In this instalment of People Behind the Brand, the series where you get to know the Orbis team, we sit down with Matt Herselman, Associate Director at Orbis.
We chatted about his journey to recruitment, the "hands-on leadership" approach that Matt uses, the biggest challenges he faces and his love for the engineering community.
Tell us about your journey to recruitment...
Upon graduating from university in New Zealand with a business degree, I made the move to London to pursue something bigger and better – little did I know it would be the world of recruitment!
Like most who land in the industry, I didn’t necessarily set out to get into recruitment but after finishing many interviews across a few industries as a fresh-faced grad, I was drawn to the idea of it and its fast-paced, meritocratic nature. After almost 8 years on the recruitment rollercoaster, I haven’t looked back!
What's the best part of the job?
The obvious answer is the fact that I get to genuinely help people achieve their career goals and find their dream jobs – the kick you get when you give someone the news and hear their reaction on the end of the phone really is something else.
Recently though, my role has changed into a leadership position and as much as I still love placing candidates into roles, the real buzz I get now is helping my team achieve that same feeling but also hit their own goals – be it professional or personal.
It’s awesome seeing people you work with grow and develop as humans and to hopefully be a part of that journey is really fulfilling!
What's the biggest challenge?
I’d say one of the most challenging things I’ve faced is the transition to leadership and away from hands-on recruitment.
They say the billing manager is one of the toughest roles in recruitment and I totally understand why – time becomes even more precious and priorities become blurred as you’re trying to commit your time to candidates, clients and your team as best as you can.
Another big challenge worth noting is around growing and developing my team, which is my main priority moving forward.
I think my team are awesome and wouldn’t want to compromise our culture by hiring anyone just to get bums on seats, so the challenge I face is seeking out the best people who want to be part of our journey – from juniors with no experience to senior hands-on billers to managers.
What’s something you wish you’d known at the start of your career?
The sooner you develop and implement your own style of working, the better. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying disregard everything you learn throughout your career, but it’s important to absorb as much information as possible from other people and the environments you’re in and then utilise that to play to your strengths and engineer a style of working that suits you and your personality best.
You don’t necessarily need to look at the most successful person and copy exactly what they do because ultimately, it might not work for you – figure out what works best for you and hone in on that.
In another life... If you weren't a recruiter, what would you be doing?
I think the reason I gravitated towards software engineering recruitment is that I’ve always been quite nerdy as a kid and loved technology so I think I could have been a software engineer!
I actually studied programming at high school for a couple of years and needless to say, I wasn’t at the top of the class but I did actually really enjoy it, and maybe, if software engineering was as big as it is today when I was at school many years ago, perhaps I would have followed it through!
You describe yourself as a ‘hands-on leader’; what exactly does this mean to you, and why is it an important aspect of leadership and your career?
I guess in this context there are two ways to look at what “hands-on leadership” means – firstly it means I am still (and always will be) doing recruitment. I love finding people their dream jobs and don’t think I’ll ever fully stop and lose my finger on the pulse of how the day-to-day recruiting works.
Secondly, I mean hands-on in the sense that I like to be in the trenches with the team getting stuck into whatever challenges we have and working closely to overcome them. I believe this is super important to me because I’ve unfortunately seen the results of an ivory tower style of leadership and it’s not something I’d ever want to do!
Define what you’ve called a ‘human approach’ to recruitment.
The ironic thing here is that my nickname is Herselbot due to my meticulous style of working but what I mean is just being yourself in everything that you do - there’s no point putting any kind of façade up because it’s just not sustainable.
I feel like these days it’s super important to be authentic and have a genuine sense of empathy for everyone you work with as it just makes the relationships you build more real.
How do you leverage the power of community to remain embedded in the market and the world of engineering, and what role have events played in making these kinds of connections?
I, personally, have a huge interest in the community I work in and want to embed myself in it – mainly out of interest as opposed to just purely professional gain.
The engineering community are famously welcoming and is constantly hosting and participating in events, blog posts, forums, hackathons etc. On top of all the great content the marketing team at Orbis put out, our team have contributed previously through hosting events, specifically JVMWars.
This just strengthens our connection to the community as it shows we genuinely care and want to contribute. The feedback from the community was really great and we will aim to continue this and more in the future!