Our Careers: Recruitment March 16, 2012Posted by Andrew Falconer in : Our Careers, career profiles, city jobs , trackback
Louisa Davies is a careers adviser with a background in the recruitment industry. Here she continues our series of posts about our professional careers.
In my final year at Durham University I spent a couple of hours completing an application for a graduate scheme, attended an assessment centre and an interview and was appalled when I didn’t get accepted. “What? You don’t want me? But I’m an all-rounder!”, I shrieked (not literally). I was so put out that I stopped filling out forms, stopped being interested and dedicated myself to enjoying my final year instead. No doubt a common story. Thus I found myself, post-finals, sitting in front of a computer trawling through job boards looking for something I could do. And so I ended up in recruitment.
As it happens, this was in fact a good fit for me and it made the most of my skills in relationship management, sales, organisation and many others. I took to it pretty quickly and because I was relatively good at it, found myself getting promoted up the ladder. It was an exciting environment, with big highs (emotional and financial) when things were going well, but then long stretches of boredom and stress when there wasn’t much business around. We worked to targets which I found very motivating and the rewards were great. On the other hand, missing targets could be extremely frustrating and nerve-wracking. I spent all day on the phone, speaking to candidates and clients; trying to understand what the client was looking for, getting to know the candidates and working out where they would fit, negotiating salaries and more importantly, our sales margin. We worked long hours and it’s the kind of job where you are never finished. There is always another person you can call.
I learnt that recruitment is basically sales. Persuading people. Influencing. Communicating effectively. These are the skills I nurtured in recruitment, along with a good head for business, an understanding of how to make a profit and a taste for expensive holidays. It was good, but it was hard.
After five years in the industry I was tired and had had enough. I was now responsible for other people’s targets, which was even more stressful, and I wanted more from my work. It would have been very easy to move within recruitment but I realised that this would only give me a temporary reprieve – I had to get out and make a proper change. I actually had to engage my brain and think about my own careers for a change.
I started by trying to work out what I actually liked about my job. What elements of it did I still get a buzz out of? What did I think I was really good at? What did my bosses praise me for? And then conversely, what areas had become unbearable? What exactly had I had enough of? It boiled down to the fact that I still loved talking to my candidates, trying to understand them, their skills and their motivation, but I was tired of it all coming down to profit.
Next I started looking at job sites and started avidly reading job descriptions. I would highlight bits that sounded good about a role and slowly I started to build a picture of what I wanted. And then, well frankly, I got lucky. I stumbled upon my ideal job. As I read the job description my heart was racing! I was genuinely excited as I read the person spec – now I had a name for what I wanted to do. From here on in it was much easier to find opportunities, and three months later I started work for The Careers Group as a Careers Adviser.