Hello and welcome to the career success podcast. I’m Jason Connolly. If you were regular listener, thanks for coming back. But if you’re a new listener, welcome to the show. In this series we speak to leaders in the world of business and people have had tremendous career success.
We speak to people across a wide range of industries. We lead the way in conversation to understand what makes someone successful, the challenges they’ve overcome. Adversity is based on what success means to them will also discuss the lessons learned along the way myself and my guest will give practical advice on how to grow your business. The career ladder and in the coming episodes were going to be speaking to some really well known business names and also number one best selling authors of many business titles. If you’re someone that has a passion for business then this is the podcast for you. In this episode we speak to Sean Nicholson. Sean is someone I know very well and work with on a day to day basis. He’s managing director of JMC legal recruitment and chief operations officer of JMC Partners. JMC Partners is an umbrella company which houses many JMC recruitment brands both nationally and internationally. And it’s a very exciting time. JMC is about to launch in the US now. Why have I got shown on the show? I felt it would be great to record this episode with you. Is what Sean has achieved in the last three is incredible. To add some context, just 27 years old Sean, thanks for joining me. Well thanks. It’s good to be so slightly unusual. Obviously. We know each other very well. I thought this episode was really important firstly to talk about JMC and what you’ve achieved and what you’ve done and the sort of direction you’re leading the company. Direction you’re leading the company into. We’re about to launch in the US as a brand, so it’s such a great time to talk. But you joined JM see when it was a startup business just a few years ago, you had no experience in the recruitment industry. And now, three years later, you’re heading up a brand number one on Google, known as the best legal recruiter. And as I just alluded to, the brand is launching in the US. You’ve been incredibly successful, but success in this business you’ve been successful before you’ve worked in sports. What does success mean to you? I think successes. Trying to strive to be the best you possibly can be, whatever it is you’re doing. Like you mentioned sports, that’s one thing. That’s something I’ve always been involved with since a young age, so I’ve always taken to sport whichever sport played. I’ve always got good at it quite quickly, so I was lucky. In that sense you were in rugby. How tell us a bit about that and how you kind of the journey from rugby into into what you’re doing now. Yeah, well, I think that’s it plays a big part, because obviously I played rugby every single day. It was like an Academy. Set up that I was in and it was like a professional sporting environment. So on a day to day basis you get put through. Obviously you’re training your your gym sessions. They really teach you to be the best you possibly can be, and there’s a lot of tactics around that, and there’s a lot of psychology involved with special sporting environments, and I think that plays a big part in sort of me and my personality, who I am as as an individual. I’d have to say it definitely doesn’t. We always were told everyday and it was always drilled into us to try and be as successful as we can, and I think in that environment that get drilled into you. Kind of what is it? ’cause I I’ve never played professional. Yeah yeah is that a young age? That sounds like the drilling this into you. This success mindset. How did that manifest itself? Well, it’s various ways from things that’s written on the changing room walls that you see every single day, but like there was a there was a big picture of a wall for things like that that we don’t look at and it always be work as a pack and just be the best you possibly can be. There will be certain words around the room, but then the coaches. Obviously played very high level before and they’ve been through the mill and know exactly what it’s like, so they would just drill it into us every single day with how they would treat us and how they would prepare us. Going into different games and different training sessions. It was just it was so many things to it and obviously we learned a lot about psychology because I wasn’t just playing. Rugby was also a student as well and the sport and the psychology around that was a big part of my my day-to-day learning.
