Meet The Team: Stephen Ashbee

• Position: Development Team Manager
• Sum yourself up in three words: Polite, open-minded and ambitious
Fun fact: Stephen’s actually able to stand on his head for 30 seconds!

Stephen joined Maxwell Bond in November 2016, although he’s worked with our Director, Steven, for seven years in three previous businesses.

Joining as a consultant with the intent to progress into management, Stephen now heads up the development team, drawing on nearly a decade of expertise in recruiting for development roles.

Tell me about your role at Maxwell Bond

As Development Team Manager, I manage the billings across the team, acting as business development consultant, mentor and recruiter. This usually means I’m in meetings one or two days a week, but I’m always on hand to spot check and listen in on calls to make sure my team are doing their best.

My time is divided between Jonny and Riana, helping to train them up and coach them so that they can confidently consult with companies and candidates we are working with on a daily basis.

We are set to grow to four soon, with an aim to have a full team by the end of the year.

What do you like about working for Maxwell Bond?

I like the flexibility of working here, and the level of trust I’m given. It’s at Maxwell Bond that I feel truly able to try different strategies out, and even fail sometimes in order to really understand what works and what doesn’t.

But I also like the reputation that we’re creating for ourselves already. If you consider how small we are, it’s impressive how many people in the industry have heard of us – usually people assume that we’re much a larger agency. I think that highlights that we’re doing good work in the market.

It’s rewarding to hear industry experts refer to us like a key player in the sector, especially when there’s approximately 500 other agencies doing dev recruitment in Manchester alone. It’s allowed us to have relationships with senior people at FTSE 100 companies much earlier than a business in our position usually would.

Fundamentally though, I genuinely enjoy the company and everyone who works here. I don’t think that’s a commonly held opinion in business, let alone in recruitment.

How do you spot a company where people matter?

A telling factor is how long employees have been there for. If you spot a company with a high staff turnover, it’s clear that they aren’t working hard enough to retain workers. This is especially the case if employees are barely lasting six months in the business before moving on to something better.

Similarly, word of mouth within the market can paint a clear picture. News travels fast in recruitment, so you naturally hear about anything that’s occurring within certain sectors. Recruiters are plugged in, and if we have regular negative feedback from candidates about a certain organisation, it’s unlikely to be a company where people matter. Sometimes you can even recognise if an employee has been looked after in their previous role by their demeanour.

What matters to you in recruitment?

Truthfully, I fell into recruitment when I realised that a previous company I worked for were stealing credit card information. I immediately left and asked the recruitment company next door if they had any roles available. I was given an interview and was subsequently offered the job – I’ve worked in recruitment ever since (it’s been over eight years now).

I think that’s probably why I value honesty above all else, especially in this industry. Some of the places where I’ve been, employers would rather you get a deal than be honest. In my experience, if you’re not sincere, the deal is unlikely to last and will harm your credibility. Whereas if you’re honest and you lose a deal, people will appreciate your authentic approach and come back to you later down the line.

A lot of recruiters call themselves consultants but don’t actually consult. Instead, they just allocate people to a role and then move on. I work closely with clients to look at the availability of talent, educate them on the current market conditions and the technologies people are using, advise on salaries, and support them in the interview process – it’s about an end-to-end service.

Your top tip?

Be open to advice. Some clients go into the market with a really rigid view of what they want. These businesses won’t be flexible on the talent they are looking for, but they need to understand that it is not a weakness to ask for help. Taking advice from experienced people who have done it before saves time, money and hassle.

In my development specialism, employers can spend 6-9 months trying to find a suitable candidate. This is harmful to business continuity. But, if they took high-quality advice, they could fast-track their hiring solutions and have the employee they need much quicker.