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Chris Pestell

Chris Pestell on making waves in the talent pool

By Chris Pestell

Associate Director KM4HR and KM4Talent

From Welsh roots, Chris Pestell has lived and worked across the UK accumulating 17 years of experience in recruitment along the way. But it was riding the storm of the pandemic that brought the keen surfer to his most fulfilling and current role at KM4.

Chris joined the HR and Talent specialists in September last year, bringing his expertise to the established HR recruitment arm of the business (KM4HR), as well as helping to develop KM4 Talent – a new venture for the business which is lining up nicely.

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KM4 Talent currently specialises in commercial, finance, and tech recruitment; what inspired you to focus on these niches?

Technology’s a no-brainer because there's so much going on in that space, and it will continue to grow across the globe. Technology is going to be paramount; our challenge is finding the right people.

I started my career in finance recruitment and it's something that I will focus on and continue to grow. Commercial is an area in which one of our team has a background.

Over time, we plan to grow those individual brands, expand those offerings and potentially add different ones. The long-term goal is for the talent brand to be able to diversify and cover a range of different areas within recruitment.

What are the biggest opportunities and challenges in those realms of recruitment right now?

If we were talking in February, our business model was survival mode. Whereas now, it's totally flipped the other way; we’re job-rich and short in candidates. Every sector is seeing challenges around finding quality talent, and we're having the same problem as an agency growing and trying to find really good recruiters.

How is technology developing the parameters of recruitment processes?

CRM technology is probably where we can see massive potential for growth. We use a system that links straight to our website and helps the website to grow and develop.

We’ve got an enterprise solution that links to a potential RPO (recruitment process outsourcing) model. One of the things we're looking to do is create mini RPO solutions, working with SMEs who need good recruitment partners to manage their roles. It will be a hybrid RPO model where our CRM system will create the client’s own branded landing page, with us managing the backend. We can build talent pools and manage roles whilst the client can see what's going on behind the scenes within the CRM. It gives visibility and credibility and helps us build trust and forge those long-term relationships.

How big a part does social media play in recruitment?

Social media plays a massive part - if we don't embrace it, we're going to get left behind. We've invested a lot in our social media strategy.

Getting the right message for the brand is really important, as well as the individual brand specialisms. We've worked really hard on adding value to candidates and clients and being less focused on us as individuals. We’re trying to get that message across consistently on social media.

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Do you have a proudest moment in your journey so far?

With KM4, the last six months have made me very proud. To go from survival mode to being close to hitting our targets with another six months still to go. The whole team has worked so hard and it’s turned the business around, giving us that platform for growth. There have been a lot of late nights, a lot of weekends, and not a lot of holidays. We’re really team-orientated and even working remotely we’ve managed to keep that team ethos. Everyone’s done a phenomenal job, working hard and keeping everything together.

What advice would you give your younger self today?

Get your finances sorted at an early age, especially compound interest and understanding investments. If you do it early, you can set yourself up for life.

I think financial literacy should be taught in schools. It’s a massive thing and I look back and kick myself because I’m catching up in my 30s to try and set myself up for retirement, whereas if I had done it in my early 20s, I’d have been well ahead. And I wish I had bought Bitcoin back in 2013 when I was looking at it!

"Every sector is seeing challenges around finding quality talent, and we're having the same problem as an agency growing and trying to find really good recruiters."

Chris Pestell - Associate Director KM4HR and KM4Talent

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I’d like to travel more; these last few years have given me an insight that there’s a world out there that we’re not seeing and utilising enough.

I do a lot of surfing; my son loves it too so I take him when I can. I’ve also got a three-year-old daughter; we spend a lot of time at the beach.

I used to play golf professionally and I still play a lot; I enjoy taking part in the Old Bond Store golf days.

Who or what keeps you inspired?

Kelly Slater – he’s 50 years old, he’s still competing with the best surfers in the world and he’s still as fit as any of them. I think when you hit 40, your life changes a bit and it feels like you’re getting old, whereas actually if you manage to get fit and stay healthy you can save years. If you look at Kelly Slater, at 50 he’s probably the fitness level of 35. I’ve done a lot around fitness and diets, I think it’s so important, especially as we get older. I follow Wim Hof and believe what he says about breathing correctly can transform your life. There’s a lot we don’t know about the body; people like that can teach us a hell of a lot.

"Get your finances sorted at an early age, especially compound interest and understanding investments. If you do it early, you can set yourself up for life."

Chris Pestell - Associate Director KM4HR and KM4Talent