Cause you then when you went to University for a year. Then you decided that that wasn’t for you and you kind of went off on. You know, maybe you call it the school of life. It’s a bit about that because it’s interesting. We had similar backgrounds in that was. Yeah, well, I think obviously when when you grow up you will figure out what I wanna do when I’m older. What do I want to be? And then I wanted to go to University. I don’t know if I actually really wanted to go to University. Yes, I think it was something that I thought would make my family and parents proud. And first person in my in my families go to uni but it wasn’t for me. I didn’t enjoy. I’m not the most academic person in the world so I don’t enjoy doing tests and essays every single day or. Having to prepare a 10,000 word that all those things to me is just not the best way to learn. It’s not how I learned. So yeah, I went. I left and I went and traveled the world for a few years and that was that was that was an experience and a half which was great and I think that’s something you’d like yourself. You’ve worked in travel. Yeah, you know what it’s like jetting around the world and different cultures meeting different people. I think that’s something very interesting which I did for a few years and then then behold, I came back and ended up at J and see when you started at JM see you started. As a trainee, no experience in the legal industry. No experience in the recruitment industry. BU you became very successful quite quickly, especially in terms of earnings. You went on a journey that was coming in on very modest salary to being earning more than often partners in a year. What do you obviously I know that I was highly involved in you on board. As a startup company, but you know a lot of people don’t know this story or who are listening to this episode. What was it about? You know, how did you do that in a year? But what do you think was kind of fundamental to the? You know your earning success that you’ve had. You’ve kind of propelled yourself to be, you know, on a level of learners which outstrips a lot of law, firm partners, yeah, well I think with recruitment you get it. You get out what you put in. It is well if you break it down it is as simple as that. I think if you really work hard and you start to understand your market, not just legal but any market you working and get to really understand your clients. And really listen to the people that teaches you. Like obviously I learned from you. I think there’s no. There’s no hiding that you taught me a lot about recruitment and how to sort of help clients and candidates to find new opportunities and really delve deeper into sort of what it is they really want out of their roles and why they want to leave and what it is that they really want. And all those things combined, I think, help you really understand and place people in the right roles and satisfy your clients and then all of a sudden, once you start doing that, you get used to it. And start understanding what it is you need to do on a day to day basis and then things slowly fall into place. You probably would probably agree with that. I do, and I think, especially with the recruitment industry and in loads of these podcasts I’ve done, I’ve not actually spoken about recruitment, my business, our business necessarily, but I think recruitment is one of those industries. And like a lot of industries, people get brought in with no experience, and it was the same for me. I know you haven’t. This is every work for another agency, but I got brought into my first legal recruitment agency. Got today’s training. And then there was off. You go go recruit lawyers and I kind of looked at my boss. Sort of like. Are you mad? I have no experience what I’m doing, but that might sound crazy to people that aren’t in the recruitment industry. I haven’t heard these kind of stories before, but that is normally the recruitment agency ways it’s make or break. You get brought into an agency. Maybe five people start one might survive and it’s really survival of the Fit is that I think will go on in a moment to talk about, you know JMC, see why we’re so different in terms of I think, and I’m sure you know as well. The team work that we have in the way that the teamwork is so different to that of other agencies, but I think that a big part of when we talk about your kind of coming in early days into JMC you would trained. But I think more than anything you were mentored, and I think there’s a big difference between just having training or being mentored. And most companies go down. This is a kind of, you know, training solution package, but we’re going to give people it’s very much kind of 1 glove fits or or maybe tailored slightly, but actually. A mentored by someone you know. Tremendous career success no matter what industry it’s in. I think you know everybody should have a mentor, but what’s you’re kind of course, you know. I completely agree. I think what you said about being given today’s training and then being told to go off and start doing recruitment. You’re not going to add value to anyone in any way whatsoever. If that is the case, how are you supposed to help a client when you’ve got today’s training or Harry strike host to help a calendar that I think that is just the old school recruitment way where big personalities in the office they want to take over all of the work and be the ones that shine and. Not help others. I think you need training. Training is so important and being mentored by someone that’s been there, done that has had success. Like you said, that is sworn that drives times out. Is so important, but I can’t imagine not having that level of training. To me, it’s just it’s normal. But like you said, I’ve never worked anywhere else, so I don’t know what it’s like working at a different agency ’cause he was kind of. I remember those early days it was you and me working together side on side 9 hours of intense of the job work experience. But you know, I think a big part of your success is that kind of energy to want to go out there and absolutely you had a point to prove you wanted to be highly successful and this was, you know it. It’s a big thing for you because you come into a whole new industry. What made you want to go into an industry that was different at the time? Well, I think like they say, you never plan on going into recruitment. I don’t think you go to University to become a recruiter. I think it’s it’s a job you fall into. I think everybody can agree on that and I think it’s a job where you either understand it and you start becoming successful at it or you don’t. And I think that’s why there’s probably quite a bad name and in some ways in certain areas of recruitment where it’s sort of high high turnover. But if. I think I’ve come into it. I’ve come into market that and I’ll be honest at the time when I joined, I didn’t really know all the different areas of law and and all those those things that you really need to learn about what lawyers are doing on data. But now I do, obviously, but I learned I learned quickly. You helped me get to where I am. Yes, we worked side on side and that was really important for my development. Without a doubt and it helped me. Then take over and help others and replicate that and just I think what we’ve always strived to do is be the go to recruiters. No matter where you’re based or or who you are. What level? Level you are whatever you work and we we cover all of them and we want to be the go to to help those candidates and those clients find each other. I think that’s that’s really important. I think we really care about what we do. I think that’s I. I think we actually you know, for us it’s all about the service. It’s all about giving people the brilliant basics brilliantly and being able to have that room to deliver those kind of magic touches that people really do. Remember you. It’s obviously been a real kind of Journey and. Going in 3 1/2 years from a company that was virtually just me and you in an office to going on what is now a multi million pound turnover company that’s about to launch in the US. It’s been a journey, but what do you think’s been at the core of JMC success? Other people without a doubt. I don’t think there’s anything else to say. I think the people is what makes Jay MC successful. Obviously the guys at the top US. We’re the ones that need to obviously show how to be a good recruiter and how to be successful, but. The people that work for JMC every single person signals from the same hymn sheet. Everybody works hard, everybody works well together and I think without that dynamic and culture you can’t build it. This will prove an agency, it just. It’s impossible, and I know obviously you’d you’ll feel exactly the same way, that’s that. It’s just the people. I don’t think there’s really anything else because once the people line up and everybody comes together, then everything falls into place. I I totally agree with you. I think it’s if you get the right people in the business and everyone is working together towards that kind of common goal that driver. What what you can create is absolutely magical, and I think a lot of companies sometimes get it wrong. There maybe look at people by just by skill set or just by what they’ve done in the past or just by, specially in the recruitment industry. How much resilience does that person have? How many nodes can they take, and is it really about how many knows that they can take? Or is it about, you know other qualities such as kind of drive determination, but wanted to deliver a great service. Being passionate about the sector, being passionate about legal, absolutely wanted to deliver that and. I, I think, and I know, that you well, I know that you probably agree with me here, but I think far too many companies solely focus on turnover, revenue, profit, bottom line rather than the actual customer journey. And I think if you focus on that then you know the money really does take care of itself. Yeah, without a doubt. I think if we look now in the market in terms of treatment and agencies, obviously a number of agencies out there are not in a good position, not in a good place. And I think it’s because they’ve probably guessing that they probably. Focus too much on revenue and turnover instead of focusing on doing a great job. And I’m keeping everybody happy and making sure people enjoy where they work and things like that which is so important. Because if you do all of that then obviously the the consultants will will look after you and and vice versa. It’s I. I agree it’s so important so you become managing director in the last few months of JMC you’ve kind of navigated this business through what has been probably one of the toughest times in the recruitment industry since the 2008 recession and JMC. It’s kind of absolutely thriving, really busy, got loads of great opportunities for candidates. Why? I know that a lot of recruitment agencies out there struggling. This is not an easy time. You know you look at lots of different industry sectors, recruitment being one, the hospitality industry being another. But why do you think that JMC has managed to sort of grown through this period of time and is launching into the US? What do you think is kind of being pivotal to you know are still being busy? I think. Well, leadership is really important, obviously. When this happens, when coronavirus hits and then lock down happened, everyone is working from home and then obviously you have to keep things together. There has to be a structure and make sure everybody understands what their role is and what they need to do on a day to day basis. Making all those