This next post is from a previous student I worked with. It was so good working with her as she was really engaged and communicative. As well as asking her about her current role I also asked why she chose to study at Southampton so anyone who is considering university there may be some gems of advice in here for you as well. As usual the red font is the guest writer and the black is me!
I wasn’t surprised when she managed to get a job so quickly after uni. I know I have written about Recruitment Consultant as a role before but that was with relatively little first hand experience (my personal opinion, speaking with other grads about it) and I have never been one and have only ever been interviewed for a job as one before. The reason I had such a negative spin on being a recruitment consultant is that for some reason it felt as though there are lots of these roles around which can make the job search feel saturated with the same opportunity over and over. BUT this post is by Dessie who is working as a recruitment consultant now and I hope she is able to shed some light on what it’s actually like working as one.
A big thank you to Dessie for your contribution to this blog and for being one of the students that has motivated me the most in my work 🙂
Background and studying at University of Southampton
I have a degree in BSc Management from Southampton University, which I obtained after studying Maths, English Literature and Psychology at A-Level. I think all of these subjects gave me a sound preparation of the many areas you have to be skilled in to pursue a degree or even a career in business.
What made you put Southampton as your number one University choice?
I visited an open day for Management School and the walk around campus sort of made me feel like I was at home. I visited an Open Day during Student Union Elections week which showed me the buzzing atmosphere of university life and what I could potentially be involved with. The course I chose also included topics which grabbed my attention, with presentations from course directors really swaying my mind that this is the right place for me.
What have been your Southampton highlights?
- Academic President and Course Representative positions, also sitting on SSLG councils and representing my course.
- Running in the SUSU Sabbatical Elections.
- The community which was created on campus – the SU as a hub, the library, the sports facilities, the events which were constantly going on.
What opportunities did you take up within and alongside your degree and what have you gained off the back of them?
- My dissertation was based on Recruitment methods and HR, which has helped me secure a job in recruitment as a start out for my career, made me confident in analysing and delivering on what businesses want/are looking for in potential candidates. <<< Read on and you will see that her dissertation directly relates to her current role which is serious motivation on the days you write your dissertation and think “What is this going to gain me?!”
- Running in the Sabbatical Elections was tough but also gave me a taste for something I never thought I’d enjoy: campaigning. I wish to pursue a career in this in the future, and Southampton’s SU sparked this interest in me.
- Student Representation System allowed me to broaden my horizons in terms of putting my ideas into practice and actualising them. Representing the management course/school I was able to improve students’ experiences by pushing ideas/problems forward until they were realised/solved.
- Founding of the Green Dot Society has shown me what it is like to run and manage a project from inception to full-running order and everything which is involved in doing so. Project Management as well as Entrepreneurship modules on my course were very useful in setting me up for this.
- Chamberlain JCR (Junior common room) and holding seats on Management Society two years in a row taught me about the importance of learning to work with all kinds of people, and I realise now this is a very important thing to be able to master for future employment situations.
Ability to choose modules on my course let me tailor my degree to what I wanted to specialise in. Sustainability modules helped me discover my passion for philanthropically orientated businesses and helped me form an idea for my career path (combining campaigning with sustainability – working for an NGO, running sustainability events on campus)
Work experience and current role
I have done several bouts of work experience, my main one being with NM Rothschild’s HR Department in London. I spent some time working with all the different teams which make up the department (Generalist, Payroll, Compensation, Recruitment, Performance Appraisal, Pensions) and took on some small projects during my time with the company.
I was recruited for my current role directly by my company’s internal recruitment department, after having advertised my CV online on specific job boards, as well as having spent time building a robust Linked In profile. To get this role I had to undertake two rounds of interviews. In the first round I met with the Recruitment Manager as well as with the Finance Director, where I was asked a round of competency questions, applying my previous experience to prove my abilities were good enough to earn me the job. I was also administered an internal test where I was given 15 minutes to study a job description and identify which one of three potential CVs was best suited for the role. I had to justify the reasons behind my thinking also, so they could analyse my thought process. At my second round interview I met with the two most senior people in my prospective team, where I was given a chance to talk about my experience in more detail, ask questions about the role and company and see if I would mesh well with the team members.
It’s always good to take into account the people you may have to work with when taking a role. It’s hard to know lots about them in an initial meeting but an important question to ask in interview is “what is it like to work here?”
What is it actually like being a Recruitment Consultant?
It’s a profession which requires a lot of resilience in one’s character – much like any other job in sales! Essentially, as a Recruitment Consultant, you are installed as a the middle man between job seekers (or in most cases skilled members of the labour force) and businesses who are looking to add to their work force. The company I work for specialises in recruiting within the Engineering sector, focusing primarily on the Built Environment and Oil&Gas industries. Therefore, we work with clients which operate within both of these industries.
On a daily basis, the company is approached with ‘live’ vacancies which advertise the need for people with certain types of technical skill. As a recruiter, my job is to study the job description and person specification of any role I am working on, as well as familiarise myself with the company I am recruiting for (their values, working environment, growth opportunities) in order to gain the best idea of the type of person I am searching for, which will best meet my client’s criteria. Following this, I construct a number of Boolean searches (smart searches including ‘and’ and ‘or’ function combinations) which are run on job board websites, our own database as well as LinkedIn, in order to pull up a set of results comprising of a list of people who may be potentially a good fit for our client’s vacancy.
