In the spotlight – Building Services Design consultant, Eleanor Geary
Find out what it’s like to work on our Building Services Design recruitment desk by reading this interview with consultant Elly Geary. Here she gives the lowdown on working for Energi People and being part of James Mowat’s dream team!
Eleanor (Elly) Geary joined Energi as a consultant in 2017. She’s on the Building Services Design recruitment desk working with engineers from graduate to associate director level. Here I spoke to Elly about her role at Energi and what it’s like working for a specialist technical recruitment agency.
Jemma Kittle: What do you do at Energi People? Tell me a bit about your role
Elly Geary: “I’m a building services design consultant at Energi People. My main responsibilities are placing MEP design engineers with building services consultancies in the London area. We do cover the South East and other areas of the UK, but we’re predominately focused on London.
“I try to break up my day up, splitting it between candidates and clients, starting with a quick look over the job boards for candidates and follow up calls from the day before. Later I catch up with client leads and work on business development with any new clients. I also spend a lot of time talking to clients about the candidates I’m working with and discussing whether they might be a good fit for their businesses.
“In the afternoon I have a ‘power hour’ where I focus on candidates. Although the market is candidate driven it can be difficult to find high quality individuals. So I’ll look at our candidate database to see who’s looking and get some updated info on them, and then review job boards and ads again and target candidates for my current roles.”
JK: Before joining Energi People where did you work?
EG: “I worked in recruitment for 4-5 years prior to joining Energi. My last agency was a much smaller business that recruited for HR and finance roles. I decided to move to Energi because I was keen to work somewhere with more progression and a structure that allows me to progress, along with a better commission structure. Opportunities were limited at my previous company because it was so much smaller.
“I was also attracted to Energi because of the sectors the company specialises in. A few years back I had worked in the oil and gas sector, recruiting design engineers and draftsmen, which I really enjoyed. So I was keen to get back into that and building services really attracted me.”
JK: What do you most like about working at Energi People?
EG: “The main thing, which is extremely important to me, is that I’m a working mum and Energi allows me to work 4 days a week. In recruitment that’s not very common, so that really empowers me to continue to work in my career and it’s great that Energi allows me to get my job done in those 4 days.”
JK: Since joining Energi People what have your learned, how have you progressed your career?
EG: “I’ve learned about the sector and market in a lot more detail, learning about building services design and how it all works. I’ve also had in-house training with Sophie and learned a lot from her, I have regular one-to-ones with her. I’ve also had the opportunity to be very client-facing and go out to meet a lot of clients with other colleagues, and I’ve learned a lot sitting in on meetings. I also go out independently to meet clients and that has boosted my confidence and increased my knowledge.”
JK: What are the key challenges companies face when recruiting candidates in your area of expertise? What’s your top piece of advice for companies in this position?
EG: “I would say the skills gap in the market, especially for senior design engineers. This is partly because of the 2008 recession where not enough candidates were brought in at a graduate level at that time. This means that when we do get suitable candidates the recruitment process needs to be efficient and fast-moving, as it’s very competitive and there’s a good chance that candidates will have other offers on the table. Counteroffers are also another big challenge, businesses don’t want to lose the talent they’ve got and experienced candidates are in such high demand that counteroffers are common. Recruiters and clients need to do everything they can to keep top candidates engaged and interested.”
JK: What is the biggest challenge candidates face when looking for a new role?
EG: “One thing is getting the right exposure in your career to get where you want to go. For example, candidates that work for smaller businesses may be keen to work for one of the larger well-known consultancies, working on headline projects. But if they’re not getting enough exposure (because they’re only working on very small projects or just one type of project) that can make it difficult to get that next step.
“On the flip side, we do get a lot of candidates who work at the bigger consultancies who perhaps want to get a better work-life balance or more flexibility by working for a smaller firm. These candidates can find that they’ve become too specialised and haven’t had exposure to a broad enough scope of work, making it difficult to move to a smaller business where they need to wear a few more hats.”
JK: Has (and how) recruitment changed since you became a recruitment consultant?
EG: “I went on a training course just before I joined Energi that explored how candidates and clients want to be sold to differently to how it’s been done before. In the past, approaches like cold calling were accepted as the best way to sell, but that’s been disproven. A better way to go about it and get engagement is to add value to them or the business, it’s almost an indirect way of selling that’s more engaging and has been proven to work. That doesn’t mean we’re not going to get on the phone, but there are other ways to engage clients and candidates that gives them more value.”
JK: What qualities and attributes do you need to be a successful technical recruitment consultant?
EG: “It may be stating the obvious, but I would say you’ve got to be very driven and able to work under pressure. In fact, you’ve got to thrive under pressure – it’s got to bring the best out of you. You’ve also got to want to be part of a team and be someone who works well to incentives like rewards and commission. You also need to be very organised, you need to know your stuff and be knowledgeable in your market and be a specialist. So as much as you need to be driven, proactive and all of that, you also need to be organised, structured and reliable. Some of the best consultants are the ones that are consistent, which is difficult in recruitment.”
JK: What are your plans for the future? What are your goals?
EG: “Career wise I’m very focused on getting my promotion to Senior Consultant, I’m going make that happen in the next 6 months. Then I want to keep progressing up from there.
“My personal goals include saving for a mortgage and buying a house, so getting promoted and hitting market targets will all work towards that.”
JK: How do you take your tea / coffee?
EG: “I have milky coffee, 2 sugars, but it has to have the milk in first so normally I have to make it!”
JK: Are you a dunker and if so what’s the best biscuit to dunk?
EG: “I’m not a dunker and actually I have a very restricted diet (everyone in the office will vouch for that!) so biscuits don’t come into the equation in the office. At home I do treat myself but I would scrap the biscuits and go straight for the chocolate!”
JK: What has been the highlight of your time at Energi People so far?
EG: “This year’s Christmas party was a great one, probably the best venue I’ve ever been to [Battersea Evolution / Around the World in 80 Days Christmas]. It was great and by far the most interesting Christmas party I’ve ever been to: the entertainment, the dancing, the hashtag board, the firemen…”
JK: What do you like to do outside of work?
EG: “I’m a mum so outside of work I spend as much time as possible with my four year old. He’s got a lot of energy so we do a lot of outdoors stuff to keep him entertained. Aside from that, dinner and maybe a couple of drinks with friends and visiting my family in Brighton.”
JK: Who’s your office superstar? Who in the office makes a difference to your day / job?
EG: “Definitely got to give this one to James Mowat. He is the glue that holds it all together on the building services design desk and international team. He’s very knowledgeable, organised and always has good advice and is level headed. Just a really great person to work with and have as a manager.”
I hope you found this little insight into Elly’s role at Energi People interesting. If you are looking for a role in MEP building services design, she’s a great person to speak to!
Energi People are also expanding, so if you would like to join our growing team please get in touch. In the first instance send your CV with a covering letter / email to me to this address – [email protected]
You can also find details of our current openings on the Energi People Hunted page here.