Recruiting Weekly - Personal Development

This is a guest post from Caroline Vooght Business Unit Director at Expion Search & Selection, as part of our Recruiting Weekly Series. Caroline shares her thoughts on personal development and how she has seen people transform themselves over the last year.

Many years ago, as a mid-career recruiter, I had a big wobble. I felt underqualified for what I did. There wasn’t a reason for it – I was successful, running a great team, had strong client relationships and loved what I did. Yet, I felt inadequate.

Many of my friends were working in careers they were qualified to do – teachers, solicitors, midwives. I couldn’t reconcile in my mind how I could be successful and not qualified. So I went on a voyage of discovery, and everyone I spoke to confirmed the same. It’s not necessary. You can be amazing at something because you’re talented, and qualifications don’t guarantee success.

It was enough. I continued my career in recruitment and sought ways to expand my experience all the same. Recruiters can be notoriously bad at self-development. If your desk grows, fees are achieved, and candidates placed, what more is there to do?

Personal Development

I say plenty. I’ve said before; Covid has simply accelerated things. And over the last year, I’ve seen people transform themselves, go on personal development journeys that might have taken them years to achieve. They’ve done it quicker because they had to and because they were driven to.

I recently spoke to several clients and candidates in the food industry about how they reacted to Covid. This time, I’ve talked to people I’ve got to know because of Covid and who I have watched evolve, change and grow in the last 12 months. And I admire them.

Businesses have adapted. Ruella Crouch, MD of Ruella James Recruitment, talked openly of her despair when Covid hit. She watched fees evaporate and the lifeblood of her business go cold. She admitted she could have crawled under a rock and waited for it all to go away, but instead, she knew she had to change. Driven by her determination to thrive, she embarked on a path of investing in herself. Developing a personal brand, working with Amelia Sordell and Hoxo Media, she learnt how to rebrand and remarket not just herself but her business. And once she saw positive outcomes, she involved her team. They’ve benefitted directly from her drive to evolve.

Mindset is everything she told me, and she’s proved you’re never too old to change. The outcome? In 21 years, Ruella James Recruitment has never been busier.

Future-proofing has also become vital for businesses to move forward. Zoe Lewis, MD of Methods Recruitment, qualified as a coach to better support her team. Not only does she now have extra skills to lead her team, but she’s also upskilled them by providing cross-training and bringing in experts from the industry to impart insight into the markets they serve. She’s also a big advocate of volunteering, and her team can spend two days a year on voluntary work and delivering social value. Everyone benefits.

I’ve also seen people change how they do things. Duncan Strachan of PAYG Marketing talked about self-preservation. At the start of lockdown, he was a marketing contractor and doing well. Covid’s impact on him was the loss of his contracts and having to reinvent what he did. Duncan found himself job searching at a time when it felt as though everyone was doing the same and getting nowhere fast. He started to share what he had learned about job searching and driving engagement on LinkedIn to help others and started a groundswell of reciprocity. He’s now developing a marketing business suited to the needs of businesses now.

And I watched others push on with achieving qualifications. Zoe Adnitt of Zoe the Coach was partway to her coaching qualifications when Covid hit. Although it wasn’t necessary to complete them for her business launch, she was determined to do so when her house was full of children, and the nation was spiralling into a downturn. Mission accomplished, she moved her new business 100% online, and seeing how others reacted to the pandemic, launched new programmes for her market.

And you may ask, what did we do at Expion? The answer is a combination of the above. We offered qualifications – ILM courses and Compliance Recruiter accreditation (by APSCo and offered through Recruitment Juice). We invested in a coach for the management team and rethought our Values, approach, and how we wanted to be perceived. We changed our Service Proposition, and we enhanced our Outplacement offering. We became more ‘social’ on social media and developed a new website.

And for me? I enrolled in a content creation course run by Emma Venables. It inspired me enormously and led me to create a new path in developing my marketing skills. I’m sitting here right now as a student on a post-graduate digital marketing course. It’s something I wish I had started a few years ago but quoting Ruella ‘You can’t keep looking back. You have to keep doing new things.’

I certainly will. And thank you to all the people who contributed to this article and proved that change and personal development is life-changing.

Author, Caroline Vooght – Business Unit Director Caroline Vooght

I’m an experienced recruiter with over 20 years in the industry and a specialism for recruiting in the food/FMCG industry. I’ve grown and developed teams and love supporting others.


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