The power of saying no, according to the founder of a bespoke talent agency


“My biggest thing is always remaining at an achievable capacity, and achieving as close to a 100 per cent fulfilment rate as possible.”

Whatever industry you’re in or whichever job you have, one of the most difficult things to do is to say no. While of course, it’s important to accept work, job offers and commissions where possible, saying yes to opportunities out of fear and obligation, or agreeing to work with brands whose values don’t match yours, can be detrimental to your standard of work. 

But especially in an industry like recruitment, it can be easy to take on too many clients – at which point an agency’s reputation is at stake if these clients are companies with a low staff retention rate (AKA, their workers don’t stick around) or an unstable (read: toxic) work culture.

Interested to hear how others navigate the world? Head to our Life section.

When starting her own bespoke recruitment agency, LP Talent founder Leah Pagan made sure that her point of difference was a thorough screening process, rather than accepting every client that came her way. This isn’t easy, especially for a small business. So what exactly does it take?

What is a streamlined recruitment process?

Leah tells me that her agency specialises across specific industries, working with brands and candidates in fields such as fashion, lifestyle, wellness and eCommerce.  “It’s pretty much a standard recruitment process, but I’m trying to streamline the process as much as possible,” says Leah. “My biggest thing is always remaining at an achievable capacity, and achieving as close to a 100 per cent fulfilment rate as possible. But I make sure to be realistic and meet client-candidate satisfaction.”

Leah explains that for recruitment agencies, a client comes to them when they’re looking to fill a position in their business. At LP Talent, she starts the recruitment process by taking a client’s brief and understanding the role as much as possible. Leah ensures that she is only working with “the best of the best”, so that her business upholds its reputation of collaborating with companies who have an “outstanding culture and flexible work environment”. 

“We care about what candidates want and need – it really has to be the most amazing opportunity possible,” she says. After interviewing clients and going through their brief, Leah then delves into finding as much information as she can get about the business, including current staff, organisational charts and where the new role would fit into the team.

She understands the job outline and reaches out to her connections and commences a headhunting process. Once this screening process is complete, she can start reaching out to her database of candidates –although this also requires screening and Leah says candidates need to be relevant to the business to be placed.

“Once people start responding, they are thoroughly interviewed and I gather a shortlist to present the best talent options,” she says. “I also follow up consistently after the [client] puts out an offer so I can make sure it’s all running smoothly and that the candidate and client are both happy.”

What does it take?

Leah reached this point of running a successful, streamlined business after years of work in the recruitment industry. She learned the ins and outs through working for a large, global recruitment company, and gained further experience while working at boutique fashion agency, Who in the Zoo.

“My only reasons for leaving were having a baby and wanting to be my own boss,” she tells me. “I now have complete access to be able to have the recruitment process the way that I think is best.” Finishing up our chat, Leah emphasises that her process and success are based on only working with companies that hold themselves to high standards and share her same values for honesty and quality work. It’s a pertinent reminder of the power of ‘no’.

A portion of every placement through LP Talent is donated to BeyondBlue in support of those struggling with depression and mental health issues. To find out more about LP Talent, head here.

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