mark on your list of what you want out of your next role over, speak to Loren on 07539 888 231 or email loren@pro-recruitmentment.co.uk

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Accountancy Practice Recruitment: A Day in the Life an Audit and Accounts Researcher

Posted by Loren Von Sternberg

Recruitment is one of those careers that the majority of the industry ‘fell into’. It’s rare for someone to wake up one day and think – I want to be a recruiter! Most of us realised a career in an industry that is rapidly growing, can be very lucrative and have a clear and steady career progression actually hits a lot of what we were looking for in a role. An opportunity to utilise our sales and influencing skills whilst working in an industry where every day is different and offers a lot of perks for success! Whilst recruitment in any industry is essentially the same thing (matching the right candidate with the right role) across each sector and industry there are many differences. In a recent poll I conducted on LinkedIn, 33% of recruiters said the focus of a desk they enjoy the most is Headhunting and Resourcing, whilst another 29% chose Account managing a portfolio. One of the opportunities we are hiring for internally at Pro combines both of these aspects as your main focus and is a fantastic starting point for a recruiter who has some experience but is now looking to specialise and make a name for themselves in the field. The accountancy practice market is absolutely booming, and our current team is performing, and billing more than they ever did in a pre-pandemic world. The nice things about the accountancy practice market and having a career within it are; It is candidate short – if you have a good candidate, you WILL place them! You are working in a less saturated market than others – Including Finance Commerce and Industry. It means you will really make a name for yourself and be seen as a specialist Pro-Finance has one of the best names in accountancy practice – you will have clients that WANT to work with you, in fact, seek you out! You will be resourcing candidates who know who you are, know you work with the best clients, and WANT to talk to you! You will progress to managing a portfolio of your own accounts to manage and build and develop relationships with I spoke to Kate Green, one of our resident Finance Recruitment Managers. After several promotions and progressing to her current position after starting as an Associate a few years ago, she shares her insight into the day-to-day role of a Researcher in her accountancy practice team. You will be Working closely with Senior Consultants to resource and generate candidate for clients Writing attractive job adverts to promote on a variety of job boards and social media Speaking to candidates, building relationships, and understanding their career aspirations and goals Informing clients and candidates of up-to-date market knowledge, advising on the types of practice and opportunities that fit what they want Searching for active candidates using a variety of job boards Headhunting passive candidates using a variety of social media and other outlets Preparing candidates for interviews, talking to them about roles, giving them tips, career advice and feedback Placing Accountants into their dream role in practice! If you are currently working in recruitment and looking for a role where you really can focus on candidates and delivery, then a move into accountancy practice can be for you! Speak to Loren on or email loren@pro-recruitmentment.co.uk for more information about opportunities here at Pro.

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Office Flexibility: Listen to your Employees

