A lot can change in a year. It’s an old cliché but one that still rings true, and even more so when the year in question was one as turbulent as 2023.
This time last January we were thrilled to welcome Sam McNaughton and Jasmine Miller to the Trident Search team as key additions to our Cyber Vendors desk. Over the course of the last twelve months, both Jazz and Sam have proven themselves to be invaluable members of the team, landing deals, securing clients and being a huge part of the office culture.
With both employees coming to us as “rookies” with just a few months of recruitment experience between them, it was always going to be a year of big learning curves! But what does it actually take to find your feet in one of the most difficult years the industry has faced? As Jazz and Sam mark their one-year anniversaries at the company, we caught up with them to see what challenges they weathered over the last year and the lessons they have learnt along the way.
Hi you two! I can’t believe it’s been a full 12 months since you both walked through the door last January. It’s been a really difficult year with the amount of flux in the market and the economic uncertainty that has shaken the industry – must have been a tough time to be cutting your teeth in cyber recruitment! What has the last year taught you about working in this industry?
Sam: Oh, we’ve both learnt so many lessons! I think last year we really saw the need for speed and urgency when filling roles, which meant everyone had to step up their game. It was interesting to learn in that environment as you kind of had to sink or swim, but I think it was actually a good thing as I’ll be taking over that mentality and competitive mindset into 2024.
Jazz: I’d 100% agree with that! I’ve found that in this market resilience is so important; you’ve got to pick yourself up and keep fighting for that business, even when it seems difficult. I’ve also definitely improved my organisation and time management skills – when your network is your net worth you have to keep your admin in order to ensure you’re engaging with everyone and building those relationships effectively.
Some real learning curves then, but let’s focus on the good things – have there been any key highlights during your time here?
Jazz: I’ve found that recruitment is so much more than just sales – you get to be part of someone’s career journey and can be a big part of helping them to reach their potential. I was speaking to a salesperson last year who was being grossly underpaid and underappreciated in his role, not even seeing a penny of his promised commission. I managed to find him a company that genuinely valued his expertise and landed him a role with the base salary he deserved.
Sam: Yeah, moving jobs is a big decision and it’s really exciting to help people take that next step. For us as well, it’s so great to be the person making those deals. We have a bell in the office which you get to ring every time you make a placement, and the first time I got to do that I was absolutely buzzing!
Jazz: I still remember when I was awarded Trident of the Month after making my first placement. Cringy photo aside, it was such a boost to be recognised for the work I’d put in. Becoming the Marketing recruitment specialist was also huge for me as I’ve been trusted to build out my own desk and given the autonomy to own this niche, something I never thought I would be doing last year.
Sam: Oh and all the parties and incentives of course – those are always brilliant!
Is there anything you would do differently knowing what you know now?
Jazz: When I joined, I was really nervous about not having enough knowledge or experience in cyber security. I honestly wish that I had relaxed a bit more into the role as once I started letting go of those nerves I found I had so much more success with business development, placements and just building relationships in general.
Sam: I think just getting through last year is an achievement in itself. It was tough for everyone, but for someone who hadn't been in recruitment long it was extremely tough at times. It would be great to have the knowledge I have now back then, but then I suppose everyone thinks that!
Although you’re both still early on in your careers you had been at different companies before coming to Trident. What have you found to be different here? We’re proud of our culture, so I’d be keen to know if you’ve found it lives up to the hype.
Sam: The culture is unreal; I couldn’t say a bad thing about it. I was very lucky to join with Jazz so we kind of got to experience it together, and both of settled in quickly. How we work allows me to chat with everyone and gives me the chance to throw in awful one liners and bad jokes every now and then.
Jazz: Other than Sam’s terrible jokes, I think the culture is pretty perfect! We have a team of people who couldn’t be more different, yet everyone works so well together professionally and personally. Having founders, directors and managers who genuinely have your career and best interests as a priority has been a gamechanger for me – it creates such a positive atmosphere throughout the whole company.
Sam: I secretly think everyone loves my sense of humour actually…
Jazz: The people here are what really make it a great place to work. I know it’s a bit cliché and I used to hate it when people talked about a “work family”, but we do have such a sold team here and that makes it so much more enjoyable. The “Sunday Scaries” just aren’t a thing for me anymore!
Sam: And the leadership team really support you from day one. I think something that sets Trident apart is the commerciality aspect that is drilled into us – we aren’t just taught to recruit but given the insight and business acumen to help drive the company direction, it’s going to help all of us so much in our future careers.
It sounds like this year is going to be crazy busy for both of you as you put all these learnings into action. To finish us off, what are you most looking forward to in 2024?
Jazz: I think the cyber security industry is going to go through some big changes, especially with the increased adoption of AI, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out on the recruitment side. Other than that, I’m hoping to get onto some company incentives this year (we’ve got some great ones planned in Dublin, Ibiza and Munich so far), and getting to feed into plans for the upcoming team wellness days.
Sam: The market is already starting to pick up compared to where we were this time last year, so I’m hoping we can keep up this momentum. I’m very lucky to have a great network of people that I speak to on a regular basis, and I love hearing about new bits of tech that are coming through. Part of that has been the creation of The SE Club, my LinkedIn community of Sales Engineers. We’ve got over 150 members now so I’m really looking forward to running some networking events and seeing where we can go with it this year!