Our Consultant Ellen discusses her experience within recruitment agencies, and advises on how you could get involved!
How did you get into recruitment?
I had my first exposure to recruitment while working as an Administrator within a HR team and very quickly realised that I had a passion for people, and helping them find work was priceless to me. Soon after this, I secured my first 'official' recruitment role as a Candidate Consultant for Office Angels, a national recruitment agency. I very quickly noticed the difference between agency and internal recruitment, but it definitely confirmed for me that recruitment was where I wanted to be with my career. Since then I have progressed from Resourcer to Consultant, and now have exposure to employee relations and account management, which is an area that I had no previous experience in, but have found that I absolutely love! The buzz I get when I am able to help someone find their dream job makes each day worthwhile, and it's a pretty good career in my eyes!
What is a typical day for you?
All agencies work differently, but we always start out our day recapping yesterday's work, before planning for the day ahead. Recruitment changes by the hour in regard to what your priorities are, but if you have a base for your day it better helps you to focus. Ordinarily my day then consists of sourcing candidates to fill any positions I have on my 'desk' (this is a term used in the industry which basically means the vacancy falls under you, and you are the primary consultant in charge of filling the role). I spend my day speaking with candidates and clients, help to arrange interviews, prepare CV's, provide feedback and generally support the recruitment process from start to finish. My role ends when a candidate receives a job offer and is all set to start their new role. Although if a candidate has been offered a temporary contract, my role then expands to overseeing their contract with my client, which can include payroll queries, feedback sessions and sometimes even a disciplinary. You can never really guarantee what is going to happen on a 'typical' day as recruitment is fast-paced and ever-changing, but that's what I love so much about it. It certainly keeps you on your toes!
What is the biggest challenge in recruitment?
The exact same thing that is the biggest blessing in recruitment - the people! You spend your days speaking with incredible, talented and passionate people who are willing to go above and beyond to ensure they find work. But unfortunately that isn't always the case with the people who come through your doors. I have met a lot of people over the last few years and unfortunately not all of them have been nice. There are challenges in every job, but when your role involves spending all day every day speaking with the public, you're bound to run into some characters! I suppose another challenge is also the frustrations you can feel when things aren't going how you hoped they would. A lot can go wrong between meeting a candidate and getting that job offer on the table, but it isn't always something that is in your control. So it's easy to get very frustrated and beaten down by this job when all you want is to help your candidate find their dream job. Don't worry though - there are as many highs as there are lows!
How would you explain an agency to someone who has no previous knowledge of them?
I still find myself feeling shocked when people explain their perception of an agency to me, the things you hear are laughable! I've even been asked if my salary comes from my candidates wages! It seems that people have absolutely no idea what we do or how we work if they haven't had to use us before. I like to explain to new 'agency users' that we are an extra pair of hands in helping them secure work. We are that middle stepping stone between you and a business, so we're working on your behalf to find you the role that you want. Whether that is a permanent, temporary, contract or part-time role - we can help get you there! We have contracts in place with our clients, and they are the ones who pay for the placement of a candidate. All the candidate has to do is show up! When I tell people my job, I often get faced with the 'don't you just find people jobs?' question. PET HATE. Of course, I find people jobs. But being a consultant is so much more than that. You have to spend time understanding both a candidate, and a vacancy that you have been tasked with filling. If the two of those things matched up every time I'd be retired by now! We work on behalf of both the client and the candidate, so it is important that we match the two of you together in a way that is going to work for both of you, and be a lasting solution. We do not simply place candidates in a random role and go home thinking we've done a good days work. Often it can take months to find the right candidate for the right role. So be patient with us!
What is the best thing about working in recruitment?
It's a euphoric feeling when you play a vital part in shaping someone's life. Each candidate you secure work for has a story; whether they need to support their families, close off a debt, or just need to pay their house bills. You are a person who is able to help them do that, and provide them with that positive step in the next direction of their life. There is a huge misconception about recruiters that we're all 'commission chasers' and only want to close a sale. But if you took the time to ask 100 recruiters why they do what they do, I don't think you'd hear a single one of them answer with "money". We come to work to earn a living just like everyone else, but we are invested in our candidates and love nothing more than being able to help them find their dream role. Not to mention, I have been blessed enough to have met some of the most incredible people by doing the job I do. I attend events, conferences, seminars and training sessions- and each time I meet a new talented professional who shares their wisdom and experiences with me. The recruitment industry changes incredibly quickly, so working within that we have to change with the times. Which means every day is a new day to learn and grow! I am a better person since working in recruitment, and everything I have been taught over the years has shaped me into a strong professional individual with a wealth of experience.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to begin a career in recruitment?
If you are good with people, and have good communication skills, you can make it in recruitment. I always say that it's a roller coaster, because it is up and down daily, and you need to be able to handle that. I've certainly had my down days where I feel defeated and broken, but there has been just as many incredible days where nothing has been able to dampen my mood. It is a challenging job, and you're sometimes faced with difficult situations that require patience and understanding, so you need to be someone who won't take those situations too personally. It's easy to feel like they're aimed at you, or the work you have done, but majority rules is there is nothing you could have done differently! If you're interested in recruitment I'd suggest researching local recruitment agencies and seeing if they need an extra pair of hands! You may have to take a step back to get to a higher level, but the experience you gain in the process will be completely worth it!