December 15, 2021

An Interview with Kelly Cartwright

An Interview with Kelly Cartwright

We are Jark Norfolk Ltd, "the" construction recruiter. We were born out of a dedication to making a difference to you. We facilitate a seamless, simple but effective, specialist recruitment service through absolute understanding and working in partnership with you. We started with a simple idea, to offer a construction specialist recruitment service, and to do it in the very best way.

The team have a combined fifteen years’ experience within the industry, irrefutable marketplace knowledge and have worked exceptionally hard to maintain a strong reputation. Starting off at our hub in Norwich, providing a recruitment solution to the Norfolk region we built a strong reputation with our clients locally. Building relationships takes time, but you develop an understanding of these individuals’ requirements, personality and expectations and they want you to supply their next project (which could be out of our remit.)

We know what we, and more importantly, what our clients and candidates, like and respect, and it’s our dedication to deliver just that, on all levels. We know we can deliver and offer an exceptional service which is powered by our desire to get things right. By listening and developing a mutual collaboration, we can support your business and provide you with a valuable and effective recruitment solution. We strive to attain excellence in all areas of our service and support provided. We have the freedom to remain flexible; respecting diversity and individual points of difference. Hand in hand with growth is the value that you offer to your client or customer. Demonstrating that value from the start of the relationship not only helps you secure future loyalty, but helps you improve your pipeline via referrals. Growth has a multifaceted gear wheel attached to it that involves many aspects of nurturing new and existing relationships and defining value.

A site may need a bricklayer, but not every bricklayer on my books will have the right personality that will allow them to fit in. In construction, that team dynamic is vital. We understand that, and that’s why we don’t just provide the skills, but also the characters that will hit the ground running for a client, without causing precisely the kind of disruption on site that we don’t want to see!

We pride ourselves on not being a big corporate business, where you are just a name to that business and the consultant is just a voice at the end of the phone. We have a personal approach, we take time to fully understand our industry, to provide a unique, tailored service to each individual client’s needs.

How did you get into the construction industry?

My journey really did start at the bottom. I never set out to get into recruitment, but an entry level job at an agency saw me rapidly take on more responsibilities and gain promotions that allowed me to climb the ladder. I started as a Resourcer and administrator with a national recruitment business in 2010, whilst completing my final exams at college. Once I had achieved the grades required, I was going to head for a career within advertising and marketing, but all that changed. I developed a passion for the “recruitment buzz”. Being a young, confident 18-year-old and having my first taste for commission, I wanted more. Approaching the director for an opportunity as a consultant, in the staff kitchen one lunchtime, my wish was granted.

I ran a construction management desk supplying management and engineering personnel on a freelance basis. Although I thrived being in control of my own desk, I missed the fast paced environment of the blue collar sector. But the opportunity wasn’t there, so I found somewhere it was. In 2011, I joined Jark Construction as a trainee consultant with three months to prove myself to gain the consultant title. And we all know I love a target...

During those three months, I relished in the pressure. I was the first one in the office and the last one out to ensure I secured that promotion. I exceeded the target set by my area manager and started to build my reputation as the go-getter “Kelly at Jark”. Although my years as an employee were relatively few, I always had a goal in front of me. Making the transition to running my own business was the next logical step.

What has the industry taught you?

One of the hardest things for any entrepreneur is cutting through the noise and being able to focus on why they got into business in the first place. Everyone has an opinion, but in business, I’ve learned you need to learn which opinions are worth listening to and which aren’t. I’ve noticed that the more successful you are, the more forceful and vocal people are with their opinions. And I’ve realised that the sad truth is that there are plenty of people who want to see you fail. These are people who may feel threatened by you, or may be people who you thought were friends and good contacts. They will find fault with anything and everything to put you and your business down.

You can buckle under the pressure and cry yourself to sleep at night or you can use it as a motivation, and as confirmation that you are actually doing something very right. In fact, criticism has been the making of me. Maybe that’s because I’m competitive, maybe that’s because I’m naturally determined, but it has helped me develop resilience and the ability to stay above those who are determined to drag me down.

The best advice I can offer is to remember to treat any negativity that comes your way as a challenge, that if you can shrug it off, and carry on regardless, it will make you a better entrepreneur, and a better person.

And it is worth remembering that because you have actually achieved something, gone out there and shaken the status quo, you are always likely to have upset or unsettled someone. That’s business, it is competitive, and you have to expect these things. You get used to it. It comes back to self-belief and a willingness to see the bigger picture. My priorities are my staff, my clients and candidates and ultimately the health of my business. If that’s in order, then no amount of negativity will knock me off course.

What three things would you tell your younger self?

Some see being an entrepreneur as having the expensive car, owning the big house and generally flashing the cash. A few people do hit the jackpot very quickly, of course, but for me, I went into it with my eyes wide open. Hard graft, long hours and sacrificing time with family and friends is the reality. That’s not for everyone. I was lucky. I was exposed to the reality of running a business from a young age when my parents set up their own business while I was at primary school. I saw then that to make a business work, you have to put the rest of your life to one side, at least for a while. It’s not all glitz and glam. What people don’t see is the long road to success, what goes on behind the scenes, the early alarms, the late finishes, the phone ringing at all hours, the sleepless nights and the constant battle to always achieve more. You have to ask yourself whether you are ready for that.

For me, the passion for my business and my industry makes it all worth it. You do it because you love it, because it is an obsession and is why you are prepared to put life on hold to make it work. But all the hours in the world won’t help a new business if there’s not a clear sense of direction.

Kelly Cartwright
Jark Norfolk Ltd

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