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The Resilient Recruiter

Jun 30, 2021

Do you have the ambition to achieve extraordinary success in recruitment? Whether you’re a recruiter building a desk, a manager building a team, or a director building a company, you’ll get tremendous value from my interview with Jonathan Field.

Jonathan is the Joint Group CEO of Shilton Sharpe Quarry (SSQ), a leading international legal recruitment business headquartered in London. SSQ has 100 employees and was recently ranked the UK's #1 Professional Services Recruiter by the Recruiter Magazine.

With humility and candour, Jonathan shared his own journey from lawyer to recruiter and ultimately to the C-suite. We also discussed hiring, managing and retaining top performers, and what distinguishes a really good recruiter from an exceptional one.  Plus Jonathan revealed how to “step up your game” and become a trusted advisor to your clients.

Episode Outline and Highlights

  • [1:41] Jonathan’s story: transition from being a lawyer to falling in love with recruitment and becoming a successful recruiter.
  • [13:24] Key factors to Jonathan’s quick progression in the recruitment industry.
  • [18:30] Transitioning from 100% fee earner to Joint Group CEO.
  • [27:31] Learnings and takeaways from ‘thousands’ of mistakes as CEO.
  • [34:36] When hiring internal talent, what should you look for in a good recruiter?
  • [48:55] Engaging your team and bringing out the best in them. 

Rapid Career Progression 

Jonathan’s career has involved some key transitions.  Having been a qualified lawyer at a prestigious firm, he fell in love with recruitment and joined SSQ in 2007.  Later he transitioned from being a 100% fee earner to Joint CEO in 2019. He describes how a combination of factors enabled him to progress quickly, including hard work, timing and an element of luck. 

Jonathan admitted that transitioning to the Joint CEO role was especially challenging. He shared some of the mistakes he made when he stepped up to the C-suite, and what he learned from them.  For example, at first he tried to do everything himself instead of leveraging his very capable management team. Once he learned to let go, he got better results with less stress.

Hiring Recruiters - What Should You Look For?

With a team of excellent recruiters, SSQ recently ranked as the UK’s no.1 Professional Services Recruiter by the Recruiter Magazine. So I asked Jonathan what we should be looking for when hiring internally? He stated a number of mandatory criteria, such as:

  • Given that recruitment is a sales job, you should look for hunger, ambition, and drive.
  • Good foundations such as work ethic and sales ability.
  • Test for cultural fit.

Building a High Performing Team with Multiple 7-Figure Billers

Jonathan shared that SSQ has multiple consultants billing seven figures. So what distinguishes a really good recruiter from an exceptional one?

For Jonathan, there is a thin line between a really good recruiter and an excellent, brilliant recruiter. He said, “The bit that will then separate good recruiters from brilliant recruiters is their ability to be more than just recruiters.” 

He then further elaborated, “They have the ability to digest, organize and synthesize information that allows them to be more than just transactional recruiters for their clients. And the way for you to get the best client relationships and get the highest value of work, and really become advisors to your clients is to make sure that you’re doing more than just bringing them good people. You’re offering them analysis on the market and you’re a reservoir of information on your particular market and that you can talk coherently and credibly and with insight into what’s going on.” 

To simplify the secret to their firm’s success, the advice he would give is to “just become the expert in what you do.”

How to Retain Top Talent

Having brilliant recruiters can be challenging, but engaging and retaining these top talents can also present some difficulties especially in a competitive market. So, how does SSQ do it? As Joint CEO, Jonathan found that what works best for them are the following:

  • Offering a variety of tasks and providing opportunities to develop and take on more responsibilities, such as running a team. 
  • Incentives such as having equity within the local business and bonuses tied into the performance of the group.

Hear from Jonathan how this works for them and see how it can also be applied in your current set-up.

Jonathan Field Bio and Contact Info

Jonathan is the Joint Group CEO of SSQ - a leading international legal recruitment business headquartered in London with offices in Paris, Munich, Frankfurt, Madrid, Dubai, Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai. Launched in 2003, SSQ has c.100 employees and was recently ranked the UK#'s #1 Professional Services Recruiter by the Recruiter Magazine.

Born and raised in London, Jonathan trained and qualified as a lawyer in 2006 before leaving the law firm Allen & Overy to join SSQ in 2007. For several years, he was responsible for running part of the London business. He was later appointed Joint Group CEO in 2019 following a management buyout/group re-organisation. 

Jonathan still splits his time between running the business and advising the world's top law firms on their most senior and strategic lateral hiring

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