Posted by Loren Von Sternberg

With the recent announcement of the delay of ‘Freedom Day’ to the 19th of July, when the Government have planned to lift work from home rules, along with the easing of all lockdown and social distancing, there is a lot of talk about the new normal and making permanent changes to the way we work. If we have learnt anything from the pandemic, it’s that most people have successfully been able to WFH, have an improved work/life balance and business performance has not been affected So what are peoples true thoughts on returning to the office? Last week it was announced that a Goldman Sachs boss has described homeworking as an aberration and that they will all be expected to return to the office in June (when the original easing of lockdown was originally expected) and  JP Morgan announced they’d be coming back but on a rotational model so 50% of employees are in at any one time. Since January, I have spoken to a large number of recruiters that have been back in the office five days a week, with no flexibility or home working, and have been commuting in for months, some even when London was in Tier 4 restrictions. These have mainly been from smaller firms, although ever some of the bigger firms and global powerhouses are insisting on a certain number of days in the office every week, although there does seem to be a little more flexibility to WFH and support from their employers. It’s really tricky in recruitment, as a lot of the role is about the culture, office environment, and colleagues. In fact, in a recent poll I’d conducted on LinkedIn, 44% of recruiters are looking for good culture and flexibility in the workplace. It is really about what is working for your employees and how to get the best out of them rather than insisting on the long hours in the office traditionally associated with recruitment. Here at Pro-Recruitment Group, we are still working from home (and have been since October last year when we went into Tier 4) and our productivity has doubled. We have had some absolute record performances and Personal Bests and the success our teams are having is across the board. This has shown us that WFH really has been good for us and our employees. We will allow this to shape our future of work, and the general office working pattern going forward. I recently posted a poll on LinkedIn asking what would employees feel comfortable with/want to do if THEY could CHOOSE their office working pattern, rather than being told what it will be from their employer. Only 7% of people wanted to be back in the office five days a week and 16% wanted to WFH five days per week. The resounding response was 74% of people would like to split going back to the office/WFH on a two-day three-day split (either way). Speaking to many of my colleagues, so many feel this way, whilst working from home gives the flexibility and work/life balance and saves time and money on a commute. It is also great to see your colleagues/friends and comrades at work to still give you that boost and human interaction. The hybrid model has been adapted into our working patterns for good! A lot of the comments on the post were rather than prescribing a few days in the office and some at home, giving employees the opportunity to choose their own office working pattern and give complete fluidity. Whilst this can work for some, depending on office size/meetings and diary commitments may make this a bit tricky. Here at Pro, we have recently downsized our office to accommodate a more flexible and agile workspace for our employees, and whilst the office is open (and has remained open throughout the pandemic) for people who cannot or do not want to WFH, we will not be asking or telling staff to return until the government guidelines change after July 19th. From July each team will have one day per week in the office (as this is what was requested by the teams), and the remaining four days can be from home or the office, whichever suits each person best. Some people will be in more, some less, but it's about giving our staff the flexibility to do what works for them. Our teams have worked so hard and performed so well through the challenges of the pandemic that we know they can be trusted and relied on to work in the way that suits them best. We will be reassessing priorities and what is happening in the world and with our teams again in another six months or so, coupled with engagement surveys and feedback to find out what people actually WANT to do! If you want to find out more about how we are approaching and going about work in a post-Covid world and want to be given more flexibility then contact Loren on 07539 888 231 for an informal chat or virtual coffee to find out more.

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5 Things an Employer can do to Adapt to Change