things clear is important, but I think with us we’ve got really good consultants who or who all wanted to carry on working and placing candidates even though there may be a lot less rows or opportunities out there really trying hard to to find them a role sometimes made redundant going out there and doing all you can to. To help them, and I think with that it builds a really good brand and over the years we we’ve built a really strong or I’d like to think we built a really strong band brand, but I think we definitely have and you’re being modest. You know it’s a great brand. Definitely, but I think people want to see is key, another listen. But people people see that people know we we work hard. We do a good job and with all of those things combined then we we were lucky and I I count my blessings really that were here and we are thriving and we’ve had some great months which most agencies or or number of cheese wouldn’t be having. So we are lucky in a sense as well. You mentioned about one of the cool things there of why we’ve kind of gone through this time and still having tremendous success as good leadership. What do you think makes a good leader? Personally, I think a good leader needs to be someone that people look up to and strive to to be like some someone that people want to sort of replicate maybe, or people really want to talk take over from someone that will go out there and work with you rather than being a manager. Being a leader is is completely different. You’re someone that will sit there in the room with them working with them, doing the same job day in day out with the consultants that you have and not just in recruitment but in other in other jobs and and other roles in life as well. I think the qualities you need to be a good leader are being able to be open, trustworthy, honest. Someone that people can come and talk to and also someone that can give real insight into what it is those others need to be doing to get success and and be good at at the role. Because if you’re a leader and you sit there and do all the work yourself and don’t help anybody, you’re not a leader, are you? It’s pointless, yeah, I agree, again. I think one word that you keep mentioning, and I think this is really something I wanted to just draw on. Is leadership and leading and being led an it in so many businesses regardless of recruitment or whether it being in another industry sector people are managed and no one wants to be managed, managed it being managed. Even manager is a word that has a lot of negative connotations and I think one thing I learned from my time when I was at Virgin was we had leaders we had. And even Richard Branson is a prime example of that. You wouldn’t associate with him being a manager, he’s a leader, he’s an influencer. Is someone that you know really brings a vision to life and I think that’s something that we’ve really kind of harnessed at JMC. It’s not something which I think we would consciously aware of where we started out, but you know, this is what the kind of feeling we want to have running throughout the company, but I think it’s something that I think because we actually, you know, wholeheartedly, care about people. It’s something that’s just kind of manifested itself. But you know, we’ve got some tremendous success stories. People who are in their 20s taking home over 100,000 pounds, not just focus on the revenue, but people who really? All known as leaders in the legal sector, and I think that’s also quite an really beautiful about JMC is. We don’t have a certain type of background, but we look for we don’t have a certain type of you must fit into this mould, and I think you’ll know that better than anyone you know when we think we both do. We do well, very different. They are, you know, even my time in the police I think is being a massive paving kind of pathway into recruitment. What do you think makes a good? Trainee recruiter, someone you into the industry someone that’s ambitious, someone that can come in, get their head down, really listen and take on board and soak in all the information given to them because we work in such a fast paced environment and in our office it is busy. Things are happening all the time sometimes. If you’re training someone but you’re also trying to deal with client or candidate, you only have time to give information once. Yes, you could cover it again, but if you’re trying to give multiple bits of information you only have chance to give it once, so they. My advice is to anybody as a trainee’s. Come in, listen, work hard, get your head down and then really start replicating. That’s what I did, and you know this. I used to start copying you and doing things that you were doing that really didn’t make much sense to me, but I started understanding what what they meant and and how it works and why I was doing that. And then all the sudden I was out with the well, my. My stabilisers were off and it it does take awhile for anybody in recruitment. You can’t just come in and be good at it. If you do it’s probably beginners luck and it won’t last as long as. As you would like it too, but I think one of the things we recruitment is having longevity. It’s you know it’s fine coming in and building a lot of money, but it takes a lot of Energy, a lot of mental energy. I think you know one of the. I think sometimes it’s harder to come in, be sustainable and you know have longevity in this industry ’cause you only have to look at so many recruitment agencies and just looking at general recruitment agencies. They get people in as grads absolutely burn them out in a few years and then people leave the industry and I think that’s such a true. Shame, I honestly believe it. You can have a career in this industry, but you know it’s not. It’s not easy, it’s it is a tough industry. Obviously becoming managing director. So yeah.
