My Week: Charlie Walker of Vivid Resourcing

The recruitment company boss on wideboys, flying his team to NYC and being totally hyperactive.

by Hannah Prevett
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

My role has changed an awful lot in the last three and a half years, which has affected the way my time is split. For the first two and a half years, I was doing about three different roles: I was the MD, the FD and doing business development simultaneously. As we’ve expanded, I’m a lot more hands-off and I’ve learned to delegate more effectively.

This has freed me up to spend more time attending networking events so I can meet fellow business owners and directors in London. Yesterday, I was invited to a BNI breakfast meeting, where I had the opportunity to speak to a number of business owners in the Clerkenwell area (where my recruitment company Vivid Resourcing is also based). Public speaking is something I’ve had to try to develop over the years; I think it’s one of those things that you become more confident about as you get more practice. I didn’t have a choice really: as someone running a reasonable sized company, it’s one of those skills you have to develop.

I’ve also been spending a lot of time on internal recruitment - I’ve probably spent about ten hours interviewing graduates this week. The key thing we look for is devastatingly good communicators. We tend not to hire people who’ve got any recruitment or sales experience, because we like to mould people into doing things the way we want them to. The recruitment sector has a bad reputation; when you say you’re a recruitment consultant, people groan, like they do if you say you’re an estate agent. The main reason is that the people who are doing it, not always, but certainly among some of our competitors, are typically male, wideboy types. We try to take on people who are a bit more intelligent than that.

We are a young team: I’m still only 28, and I think sometimes some of our clients are surprised at the age of me and some of the rest of the management team. Certainly in meetings, for the first ten minutes we sometimes get a bit more of a patronising attitude, but because of the way we conduct ourselves, and the kind of service we give them, any kind of scepticism about our age is quickly dispelled.

Being a young company does help when recruiting staff though. It’s probably easier for me to sell a company as being young, vibrant and meritocratic, than some guy in his sixties who lives in the Cotswolds and commutes in three days a week. It also means we’re quite social. We have a company lunch and a night out once a month, and there are company holidays every three months. We’ve taken staff to New York, the Monaco Grand Prix, Madrid, Barcelona… It’s one of those jobs where you get an awful lot of rejection, so it’s important to keep morale up.

I actually recently took my first proper holiday since setting the business up over Easter. I was away for 12 whole days. Now some of the guys who work for me have become good managers, they have taken more responsibility, so I was able to do that. I’m a bit of a workaholic. The fact I don’t have a family probably helps, but I’m quite hyperactive, so even when that comes later on, I don’t think I’ll change that much. I might just have to get a bit better at organising my time.

Charlie Walker is the founder of Vivid Resourcing, a recruitment company specialising in engineering and IT.

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