Spotlight on... Head of Recruitment Academy Steph Rae

7 min

We’re shining a spotlight on Steph Rae,

Head of Recruitment Academy at CSG Talent.

Before joining CSG Talent, Steph enjoyed a successful career with a commercial recruitment agency where, having worked her way up to the position of Associate Director, she managed a team of ten consultants. We’re delighted that Steph joined the CSG family in January 2021 to head up our prestigious recruitment academy, which is an innovative (and so far, hugely successful) internal programme, established to train and develop new and inexperienced recruits into market leading recruitment specialists.

Steph’s primary responsibility is to identify, recruit, and onboard new hires, before putting them through the programme where they will be educated on all aspects of the recruitment life cycle and trained to become experts within their specific market sector.

Here’s what we really want to know...

What attracted you to CSG Talent?

Originally, it was the role itself and what it would entail, as it was specifically created and therefore unique. I could tell there was a huge amount of buzz and excitement about it within CSG, too, and I was keen to be part of that and make it my own. Aside from the role, I really enjoyed the interview process and how I felt afterwards - I was really impressed with the progressive but authentic culture and being an independent business everyone was so friendly and welcoming, it felt like a family. They were really honest, too, I remember them saying ‘Here's what we’ve not been great at in the past and here's what we’re working on.’ I really liked that. I knew straight away this was the place for me to take the next step in my recruitment career.

Describe your role?

As Head of Academy I’m responsible for attracting and hiring talent into the business, typically people with less than twelve months recruitment or sales experience. I support them through a concentrated three-month training programme where they learn all about the recruitment life cycle - candidates, clients, the interview and offer process, terms of business, everything! I look after them full time until they graduate and can fly off and take their places under their relevant team leaders. Some of our team leaders don't always have the time to train new recruits, and the academy has produced so many benefits for everyone involved - consultants get up to speed so much quicker, and team leaders benefit from having trained consultants join their team and hit the ground running. We plan to replicate this set-up across our other global offices as nurturing our own home-grown talent is proving to be extremely successful.

Do you feel like you’re making a difference in your job?

Absolutely. As I’ve said before there was a huge buzz about the formation of the academy, and feedback from senior team members and directors has been really positive. The recruiters I’ve trained have really benefited from the supportive environment in which they can learn, practise, make mistakes and grow. Everyone’s in the same boat, so they can make those embarrassing first calls or mess up during a practise session - they’re in a safe space where they can reflect, discuss with the group, and move on.

Another huge benefit of the academy is the impact it’s had on our existing consultants. We have two clearly defined career paths at CSG - the management route and the non-management route. Some consultants have been put off going down the management route as they were concerned about the amount of time they would have to spend training. The academy means that they can now enjoy the benefits of having a team without the time-consuming training that goes with it.

What do you love most about your job?

I’ve always been passionate about supporting and developing other people. We bring people in who have perhaps twelve months experience in other sales roles and related industries, and to see them share their knowledge amongst the group and transfer their current skills into a recruitment setting is inspiring. To watch them pick up the phone to a candidate or client for the first time is such a win, and to help them celebrate making their first placement just weeks later, is an absolute joy. I’m so proud of them! Aside from all this, it’s just a great place to work - lovely people, a great vibe, we have fun, we make mistakes, we support each other, we grow together. Exciting times!

What does an average week look like?

It’s a good mix of classroom learning, deskside work, role plays, practise (making real life calls etc), reflection, discussions, Q&A sessions, sharing ideas and giving feedback - such a good variety! We also have regular sessions where the recruits can learn about various topics from other people in the business, we call it our Learning Lounge. We also spend a great deal of time researching industry sectors and developing a thorough knowledge and understanding of the particular market they will ultimately recruit for. One of the things I admire most about CSG is how the consultants are all industry experts - they are so passionate about their industry sectors and are continually learning through webinars, learning lounges, industry events etc. 

How would you describe the culture at CSG?

As CSG Talent is focused on senior level recruitment I honestly thought it would be a very serious, demanding environment, but it’s actually the opposite. Of course, everyone is hard working, passionate, and driven, but the consultants are just a normal, friendly, easy going bunch. What I really like is how supportive they all are, celebrating each other's successes, sharing leads, helping each other out. We have some really high performing consultants here and most people have been here a very long time.

What skills are most crucial to succeeding at CSG? What type of person do you need to be?

For trainees who are joining the academy with no recruitment experience, they need fire in their belly, resilience, and determination. They have to genuinely want to be here, whatever that reason is, whether it’s making a difference to people’s lives or carving out a successful and lucrative career with a global company. I like to see people who show a bit of commercial savvy, for example selling ice cream as a kid or having a newspaper round. They’ve got to have a bit of oomph about them!

For experienced recruiters looking to make a move, I would always reassure them not to worry  about moving from a small or boutique agency into executive search. It’s not as big and scary as it may seem, and good consultants can easily transition if they’re worth their salt. We’re all about quality here, so if they’re committed, hardworking, customer-centric and they’ve got integrity, they could fly here, especially considering the opportunities we offer for global work and travel. We do a lot of placements outside the UK, many in the U.S. which is exciting and lucrative. In normal times this would present opportunities for travel, as well as opportunities for working in our offices in Dubai and Australia. There really are no limits here.

What’s the best advice you could give to someone who’s considering a role with CSG?

For Academy trainees - figure out what kind of culture you’d like - do you want to be in the city centre or are you happy being slightly out of town? Do your research, on the role of a recruiter and the industry in general. Ask lots of questions. Ask yourself why you want to work in recruitment and what makes you think you’ve got what it takes. And finally, ask yourself if you’re ready to put the work in.

For experienced recruiters – the market is buoyant once again and there are plenty of jobs in recruitment, but there are no limits when it comes to career progression and earning potential here. If you’re a genuine, honest, supportive team player, and if you're committed to being an industry expert and providing the very best service to your clients, you’ll fit right in!

CSG as a company are flying - what do you think makes the company so successful?

I’ve touched on this so many times, but our consultants really are specialists in their individual markets, and I believe this contributes massively towards their personal success and ultimately the success of the business. Being true market experts enables them to build solid, lasting relationships with clients as they provide a first-class service and deliver untold value. It’s how we’ve earned such a fantastic reputation.

In addition to this, I believe the culture here plays a big part. It’s such a great place to work that people with the right attitude and approach naturally thrive here. The work life balance is great, it’s a supportive yet progressive culture, the opportunities to build and run your own desk are limitless… what’s not to love? Everyone here is committed to making it the best possible place to be.

What does the future hold for CSG, and what excites you most about it?

The company as a whole has an exciting vision and ambitious growth plans, which I know they will actualise! We’ve recognised that graduate recruitment and nurturing home-grown talent is key for us, which is great for me and my role as new hires will continue to progress through the academy throughout the year. It will also be exciting to replicate the academy across our other offices. We’re a very ambitious company and I can’t wait to see what this next year brings for our consultants, our clients, and the business as a whole.

Steph is passionate about finding talented individuals who are interested in starting a career in recruitment, where they will receive first-class training and development to help them become market leading executive search specialists.

Steph is keen to hear from individuals with a can-do attitude, who are passionate, self-motivated and driven. No recruitment experience is necessary although some sales experience may be advantageous. 

If you’d like to find out more about a career at CSG Talent and The Recruitment Academy, please contact Steph. She’d love to hear from you!

*Academy intakes are in June and September*


Tel: +44 (0)113 4166 430

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