Firstly, what’s pivotal do you think to your success and how you got to where you are? But also what short kind of leadership style lie? How do you start with the first? The first question I think to get to where I’ve got to so quickly comes from both sides comes from the investment I’ve been given. And also from the amount of work and effort I put into to get into where I am. I think it goes back to before I even started when I first spoke with you and you talk through sort of what you’ve done and what it is you want to do. I really believed in that. So when I joined JMC, it wasn’t just joining to to take a job, it was joining to be part of the vision and investing that myself and vice versa. And I really believed in it. And then all of a sudden things started happening quite quickly and we’ve we’ve grown quite quickly. You see, I’m managing director director just a few years in, but it all comes from both sides and all the things I’ve just mentioned and then it’s just about being good at the job and and having being auto someone is looked up to in in recruitment. I think that’s really important as well. I think that you know when you go into a company believing in its vision, believing in its direction, actually feeling that you can be a part of it is a massive thing. I think there’s a lot of companies out there which these people’s kind of cogs in money machine which is so. It is so upsets me when I see that, but I I think at JMC there truly is an opportunity for people at any age. And I, I you know, my personal view is I don’t care what age someone is. You know they could be even. Our administration manager is 20 joined us as an Apprentice, but I think if you are competent at your job age should not be in any way a barrier. And I think you’re very much in the same belief. No, I agree yeah. Well without a doubt. I mean if you look at yourself you’re only 33 an you started JMC when you. 29, is that right? Yeah, 28.
So you won’t get off days. I am now you. You’ve been there, you’ve done it. You you obviously started the business and CEO of the business and growing a successful business, I think going back to the other question you had about leadership and what my my qualities as a leader are. I think it’s why. Again, just what I mentioned earlier on about being someone that people can come up to and can speak to be open with talked about their concerns. Ask any questions they have about certain parts of the job and actually giving people investment. I do. Really take time to try and help as many people as I can and when people see that they feel comfortable and then realize actually these this this this guy cares about me and he wants me to be successful, which I do I care about. Everybody in the business and I want everybody to be able to do what we’ve done in recruitment and I really hope that they can and that’s our culture. I I think you hit the nail on the head there you know I’m I’m honestly don’t get emotional on this episode for anyone listening but I’m absolutely blown away by what you’ve achieved in a few years. And the way that you lead this company that the kind of you only have to walk through the JMC and walk into our office. And people say to us all the time there is just this buzz that runs throughout the company. This buzz of success of people working together and we work in a very unique way as well. And just to talk about that very briefly in a lot of companies, people kind of picked against one another, especially in sales, their sales boards, leadership boards, you know this. You you know this is where you’re Saturday, the whole culture is one of people rivalling against their kind of teammates, which just seems bizarre. But James see, we’ve got this culture which is really about everyone kind of helping one another, and I think that’s something which you know you’ve kind of led and nurtured. That, and it’s great to see you guys not just down to me though, is it. It’s down to you and everybody else that’s been around me along the way. There’s I think there’s so many reasons that we’ve managed to get the culture. There is, but yeah, no, I agree. There’s a real buzz. It’s it’s great. I enjoy coming to work every day. I’ve never been at home on a Sunday night and not wanted to come to work on a Monday morning. I know some people get their own jobs. Luckily I’ve never had that and I feel feel blessed to have never heard that. But yeah, the culture is is really great. I’ve never worked anywhere like it. I know I haven’t had too many different jobs like yourself before Jay and see, but yeah, I’ve never never felt anything like it. Just kind of, we’re running out of time now. But obviously you specialise in recruitment and interviews, what, not just lawyers. And we have a lot of different people who listen to this podcast. What advice would you give to someone? Who is interviewing in general and and a further question, someone who’s maybe considering a career in recruitment? What would you kind of say to them, right? Well, I think on the interviewing point. I think preparation is is really important. Really understanding what it is you’re talking about being ready for the questions that are going to be asked. I think I’ll give you an example in sort of the legal world if you’re say a property solicitor and you’ve got three years experience and you handle really busy caseload. Just as an example. You need to know your numbers inside out. You need to have be prepared on the sort of work you’re dealing with, what you’re doing on a day to day basis top clients. You’re working with. All of that is really key, but then also making sure you go into any interview with the right mindset. Sometimes people do get nervous for interviews, but as long as you’re sort of pumped up and ready to give it