Skip to content

Why I went for a career in recruitment and the reason I’d encourage others to do the same

Kate Allen, Executive Chair and Marketing Director, Allen Associates

It’s an exciting time to start a career in recruitment. The value of the industry to the UK economy totalled £35.7 billion in 2017/18, with recruiters placing over 1.1 million employees into permanent jobs and many more into temporary work.

In fact, when it comes to agency recruitment, many think it’s the best it’s ever been. Over 115,000 people are employed in the industry and there’s been a sharp increase in recruitment start-ups with nearly 8,500 new firms launching last year.

Recruitment has changed beyond belief since I left university in the early eighties, but I’ve never thought about a career change because I’ve just loved the excitement of working within the industry all these years and the fact that no day is ever the same.

It was a happy coincidence that I secured my first role in this busy sector. Although I enrolled on a graduate retail scheme, it wasn’t for me, so I headed to a recruitment agency to ask for advice and they suggested that I come and work for them.

I quickly found that recruitment was the perfect fit. My parents were entrepreneurs, they had their own company, so I grew up with a business mind. I had a great boss, who threw me in at the deep end, and with the right support, I successfully managed a busy temp desk. Indeed, I thrived on the challenge of being the best I could be, as well as competing with my co-workers.

Even today, I feel that recruitment suits my personality. I’ve been able to work with so many different, interesting people. This job has the right combination of contact with candidates and contact with businesses. But most of all, I love the satisfaction of helping someone to secure their dream role, watching peoples’ careers grow and seeing them come back to us, often as clients recruiting for their own business.

Like many sectors, the internet has had a massive impact on recruiting. When I first started, we used job boards outside the office, or the newspaper, to advertise vacancies. I remember hand delivering and posting CVs. Now, we’re able to use online portals and social media to cast our net wider, as well as engage with passive candidates.

Today, with an estimated 1.1 million people in the UK gig economy, and a new generation of employees who are particularly attracted to the idea of temporary work, the focus has shifted from securing a job for life. Due to high employment rates, we’re also facing a talent shortage so employee retention is a big focus for managers and HR teams.

However, the best industry professionals are the ones who remember the good old-fashioned recruitment values. Although video interviews help us to be flexible and timely, making it easier for candidates to access opportunities, meeting people face-to-face is always important. Using your expertise to keep a constant channel of open communication with people will secure peoples’ trust in the hiring process.

There are real highs and lows in this industry, after all you’re dealing with people who – for all kinds of reasons – may change their mind on a decision made previously. So, in order to succeed, you’ll need to have resilience, be highly self-motivated and work at a fast pace. On top of this, all good recruiters should be able to listen, have a high emotional intelligence and a great attitude to teamwork.

For me, what I enjoy most is forming long-term relationships with people. After setting up my own company, I’m still doing business with firms that we met 20 years ago. I love being associated with Allen Associates as a strong, positive brand, and rising to the challenge of being the best recruitment agency in Oxford and London.

If you’re a friendly, enthusiastic and ambitious person, a career in recruitment is a great opportunity. You’ll have the chance to make a real impact on peoples’ lives, and there are strong financial rewards. Because we want to attract the best talent, our industry is well-known as having some of the best benefits and bonuses.

To start a career in recruitment, I would strongly suggest that you talk to people in the industry. Research the companies you’re looking to apply to, including staff turnover, as there can be a low retention rate for some of the larger high street firms because they are very focused on sales, and not everyone loves that. At Allen Associates, we are very people-focused, so it’s about finding a company which offers the right cultural fit.

Currently, we’re searching for a recruitment consultant to join our marketing team. You’d be part of a well-established division, with a great track record, working for an agency with a strong, trusted brand. Allen Associates offers great progression routes, our Divisional Manager Hannah Bush started out as a graduate, and Eleanor Bromage, our fantastic Associate Director, joined us 15 years ago on a temporary basis. As well as opportunities for development in Oxford and London, we offer summer events abroad, early finish Fridays and Christmas hampers – to name just a few perks of the job.

Over the last 20 years, we have grown as a business to become one of the leading independent Recruitment agencies in Oxfordshire, and in 2018 have opened our first London office, to service Clients in the capital.

Can we help you? Click here for more information.