How to start fresh in a new sector - twice

Gideon Donaldson admits he loves a challenge which is just as well because this quality has helped him build his career once in the UK and then again in Australia to become a consistent top biller for Davidson.

Gideon started working in recruitment in 1996 and in 2000 joined Proactive Appointments where he started and built a technology desk specialising in Oracle and Oracle Applications.

In 2016 Gideon, his wife and two children made the move from South London to Australia where the experienced IT recruitment specialist accepted a position with Davidson.  Gideon started as a senior consultant and was promoted to a Principal Recruitment Consultant - Strategic Accounts Utilises, Technology & Projects in July this year after demonstrating performance levels and behaviours of a Principal.  Gideon is based in Melbourne.

“I was looking for a company that wasn’t too large, which had that family sort of feel to it,” he said.

“I had been with my last company for 15 years and they were very much my career-family. I wanted to work for a company, which had good financial backing but also was the right cultural and ideological fit with like-minded people. I found that at Davidson.”

While the plan had been for Gideon to build out the Oracle and SAP Market in Australia he quickly discovered not everything goes to plan and found this was simply not a growing market in Australia.

“The more I talked to people, and I talked to a shed load of people, meeting with project managers and senior staff in that area, it was clear this was not the area for me at Davidson,” he said.

“So I started looking at the utilities sector - utility and energy companies - and set about making 12 months of appointments with project directors, managers and business analysts working in these candidate spaces.

“To map out a plan and build up that desk was a great challenge and I do love a challenge. It meant there was a lot of cold calling and showing them how Davidson is different to our competitors.

“I talked with people from all over Melbourne, but I wouldn’t start by talking about recruitment. I started by talking about people and creating relationships from that point rather than it being transactional.

“Having experienced colleagues and managers who know the Melbourne market helped me a lot. The support from the resource team being able to work roles when they come in with the confidence they know what to look for meant I was able to push for more opportunities.”

Gideon said his top three tips for the wanting to work in recruitment are very simple:

  • Don’t take no as a rejection, treat it as a challenge and aim to place someone with that organisation (remembering it normally takes five to six calls and meetings before you get a role).
  • Know your area – asking candidates and clients what projects they are on provides a wealth of information
  • Ask for referrals all the time – a friend in need is a friend indeed!

Gideon also insists working from a plan - which is updated regularly - is a key to his success. He says he works from a day plan where he highlights tasks that must be completed.

“I make a new list every day and I try to keep it achievable even though it is usually pretty long,” Gideon explained. “Being a top biller is about the realisation of a long-term plan. It’s not going to happen in a month or two, but if you build your network, your clients and candidates, they will come.

“Recruitment is a people business. It’s a small world and the best way to start the ball rolling is to get out there and say hello. Be it a sector or skill you are looking to dominate you will find that speaking with Managers / Directors and team leaders opens up a lot of other doors as many of the contacts know of each other and allows for a far more informal introduction.”

When Gideon started on the utilities desk with Davidson 18 months ago, they had no contractors in roles.  He has since built that to up to 50 contractors and has set himself the target of 100.

“Working a contract desk is like the stock market," he said. “Your numbers can go up as well as down. When your numbers drop, and at some point they will, that’s when the next big opportunity is round the corner. You just have to pick yourself up and go get it and that’s what I do.

“Being identified as someone who has been a high achiever within Davidson has been the result and was really nice. The trip to Fiji will be our first since we arrived in Australia so I’m looking forward to having some down time.

“Then my focus will be on building up our infrastructure here at Davidson so we can facilitate delivery. There is a lot more we can do still and I look forward to getting in there and achieving it.”