After graduating from the University of Sussex with a Sociology degree, I was at a bit of a loss. I knew I wanted to do something vaguely related to media and had a personal interest in health but that was it! I loved reading women’s magazines and thought it would be great to have a job where I got to do that all day. As luck would have it, Pegasus PR was recruiting, and as a bonus, the role did involve reading every women’s magazine on the market. I absolutely loved working in PR and my clients ranged from health supplements to beauty products and medical devices. After several years, I decided I wanted to use my skills in the charity sector and made the move to London to join Breast Cancer Care. This meant I still got to use my media relations skills to sell fundraising products and talk to journalists all day, but it also meant I got to help tell the stories of courageous women who had won and sadly sometimes lost their battles with cancer. After a couple of years, I realised there was no way for me to move up, and I began to look for my next move.
It was at this point I had my first introduction to recruitment agencies. I quickly realised there were good ones and bad ones. More specifically, agencies that took the time to understand who I was and what I was looking for, and ones who acted as a CV/job spec sender, emailing irrelevant job descriptions to hundreds of candidates at once and not communicating with me about roles I expressed an interest in.
VMA Group definitely fell into the ‘good’ category, and I quickly built up a relationship with a couple of consultants who contacted me about a step up at another breast cancer charity. I got the role and moved into my new ‘manager’ position. Fast forward two years, and I was made redundant from the role and was on maternity, which left me looking for a role at a less than ideal time in my life. I contacted VMA Group again and came in to meet with one of the consultants who quickly understood my position and found me a flexible interim role to get me back into work. This soon became permanent and I managed to negotiate part-time hours.
By this point my interest and enthusiasm in media relations was waning heavily. I enjoyed my role, but couldn’t see the next move, and none of the jobs I came across were getting me excited. I had been thinking about a career change, but could not afford to retrain or take a big pay cut. It was at this point that VMA Group approached me about a potential move into recruitment. It was not something I had thought about before, and after meeting a few of the other consultants who had made the move themselves, I decided to take the plunge with the view that I could always go back into PR if it didn’t work out.
For me the move meant a completely new challenge and fresh start without losing all of the valuable knowledge and contacts I had made in public relations. It also enabled me to work with a bit more flexibility, and I now work some of the week from home to allow for childcare responsibilities. My positive experience as a candidate of VMA Group gave me the confidence to change career. I would not have joined just any recruitment agency as it was essential for me to feel that I was actually adding value for my clients and candidates rather than just providing a ‘CV service’. I also think having a PR career before moving to VMA Group has really helped me to build trusted relationships and ultimately enabled me to be successful at the role.
After four years at VMA Group, I get great pleasure from seeing some of my first candidates moving up the career ladder, and with my help, securing great roles and becoming clients themselves. There are obviously down sides, the worst of which is telling a candidate they haven’t got their dream role after three or four interviews and months of research. The positives do however outweigh the negatives. It is a busy role which I thrive in, I get to meet people from different sectors at different points in their career, which is fascinating to witness. For anyone looking for a change of direction, I would highly recommend talking to VMA Group about how it could work for them.
Sophie Collins – VMA Group
VMA Group is always looking for exceptional and ambitious individuals. For more information or if you are interested in working with us, please contact Nicky Seymour, Head of Internal Recruitment, at NSeymour@vmagroup.com
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