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Sellick Partnership is delighted to announce the promotion of Mark Bailey to the Board of Directors.
In his new directorial role at Sellick Partnership, Mark will continue in his efforts to develop strong client relationships as well as work on projects to benefit the wider business in its next stages of growth.
Mark joined Sellick Partnership in 2015 to work with the Leeds team, specialising in Private Practice Legal recruitment. He quickly progressed to become leader of the permanent recruitment team, overseeing a period of considerable growth in terms of headcount and revenue.
Now he’s setting his sights on the future, as well as reminiscing on the company’s success to date and, most importantly to Mark, the success of those around him.
Here we spoke about his promotion, plans moving forward and where he sees this new role taking him.
Like many, I didn’t plan to. After gaining my Law degree, I briefly joined a Big Four Graduate Scheme, but soon felt like I wasn’t playing to my strengths. A colleague at the time told me about her partner who was working in recruitment at a search firm and it sounded really interesting: it was competitive, it was social and, most importantly, your development was down to you. If you do well, you do well, and if you don’t – you can’t usually blame anyone else.
I had a conversation with the search firm and this led to me starting my recruitment journey.
At the time, I was a bit rough around the edges, a rugby playing lad from Bradford. But I was ambitious, quite bright, and really determined to do well.
Luckily, the industry itself was much more suited to what I wanted and I was in direct control of my progression.
Having spent a number of years at my previous, and first, recruitment firm, I made the decision to explore other roles in order to challenge myself. I was lucky enough to have trained and worked alongside some exceptional people, and one of these, Austin Brislen, had joined Sellick Partnership after moving back to Liverpool.
I reached out to a number of the people I had previously worked with but I chose not to speak to Austin who is a really good friend. Truth be told, he’s a good salesman. I thought ‘If I reach out to him, he’s just going to get me to join his recruitment company’. I know what he’s like so there was no way I was telling him!
I got offers from other recruitment firms and then I decided to phone Austin to let him know I was moving on which came as a shock to him. Lo and behold, within 24 hours, I was sat in front of Hannah Cottam, Group Director at Sellick Partnership. When I met Hannah, I knew Sellick Partnership was right for me.
It was clearly a very, very good recruitment business that was remarkably straightforward, there was no messing around. I got a sense of trust and that I would match up perfectly with the opportunity that they had in Leeds.
I could see that it was such a rewarding career, if you are suited to it. You are the master of your own destiny and get to work alongside, and build relationships with, a wide variety of people. I love the competitive aspect of recruitment, but more so I love seeing new or junior people join and be rewarded for their hard work over the years.
There is nothing like seeing somebody walk through the door into an interview – nervous – just wanting a career where they can do well. Then three or four years down the line, they’re getting promoted or paying for their mum and dad to go on holiday or they’re getting their first house deposit together. No one is giving it to them – even Sellick Partnership isn’t, we’ve just played a part.
That’s what I love about recruitment, that part never changes. You get to work alongside your clients and candidates, build really good relationships, surround yourself with supportive colleagues and no day is ever the same, but seeing people change their lives by coming into this job, I absolutely love and that’s the reason I’ve stayed in recruitment because I’d get that no where else.
I think Sellick Partnership is the best platform for that, people are backed and they’re supported, they can be themselves, they’re allowed to work in their own way but they get excellent training.
Reaching the Board was always the goal when joining Sellick Partnership. What really appealed to me was how much there was to go at, the ladder I could climb and the people I would have the opportunity to learn from.
In reality, the journey has been so much more rewarding, and difficult at times. I was clear about my long-term aspirations, and Hannah, Jo and the whole Sellick Partnership team were clear about the opportunity I would have. I feel we have worked together to put me in a position to join the Board, and it is extremely satisfying to have achieved this.
For the wider team, this is just another example of many, that the opportunities are there to progress if you wish, but more importantly, so is the support. A promotion can’t just be a job title, I have been pushed to improve and challenged constantly throughout my time with the business, and this has enabled me, I hope, to get better.
The idea of progression is looking at where you can improve and what skills you can perfect. You can use it as a real opportunity to get better.
Rather than focusing on wanting to be a Director, which obviously remained a priority, it was about what I need to learn and what I can learn. How I can improve and what I can do. The last two or three years hasn’t even been about becoming a Director, it’s been about the challenges in the team and hiring the right people, helping those going through tougher times and improving those that have real potential.