Posted by Loren Von Sternberg

My recent poll on LinkedIn explored how people felt their employer adapted, dealt with, and implemented changes to the workplace over the last year. The good news is that the results were positive with 69% of people being happy with and feeling their employers were brilliant and supportive through the last year. On the other hand, or 3 in 10 people (31%) were not happy with how their employers have reacted to the pandemic, either selecting ‘could have done better’ or suggesting that they were ‘not happy at all’. In such an unusual time where we had no idea how this would play out and government advice was changing regularly and quickly, the people who felt happy with how their employers have responded all have a couple of things in common – they were communicated with regularly! Even if there were no updates to be had just a simple “Hi, how are you?” made a huge difference, ensuring that they were asked for their input and views to help shape management decisions. Colleagues and friends here at Pro-Group gave some of their insights as to why they were happy with how Pro-Group reacted. Here are 5 things an employer can do to adapt to Change: Communication  At Pro-Group we have held company-wide weekly updates and monthly meetings, it’s good to stay connected and sharing facts and figures about operations. From day 1 of lockdown and working from home, Pro-Group had weekly updates and videos sent out to all employees sharing vital comms, good news, and positive messages. We are still all working from home and have continued to keep up these practices in addition to continuing the monthly company-wide meetings we have always held, highlighting good news, strong performances and updates across the group and teams. Individual teams have regular meetings, and even just a check-in with a cuppa teams meeting to keep everyone included and engaged. Understanding  Everything has been turned on its head, some have had to become teachers, caregivers, nursery nurses, cooks and cleaners and everything in between, whilst working their usual role. All of this through lockdown and sporting a shaggy long hair cut, or even worse a home effort that went wrong! Our MD, Alison Humphries, has recently allowed for people to take time during the working day to deal with the things we have not had a chance to do in lockdown, everyone at Pro-Group can go and get their hair, nails, waxing, or whatever personal grooming they need to feel like themselves in working hours rather than trying to find a weekend appointment! It’s these little gestures that make a huge difference. Continuity  Just because we are not in the office, does not mean you cannot incentivise and treat employees, accept the change and stay positive. In recruitment we are all used to the pub trips, lavish lunches, and meals out as well as fun team night incentives. We will not let Covid 19 stop us! We have been sending treat boxes (the brownies for Valentine’s were DELISH!) to our employee’s homes, instead of our quarterly ‘Prem Club’ our top performers have had Michelin starred food boxes delivered to their homes to enjoy with their families, and team nights out are now a team night in where the gin/cocktails/beer are delivered directly to them to enjoy a cold one with their team virtually. Transparency and Inclusion  When we all left the office back in March 2020 for that first lockdown, we all thought we would be back and seeing each other in a couple of weeks. My oh my, how wrong we were! The senior leaders and Directors at Pro-Group made sure that in addition to communicating, they were including everyone from sales and support teams to have a say and getting a fresh and open perspective from everyone. We have had regular engagement surveys, polls and anonymous votes covering everything from how many days we want to be in the office in a post covid world, to having a say in wellbeing. We have even set up a newly formed employee forum to help improve Pro-Group and make it a better place – some of our best ideas have come from our staff and we want to keep it that way and hear their voices! Continue Hiring  We have been presented with new, but exciting changes, and we are looking for people to join us on our journey and grow with us through this time of difference. Some of our markets are absolutely booming and the job market has more energy than ever with a 16% increase in vacancies in March we are now looking for experienced recruiter to join our specialist markets covering Finance, HR, Tax and Payroll then get in touch now to find out about our current vacancies and opportunities. For more hiring advice or to explore the next steps in your recruitment career, speak to Loren on 020 7236 6358 or email loren@pro-recruitment.co.uk

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Fallen Out of Love With Agency Recruitment? 6 Things to Consider - Agency vs. Internal Recruitment

