KATE GERALD - K.A.G. RECRUITMENT
Rarely have I met a more determined and grounded individual than Kate Gerald. When we met for the first time virtually over coffee, I am taken aback by her easy manner and ability to make you feel at home from the get-go. Not at all what I expected from a highly successful recruiter, an industry synonymous with 'business at all costs'. Kate is the glorious exception to the outdated rule, stunningly generous with her time and commitment, humourous and humble in baring all from her £25 in the bank start-up to a successful team leading the charge and changing the face of her industry for the better.
K.A.G. Recruitment specialises in developing open and honest relationships, understanding business and individual needs and ensuring total customer satisfaction through their unique five-step recruitment process, a 360-degree offering previously unseen in the industry and one I know is about to change the business world in a big way.
This was one of those interviews that you leave knowing your life is a little bit better for having met someone, and I am beyond thrilled to be able to introduce you. Over to you Kate...
SO, KATE, WHATS YOUR STORY?
I kind of fell into the recruitment industry over 25 years ago and spent time in both National and smaller boutique agencies, focussing on Logistics recruitment.
Following the birth of my son, I no longer wanted to have a 24-hour phone ringing in my ear, so I looked to join a business purely on permanent recruitment. I joined a company that I loved and wouldn't have left; unfortunately, after nine years, I was made redundant; this was the second time I had been made redundant. I felt really low and had very much lost my mojo and didn't know which way to turn.
Having an amazingly supportive husband was what made me get back into gear; I had a number of opportunities to go and work for other businesses, but he persuaded me to take the leap and go it alone. I had zero cash in the bank, so yes, you can start a business without a penny; you just need passion which I had in abundance.
Doing something that I love and knew I wanted to continue was essential. I wanted to make a difference within recruitment; there were many things I loved and things I hated. Getting the right person in the right place is crucial for a business, and the implications of getting this wrong are huge.
Many businesses see recruitment as something laborious that they have to do instead of wanting to do proactively, which needs to change. If you value your business, yourself and the opportunity you represent, the candidate market will see this as well. Going into a recruitment process without being fully committed is a mistake.
At K.A.G., we utilise our Knowledge to guide managers to be the absolute best version of themselves. Our Attention allows us to focus on you as a client, taking into account your values are as a business and enabling us to find the right fit for you based not only on screening of your competencies but also on being an exclusive recruiter. Our Guidance service reassures you that we will be spending time with your new hires at the three and six-month points providing feedback on their progress.
This service is an absolute unique selling point to your business that other recruiters do not offer but reassures you that we don't just place people and run for the hills. It's about being a partner with you and an extension of your H.R. team to deliver excellence. This massively aides your retention as a business, and we average year on year between 92 & 96% retention rates!
I absolutely love my business and what we stand for and do. I have a fantastic support team, and I know from the daily feedback we receive that we make a difference to the people we work with, which is precisely what I set out to do all those years ago.
LIKE MANY BUSINESSES, YOU INITIALLY WORKED WITH LIMITED RESOURCES AS A START-UP. CAN YOU GIVE ANY ADVICE TO OUR READERS FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE?
Having zero cash in the bank doesn't get you very far, so I had to rely on myself, my passion and the relationships I, fortunately, built with people over the years. I had a fantastic website company that allowed me to pay on a payment plan to initially get up and running a very supportive accountant and bank manager who offered additional support wherever possible.
Going out to job boards is always tricky when you can't afford substantial sign-up fees, so working with CV-Library, who allowed me to pay monthly, was a dream come true.
I went out to everyone I had previously worked with (I was made redundant, so it was allowable, which isn't always the case with restrictive covenants), and I approached them honestly as just me. I explained that I didn't have a vast shiny office with 100s of employees and a water feature, but I could offer support when all of the other recruiters were closed. It was very much 247 for the first 18 months, but I knew I had to put the efforts in and believe me, that is precisely what I wanted to do. People quickly knew they would get the highest level of service and honest approach from me.
WHO INSPIRES YOU?
Rather than someone who inspires me, it was something.
At school, I was consistently told that I would not achieve anything in later life and that no one would employ me. As I'm sure you can imagine, this did nothing to improve the love of my school days! Looking back, I may not have been (or encouraged to be) academic, and it certainly wasn't academia that gave me the skill to set out on my own in business. My journey was inspired by self-ability and belief, and I pass this message along to other generations; believing in yourself makes anything possible.
Every level of success requires a new level of self-belief, and this is a continuous journey for me.
HOW DO YOU HANDLE CRITICISM?
I used to take it badly, but now I remember that everyone's entitled to their own opinion. This industry makes you very resilient!
K.A.G. STANDS FOR KNOWLEDGE ATTENTION AND GUIDANCE, AND YOU REALLY DO OFFER THE WHOLE PACKAGE TO YOUR CLIENTS. WHY DO YOU THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO STEP OUTSIDE OF THE TYPICAL RECRUITMENT OFFERING, AND WHAT DOES THAT BRING TO THE PEOPLE YOU TYPICALLY WORK WITH?
