Stuart Hackett | The Exit Interview

Posted by Steve Thomas , Construction Recruitment Director, UK & Canada on Tuesday, May 17, 2022

This month, we sit down to have a brief question and answer session with long term Maxim Recruitment Consultant, Stuart Hackett who will be leaving the business at the end of May 2022 after fourteen and a half years with Maxim.

OK, so let’s get the interview started.

Q: What first attracted you to recruitment?

A:I had a reasonably short but successful sales background prior to joining Maxim Recruitment and I knew friends that had worked in recruitment. Many of whom would talk quite openly about the bonuses that they were earning in recruitment.

I’m not ashamed to say that having worked in a couple of sales roles for pitiful bonuses, my head was quickly turned by the potential earnings in recruitment compared to other sales roles.”

Q: What challenges did you face when starting in Recruitment?

A:There were 2 main challenges that I remember facing in my early days.

The first was trying to understand the lingo and the ‘technical terms’ used. Having to talk with highly qualified construction professionals such as Quantity Surveyors and Project Managers about their roles, responsibilities and construction generally was challenging at first.  My knowledge about the construction industry had to grow fast – and thankfully it did!

The second challenge was getting familiar with all the new systems and processes involved in the recruitment process, as well as new candidate and client databases.

I owe a lot of thanks to Maxim for helping me overcome both challenges. In the first few months I received an abundance of training from internal and external providers which helped me enormously in getting up to full speed as quickly as possible.”

Q: Do you still remember your first placement?

A:I do. It was a Quantity Surveyor on the Dubai Mall project for a British main contractor. So quite a high-profile project. I still remember his name, but won’t embarrass him by naming him.

It was a really nice moment as I think I’d had a couple of near misses prior to this, so it was nice to get my first one fully over the line.”

Q: What do you most enjoy about working in recruitment?

A: “I think over the years my thoughts on this have evolved. In the early days, it was the fast-paced environment and that buzz you got from making regular placements.

In the latter years I think I’ve sought more from the role than purely matching up candidates to appropriate employers. Now, I get much more satisfaction if I can truly add something more to the process. I would best describe it as providing a genuine consultative service.

I think this has been most relevant in the last 4-5 years since I started focusing specifically on the construction claims and disputes marketplace. But it was also the case to a slightly lesser extent when I started in recruitment and was focusing on the Middle East and International markets.

I’ve really tried to go above and beyond the typical recruitment role and perform the role of being a true expert in my field. I think it’s proven to be a very successful and highly rewarding tactic, although it’s not always been easy in such a competitive sector of the market.

I have attended CPD events to help better understand what my clients and candidates do day-to-day. I’ve written countless articles with career advice for candidates. I’ve conducted my own research and published findings such as salary guides. I’ve generally made it my job to know as much as I can about the niche marketplace that I operate in and try and set myself apart from the competition.”

Q: What advice would you have for any new recruiters out there?

A: “I’m certainly no guru, but I think for me personally there were three things that I’ve always strived to do, that have helped me in my recruitment career.

Firstly – Learn your market. Recruitment is so competitive that you really need to stand out. I’m not the best salesperson out there. In fact, I’m probably the least salesy recruiter you will meet. However, I’d like to think I have been able to install confidence in my candidates and clients through demonstrating a high level of expertise.

Secondly – Have confidence and belief. You’re always going to have ups and downs in recruitment. You’ve got to keep your head high during the disappointing days that you will inevitably face. I think Churchill once said ‘If you’re going through hell, keep going’ which is a little melodramatic in these circumstances, however the principal works for me.

Finally – Spend your time wisely. I’ve seen many recruiters come and go who in my opinion haven’t valued their own time as much as they should. In recruitment, it often feels like you have more to do than can physically be done. So, prioritise your time based on what will bring you the results.”

Q: What is your favourite memory of working at Maxim Recruitment?

A:There have been some very enjoyable socials over the years. Whether it be with clients, candidates or  the Maxim team. Several of which were overseas.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit parts of the World which probably I never would have without working for Maxim. I’ve been Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar several times. However, I think my favourite overseas trip was to Hong Kong.

We had some great nights out, saw some sights, had a lot of laughs and my diet mainly consisted of alcohol and kebabs (rather than noodles!) that week.”

Q: Finally, we can’t let you go without asking what you will be doing after you leave Maxim?

A: “I will be moving into an in-house Recruitment Manager role for a QS and PM consultancy. For several years now I’ve been intrigued by this type of role and thought it would suit my skillset and feel that after nearly 15 years, this will be a chance to learn some new skills and diversify my experience. Hopefully making me a more rounded recruiter with experience on both sides of the fence.”

Q: Thank you for being interviewed, do you have anything that you would like to add before we let you go?

A: “Just a big thank you to everybody who has supported me throughout my time at Maxim Recruitment. I’ve absolutely loved my time working here and will take away many fond memories.

I’ve been here almost all my working life, so have acquired many of my core skills as a recruiter whilst working here. There are so many great people I’ve worked with over the years, and it would be hard to name them all, however I couldn’t not mention Steve Thomas. I’m so appreciative for the opportunity he gave me all those years ago, he has been a real mentor to me and supported me throughout my Maxim journey. Something I will be eternally grateful for. Thanks Steve.

I wish the business all the success after my departure and hope we can keep in touch regularly.

Steve Thomas
Steve Thomas
Construction Recruitment Director, UK & Canada
Maxim Recruitment

Steve is responsible for Maxim Recruitment in the UK. He is based in the Maxim head office in Leicester, Leicestershire and regularly travels to meet employers, job seekers and to attend construction industry networking events all over the UK. With over 20 years' experience in construction and property recruitment he works with a number of repeat clients and engages in search and headhunting assignments for a range of premium UK and international clients.