To tell you the truth, my degree was in fashion. When I graduated, no one (me included) would have guessed I’d end up in recruitment. But here I am, and loving every minute of it.
I guess the problem with me and fashion was that it’s so London-centric – and I’m not. I wanted to stay in my hometown of Bristol and I moved between jobs in PR and property, before taking the step into recruitment. I worked for a couple of different recruiters but never felt the culture was quite right for me.
When I got an opportunity to work in Geneva at a tuition agency, I couldn’t say no. I’m no backpacker, so it was the perfect way to try something different – and I ended up staying two years. I moved back to Bristol in June this year and made Lucy Bristow my first port of call.
A step in the right direction
My first impression was that it didn’t seem like other agencies and the staff were unlike other consultants – in a good way. It quickly became clear that Lucy Bristow took a mature approach to recruitment, focusing on giving people what they want (not what you think they want). Plus it’s a small team working in a small office – a far cry from the call centre environment I’d seen in previous recruitment roles.
Skills for success
The most important skill in recruitment is customer service. You definitely need to be a people person, able to listen to both candidates and clients to understand what they are looking for. You also need to adapt your approach depending on who you are talking to. One minute you could be talking to a candidate who has been in the same role for many years and is extremely nervous, the next you could be chatting with a client who wants to fill a number of different roles in a short space of time. You must be attuned to everyone’s individual needs to avoid putting any square pegs into round holes.
As well as empathy, it’s good to have thick skin because not everything will go your way. The secret is to stay positive and recognise that you can always pick yourself up again and carry on.
Holly’s interview tips
There are certain things I would always tell anyone about to have an interview with a recruitment consultant:
- Be open minded: Approaching the situation with an open mind is true of any interview – especially so when you’re going to see an agency. Don’t fall into the trap of having one job title or one industry in mind. The more flexible and open minded you are, the more opportunities will come your way. If you have been in the same job for a long time or are fresh out of university, it’s easy to have a set idea about what job will suit you. However, with a bit of creativity you could find the job of your dreams…
- Be honest: It’s so important to be honest with a recruitment consultant. The more they know about you, the better placed they are to find you the best possible job. Tell them everything that is relevant to your experience and don’t hold anything back. Remember: it’s a two-way process – they will want to find you a job as much as you want one yourself.
- Be confident: Confidence is such an important part of the job search but many people lack it. You can have great experience and an excellent academic background but still sell yourself short. Perhaps it’s just the British way, but modesty doesn’t get you very far.
- Be smart: I’m a great believer in dressing smartly and having a fully proof-read CV to hand whenever you attend an interview. These are such simple, obvious things, but it’s amazing how often they are forgotten.
Working at Lucy Bristow has been a real eye-opener for me. Clients are constantly calling into the office with vacancies they need to fill. Of course, this happens in other agencies, I just haven’t seen it to such a great extent. I think the main reason for this is that we take a far softer approach than the stereotypical recruiter. Sometimes you don’t need to go in all guns blazing chasing after every client and every job. It’s about knowing what you’re good at, knowing your strengths and being honest with the client. Even after being here for just two weeks, I can already tell that this culture is right for me – this is somewhere I can thrive.