My Brilliant Recruitment Career - Cem Ballikaya
Published: 14 Mar 2016
Cem Ballikaya is team leader BA/PMO, Nicoll Curtin
What was your earliest dream job?
I wanted to be an astronaut! From age 5-11, that was a dream and then when I became a teenager, I wanted to be an actress, singer, back-up dancer or anything in the entertainment industry. I quickly realised that wasn’t going to make me money so I did a law degree, but fell into recruitment, as you do!
What was your first job in recruitment and how did you come into it?
I did nine days’ work experience at search firm McCabe & Barton, just doing contract invoices for someone who was on leave. The client was a tier one investment bank and I saw the salaries these guys were taking home, and thought maybe I could do some recruitment, too — and here I am…
What do you love most about your current role?
That I work at an outstanding company. We share the same values, mission and vision. I started in August 2014, have been promoted twice and have my own team.
What would you consider to be the most brilliant moment of your career?
Joining Nicoll Curtin — it was Q4 when everything was on a freeze but I came in and did nine deals in my first three months, qualified for the high fliers trip and was promoted by January.
What is your ‘can’t do without’ office tool besides your phone?
LinkedIn Recruiter — I wouldn’t know what to do without it.
Do you prefer a staycation or holiday abroad?
Holiday abroad, every single time. Every time I would just go to Seoul in South Korea if I could. I just love it.
Outside the office, where would you like to interview a candidate or be interviewed?
My ‘go to’ place is 1 Canada Square Bar and Restaurant. It’s predominantly where my main client is based.
What’s your top job to fill at the moment?
￡450/day PMO [project management office] analysts are my Achilles heel. It’s the busiest banding in that specialism. I’ve got portfolio managers who are on ￡950 a day and I found them easily — ￡450 a day though, no. For the life of me, can’t find them.
Laugh or cry, what did your most memorable candidate make you want to do and why?
Inspire, actually. I met her about six months ago and she was just awe inspiring — the way she spoke about what she did and her vision. I remember sending out an email to the chap who introduced me and said ‘when I grow up, I want to be this person’.
What’s the best or worst interview question you’ve ever heard?
I had a business analyst go for a client onboarding role and they used a metaphorical question — conjuring up a picture of a village with a certain population and x-number of hairdressers and the need for x-number of haircuts — to test the analyst’s skills. He began his answer with ‘well it doesn’t apply to me because I’m bald’. The hiring manager was so impressed — what a great question and a great comeback.
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Nicoll Curtin is on such a growth curve at the moment. You don’t need to bring experience with you, we just believe in the potential people can have with sufficient support. So if you want to escalate your career...?