“Treat others as you want to be treated – the best thing you can do is be kind.”
We sat down with Recruitment Consultant Sarah and discussed how change is the only constant in life, and the ability to adapt determines your success. The outcome? The perfect example that a career journey isn’t always straightforward and navigating life isn’t always easy, but we must never stop learning because life never stops teaching.
Did you pursue further or higher education?
I went to college to study Law, English and Religious Studies and successfully passed my 3 A’ Levels. While at college I worked a number of part-time jobs from retail to hospitality, and looking back, I feel that this really prepared me for my future career journey; from an early age I developed a strong work ethic, learnt the importance of respecting authority, and gained a range of important skills from effective communication to efficient problem solving.
After leaving College I was disappointed to not have achieved the grades required to pursue law, so I decided instead on a degree in Social Studies in Staffordshire, as at the time, government work really appealed to me. During my time in Staffordshire, I worked numerous part-time jobs in the hospitality and retail sector; this was my first experience of being away from home, and I learnt a huge amount of valuable skills both personally and professionally.
When I left University I took the opportunity to backpack across the world, visiting many countries including Australia, Singapore, Tahiti and Los Angeles! To me this was such a valuable experience to explore different cultures, take on new challenges, and gain insight into so many walks of life. The experience was amazing and so worthwhile, and I was incredibly grateful to take the opportunity to travel before settling down and focussing on the career journey ahead.
How has your career journey developed?
Following my travels I returned to Swansea and started the hunt for my first ‘real job’, which at the time, meant visiting my local job centre. I was incredibly lucky to be offered administrative work at the centre, and while this wasn’t the dream career move I had planned, I was in a great position to start searching for a more permanent opportunity. I moved onto a HR Assistant position with the NHS on a 6-month contract which I thoroughly enjoyed, working within the personnel department to assist with recruitment, staff development, and generally supporting people to do what they wanted to do! When my contract ended, I decided to take a bit of a risk and move to Birmingham where my husband lived at the time. I visited a recruitment agency and just happened to be in the right place at the right time as I was offered an Administrative Assistant role at the agency during my first appointment! I really enjoyed my time with the organisation, eventually progressing to Senior Recruitment Officer, and after five years at the agency, I moved onto a Recruitment Officer role with the local government, supporting individuals into roles in the care sector. I later returned to Swansea and secured a recruitment role with the organisation I had worked for in Birmingham, before moving onto a role at Remploy where I stayed for five years before taking maternity leave to have my first daughter.
Did your career direction/ambitions change after having children?
After two periods of maternity leave, I decided to leave the world of work to become a full-time mum. I am incredibly grateful that I was fortunate enough to spend the first few years of my children’s lives watching them grow up and hit all their important milestones. When both my daughters started school, it felt like the perfect time to find a part-time job. I felt that overtime I had lost part of my identity and a lot of confidence, and I was ready to take on an extra role to just being ‘mum’. I secured a part-time retail role before seeking full time work through the Better Jobs, Better Futures programme. At the time, the programme was in its early stages and my Coach informed me of an upcoming recruitment role in the organisation that really interested me. I applied and was successful and I was absolutely chuffed! I was so ready for a brand new challenge and I have loved it ever since!
Is there one thing you wish you’d known when you were younger?
Looking back, I wish I had realised that there are no wrong decisions in life; you learn from every experience so don’t have any regrets! I have certainly worked in some roles that weren’t right for me, but these experiences build character and help you make the right choices in the future; never stop learning because life never stops teaching!
Top tip when applying for jobs?
My top tip is dare to be different. It’s important to have the confidence to stand out and get yourself noticed for all the right reasons. Employers love to see candidates that are passionate about the role and organisation, so showcase your knowledge and tell them why you are the perfect fit for their culture, values and vision! Whilst it’s important to meet all the essential criteria, don’t forget that employers also value life experiences and what personality you can bring to a role – embrace what makes you unique!
What is your ultimate piece of advice?
The best advice I can give is to be yourself. A big mistake people often make is trying to be someone they are not, and trying to portray what they think people want to see. The interview is just the starting point – if you are going to be successful in a role you will need to back up the information you gave and demonstrate all of the positive qualities that you highlighted. Own who you are and be yourself – everyone else is already taken. Be humble in your confidence and courageous in your character!