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Helen Harradine

What I have learnt from working in recruitment for half a decade

Helen Harradine is well known to many of our readers as a regular attendee of BookMachine events. Helen is celebrating her fifth workiversary with Inspired Selection this week! Here are five key lessons she has learnt from working in hashtag#recruitment for half a decade.

  1. People are fascinating: their stories, their strengths and weaknesses, what they want to do, how they want to grow and develop and their future aspirations. Recruitment is a people-business and it is all about understanding, empathising and listening to the people who you are working with: clients, candidates and colleagues. A successful and well-liked recruiter does not try to fit square pegs into round holes but acts with integrity and endless curiosity when it comes to people. Interviewing and speaking to people is my favourite part of the job. 
  2. Transferable skills matter. We should all champion and be open-minded when it comes to transferable skills or experience from other industries and departments. When you interview someone you can ask specific questions to really understand what transferable skills and abilities they can bring to your team. It is all about educating the people who are interviewing to be open-minded and consider the many hidden talented people out there, and this includes but is not limited to people from other socioeconomic backgrounds, younger or older candidates than you. There is a wealth of talent out there that isn’t being properly utilised or understood because of conscious or unconscious biases. 
  3. Expect the unexpected. People will surprise you. It’s the variety of the job that has kept me interested and no day is ever the same. There isn’t one way, one job, one life that fits all. What is right for one person, will not be right for another. Even if you have asked all the right questions, people can still be unpredictable and that is totally okay. As a line manager this is also more apparent than ever as everyone needs different levels of support. We’re all human and have so many contrasting fragile aspects to our lives that affects what can make us happy or not. Treat everyone like they are individuals and factor in that there are external influences on how we behave. Give people the benefit of the doubt and be kind. 
  4. Building relationships is more important than selling. People don’t like to be sold to. People, clients, candidates will only work or do business with someone who they like, respect and trust. It is all about being consultative, understanding who you’re talking to and slowly building a trusting relationship. If you are an aggressive sales person nobody in the Arts will speak to you. I get to work with lots of different varied companies and brands and speak to some of the most creative individuals in the world who make books for a living — as a bibliophile it’s not hard for me to be intensely interested about the industry I work in. 
  5. Careers are wiggly! There is no such thing as a perfect job or a perfect career trajectory. What is exciting is that I have seen a real trend of people not being afraid of change: be that changing career direction, changing industry or moving companies and being open to different ways of working such as freelancing, having a side hustle, starting your own business or limited company, remote-working and part-time working. Employees are concerned about their wellbeing and they want to make sure they live as well as work. As we see another generation of candidates come into the workforce, I see the traditional work-model changing more than ever and it becoming a badge of honour to try out different things. 

Abigail Barclay did a similar blog post on her 5 years at Inspired which you can find here. If you’re target-driven, love people and are interested in a rewarding role, you should definitely consider recruitment. It’s been a whirlwind of a journey but people have genuinely told me that I have changed their lives. Those connections and relationships I have built up are what really makes this job satisfying for me.

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