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The B Word : Breaking Into Recruitment

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Candice Dennison Team Orbis, Internal roles, Orbis Consultants...

After a couple of years in the industry you seem to get into a rhythm of summing up your career history. When you have been through enough interview stages, as I have over the last 4 years, you get your own little rehearsed script together.

So here is mine.

I’m a born and bred South African who has had a tumultuous relationship with sales and marketing. Along the way I’ve experienced 2 redundancies and somehow, I’ve found myself in recruitment. It sounds cliché, as it’s always one of two stories all recruiters tell. Generally, they’re either a graduate that got hooked into the career straight out of varsity, or like me, they land into the industry.

It’s a love-hate relationship you see, no two days are the same. Its fast paced and puts you through your paces!

There is nothing like it, it’s a global career that you don’t need a degree for (luckily, because I don’t!) You can work in major cities like London, New York and Sydney – so for a small-town girl like me it still has this amazing appeal. I am lucky enough that my company has offices in the Big Apple so if I get the travel bug and feel the need to, I can always pack up my two bags and head out!

For me, recruitment has been the place that I have found my new friends and family. Since these are the people that helped me pick my first apartment, directed me to navigate London, to even choosing a hairdresser! There is nothing like it, and frankly, I couldn’t picture myself in any other career, well, unless being a stay at home dog mum is an option…

It’s long grueling hours in the beginning, but who are we kidding, what other careers give you the opportunity to buy your first house in less than a year?

So how did I end up in London…

Less than a year ago I moved to London, and it was daunting. I had lived in the same neighborhood that I grew up in for 26 years, but London had this great appeal of being a hub for recruitment. London and New York are the two big tickets in the industry, and it was a ‘small-town girl in the big city’ moment.

I arrived in London in 2018. It was one hell of a trip, which included a stunt with border control in a layover in Madrid – let's just say I wasn’t well traveled enough to know that I needed a visa for a 2-hour layover (who knew?!)

When I eventually landed on UK soil, I was bright eyed and bushy tailed, I wanted the full view of recruitment. After a dozen virtual first stages, I narrowed down my choices to 6 face-to-face interviews, lined up with companies that were completely different.

So, here comes a bit of advice on how to survive the world of interviews within London, that I have learnt first-hand:

First and foremost, heels are not your best friend. I learned that one the hard way, after 3 back-to-back interviews sprawled over London and a full day on my feet, I went from distinguished businesswoman to looking like I belonged on YouTube in a ‘high heels fail’ compilation video.

The most important advice I can give is to be yourself, don’t change yourself into a job specification and exactly what you think the company is looking for.

For example, as a senior consultant within recruitment, I’ve learnt recruitment houses won’t be looking for a moldable grad they can teach the recruitment recipe to. They’re hoping you have an individual style that works, maybe that’s not the ‘normal’ way, but that’s what makes each recruiter better and stand out within their teams.

Trust me, I had my apprehensions, why would a London company hire this South African recruiter who doesn’t follow the ABC’s. ‘Different’ is what my current company thrives on. You want to be surrounded by colleagues who are unique and better than you are in certain aspects. They always say, “if you’re the smartest person in the room then you’re in the wrong room”, and I am most definitely sure that I am in the right room!

Lastly, play to your strengths and don’t stop building your skills and knowledge.

Otherwise a shy wallflower, I get my confidence from my personally developed tactics and targeting only best-fit candidates – I don’t work with KPI’s and I am fortunate enough to not work in a ‘spray and pray’ or ‘work till 7pm till you have made 100 calls’ environment.

My team members come from all corners of the world: Poland, Wales, Essex, Namibia, New Zealand and now South Africa. We’re not cookie cutters, so every day I learn something new. Whether it is about sourcing for a new role, handling a tough call or complex industry knowledge. I get first line answers from people who are ex-traders, business owners, recruiters and have a wealth of knowledge within chair rolling distance – because Google doesn’t really know everything all the time!

I am probably one of the shyest recruiters out there, I am not the life of any party (unless the party’s name is ‘Netflix and it’s ending at 10pm’) but the recruitment industry seems to have this “Wolf of Wall Street” stigmatism about it; that it’s full of big and loud personalities. Oh, I can assure you, there are lots of those to be found, but you don’t need to be Mr / Ms Personality to get the job. I can assure you not all recruiting companies sound like a stock market trading floor with people shouting down phones – or maybe I just got lucky here.​​

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