Posted by Loren Von Sternberg

Over the last few years, the number of businesses who are hiring or setting up internal talent functions also means that more and more agency recruiters are moving into in-house roles. As an agency recruiter who moved internal myself, I understand the appeal and there are pros and cons to both roles. I currently recruit internally for Pro-Recruitment Group, so the majority of my hires are experienced agency recruiters. Day after day, I hear recruiters tell me they want to go internal and get out of agency. When I ask why there are a myriad of reasons - some based on misconceptions, some the right reasons to make the move, and everything in between. For anyone thinking of making the move here are 6 things to consider: 1. ‘I don’t want to do business development/sales’ This is probably the most common reason give by recruiters who want to move into internal recruitment. They are fed up of generating new clients and selling to existing ones in saturated markets. As an internal recruiter there is just as much selling, but rather than to clients and candidates, you need to be able to sell to stakeholders and candidates. Unless you are working for a huge well known brand, most people will not have heard of the business and you won’t have a queue of people outside waiting to be hired. You will be having to go out and generate your own candidates and sell sell sell! They are probably in high demand and you are working in a candidate short market, which is why you were hired as an internal recruiter! If the candidate isn’t interested in your business or role, then you are not going to place them! Working agency recruitment, you are likely to have at least have a couple of clients that may suit their requirements, increasing the likelihood of them working with you and you placing them. Once you have sourced the candidates who are right for the role and have shown interest in your brand and business, you then need to sell each and every candidate to your internal colleagues and stakeholders. As well as this, if your candidate is not successful in the end then you don't have the option of suggesting another business or role to them - something that is always an option working in agency. If you feel your strength is on the delivery side, there are a number of agencies that already have a wide and varied portfolio of clients and accounts. In which case, you could be better off moving into a role like this where you are still focused on candidate delivery while working with a specific portfolio of clients who you get to know and work with much more closely. This way, you have the benefits of working in agency recruitment, whilst moving away from bringing on and developing new clients.   2. Salary One of the initial attractions of moving into an internal recruitment role is the higher base salary than you typically get in agencies. One of the things that some people forget to do is look at the entire package. Some companies do offer commission for their internal talent acquisition teams, which could rely on targets around number of hires, reducing the cost per hire, or even new hires passing probation - all to ensure the candidates you find are ‘good hires’. The additional bonus or commission you get is not likely to be as lucrative as what you could receive working for an agency, or even as clear as your agency commission structrure, as working in an agency is all about your billings and the profit you are making for the business. If you are looking to make the move internally, make sure to compare the overall package for earning potential and make sure the job, salary and career progression are in line with your current needs as well as your future career plans.   3. Progression A lot of us ‘fell into’ recruitment, but the initial draw and what keeps a lot of people in the industry is the fact it’s a meritocracy based business. Your progression is in your hands - the better you perform, the quicker you can progress. This may not always be the case in an internal talent acquisition role. Even if you are in a very large company, the internal recruitment team will only make up a small number of the total employees - probably with one Manager/Director above you, making the scope for your progression harder to map. If you are in a smaller business you may be in a stand-alone role newly created to save the company money on bad hires, agency spend and to increase headcount rapidly. If this is the case, your employer may not even have thought about what your progression could look like beyond you achieving this. One of the things that is a big change from agency recruitment and will challenge you and be a big part of your personal growth and development is the scope of your role. An internal talent acquisition role can encompass more than just recruitment, with aspects of your role inclusing HR, L&D, and even setting up initial recruitment processes. Your progression may not be as fast as in agency, but your progression could see you expanding your skillset and take you down a wildly different path to that of agency recruiting. When you are interviewing, have these conversations early on about what success looks like at that business, how it’s measured and what your long term career can look like and progress to. It may include further professional qualifications like CIPD, or new and various ways you can add value to the business that could also be outside the remit of recruitment.   