Trial by fire

What is your background? I joined recruitment in 2007, just after the collapse of Northern Rock. Looking back, starting off in recruitment at this time sounds like madness, but no-one really knew then what the following few years would look like. It was definitely a baptism of fire, but if you’ve worked through that then you’re pretty resilient as a recruiter. I started by specialising in e-commerce recruitment, which meant everything from developers, architects, user experience and web analytics specialists right through to marketing experts and designers. After three years, I moved into the professional services sector and recruiting the people I continue to support today – marketing, business development (BD) and communications professionals. What did you want to be when you were growing up? I spent a long time saying I’d like to be a foreign correspondent, but I don’t think I am cut out for war zones! How did you get into recruiting? I did a French degree at UCL, chosen because I love to write and chat, and it was just another way I could do that! After university I was supposed to go to Japan to teach English but sadly the company went bust. I then gave my CV to a graduate recruiter and they suggested sales or recruitment.

Recruitment expertise and advice

Favourite clients / candidates Perhaps it’s the northerner in me but I really appreciate direct feedback and complete transparency. I respect people who tell me exactly how it is and are a little more challenging: I want to get it completely right, so I really like being told how I can improve. The worst things in the world is a lack of communication – no-one knows where they are and I don’t know what to change to make the experience better. What career advice would you give your younger self?  Don’t be so serious! I still try and give myself the same advice, I love what I do but I do struggle to switch off and take a proper step back. What do you think will be the next new role? The big trends seem to be in marketing automation – so we will probably see more of a focus around this and the whole digital sphere, including more specific roles in video content production and motion graphics. There’s also a lot of focus on client-based marketing, honing in on specific clients’ interaction with the brand. I think this is an interesting development that could lead to more client-specific opportunities. Your top tips for candidates? Know the difference between telling someone about your experience and telling someone what they want to know about your experience. It’s all about thinking about the job you are interviewing for rather than the one that you’re currently doing. Sometimes it’s tricky to see the difference but the job description is a really good place to start: highlight the things you have done, think of good examples of these, think about what you have done that’s similar and if you haven’t done something, hold your up hands to that – there has to be some learning in any role, so it’s no bad thing! How do you switch off? I started swimming again earlier this year and am currently doing the 12-week Aspire Channel Swim – a 22-mile swim in your local pool to raise money to help spinal-injured people to live independently ( I also took up sewing a few years back and I enjoy making clothes – there’s something really therapeutic about putting a pattern together. If you would like to find out more about Totum, or talk to Joanna about BD and marketing roles, she can be contacted at [email protected]