Phil Street, Momentum

Phil Street, Momentum

James Sandrini 7th March 2018

What’s it really like to start a business in hospitality? We started an interview series to find out.

This week, we talked with Phil Street, Co-Founder of Momentum Recruitment, about the role of the recruiter in employee engagement, Joaquin Phoenix and how tech is changing the industry.


Recruiter or Real Estate Agent: Who is more hated?

Ooft! That’s a harsh opener, and I’d argue a touch unfair.

I think that in any industry, anywhere in the world, there will always be those who do things well and those who do things poorly. Recruiters and Estate Agents are no different. For whatever reason, it seems that Recruiters and Estate Agents get more bad press than good, but at the end of the day, I can’t control the performance of others.

We just try to ensure we’re as robust as we can be, honest at every turn and, critically, deliver what our partners need.


How is recruitment changing?

The fundamentals of recruitment are not really changing at all, but there’s a lot of noise on the fringes for sure, mainly around tech and AI.


It’s hard to escape technology at this point.

Totally. I’m a big believer in the benefits of tech, but in a lot of cases, tech is very ‘black and white’ and this is far from a black and white industry.

Whether you’re an in-house or an external consultant, relationships still drive the majority of what we do, whether that’s new work or networking, on or offline. But there’s not and, can never be, a ‘one size fits all approach’ to what we do.  Some people still crave human contact – who’d have thought! –  and I’m one of them. It makes sense for me to hunt out the people who feel the same but it doesn’t mean that it’s the best approach to everything we do.

I respect the individuality of the process and, to be honest, that’s what I find endlessly fascinating.

To get back to your question, the way people hunt for jobs is changing: It’s definitely gone more mobile and there is noticeably less care in the process of applying now than in years past, but the real change is on the reactive side, job advertising and so on. Everything we do is proactive and I’m not seeing much changing on that front.


So you think the future for person-to-person recruitment remains strong?

I do. I think AI and general tech advancement have a massive part to play in the efficiency of the recruitment process, and I look forward to the day where I fully understand all of what’s possible.

We’re at a very interesting crossroads. On the one hand, everyone talks about the need to engage more with our teams, get them more brand loyal, treat them with respect and so on, and yet there seems a strange irony in the need to ‘tech up’ and take the humanity out of it all.

To come back to my earlier point, relationships rule. In my eyes, relationships are born out of mutual respect.  I’m sure this is old school mythology to some, but I think never have we had to be hotter on this point. And I mean proper relationships! Having 10,000 connections on LinkedIn is incredibly useful but when you only know 5% of them, and you’re not working on developing the rest, you’re not really creating relationships.

More often than not, relationships are cemented in person to person contact. So, yes, I believe the future for person-to-person recruitment is very bright.

"Having 10,000 connections on LinkedIn is incredibly useful but when you only know 5% of them, and you’re not working on developing the rest, you're not really creating relationships"

How do you feel about an algorithm matching a candidate with a job role? That tech is very much in place at the entry-level of the market.

I respect the tech. I had an online conversation with someone the other day who told me that AI can now make you fall in love with it apparently, so it’s only a matter of time before it can make accurate assessments on someone’s human suitability for a role I guess.

I can’t see that taking off. In saying that, I thought touch screen phones would never take off. What do I know?


Slight tangent: Why do all voice devices seem to have women’s voices? Have you seen the movie ‘Her’? Would Joaquin Phoenix make a good recruiter?

Ha! I haven’t seen the movie but I’ll add it to my never-deteriorating list.

I’ll happily comment when I get round to seeing it but Joaquin Pheonix is a fine actor; very adaptable and comfortable being in a dark place…it seems so he has the potential to be a great recruiter…


Moving on…What advice would you give someone entering the hospitality industry right now?

Come into it with open eyes and ears.

This industry is the industry of dreams, it can take you wherever you want to let it take you.  So many different skills on show: Finance, operations, HR, sales & marketing, culinary, engineering, you name it.  There’s never been a better time to join, and the opportunities are endless.

But be prepared to learn and work. There’s so much talent in the industry; learn from it! And bring your voice too. We want people who have opinions and who want to push normal ways of thinking.

"There’s no way that the industry can shape a generation’s way of thinking, so we have to adapt to it"

How can we improve team retention?

I think a little respect goes along way. For too long, the industry has said to people coming into it, ‘come in, plug in and get on with it.’ And then when things go wrong, we’ll shout at you and make you feel worthless. Great.

If the next generations have a different viewpoint and a different way of doing things, then listen and adapt and respect it.


Open eyes and open ears huh?

You’re getting it! There’s no way that the industry can shape a generation’s way of thinking, so we have to adapt to it. That’ll help in finding people who will actually feel like they belong.

As people, I don’t think much has changed in terms of where our innate motivation comes from. People want a sense of belonging. In saying all this, you also have to respect everyone’s individuality, so what works for one may not work for anyone else.


What role does a recruiter play in that?

Well, by the same token, respect should also dominate recruitment relationships and I think recruiters have a massive part to play in helping improve team retention.

The very best recruitment partnerships work because there is mutual respect. The client respects the work the recruiter does, so they let the recruiter into their business, enabling them to do an even better job. Equally, a recruiter must respect the brand: The message, the boundaries and limits within any role.

I think a lot of people forget that, if you engage with us, we are an extension of your brand. The message that comes to us then gets relayed to the candidate, so really our impact at the beginning of a process should never be underestimated.

If you get the recruitment right in terms of culture and skills fit, sparks fly and you get longevity. But I’m also a big believer in not promoting retention for the sake of it. If someone needs to fly and they can’t fly with you, why get in their way?

If you let them exit with respect and best wishes, there’s a chance that person could come back to you, and come back with a whole new set of skills in the future. Honestly, this feels like common sense and I think we can all be guilty of overthinking things from time to time, but if you analyse any facet of business and apply a common sense mind, more often than not, the solution presents itself.

Thanks to Phil Street.

To contact Momentum, head over to their website. Or, to speak to Phil directly – and to urge him to watch Her and to reconsider his views on Joaquin Phoenix – connect with him on LinkedIn.