My Career Progression In Recruitment To Director: Q&A With Nicholas Hopkins

Q&A series with Nicholas about his career progression in recruitment to Director of VIQU

Nicholas Hopkins is one of VIQU’s Directors and heads up the 360 team, focusing his time on IT contract placements. In 2022, he won Most Inspirational Leader/ Manager at the Recruiter Investing in Talent Awards, highlighting his incredible career progression in recruitment from consultant to director!

With 14+ years of experience under his belt, I was pleased to sit down with Nicholas to cover everything from how he fell into recruitment, to his incredible career progression in recruitment, to how he co-founded VIQU just 5 years into his journey.

How did you get into recruitment?

Nicholas: I studied Law at university and was waiting to undergo my training contract. I needed to find a job in the interim, and although my preference was doing something around the legal sector, an opportunity popped up to be a recruiter with one of the agencies I had applied to for a Paralegal role.

It turned out to be the best move I ever made.

My legal training helps a lot with negotiating contracts and dealing with clients. It’s not the most conventional route to a career in recruitment, but honestly, there isn’t really one singular route to recruitment. I think a lot of people fall into recruitment rather than seek it out. That probably comes from a lack of understanding of what the role actually entails and how satisfying the job can be.

It’s not just a sales role – the life of a recruiter encompasses sales, administration, organisation, and contract negotiation. The range of skills and the unlimited earning and career progression in recruitment make it a very rewarding career. Recruitment isn’t something that’s pushed in schools as a viable career option, but many individuals thrive in recruitment.

Did you have any misconceptions about recruitment when you first started in the industry?

Nicholas: I don’t think anyone really knows what they’re getting into at that age. I think it’s the same in most careers, not just recruitment. With any job you start when you’re young, you don’t know what it is really like until you get into it.

No job is a breeze, but I thought recruitment would be easy in terms of just calling people up. Turns out it’s more complicated than that! But with practise, understanding, hard work, and devotion, I’ve been able to achieve great success in my career.

What was it like early on in your career?

Nicholas: When I started in recruitment, you had intense training for a week and then were left to your own devices. Unless you were given a warm desk, all you had was access to a job board, a phone, and the internet, and were told to get on the phone and generate leads. There wasn’t as much support as there is now.

The world has changed and the approach that clients and candidates look for is more consultative and based on relationships built over time. Those who go on to have great career progression in recruitment do so because they do the hard graft and put themselves out there. Although approaches have changed over the years, the hunger to succeed and deliver a 5* service will always be the same in recruitment.

How do you think recruitment has changed throughout your career?

Nicholas: Nowadays, there are different hurdles to go through to speak with the right people. With more people working remotely, we have to work harder than ever to build a network. It takes time to build people’s trust, whether they are a client or candidate.

Additionally, what businesses want has changed. Contingency recruitment used to be more popular. However, now there is more of a demand from companies for solutions-based recruitment, in order to plan for the future. This makes long standing relationships more common and important.

But, at its heart, the fundamentals of recruitment haven’t changed. Essentially as a consultant, you need to find a market and boss it. To do well, you have to either be the first or the best in a market. You also need to communicate and build a strong network of candidates and clients. Whilst, emails and WhatsApp messages have become more popular forms of communication, in my experience, recruiters will find greater success by talking to individuals on the phone and meeting clients in person.

With the evolution of AI, there are certain aspects of recruitment that may now be easier or more straightforward – building client lists, lead generation etc. However, it won’t grow and nurture those key relationships. It’s certainly not intelligent or reactive enough at the moment to adequately deal with the fast-changing pace of recruitment. Likewise, it is not proactive enough to perform technical assessments with candidates and cannot have conversations with clients to delve into and identify exactly what they are looking for.

So recruitment is definitely changing, but the core elements of being a good recruiter remain the same.

What has kept you interested in recruitment throughout your career?

Nicholas: I would say the diversity of responsibilities.

In recruitment, you have to:

  • Be comfortable in a sales environment
  • Be tech savvy
  • Keep up with current affairs and market changes
  • Understand legal requirements and regulations
  • Be okay with a level of unpredictability as well as working reactively and proactively

I’ve always really enjoyed recruitment because fundamentally you’re running your own business, inside your workplace. You have a level of control and autonomy that other jobs don’t give.

Of course, I have to mention some of the great rewards from VIQU, such as: a competitive commission scheme, celebrating success collectively and amazing Christmas conferences abroad! I’ve also travelled to so many interesting places: Dubai, Dublin, St Petersburg, Havana, and Marbella.

You were one of the first employees at VIQU, what made you decide to join the team?

Nicholas: So, I had been working as a recruitment consultant in a corporate environment for 5 years when the prospect that became VIQU came up. I had worked in lots of different offices in various locations, and I felt like times were changing.

Clients and candidates were looking for things that big corporate companies couldn’t offer in terms of services and getting a more personal touch.

I heard through the grapevine that Matt was looking to create a new company. After a couple of conversations, I really bought into the vision of what he wanted to achieve.

I had come to a point in my career progression in recruitment where I had a solid reputation in the industry, so I wasn’t too worried about starting somewhere new. Most importantly, I was also early enough in my career that I could take a big risk by joining a company that wasn’t even set up yet.

VIQU was a huge opportunity for me to be part of something from the outset and to have a hand in shaping its future. Furthermore, for someone who only had a few years of experience, the level of support I was given at the time was truly invaluable and something I am very grateful for. It was one of my best decisions to date.

Tell me about your career progression in recruitment from consultant to manager, then director.

Nicholas: The career progression in recruitment can be really good when you put the effort, commitment and hard work in. It’s meant that I have risen to Director in a business relatively fast. However, the move from consultant to manager was definitely a step up.

Moving up to management included taking on a lot more responsibilities. You not only have a billing target of your own but also the responsibility to support and manage your team to ensure they are the best they can be. Thankfully, I was given lots of management training and support from VIQU’s senior leadership team.

I found becoming a director and board member challenging as you have to learn more about understanding how a business is run and focus on strategy. But the step up to management I felt a bit more. I suddenly had a level of responsibility that I’d never experienced before. I know I am very fortunate to be in the position I am, so even though those steps up were challenging, I really relish every challenge I’m given.

Is there anything you’re looking forward to now in your career?

Nicholas: I’m really looking forward to building on the success of our 360 recruitment team and taking it forward to the next level. We’ve had some great success stories at VIQU, with a number of our recruiters building fantastic careers with us. We need to make sure that we find and invest in the right people.

I love to see people flourish and be motivated by their own career progression in recruitment. I had some amazing opportunities as I climbed the ladder from consultant to Director and it’s an absolute pleasure to see others achieve similar things.


If you’re interested in a career in recruitment or how VIQU could support you taking the next step in your recruitment career, please click here to contact our Head of Talent, Melinda Queck.

To gain further insights from our team regarding their career progression in recruitment and what working at VIQU is like, please check out our latest blogs here.

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