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 5:30pm 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 5:30pm. 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.

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After working at Whitehall for a number of years now, I look back and wonder why I didn’t get into recruitment sooner. The company values, team spirit and the atmosphere is what makes Whitehall the place to be. On top of that, the commission structure, company rewards and career progression are second to none and I am excited for what my future holds and the goals I can reach.

Nicola Saxham - Senior Consultant – International (DACH) team

Since I started working at Whitehall, I am the happiest I have ever been in my career. The company really do look after you and I enjoy coming into work every day. The operations team always get included in all the incentive schemes, so no one is ever left out. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me here at Whitehall.

Keeley Bell – Operations Coordinator

I have worked at Whitehall for a long time now and it has been a pleasure to be part of the company’s continued growth. It is an exceptional place to work, with a family orientated mentality, and you are rewarded for working hard and being dedicated. I have loved my time here so far and look forward to progressing further.

Jason Wood – Credit Control Supervisor

Whitehall has really helped me curate my career into one I can be proud of – starting as an admin assistant,  I was promoted to the Facilities & Senior Administrator after just 18 months! Just recently, I was part of a project to help the company become Carbon Neutral, which is the best news!! The camaraderie of the whole team is wonderful, and I would thoroughly recommend Whitehall to anyone who is looking to kickstart their career into something amazing!

Abbie Elwood – Facilities & Senior Administrator

I joined the company as an entry-level consultant in the newly formed Key Accounts team back in 2010. Throughout those years I have progressed within the company and have had multiple promotions along the way and have never once looked back. At the moment, I’m looking to continue the growth of my team by adding to the current headcount and in supporting their development to help them to achieve their aspirations.

Adam Edgell – Associate Director – Key Accounts Delivery

The environment here is second to none, I am constantly learning and improving thanks to those around me and from the support of my managers. This is a company that rewards hard work and gives you all the tools you need to develop and succeed. I would recommend Whitehall to anyone, from those looking to start their journey into recruitment to those who already have a number of years’ experience as you will be joining a close-knit team and have the opportunity to thrive and work with some of the best in the industry.

Nathan Joseph – Principal Consultant – UK Permanent – ERP & IT Client Development

Since joining Whitehall Resources, they have given me the opportunity to grow and develop from a trainee position. Whitehall Resources is the ideal company if you are looking for career progression.

Kirsty Small – Contracts Administrator

I joined Whitehall with no experience in recruitment or IT and I could barely use a computer myself. Since joining, I have built a career and a joined a family here. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity I have been given and the guidance I have received from my managers and colleagues (friends). With hard work and a bit of tenacity, Whitehall can give you the chance to change your life for the better.

Jacob Lee – Executive Consultant – UK SAP Contracts

I joined Whitehall Resources with zero recruitment experience and a background in pharmaceuticals. Fast forward six years I have been promoted on multiple occasions and can vouch first hand that Whitehall Resources is a great place for career progression whilst having lots of fun along the way. On top of the career available you get to win lots of incentives including holidays abroad and overall, it is a great place to work.

Georgia Pike - Executive CSM - CSM

After joining Whitehall, I have really found myself within recruitment and even achieved rookie of the year! I am continuously learning and growing. I am looking forward to challenging myself in the future and seeing what I can achieve here at Whitehall.

Hannah Pile – Consultant – UK SAP Perm

I joined Whitehall in late 2015 as IT Support Engineer and have now progressed to Team Lead. Whitehall is a fantastic place to work, where hard work and a strong work ethic is rewarded in both Sales and Operations alike.

Dan Appleby – IT Team Lead

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