Getting out of recruitment

A steady stream of you have been getting out of recruitment in recent years and there are no prizes for guessing the main reason. Yup, the economy’s direct hit on the UK’s workforce has taken a side-swipe out of the jobs market.

As badly hit sectors such as banking and construction have shed their workforce, fewer companies have been recruiting, and many of those who are employed in thriving institutions have been wary of risking their accrued redundancy packages by switching jobs. Inevitably, this has created a tough environment for recruitment agencies, with big players such as Michael Page reporting a 1.5% drop in profits earlier this year.

But there are other factors, too. The recruitment industry is up against far more competition than it was a few decades ago, particularly from the Internet with the likes of LinkedIn, numerous jobsites and the power of social media. Fiercer competition has made it a tougher market to make money in, with longer hours and more demanding clients. No wonder some disgruntled recruiters are beating a path to the other side of the recruitment desk.


Life after recruitment

The good news is that the average recruitment consultant looking to jump industry tends to have a wealth of transferable skills. You already have sharp business practices, including management, networking and people skills, numeracy and often an academic background. Nowadays, you are expert in the industry you are recruiting for, highly competitive and techno-savvy. And as professionals, you have the confidence and ability to talk to anyone, as well as a wealth of connections.

Recruiters also tend to be naturally good at selling their services, so one of the most obvious career jumps is into sales. One former financial services recruiter told us he had left recruitment because it was getting harder to find business, but said that he had easily found a job in sales with a photocopier dealer. According to him, it wasn’t as big a leap as it sounds: “As a recruiter, I had basically had a selling job,” he says.

For sure, disregarding the obvious career moves into in-house HR, career coach or life coach, there are hundreds of jobs you can consider. Many specialist recruiters slot back into the industry they emerged from – whether it’s IT, hospitality or engineering. Others retrain – there are plenty who have become accountants, for instance.

For many former recruiters, a successful move has been to become a consultant or to start a business in a related area. For instance, last October two former recruitment consultants, Ryan O’Hara and Ben Rutter spotted a gap in the market and launched the youth-focused jobsite O’Hara and Rutter were previously recruitment consultants with IT agency Outsource UK and Michael Page International respectively.

Another example is Trevor Foster Black, a former recruiter with Robert Walters and Heidrick & Struggles, who left the industry in 2002 to set up Coalition, a company that provides intelligence on financial markets. Take note that he’s been quoted as saying he would have struggled to set up this business without the people skills he acquired and the client relationships he developed over 10 years in financial services recruitment.

In addition, as a recruiter you are well placed to take advantage of the careers advice you’ve been giving to jobseekers over the years, as well as your huge list of contacts.

That said, while it’s unlikely you would have urged Simon Lipson to make his daring career change, he’s a good example why you shouldn’t narrow your horizons. Lipson started his career as a lawyer, before co-founding Lipson Lloyd-Jones, a legal recruitment business, in 1987.  By the mid 1990s, however, he felt the calling to become a stand-up comedian.

Worry not, it’s worked out well. Since then Lipson has been working as an actor, writer, comedian, voiceover artist and impressionist, appearing regularly on various British TV and radio shows.

So, you see, there is life after recruitment …

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