The Diary of an Agent - Day Two
Early into the office, lots to do today, and meetings all over the show. Add in the current bout of tube strikes, and I'm expecting a bit of a hairy day – London due to be a nightmare, and lots of people to see.
Onto the train into London – it's only a short hop, and the train seems empty today – do the people who normally get this train know something I don't?! Have they anticipated chaos at the other end? The answer, revealed moments later, is a resounding yes. Try to grab a cab; no luck, try to get a bus, potentially lucky - but am still useless figuring out timetables! Finally put the address into the handy Sat Nav function on my phone – 4 miles. I sigh to myself, but see no choice. Set off and walk the 4-mile journey, wearing a hole in the sole of my shoe in the process – but do grab a sandwich and manage half a smile, knowing I'll arrive on time.
Made it in time, keeping my "nine-thirty" promise. But this is only the first of 4 meetings today – this one with a colleague who also operates in my space. Spend an hour over coffee exchanging ideas, leads, contacts and experiences – she's quite new into the sector – this kind of alliance generally works quite well and means we all get what we need.
Agree on a new marketing campaign, and look at ways in which to cross sell our services – it amazes me that a massive organisation like this can be so disjointed – if it wasn't for our collective focus, we'd never have even met!
Put in a couple of follow-up calls between meetings – frustratingly, no sign off on the roles I was expecting to need to cover.
Meeting with client – 20 minutes in the office, then off to a restaurant for a quick bite to eat – client has requirements, but not immediately – he also thinks it might be time for him to move on – interesting as he's only 2 years into a permanent role – I will represent him off of the back of our conversation – he's got a great background.
A candidate who has previously been a client wants to sit down and agree a pro-active plan. I pull together some thoughts, and some targets – I will start on this tomorrow with an email-shot, and a series of pro-active calls to companies I know well. In the meantime, he needs a technical architect. Show him the CV of someone I've been working with, and he wants to interview him immediately. Arrange to be present during the interview so that I can advise and fully understand the process with him. Take a call just after the meeting from a contractor who has been paid smoothly – just to let me know – I'm relieved as his mortgage was due, and whilst I trust our admin team, it's good to be sure.
Arrive on time at a small hotel with a palatial conference room to sit down with a director from a major airline. His resource plans are complete for the year, and subject to final approval, he's going to need 12 resources, dripped through on a monthly basis over the next 12 months. It's a bit of a fly-by-meeting really – he's in town for an exhibition, and I've been keen to meet with him for nearly 18 months – we've just never quite found the time, despite having managed to do business a couple of times and having received his boss's letter of intent!
His department is a rare success story – he's finally made the board see that without the relevant levels of investment, his services will suffer, and given the safety critical nature of the business, this could spell disaster. We agree on a plan of action loaded towards the first 6 months, and I manage to convince him to speak to a long term contact who has been looking for a move, later in the day. Agree that my selection in this process will be rigorous – full references pre-submission, and extremely tight matching criteria – as with the ethos of the business, only the top talent will do for these roles.
Check email – nothing pressing required other than a couple of extensions being confirmed – forward those on for processing and get on my way.
Meet with the final client of the day for a beer, peanuts and a catch up – despite the informal setting, this is the big one out of the four meet-ups today. He has 3 requirements within his project team – Over the course of 2 hours I manage to establish what he is looking for, and get him committed to only using me to find them.
It's a bit of a coup for me as whilst I've worked with him before, I've always had competition – and though I've always come away with the placement, the reality is that exclusivity allows me a degree of control and influence which is otherwise just a complete bun fight. I have a couple of people in my network who would fit the bill, I need another to sort the requirement – make a call on the train home to get the ball rolling – one of the guys I'm considering has someone similar in his network – this will be well worth investigating tomorrow.
Write up the requirement on the train, and computerise my notes from the day – not a bad hour's work considering I've been on the go all day, and had an inauspicious start!
Walk through to the door, double-check email – nothing requiring immediate attention – check my Linked In groups (a great way to keep in touch on market intelligence). Get the opportunities that I have picked up advertised as a safety net just in case my guy doesn't come through, and at about 21:30 close the laptop on another day.
The wife wanders in at about 21:45 – she's had a hard day too, so we retire to bed early – up and running early doors tomorrow.
Editor's Note: This is the second in a six-part series. Over the coming weeks, the agent will informally reveal his own individual experience and areas of work, providing a personal snapshot of the challenges and realities of IT contractor recruitment in 2010, as he did in part one.