Getting the right person in the right place is crucial for a business, and the implications of getting this wrong are huge. This is why I feel so strongly about companies taking a proactive approach to recruitment and valuing themselves and the opportunities they offer. A confident employer will result in a confident candidate.
At K.A.G. we stand for precisely that. With our Knowledge, Attention and Guidance, we can offer a 360-degree package to our clients and take great delight in doing so.
In the face of the great resignation of recent times, we have launched a series of FREE events to give businesses the tools to be an employer of choice. Mangers may not have interviewed for some time, and how you interview has undoubtedly evolved during covid. If you continue to recruit for your business, you need to think about how to invest in your managers, sell your opportunities, and attract the best candidates to your business. Post covid the market has changed remarkably with candidates faced with many job offers. Hence, you need to know how to proposition yourself and your business to ensure you don't lose those candidates to your competitors.
This is the kind of commitment you can expect as a client of ours utilising our full Knowledge, Attention and Guidance, and it's what sets us apart in the market.
YOU ARE BREAKING THE MOULD WHEN IT COMES TO EXTENDING YOUR SERVICES WITH A MASSIVE EMPHASIS ON TRAINING AND RETENTION. HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU THINK IT IS FOR BUSINESS OWNERS TO LOOK AHEAD AND 'OUT OF THE BOX' IN THEIR INDUSTRIES TO SEE POSSIBILITIES WHICH MAY HAVE OTHERWISE BEEN OVERLOOKED?
I firmly believe you can't afford to stay with the same mentality, or you will get left behind. Companies are innovative now and investing heavily in employee experience, so if you are not invested in your team, they won't be invested in you.
The cost of replacing and recruiting again is so high for a business that, for me, it's simple. You invest in your people, and they are loyal to your brand. The commitment is there from both sides. You want your employees to be an ambassador for your business and they will go above and beyond for you.
WHAT'S THE FIRST THING YOU CHECK IN YOUR BUSINESS DAILY?
My emails to be responsive, reactive and resourceful.
WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND DIFFICULT ON YOUR JOURNEY AND WHAT WOULD YOU AVOID IF YOU WERE ABLE TO DO IT ALL AGAIN?
When I first started the business, it wasn't the norm to work from home, which certainly isn't the case now. In the beginning, I was met with varied reasons why I couldn't support businesses because I didn't have an office or a team at the time, but I didn't allow this to stop me. I firmly believed that not having an office presence in a city centre was a bonus. I didn't have huge overheads, which would, in turn, be passed on to my client in fees, and this also allowed me to be more flexible and accommodating in the way that I worked. I am very grateful for the journey I have been on and my current position as a result, so I wouldn't change anything.
WHAT’S YOUR TOP TIP FOR ENTREPRENEURS READING THIS ARTICLE?
Always be true to yourself. If you believe in yourself, others will and don't let anyone's rejection put you down. Keep standing up for yourself and what you believe in.
WHICH MOTIVATIONAL SONG WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO ADD TO THE FEMALE CEO'S #GIRLBOSS PLAYLIST ON SPOTIFY FOR YOU?
Run the world - Beyonce
ITS CLEAR FROM TALKING WITH YOU THAT YOU NOT ONLY LOVE YOUR WORK BUT THAT WE SHARE THE CORE VALUE OF INTEGRITY. HOW IMPORTANT HAS IT BEEN TO THE GROWTH OF YOUR BUSINESS TO WORK WITHIN YOUR CORE VALUES, PARTICULARLY WHEN IT COMES TO POTENTIALLY TURNING DOWN INCOME BECAUSE IT CONFLICTS WITH SOMETHING YOU BELIEVE IN?
It's probably relatively unheard of in recruitment to turn down business. However, I believe that if you don't believe in a business, you cant promote the opportunity to the broader market.
If a potential business is not invested in the process, it doesn't sit with the core values that we align ourselves with at K.A.G., and I won't give our time to people who are not fully committed. Reputations take a long time to build, but a short time to damage and to work with uninvested clients will do this very quickly to a business.
To me, as an alpha female, it's about learning and knowing when to say no and what opportunities are not going to bring you value.
DO YOU HAVE A BOOK OR FAVOURITE PODCAST RECOMMENDATION FOR OUR FEMALE CEO MEMBERS?
The Magic by Rhonda Byrne - Thank you thank you thank you is literally all you need in your life.
DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN ONE WORD.
WHAT'S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU'VE EVER RECEIVED?
Never rest on your laurels. You are only as good as your last piece of work, so never take people or opportunities for granted.
WHAT MAKES YOU TRULY HAPPY AND HOW DO YOU HANDLE DOWNTIME?
Spending time with my boys (always believing in me and supporting me)