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7 November 2014

Four years on the front line at f1

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by Kate Thurlwell, Talent Director at Exposure.

I’ve just moved on after four years with f1. Here’s what I learned while I was there:

I’d been working for an award-winning consumer agency and was going through the process of moving jobs when f1 suggested I try recruitment. My first thought was, ‘not in a million years’. But the level of professionalism and the service I’d been given by f1 left me thinking and when I researched it further I realised recruitment would be a good tie-up of my commercial and client servicing skills and my understanding of the media industry and agency life. The ability to be in control of what I earned was also very attractive. But there is recruitment and recruitment and I wouldn’t have gone to any other company than f1.

I was trained by Amanda Fone and she really put me through my paces. She could see that I needed no chance to breathe but to be given more and more to do, more to learn. I thrived under that pressure and found it very motivating and I learned a lot from the other consultants too. They all have great integrity and learning from people with such big moral compasses is inspiring. Some of the partners had impressive media careers behind them so they were well networked and understood the business intimately.

f1 is an environment of very bright people, some formidable, some highly intelligent, all very sophisticated in their work. After reaching a plateau in the agency world I was now learning and stretching myself constantly, week after week. One of the most important things I learned is that getting a job offer for someone is just the beginning of the process. The skill is in then making sure the person starts and is successful in the role. f1 has very few people ‘drop out’ of a job because it is so rigorous in the process beforehand.

I stayed four years because I was mastering a craft and although you can be good at it from early on it takes time to really become an expert. You hone your skill by constantly pushing and analysing the way you do things and by recognising the need to be very detailed and diligent as well as very fast. It’s a craft. So you get good at it and enjoy it.

The rewards are great – financially it’s very motivating because you really can control what you earn and you can earn a lot of money. But what I loved most was meeting someone very talented and finding them their next career move by opening up opportunities for them on the back of their talent. I was good at seeing new opportunities for particular skill sets – it’s like talent spotting and then having to advocate and sell your person to a client. The level of partnership you have with a client becomes very strong. You are truly a business partner and your understanding should be great enough that the client will see anyone you recommend because you know the fit will be right.

Would I recommend recruitment as a career? Yes I would. But do your homework and choose the right company to join. At the beginning of your recruitment career it is like doing a sort of MBA – you visit lots of different companies, meet the senior management and learn how to talk about financial structures, marketing strategies, etc. It’s rare to get that level of business exposure at a young age in any other walk of life. If you already have business experience it’s a fantastic further training ground. You get to apply your own industry expertise and acquire rigorous commercial and client management skills.

Recruitment is intense and hard work. f1, in particular, is demanding. And you have to keep generating new work even while you are doing well. After four years I’ve moved on to work with in-house talent. I loved my time at f1 for the rigorous mentoring I got and because it was very exciting group of people to work with. It was quite serious and I never lost sight of the bottom line but it was very fulfilling personally and professionally and I don’t expect I’ll ever have a working dynamic quite like it again.


If you’d like to know more about working for f1, click here