Retail to Recruitment - Making the Move

This January is not only my one-year anniversary at Frazer Jones, but also marked a year since I decided to make the career change from Retail to Recruitment.

My Story:

My career in retail started with the well-known university outfitter brand Jack Wills prior to moving to London from Kent, to study business and law at university. While studying I secured a position at Selfridges, starting off as a Sales Associate on Menswear before progressing to be part of the management team, working in various departments across their menswear division.

During this time, I noticed a real shift in my interests, which went from sales; finding the customer their dream purchase, to people, leading a team and supporting growth both in my team and the wider business. As my drive to succeed, along with my goal of having the most successful department grew, so did my understanding that you can have amazing product, presented in the most creative way, however to truly stay ahead of the competition, you must have the right people in the right place; this supported that well known statement ‘look after your people and they will look after your business’, demonstrating to me the need to attract, retain and grow the best talent. From here I started exploring the possibilities of working within recruitment, firstly looking at in-house positions, however I wanted to have the opportunity to expose myself to various industries and shortly after my search began I secured a role at Frazer Jones.

Retail to Recruitment

The Process:

I remember my interview process being really smooth and providing me with a great insight into both Frazer Jones and the life of a recruiter. One point I remember vividly was being asked why I was so set on recruitment, and being honest at this point, I wasn't. I was still exploring recruitment as a possibility, however the interview process if anything, had grown my interest further and what I learnt about the culture and ways of working at Frazer Jones made me want to be part of that team. From attending other interviews I came to understand there are different cultures and ways of working within each recruitment company, this just confirmed to me that I needed to find a company which shared my personal values; after all, the company must be right for you just as much as you must be right for the company.

Retail vs Recruitment:

There are a lot of transferable skills between retail and recruitment. Time keeping and the ability to prioritise workload is something that is highly required in both industries. Being both proactive and reactive, ensuring you are working commercially and efficiently while managing your workload, and maintaining the ability to flex your time to incorporate new tasks. Stakeholder management is key in both industries, continually liaising with everyone involved and contributing to the overall outcome. In retail this would be your direct team, Directors, Buyers and Merchandisers, Brand Managers, Visual to name a few; and in recruitment this would be your clients, candidates, peers, Management and Marketing team.

From my experience working in retail I am able to better understand the needs of both clients and candidates, and when it comes to external stakeholders, a high level of customer service is imperative. Keeping everyone updated with the process, providing constructive feedback, ensuring both clients and candidates are satisfied and offering a level of service that will ensure the client will return and the candidate will come to you when they are ready to take the next step in their career.

Misconceptions:

Peoples main parting question to me when wishing me luck in my new move was ‘how are you going to cope doing all those long hours behind a desk?’. The reality is that it is a lot more varied than just sitting behind a desk all day. My week consists of client visits, candidate interviews both on site and off site as well as meeting with other professionals to improve my knowledge of the industries in which I cover and the roles I recruit for. With technology, work life balance and other factors changing rapidly, it is important to keep up to date with what is going on in the wider industry.

The makings of a successful recruiter:

As well as the skills above, both retail and recruitment require a strong work ethic and ambition to succeed. Both industries require a passion for sales, and a self-driven thirst for knowledge to learn more about the industries in which you are recruiting for.

If you are considering opportunities within recruitment or would like to find out more please feel free to contact me at adamlegge@frazerjones.com