you’re all for that thirty minutes, however long it may be, I think that is going. That would always hold a lot of weight with whoever it is that is interviewing you, and I think sometimes I think it’s it’s. It’s a lot more common these days. I see that, well, businesses are hiring based on personalities. Funny, we mentioned culture, but I’ve seen it a lot more often these days. If they they can see they could do the job great. And then it’s really important that they can work with them. And if you show your personality in an interview, it hopefully will go go the right way. But if it doesn’t then maybe it’s not the right place for you to be working anyway. Yeah, and I think there’s a lot about psychometric testing now about making sure that you’ve got the right personality fit, and I know that’s something that you know we put so much emphasis on. What would you say to someone maybe thinking about? I’m 20 years old or you know, I’ve just finished University or who’s maybe worked in a different industry, especially at this time when a lot of people are losing their jobs. So sadly, in industries like hospitality, who may be seen, recruitment jobs out there? What advice would you give to someone considering you know going head first into this industry? Because I do think recruitment is shrouded in mystery at times as well. You look from the outside looking in. What is it we do our? We’ll jump sensor, are we not? What is it? What would you say is funny ’cause I can’t remember when I when I was coming to recruitment? I I thought to myself, should I give them ago? Will it will be good at it? I had no idea. You don’t know do you until you do it and then so many people I spoke with were sort of bashing the recruitment industry. Saying are you’ll be there for a year and then you go somewhere else would be there for six months and you’ll move on. I think so many people talk badly about recruitment. If so, if you’re if you are 2021 year old looking to get into recruitment, I think one you need to be ready for the hard work that you need to put in to be successful. Yeah, and to really just. Look at the businesses that you could be applying for and make sure that they fit your your ethos and everything that you believe in and that you really believe in that business. You need to. If you’re joining recruitment agency, you need to look at that business. I think I can work here and I want to be successful because if you just take a job in recruitment and you’re not really brought into the business or you’re not really invested in the opportunity, you are not going to be there very long because it will just show from from early on. So my advice is really look at the business and make sure you’re joining somewhere that. That will invest in you. How would you go about finding right fit? Do you think? I think sometimes it’s about applying for a few agencies and interviewing and then picking based on which one you think would be the best fit. If you’re lucky enough to get the offers from them and I’ll be honest with you, I think I stumbled across JMC by luck because I didn’t see that few agencies and I I didn’t really like any of them and I had a few offers on the table and I thought this just isn’t right. And then out of nowhere I saw this advert online and I I applied for it and. Luckily I’m here now, but it can be locked as well, so it’s a difficult one to answer it, so I think it’s I think the points I’m taking from that is really look around really. Study your company and I think you know it comes down to how you feel. I think you know a lot of the time. Follow that gut feeling and just on a closing note. Then JMC tell us what’s next for JMC, what’s happening over the next few years, what? What are you striving to achieve? Well, we’re looking at going international. Obviously US is. Is fast, and hopefully that won’t be too long, but what can you do with coronavirus? It has stalled things, but then we’re looking at obviously going national and open up more offices across the UK. London is somewhere we actually want to grow a big office one day. These are all things that we have in the pipeline, and there’s great opportunity for other legal recruiters out there that were to want to join us or someone that is keen to get into the legal market because you could be given an opportunity that you wouldn’t necessarily guess anywhere else, and what? Is it I want to achieve I I want to continue developing in the role that I’m in at the moment. I think I’m still early into their. I’ve got a lot to learn, but I also want to give back to the people that join us and really help with the growth of JM. See because we do want to grow we are growing, we’re expanding. We’ve we’ve done well in the last few months and we’re going to continue investing in the business. But I want to be able to replicate what I’ve done with others and help lead and continue to lead a successful business. Yeah, I think that’s absolutely great. It’s. Pain of an unusual episodes of E to interview some of every day, but I think the whole what we wanted to do with this is really show who JMC are we got. I think we’ve got so much to offer people, whether it be your candidate out there, you’re a client or you’re someone that wants to actually do something with your life. You want to go somewhere you want to go on a financial journey. You’ve got ambition and I think you know I think you put laid it all out there absolutely beautifully. Sean, so thank you very much if you want to find out more about Sean. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, Sean Nicholson or if you want to find out more about JMC. In general, you can visit us on www.jmc-legal.com.
I’m Jason Connolly. This is the career success podcast until next time. Thank you very much goodbye.