The benefits of moving from retail to recruitment

Retail is an obvious career choice for many as it is a traditional way of joining the workforce and a step to climb the ladder to the professional world. What most people don’t realise however, is that there are other careers with trainee and entry level opportunities with better career progression, earning potential and benefits, such as recruitment.

We have spoken with some of our recruitment consultants at Whitehall, to find out why they made the move from retail to recruitment. They have shared their experience and helped us to answer your questions: Why should I choose recruitment? What are the pros and cons? And, are there any transferable skills?

It is a career path with true progression opportunities

If you work in retail, you normally need years of experience before you can be promoted to senior positions. In recruitment you can gain experience as quick as you want through hard work. If you apply yourself, you can progress from Consultant to Manager in half the time that you would in retail.

How does it work? The progression plan in recruitment is based on targets: once you hit a certain target, you are promoted. Promotions in recruitment typically mean an increase in your base pay, sometimes there are also commission percentage changes along with increased responsibilities/expectations. At a certain level, you might also move into team leadership/management positions too. These promotions are achievable because in recruitment you manage your own desk, allowing you to progress at your own pace. In a nutshell, the more effort you put in, the better results (and earnings) you get for yourself.

“I worked in retail for 8 years. I started stacking shelves in a supermarket and tried to work my way up through hard work, working weekends and long hours. It was very regimental. I wanted to keep progressing but they told me I needed more experience before I could get to the level I wanted to be. I realised it would take many years to get there and the salary would still not be great.

I have been working in Whitehall now for two years and I am doing great. I have been recently promoted to Senior Consultant, I am earning what I want, I am enjoying my job a lot and I look forward to work every day. Making the jump to recruitment is the best I could have done.” – R, Consultant

Better earning potential

Most retail jobs offer a fixed annual salary, some include also set bonuses or commission when hitting certain targets. Recruitment jobs on the other hand have a base salary, lots of incentives, uncapped commission and tiered targets.

What is the difference? The more candidates you place, the more commission you earn for yourself and for the recruitment agency. You become a valued team member and part of the business success.  To a large degree, you are in control of what you earn –   the harder you work, the better results you’ll get. Who doesn’t want to earn great money for working hard?

“I used to work in a supermarket and in a fast food restaurant. I had ambitions such as getting a car and treating my girlfriend and my family to nice things. I did not feel I could achieve that with my former salary. Someone I know told me about recruitment. I did not know at the time that it was a career and neither did my parents who were not keen on my decision.

I now realise I made the right choice: Recruitment is a long-term career and the earning potential is fantastic! I would say, if you are not sure about what career path you would like to follow, this is definitely a great option for you!” – T, Consultant

You have more time for social life

Long working hours, weekends and busy Christmas periods are part of the retail world. In recruitment is exactly the opposite: the usual working hours are somewhere between 8am and 6pm and only Monday to Friday.

How is this possible? Recruitment agencies are required to be open when the clients are looking for their services. The clients are other companies, which usually work only during office hours. On the candidate side, people rarely want to talk about jobs after 6pm. The result: No more working on weekends, bank holidays or Christmas Day!

“I worked for a clothing brand for a while. I did not have a social life at all, having to work weekends and different shifts. I decided to try recruitment instead. I did not expect it to be that hard at the beginning but I also didn’t expect to do this well so quickly! I have been now working in recruitment for two years and I am very happy: I have time for myself and to see friends and family and I earn as much as I want while I help other people to get the job they are looking for. It really is like having your own business and I am really enjoying it.” – N, Consultant

How to change from retail to recruitment?

If you are currently working in retail, you will be happy to know you already have some of the skills required to work in recruitment. Make sure you mention these when applying for a recruitment role:

  • Customer service – You have experience assisting customers, building rapport and finding solutions. As a recruiter, you will be emailing and phoning clients and candidates on a daily basis and looking after their needs. This is a task you will already be familiar with.
  • Sales experience –You know how to speak with customers, how to be personable and to get new clients to purchase the product you are offering. In recruitment, you will also be on the lookout for new clients and candidates, networking and building relationships. If you don’t have direct sales experience, you have the added benefit of our in-house Learning and Development team. You can attend sessions on all aspects of the sales process and get direct feedback from colleagues with many years of recruitment experience.
  • Resilience – Working with targets and dealing with customers who do not always want what you are offering can be hard and requires lots of resilience. In recruitment, you could be in a similar situation from time to time, the good news is that you already have the right attitude for it. Even better news, in recruitment you get rewarded for your resilience when the opportunity arises.

Don’t think twice. Look at our available jobs and start your career in recruitment.