Gabbi Trotter has been on quite a journey since joining Searchability in 2015, and through a lot of hard work and an innovative approach to her recruitment market she has recently received an award nomination for "Personality of the Year" at the 2020 Onrec Awards. Prior to the awards we caught up with Gabbi to learn more about her experience as a recruiter and to understand more about why she is in the running for this prestigious award:
You joined in 2015 as a Junior Resourcer and are now leading one of the most successful recruitment teams within Searchability – can you tell us a bit about your journey into recruitment?
"Like most other people in the industry I fell into recruitment by chance - I finished school, and really didn’t want to go to University so knew I needed a job! I started at just 19 and it was my first "proper job". I was definitely very nervous for the first couple of months in the role, but I can honestly say this job, and Searchability as a company, has helped me become a much more confident person."
Initially you focused on software development recruitment before finding your niche within the testing world – what was it about testing that made you want to focus solely on this area of tech?
"I was initially working alongside our Director Dan focusing on software development in Yorkshire, at the time Testing wasn’t its own separate market, but it was something I really enjoyed working on. I felt I had really insightful conversations with Testers, and it was clear there was a huge market in Yorkshire for someone who could find high quality, experienced Testers. It was a combination of noticing the gap in the market, and also being so welcomed by the test community that made me take the leap!"
You have always been active within the tech community and you collaborated many times over the years for the Searchability blog with your “Talking Testing” blog series – can you tell us a bit more about this?
"I wanted to find a way to give back to the community, as they had welcomed me in, and obviously helped pay my bills (haha)! So I thought by creating a blog series that gave them a platform to speak about their achievements, life lessons and the testing industry would be a great way to do this. It actually also really helped me gain a better understanding of the industry and the role of a Tester as well."
In addition to blog collaboration you also dedicate a lot of time to MeetUps and events within the testing community – what has your experience in this area been like as a recruiter?
"It was something I was really nervous to do initially, I wasn’t sure if I’d be welcome, or if everything talked about at these events would go completely over my head. Its safe to say I was wrong! I was welcomed immediately, and learnt so much from attending those first few events. As my confidence and network has grown so has my involvement, I now sit on the board for Ministry of Test Manchester, and will be giving a workshop at Leeds Testing Atelier in a few months! I feel it’s so important as a recruiter to give back, and make a concerted effort to push yourself outside your comfort zone."
For someone who is looking to get more involved with their local tech / testing community what would your advice to them be?
"My number one piece of advice is to be respectful, recruiters are welcome at events but only as an attendee with a genuine interest, if you are going to just tap up candidates and push your agenda, you're going for the wrong reasons!"
You are a huge advocate for women in tech – from your experience as a recruiter do you think we are starting to see more companies taking positive steps towards gender diversity in their tech teams?
"Yes, 100% which is amazing to see. I recently went to a Female Founders event in Manchester that was completely focused on this topic, and talked about supporting female bosses. With that said there is definitely more that needs to be done, and it can’t just be the women who are pushing this agenda, we need the men at the top to get on board for real change to be made. Also it really is a pipeline problem, for the number of women in tech to improve, the amount of girls in tech, and interested in tech needs to increase, I could talk about this topic all day, but the bottom line is there is still a lot to be done, but change is afoot! 🙂
Also as a recruiter now I ask all clients what their Diversity and Inclusion policy is upfront, their answers are a good gauge of how seriously they are taking the topics."
You’ve been approached directly by some pretty big names in the tech world to work on software testing requirements, a lot of which has come off the back of your presence in the community from social media and MeetUps – can you tell us about some of the clients you have brought on for Searchability?
"It’s always really flattering to be approached by any company to help them recruit, but I’d say two of the biggest names who we have started working with recently off the back of my community involvement, have been AJ Bell and Jaguar Land Rover."
You’ve grown your testing team substantially over the last 12 months – how did you find the transition into management while being very much hands-on with recruitment?
"Hard! I wouldn’t say I was a natural leader and it's so different going from being all about number one, to running a team. However I feel I have really come into my own with it recently, and (hopefully) have found a really good balance. I have a lot of trust in my team, and feel I have instilled my values as a recruiter into them, so I know they are out there in the market doing the Searchability name proud."
On a non-work subject, you helped introduce Searchability to a local charity (Hope House) and also support this outside of work as well – in what ways do you support the charity / what is your background with this?
"Hope House is a charity close to our heart at Searchability, and a close family friend of mine approached Searchability as a company to really help them push their fundraising over the past couple of years. Our fundraising efforts have included Christmas Jumper days, Charity Bake Offs and even being “Dragons” for Hope House's version of Dragons Den. It couldn’t be a more worthwhile cause for us to support, and we hope to continue supporting them into 2020 and beyond!"
You were our top biller on perm in 2019 and won a pretty exciting trip to Las Vegas as a result – how did this feel?
"This was such an amazing moment, on a personal level I was so happy already to have been top biller that having the complete surprise of a winning a trip to Vegas (which was announced at our Christmas Party) was the cherry on top! I feel genuinely so lucky to work for a company that rewards their employees so much."
This year you are up for personality of the year at the 2020 Onrec Awards – how would it feel to take home the title?
"Again I feel so happy to even have been mentioned on the Shortlist, but of course I’d love to win! I feel like to win as a woman in a very male dominated industry, would be a great achievement. Let see what happens on the night!"
You can follow Gabbi Trotter on twitter here, and the Onrec 2020 winners will be revealed on the evening of March 5th 2020.