I first met Anand four years ago when he participated in my Advanced Recruiter Program. Across the program’s three-month duration it was apparent to me that Anand was confident, competent, and ambitious. The training and skill gained in Anand’s seven prior years practising law in both New Zealand and the UK had clearly provided a very strong foundation to build from.
It was no surprise to me that Anand has made rapid progress in his recruitment career since those three months in 2018.
Anand was kind enough to answer my questions about his career and the Recruitment Professional of the Year award win.
Ross: Congratulations on your win in the recent RCSA awards, Anand. What does winning the RCSA 2022 New Zealand Recruitment Professional mean to you?
Anand: The award for me is an industry recognition of my commitment to the recruitment industry and in particular the legal sector. I also feel it acknowledges the success and achievements I’ve had in my career to date. I am passionate about the work I do, so the award really does mean a lot!
Ross: You trained and practised as a lawyer. Seven years ago you switched careers to start recruiting legal professionals. Why did you make that change?
Anand: I was curious about recruitment, having worked with recruiters when looking for legal roles myself. I had a sales and marketing background prior to working as a lawyer and was looking to utilise my legal background in a different way, so when an opportunity came up to move into legal recruitment, I was keen to give it a go. I enjoy working in a fast paced environment, in a people focused role with variety and so recruitment has really aligned with my working style and interests.
Ross: How long did it take until you knew you had made the right decision to choose recruitment?
Anand: I would say almost a year. A year into my recruitment career, I had seen enough of the highs and lows of the sector to get into the rhythm of a recruiter’s role and better understand the industry I was working in. At that stage, I could also begin to see a pathway for growing my recruitment career.
Ross: What did you find most challenging about recruitment when you started?
Anand: The unpredictable nature of the industry – when you’re working with people and recruitment processes, things can quickly change and change unexpectedly. Going from an environment that was quite structured to an environment where your day is less predictable and structured, required a shift in how I worked and I learnt to adapt mentally to this as well.
Ross: You started your own recruitment agency last June. What motivated your decision to become an owner?
Anand: I was a manager of the legal team at Cobalt Recruitment (a global recruitment agency) prior to starting CoLegal. At the beginning of the pandemic the opportunity to buy the Cobalt NZ business came up which we grabbed with both hands. On the back of that transaction we established CoLegal as its own specialist legal recruitment business. Becoming owner/director of my own business was a very natural step for me to take given that I was running a successful business already. That and total alignment with my partners on building what we hope will become the number one legal recruitment business in the country.
Ross: What types of roles, and for what type of clients, do you recruit?
Anand: I recruit specifically for the legal sector – law firms mainly but also corporate organisations and public sector departments. We recruit at all levels, from junior lawyers to partners and across all levels. We also recruit legal support staff within a similar client base.
Ross: How do you develop both your recruitment and personal skills?
Anand: To keep my knowledge of the legal industry up to date, I stay abreast of economic changes that can influence workflows within different practice areas and see what flow on changes may be coming up in terms of recruiting for the sector. I also read blogs from industry leaders to get perspective on how the recruitment sector is evolving and ensure we use best practice, adapting accordingly when needed. Then there is learning from recruitment leaders who are more experienced than me, who have longevity in the industry, and getting guidance from them.
Ross: Do you use statistics or KPI’s to manage your performance? If so which ones and how do you use them?
Anand: Yes I do. The key KPI’s I look at are the candidate’s interviewed internally, CVs sent out each week and the number of first interviews candidates have with clients each week. I’ll from time to time take a bigger picture look at activity with different clients and factors that have led to a higher number of placements in a particular month.
Ross: To what do you attribute your win in recent RCSA awards?
Anand: I’d say hard work, perseverance, acting with integrity and going the extra mile when needed. I like to think that I’ve achieved some credibility with those that I work with, by immersing myself into the legal sector to truly understand the challenges my clients and candidates face and work to find a solution, which has led to referral work and candidates.
Ross: What are the most important things that an individual recruiter can do to maintain his or her relevance and credibility in the next five years?
Anand: In terms of relevance, I think being visible online with relevant content so that people know who you are and branding yourself essentially for the work you do and the sector you recruit in. In terms of credibility, building up a track record of successful placements, acting ethically, taking time for candidate care and continually building your knowledge of the sector(s) you recruit in so you can add value to the businesses and individuals that you deal with during a recruitment process.
Ross: What personal philosophies drive you each day in your job?
Anand: I think it’s important to treat people the way you’d like to be treated e.g. with respect and being empathetic to their situation. I’m also a firm believer that the more you put into a role, the more you will get out of it and find the role personally rewarding.
Ross: What advice would you give to anyone who is just starting their recruitment career?
Anand: Be prepared for the champagne and razorblade moments that come from working in recruitment, but the harder you work and the more you invest your time in the right activities, you’ll start to see the rewards come through – the wins will then outweigh the losses. Also, get to know other successful recruiters that you can learn from and who can guide you through your recruitment career.
Ross: Thanks, Anand, all the best for the future.