4. Day to day Recruitment agencies do all they can to invest in you generating candidates and new business, and making it as easy and hassle-free as possible for you to do both and make money. Everyone will have a database/recruitment software for daily use, you probably have a LinkedIn recruiter license to head-hunt and advertise jobs, a number of job boards to advertise on, job board CV databases and even a marketing team to promote you, your personal brand and your jobs. Most agency recruiters work in a vertical market so use the same pool of candidates meaning you can get referrals and build a reputation by becoming a specialist in your market. If you move into an internal role, you may not have access to all the same tools to source candidates, as they can be a high cost to a business that is looking to reduce or streamline its spend on internal hiring. Working in talent acquisition, your daily tasks and processes will probably have a wider remit as you are involved not just in sourcing candidate, but their entire lifecycle with the business. So, day-to-day is managing stakeholders expectations (rather than clients), meaning you may have a more strategic impact on the business' recruitment processes as a whole. At times it may be more admin heavy as you will most likely have control of all of the processes once an offer has been made, including paperwork and on boarding.   5. No KPIs or targets This is probably the biggest frustration I hear when speaking to agency recruiters. I recently spoke to a candidate who, if they didn’t hit their weekly (which were ridiculously high and irrelevant) KPIs they had to stay late the following week! Unfortunately it’s something I hear all too often in recruitment, and when people of working in a business with super crazy KPIs for the sake of having something to measure, of course it’s not going to be a rewarding and motivating environment! If you are frustrated by this and the environment you are working in then maybe it’s not agency recruitment, but the specific agency you are working in. There are a number of different working styles and cultures in other businesses that may be better suited to you. Recruitment is a sales and target driven business so of course business' will have KPIs in place, but it’s about establishing the right goals and using them in the best way to measure success or identify developments areas. In an internal role there will still be KPIs and objectives to hit, albeit different to agency ones. Generally they will be around reducing agency spend, reducing cost per hire, reducing time to hire, increasing headcount, and reducing attrition rates.   6. Culture Culture is a huge driver in recruitment - the amazing incentives taking you on trips around the world, top hotspots and luxury restaurants and bars. Being around like-minded sales people who are doing the same job as you, the camaraderie of celebrating when you finally close that tricky deal you have been working in for months, cheering you up when there has been a counter-offer or the candidate has pulled out at the last minute. It’s your team who you share those highs and lows with in the rollercoaster that is recruitment. This is the most common thing I hear that people miss when they either move internal or even set up on their own - they miss the buzz of having others doing the same job around them and understanding their challenges as well as their successes. When I moved back to London after a number of years in agency recruitment, I was open to both internal and agency roles. I went to three different businesses for internal roles in sectors I was interested and excited about, but they were stand alone roles - either sitting in the HR team or setting up the business' internal function. None of the people around me seemed to really understand recruitment or headhunting, the salaries were less overall when I took my commission into account, and I couldn’t see myself working for any of the businesses or Managers/Directors I met. Moving into an internal rec2rec role was never in my plans until I met Pro. Our MD Pat Keogh is an inspirational leader who I wanted to work for as soon as I met him and I was still surrounded by like-minded people and ways of working that suited my style.   If you are feeling like you are at a crossroads and ready for the next challenge, make sure to really think about your reasons for wanting a move, and what you want to achieve before deciding to only look down the internal route. Meet a few different businesses and benchmark them against the company you currently work and see the differences. When it comes down to it, it’s your career and you have to go to work everyday so make it count and make sure it’s a job, company, environment and culture you love, whether this is agency recruitment or an internal role. We are looking for recruitment consultants to join the Pro family. If you think joining our close-knit organisation could be the right step for your career, please contact Loren von Sternberg on 020 7269 6358 or loren@pro-recruitment.co.uk.

