The right opportunity and at the right time: AAT’s Charlotte Douglas on talent acquisition

Anthony Haynes writes: FJWilson Talent Services (FJWTS) have worked with the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) since 2012, initially focusing on a number of new, regional and field-based business development roles.  Here we publish the latest in the resultant series of case studies.

In conversation with Charlotte Douglas, Regional Account Manager, North West, AAT

Anthony Haynes writes: FJWilson Talent Services (FJWTS) first contacted Charlotte via her LinkedIn profile in December 2014 about a proposed position at AAT. Charlotte had been working as a business development manager for a private training provider for seven years. Here she reflects on her experience as an FJWTS candidate. Charlotte was particularly impressed by FJWTS’s professional and personalised approach.

The approach from FJWTS

When Fiona Wilson got in touch, I wasn’t actively looking for a new job. But her approach came at the right time – sometimes you don’t realise you’re looking for something else until someone puts something attractive on the table. My employer was delivering some of AAT’s qualifications so I knew the brand was well respected within the industry. Knowing the job was at AAT was the green light, as I wanted to stay within the education and training sector. The opportunity to work for an awarding body – as opposed to a training provider ‒ was something different but in the same vein, and meant that I would be able to align my skills and experience to the proposed new role.

The job specification sent by FJWTS whetted my appetite even further. I organised an hour-long Facetime session with Fiona. She asked me questions about myself; what I was looking for, my aspirations, as well as my understanding of AAT. It was useful for both parties – Fiona was assessing if I was suitable for the role, and I was finding out more about the role and business.

The selection process

The whole process took two months; the Christmas break fell during this time. I was in post on 2 March 2015.

Following approval of my CV by Martin Hanratty, National Account Manager and line manager for this role, I was invited to the first round of interviews in Manchester. Ahead of the interview I researched AAT, its brand and the different qualifications it offers, and its target audiences. I looked at its marketing channels – on YouTube, TV and billboard advertising. I also reviewed my experience to make sure I was ready to discuss real-life examples of what I could do.

I felt that the interview went reasonably well, and was pleasantly surprised to find out the same day that I’d been successful. FJWTS’s service was really impressive – I was contacted after office hours to say that I’d gone through, which was great.

At this point I took some psychometric tests – something I’d never done before. These assessed how I react to different situations, how I work, and what my motivations/drivers are. I also took a non-verbal reasoning test. FJWTS also scheduled a session two days ahead of the interview to run through my preparation and the presentation that was part of the interview. Fiona was very helpful and suggested other aspects, pointing me in the right direction.

The second interview was held in AAT’s head office in London with Martin Hanratty and Rob Alder, Head of Business Development, in the New Year. My presentation went great; it flowed really well and there was an easy interaction between the three of us. I felt this interview went better than the first interview as I understood more about their expectations from the first interview in Manchester and I was confident my skills and experience were very well suited to the role. I found out that I’d been successful a couple of days later. Fiona gave me good feedback from the interview at this point.

My current role

I work from home and visit customers in their offices. I meet the other regional account managers in London once a month, which is a great opportunity to share best practice, highlight what opportunities and challenges we’re all facing, identify any regional differences, find out what other providers are offering, and give each other support. There’s also daily contact by email.

Final thoughts

The service I received – and continue to receive is great. FJWTS is all about customer service – it works for both parties: they make you feel like you’re the only person they deal with.

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