James McComish

Through my graduate scheme I’ve had the opportunity to see every aspect of the business.

Who is your current employer?

I currently work for the Fircroft Group as a Recruitment Consultant. I joined the company 18 months ago, after going through the Pareto Recruitment process.

Why did you choose sales as a career?

I originally did a Business Management degree, which was where my line of interest was for a career. When it came to looking for graduate jobs, I didn’t target recruitment or sales specifically: I don’t think many people tend to target recruitment as a whole, but when I was looking for jobs I came across Fircroft. After going along for a bespoke assessment day through Pareto, I really liked the sound of the company and the graduate scheme they were doing looked really interesting. It gives graduates the opportunity to cover and gain experience of all areas of the business, so although they’re recruitment-focused, I would have the chance to be involved with marketing, back office, to travel around different areas of the country and even move to international offices. So as a whole, the opportunity was pretty hard to turn down.

What was your experience of the Pareto recruitment process?

I originally went to a generic assessment day in London with Pareto and after I was successful, they showed me different roles that were on offer in the northwest. When the Fircroft bespoke day came up, I decided to go along and find out more. Pareto supported me through each step of the process and helped me find the right role for me.

What was the biggest challenge in the sales environment?

When you start as a graduate in this industry you’re often talking to people who have got 30 years of experience or more. They know everything about this job that they need to know, whereas you’re coming into this a little fresh and a bit naïve. You have to kind of take it on the cuff that you don’t know as much as they do and go with the flow a bit: it can be a constant battle of trying to show those candidates that you are knowledgeable enough to place them into the roles they want, even if you don’t have the insight they do into the sector or market they’re applying for.

The recruitment market is also highly competitive, and when those other recruitment companies have the knowledge you don’t, it gets tough. You are literally learning on a day-to-day basis. But if you come across as willing to learn and put in the effort, most people are more than willing to help you out.

What have you found to be the best part of your role?

I think it has to be the variety that comes as part of the role. There are always new challenges and new opportunities. When I first started I realised that as a graduate you need to get as much experience as you can and try and take something from everything going!

Through my graduate scheme I’ve had the opportunity to see every aspect of the business and the company has been very forthcoming with their opportunities. I’ve got to travel around the UK and work in all areas of the business, gaining experience along the way. I think it’s definitely beneficial if you can get yourself on a graduate scheme and have a look at different areas of the business. Then you can target where you want to take your career, rather than jumping into something you’re not 100% certain is for you. I think that’s the key thing I wanted to get out of the programme, and it’s definitely helped me.

How has your career progressed?

The Fircroft Group scheme is an 18 month programme, and it’s offered a lot of variety. I originally started off doing 3 months recruitment for Bentley Motors and Jaguar, which was really interesting, before moving up to Aberdeen for 3 months to do recruitment for oil and gas companies like Shell and BP. It gave me insight to a number of different industries and I learnt a lot.

I then spent a month gaining insight into other areas of the business such as marketing, QA, back office, payroll and invoicing. Now I’m back up in Aberdeen, which is where my placement will be. Fircroft offered me a full time role after being up here for three months as they liked the way I worked and wanted me to join their team here. There are other graduates on the scheme who are moving to Houston, Thailand and Australia who also came through Pareto: the opportunities are endless.

How do you see your future developing?

I’ve always want to progress myself on a daily basis and I came onto the scheme without a clear pathway, knowing that I’d have the opportunity to look at different areas of the business before deciding where to take my career. I’ve always wanted to get as far as I can within the company, and as they look to progress everybody as much as they can I’m hoping for the opportunity to move up within the organisation. The office I’ve moved into is growing so I want to grow with that.

Ultimately I’d like to move into a managerial role as soon as possible. I think that’s the key aim for graduates in the scheme, and the company actively encourages every graduate to progress and flourish as much as possible.

Is there any advice you’d offer to others considering a career in sales?

Sales occur every day no matter what you do. With recruitment, you’re selling yourself to other people, as well as selling roles to others. It may not be an actual product, but every day you’re creating a sale: and if you can sell yourself, you can sell anything.

I’d also say that if you’re looking at a graduate career, don’t be put off or daunted by the prospect of going into something branded ‘sales’. Every role is going to have sales in it, and if you take the right approach, it’s a great career to get into. It depends what motivates you, and if you’re motivated by an end goal then it’s definitely the right career for you.

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