Being a recruitment consultant is similar to working in sales
After this comes the sales part: working through this list of CVs, I identify relevant talent and contact them directly either via telephone or email, pitching the job role I am recruiting for as well as the company, in the most appealing way possible in order to gain their interest – after all, some of these people are working happily in permanent jobs, and I’m asking them to move!
After gaining somebody’s interest, I liaise with the client to set up an interview (should they be interested in the candidate’s experience), arrange exchanges of documents and start dates (if they are successful), obtain references, complete the legal compliance procedure as well as keep the candidate up to date with everything that is going on. All in a day’s work!
As a skilled recruiter, you tend to work on several roles per week, exhausting many searches to find the best talent for you client. After all, this results in repeat business.
Advice for anyone wanting to become a recruitment consultant
I’d say, don’t go into this job lightly. It is a great environment for sociable, profit-driven and outgoing people who have a natural affinity for sales and negotiating as well as a healthy set of people/communication skills. It can also be stressful and fast-paced, so it’s perfect for people who are able to stay on the ball and keep up with it all! An important thing to consider is the recruitment company you choose to work for. Many harbour a competitive environment to motivate their employees in making more placements. Make sure the company you choose to join are ethical and appreciate your efforts.
It can be hard choosing between your morals/ethics and making sure you end up with a job at all. But consider what it would be like working in a company day to day who perhaps don’t treat their employees right. I have heard some horror stories about working in recruitment but I have been assured by Dessie and other friends who work in recruitment in London that it is all about the company you choose and that it is important not to make assumptions about the recruitment sector as a whole without investigating for yourself.
Can you tell me about the worst interview you have ever sat? What did you learn from it?
The worst interview I ever had was actually a great interview in disguise. I met with the department team leader and the person who currently held the job I was interviewing for. They were both very pleasant, and I especially ‘clicked’ with the team leader…clicked so much that she ended up chatting about non job-related topics for the full hour, not giving me the opportunity to talk about my abilities, skills, qualifications, motivations and knowledge of the sector, company and role. I’d prepared very well for the job interview, only I was hardly given the opportunity to show what I know, as the conversation topic was always stirred away from work-related questions. I was unsuccessful in the role, and after asking for feedback I was told that I was unable to demonstrate knowledge of the industry and sector and that I seemed shy about talking about my experience. Completely untrue!
All too often I hear of students or grads who have had rubbish interview experience because of the company or interviewer themselves. Having been on the panel for several different roles I can safely say that sitting through a lot of applicants can be tiring but arrangements should be made so that everyone is given proper time and consideration for the role. It can be intimidating if you feel, as the interviewee, that you need to steer the conversation.
What’s the most enjoyable part of your role?
The best part of the job is making placements! It’s a great feeling when you’ve satisfied a business by finding them the best person for the job they were looking to fill, and also an individual whose found a better career opportunity and a better working environment. In a small way, as a recruitment consultant you change lives.
What do you like least about your role?
Least of all, as a recruitment consultant, there are many days where luck is not on your side and you are unable to find the right people for a job or you carry out long searches only to find out nobody is interested. Also, working on similar roles on a regular basis means you get no job variation which can be very dull.
Valuable lessons, advice and role models
The most valuable lesson I’ve learnt is to make sure you have done research into the type of work/job you’d like to go into or are interviewing for, to make sure that it’s for you. There’s no point in starting a job and sticking with it if you’re not committed to progressing in the sector for the foreseeable future! I look up to nobody in particular, but many young entrepreneurs who have set up successful businesses which address a niche need in the market. I really admire the founders of Innocent, Graze, Buzzfeed, Twitter etc who have come up with much-loved business concepts.They’re the types of companies I’d like to work for.
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given was passed on by my aunt, who’s had a successful career in Information Technology, has written several books, lectures at Bachelor/Masters and PhD level and is pretty much determined all round! She said to me the reason for her success was her constant willingness to push herself and get involved in new opportunities, applying for new and higher-ranking jobs and to achieve something different.
She told me she did all this by adopting the attitude of:
“Do now, think later”
This contradicts pretty much everything we’ve ever been told to do, but by jumping into things with the attitude that you can achieve whatever you’ve taken on, you immediately become the person who IS able to achieve whatever they’ve taken on. I guess it makes you step up your game, and prove yourself at the same time.
Words of wisdom for future grads….
Make sure you do some research into companies/jobs/sectors you might want to go into well before you graduate. I’d suggest looking at and joining as many job boards as you can, building a LinkedIn profile, making sure your CV is as robust is possible and is well presented and that you apply for jobs well in advance of your graduation! Also, speak to as many graduate friends you may have and network with as many professionals as you can whilst still doing your degree as they’d be able to give you the best idea of what your ‘dream’ job might really be like!
Does this role match Dessie’s career aspirations. Where will it take her?
My current role does not exactly match my career aspirations or what I thought I’d be doing after graduation , however it’s providing me with good transferrable skills I’ll be sure to use in any other working environment I find myself in. Working in a company whose number one growth goal is profit-orientated, I have come to understand that I am not so much driven by money as many of my colleagues, despite liking the fact that I work and communicate with many different people on a day to day basis. This has led me to search for jobs with companies, who are more orientated towards growing and advertising their brand, engaging in innovation and innovative ideas and concepts, pursue philanthropic endeavours and aren’t driven entirely by financial targets.
Looking to the future
My plans for the future remain to be undertaken after I come back from my travelling year abroad. I’ve orientated myself towards several career options and am hoping to narrow them down to what I’d be best suited for by speaking to contacts I’ve made within the last year and making contact with companies I’d like to work for.