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The Pro-Group Christmas Quiz 2019

Posted by Loren Von Sternberg

On Wednesday 4th December, Pro-Recruitment Group held its yearly infamous Christmas Quiz. We welcomed the best and brightest from across the worlds of Tax, Legal, Finance, HR and Marketing to compete in our annual competition to win the title of 'Pro-Group Christmas Quiz Champions 2019'. View the Christmas Quiz 2019 Questions and Answers here! It's that time of year again where we welcome our clients to compete in our annual Christmas Quiz, which this year was held at the 5* Jury's Inn Hotel in Holborn. Everyone welcomed the festive spirit and 22 teams went head-to-head against one another to win first prize! Pro's Managing Director Pat Keogh hosted this year's quiz alongside Jennifer Nelson, Manager of Pro-Tax's Regional team, and the competition between teams was evident from the outset! Rounds one to three saw Pat and Jen asking questions from the categories of TV & Film, General Knowledge and Sport - we learned that Game of Thrones had 73 episodes in total, reminisced about Gareth Southgate's infamous waistcoats, and who knew that the first living creature in space was a fruit fly! The picture round is always a winner and this year was no different. "Ohh I know him - what's his name again", and "Who on earth is that" were some of the most common phrases heard around the room, along with"That's that girl from Love Island!"  Halfway through the night, everyone helped themselves to some well-deserved food while the first half of the quiz was marked and teams were given their ranking order - it was a close contest and needless to say people's competitive natures were revealed even more!  The second half of the evening saw the 22 teams competing in the final few rounds for first prize! The Science & Nature round came first with people attempting to figure out the average number of teeth an adult has - which isn't the easiest thing to do after free-flowing drinks all evening... Then came our 'Famous Firsts' rounds which proved to be a point of contention for many teams with people debating "Oxford vs. Cambridge" for the first university built in the UK. The 'What Comes Next' round really put teams to the test - figuring out who came next after Monica, Erica and Rita in Mambo Number 5 was something that could only be solved by people singing until they got to Tina! One of the evening's highlights was the final (and most popular) music round. We played Old Town Road backwards which caused confusion up and down the room and challenged people with what year Destiny's Child's 'Bootylicious' was released. To top it off, we had the whole room singing Backstreet Boys and a medley from the Greatest Showman! Answer sheets were scored and totals counted, and Jen was responsible for the big reveal. Coming in last and winning the coveted last place Christmas puddings were Deloitte's 'Accountaholics'! We had a three-way tie for second place - Gunnercooke's 'George Quizra', the 'Quizmas Crackers' from Fitzgerald & Law, and from Sony, the 'Jammy Tax Dodgers' - which could only mean one thing... a tiebreaker challenge! One representative from each team was called to the front to guess how many chocolates were in the jar, and the 'Quizmas Crackers' guessed the closest winning them second place. And winning by only 2 points, and crowned the champions of Pro's 2019 Christmas Quiz were the 'Noel-It-Alls' from Simmons Gainsford! A huge thank-you to everyone who came along and participated - we hope you all had a fantastic evening and enjoyed it as much as we did! Special thank you to all the staff at Pro who make the evening such a success every year. We look forward to seeing you all again in 2020! View the Christmas Quiz 2019 Questions and Answers here! To find out about upcoming Pro-Recruitment events or to speak to us about joining the Pro family or your recruitment needs, contact Loren von Sternberg on 020 7269 6358 or loren@pro-recruitment.co.uk.