I am in charge of the Legal division in Leeds, which covers temporary/locum and permanent recruitment. I am still billing and have a personal focus on permanent appointments.
I have a lot of experience within Legal recruitment, it’s a consistent market in that people always want and need really good lawyers. You get a wide variety of clients and candidates and you are expected to provide a good service. You can’t operate and not be very good because you will get found out, you can’t wing it.
If you don’t know what you’re talking about or don’t do what you say you’re going to do you’ll get found out, then lawyers and clients won’t deal with you. I also love the fact that everyone is very headstrong.
Your market knowledge and understanding of people is a key aspect, it’s not about trying to sell something to somebody, it’s about trying to find the right match because clients and candidates themselves are bright enough to decide whether something is right for them.
I think, where a lot of people in our teams have benefitted and why we’ve had success is we’ve tried to focus on clients that we’re going to be able to work with long-term. We have transactional relationships, of course, but we’ve tried to work on businesses where, if we get to know them and prove ourselves over a period of time, they might come to us exclusively but they will certainly value what we can add. They know we work in their best interests and we have had massive success across the board for that.
COVID-19, simple. Dealing with the pandemic and navigating that. Clients and candidates didn’t know what the market was going to look like. Nor did we but we were trying to provide the answers.
Clients were turning to us more than ever, especially those we had really good, long-term relationships with. Similarly with candidates, they were turning to us. This continued as we were coming out of the pandemic, we were trying to find solutions as companies got busier they wanted help with the growth plans but also to understand what the market was doing.
On a group level, the business has grown and we’ve got big plans moving forward but they still revolve around the same principles, which is to hire really good people and to support them massively. It just means that I’m going to be able to continue contributing to that and look at other ways across the Group in how I can help do that.
I’m looking forward to seeing other people progress through the business and go on a similar journey, and continue their careers so that we’ve got the next round of Managers, Senior Managers, Principal Consultants, Associate Directors and Directors.
I want to help the business but, more importantly, help people within the business to achieve their long-term plans alongside what we are looking to do. It’s challenging how you grow, how you hire and retain the best people and how you give them these opportunities.
It’s exciting that we don’t really know what that next step will be! Whatever it is, I will be able to use the experience and the support I have had and hopefully pass on some of that.
I actually care about the people I work with, internally and externally, as well as the company as a whole and you can’t fake that. Sometimes that’s not always a strength, and it might have even made my journey a little bit longer but there’s absolutely no doubt about it – I care about my team, I care about my colleagues, I take it personally and I’m emotionally invested in them. That’s why I do the job, I want to see people do well and I go through the highs and lows with them.
I soon found out what I am about and what I’m not, it’s not a choice. I never thought I’d want to manage people but what I soon realised is that I’m not very good at seeing people who are struggling especially when they are genuinely trying their hardest. I can’t turn a blind eye to it, my natural instinct is to want to try and get involved with them and try to solve problems.
I have worked with some brilliant, brilliant people. I will always be grateful to the first person that managed me but internally, I’ve been inspired by Hannah Cottam.
Hannah has been incredible as a role model, she has worked extremely closely with me for a number of years, been my biggest support and, at times, my biggest challenger. I’ve been without a doubt guided by Hannah. She’s there to make you better, to push you and she will always have your back - but will never give you an easy ride.
The truth is, I’ve had a huge amount of help from the entire Senior Management Team. I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside Laura Hayward, we’ve been through a similar journey and there’s nothing better to help you than realising and certainly feeling ‘They’re a lot better than me, at a lot of things’, because that makes you improve. It’s fundamental to your development and journey.
Be honest with yourself about what you want and then throw yourself into it. Recruitment is a brilliant career and you don’t have to get everything right, every time.
Sometimes there will be set backs, but if this is what you really want, you work really hard, you keep trying to get better and build relationships with people then you can be, and will be, successful.
Be authentic, be yourself, work hard and you will get the rewards, not just in terms of progression and financial but enjoying the brilliant job we do. I honestly think it’s a career where you’re in control of your own development, your own progression and your own earnings.
If you want to hear more about the internal vacancies that we have available within Sellick Partnership, get in touch today.