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Moving from Practice into Recruitment: 60 Seconds With James Thompson, Consultant at Pro-Finance

Posted by Loren Von Sternberg

James Thompson is a recruitment consultant on the Pro-Finance team. Before moving into recruitment, James worked as a tax accountant in both practice and industry for over 4 years. He now specialises in recruiting Corporate Finance professionals in London and across the UK, and works with accountancy practices from the Big 4 and Top 10 to boutique Corporate Finance and consultancy firms. In the below interview, James speaks to us about his time before recruitment, how he has found the transition between practice and recruitment, his journey at Pro, and offers advice for anyone thinking about a move into recruitment from practice.   1. What were you doing before your career as a Recruitment Consultant? After completing a degree in Business Management at The University of Manchester, I found myself at a bit of a crossroads as to what I wanted out of my career. I started a temp job at an accountancy firm in Leeds and suddenly I was in a permanent audit role. After a year in audit in Leeds, I moved back down to London (where I am originally from) and with my experience I ended up in a Corporate Tax role in a small, city-based accountancy firm and started studying for my ATT Tax qualifications.  After three and a half years working at the same firm, I started to feel a little frustrated. Like many who are unsure about their entire career being in practice, I decided to make the move in house where I started working at a large insurance firm covering international tax. Whilst I enjoyed having a different dynamic in the role, I realised that it wasn’t only practice that I didn't enjoy - I just wasn’t suited to a career in tax.    2. What made you consider a career in recruitment? Whilst working in tax, one of my favorite parts of the role was the client-facing side, so I began looking at careers that revolved around this. I still wanted to utilise the skills I had built up working in tax and use my qualifications, so I started to look at recruiting into accountancy firms.  I had come across Pro-Group before as a candidate - they had a great name in the market and I thought very highly of the consultants I had dealt with before. I reached out to them and I was quite surprised to find that others, like me, had started their career in practice before moving into recruitment.  Not only is working in recruitment all about people which made it the natural choice for me, what also attracted me to recruitment was the social, fast-paced and potentially lucrative nature of the role - you work your desk like your own business so the more I put in, the more I get out of it.   3. How has working in practice helped you recruit into the practice market? The fact that I am recruiting into accountancy practices has definitely helped my transition into recruitment. As I have worked in both practice and industry, I understand the market and know the challenges both my clients and candidates face. I understand the workload, the culture, the deadlines and I also know how tough it can be working and studying for your exams and the pressure that comes with it, so can really understand the candidate perspective on a personal level. This is the same for clients too - because of my background I understand the intricacies of the business and what they need in a strong candidate. This means I am able to see things from their point of view and I know the best ways to interact with clients and candidates alike, enabling me to provide a personalised consultative service. Not only this, but because Pro has a strong presence in the market I was able to get stuck in and pick up clients and candidates quite quickly. At the end of the day, you are dealing with people and it’s all about understanding the market and people’s motivations, as well as matching this to what your clients want.   4. What was the transition like from practice to recruitment? The transition hasn’t been too difficult, but I think the biggest difference has been the speed at which you need to react to the job. Working in tax you know your workload and deadlines and manage your time to those - in recruitment, prioritising your work is so different. What you are focusing your attention on can change so quickly, so even if you plan your workload it can very easily change with one phone call. I have had to learn to structure my days very differently and work in a way that is more proactive than reactive. There have been some challenging moments and I’ve had to adjust to certain elements, primarily changing the ways in which I prioritise my work and getting to grips with the pace of recruitment. I am specialising in corporate finance which can be a challenging market in itself, but I have loved the challenge and enjoyed my time so far - a day in recruitment is never dull!   5. What’s been your favourite part of moving to recruitment? So many things! The buzz of making my first placement was exactly the kind of buzz and sense of achievement I was looking for in my career. I have also loved the social side that comes with recruitment - I am out meeting clients and candidates on a daily basis. My team is very social, like-minded and of a similar age, and collectively has so much market knowledge that I am learning from. Not only this, but at Pro the commision structure is so rewarding that I am really able to take control of my earnings and make more money based on how well I perform. Recruitment can be tough, but the fast-paced nature combined with the social side of things mean that life is never quiet - there is never a moment to be bored.    6. What has your journey been like at Pro? I have been here for just over 8 months now, and the training has been amazing! I started off with quite a lot of classroom training with a peer group, as well as on the desk and one-to-one training. Initially I was shadowing the more experienced consultants on their client and candidate meetings, and as my confidence and knowledge grew I started leading meetings alongside more senior colleagues whilst I found my feet and to keep me on track. Now, I work much more independently - leading my own meetings, building up my network and pipelines, and making placements. I was really encouraged to get stuck in straight away and in my opinion, one of the best things is that everyone has been so open and helpful and I have had the opportunity to learn from those around me.   7. What do you like about Pro? The main thing that attracted me to Pro was the people and the culture. It’s a very collaborative working environment and my colleagues are all specialists in their market and want the people around them to be successful. Everyone is supportive and management really invest in your training and personal development. It’s also great being in the heart of the city - we get to enjoy going to local pubs, finding new lunch spots, and socialising right in the middle of London.   8. What kind of person do you think suits a role in recruitment? Someone with high energy, who is outgoing and articulate, and is comfortable talking to people. If you have the ability to empathise with and understand other people you will suit a role in recruitment - it’s all about people skills and being proactive. If you are willing to work hard and you’re also looking for a fast-paced, sociable working environment, then a role in recruitment could be the right choice for you!   9. What advice would you give someone thinking about a move into recruitment from practice? If you enjoy the client-facing side of practice, then moving into recruitment gives you that with the added buzz and thrill that comes with the sales aspect of the role. Most importantly, do your research and make sure it’s right for you - speak to agencies with a good reputation in the market and take the time to find out about their culture and if your personality will fit in. It’s never too late to make the move, and if you like the idea of using your experience and skills in a new and consultative way, then it will be as rewarding as you think it will!   For more advice on making the move into recruitment and joining Pro-Recruitment Group, contact Loren von Sternberg on 020 7269 6358 or loren@pro-recruitment.co.uk.

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