If you are in need of a bit of a pick me up, a positive word, an encouraging mentor, then Laura Izard is who you need. Even just reading about her might be enough to feel a bit better about life in general.
Having done a bit of research on Laura I must admit to being a little nervous before our interview. She seems to have conquered so many mountains and is so experienced. What if she has got as far she has by being a not very nice person?
I needn’t have worried of course. We only have amazing mentors at Brave Starts. Laura is such a breath of fresh air! Her energy is infectious and she left me feeling that maybe I should be working in recruitment!
Her story is not unlike many other people I meet who have taken some time out of their career for various reasons. When she realised that she wanted to get back into the workplace she recognised that she felt completely paralysed by fear and by a total lack of confidence. She felt invisible. After much soul searching and mentoring she managed to get back into her old career but with the added benefit of being far more focused than before and the kind of diplomacy skills you only get from dealing with small children.
So to kick things off, what advice would Laura give anyone who has taken some time off work and who is thinking about coming back to some sort of career?
Laura: I dare say that you will always(!) come off better after a break. You are normally hungrier and much better at prioritising, you are more resourceful and have a greater world view. More often than not you have also learnt a lot about yourself and have developed improved emotional intelligence. Recruitment is an amazing career for a returner thanks to all of these factors.
Anna: What else do I need in order to succeed as a recruiter? Do I need a degree?
Laura: For your own confidence you might want a degree, but in all honesty, if you have had a previous career you don’t need it. Your USP can absolutely be that you have specialist knowledge in one particular field.
Anna: If I don’t need a degree, what other skills do I need?
Laura: You need to love personal stories. People and their stories. You need to be able to look beyond just the industry skills and see whether a person would actually fit in to an organisation’s culture. That takes a special skill which is hard to define on paper.
Anna: I see plenty of recruitment jobs, some “in-house” and some in “sales”, what is the difference?
Laura: I am not going to lie, I think a returner would find a sales role a lot harder than an in-house position. You need to have built up a strong list of connections for a sales role. I would say there is also less flexibility within a sales role. You have to be extremely resilient and persistent. I really love my in-house role at PA Consulting where I can really focus on the candidate experience and how that candidate is going to fit in with the company culture long term.
Anna: So, in summary, what does it take to find a role in recruitment?
Laura: First of all you need to be enthusiastic. It sounds obvious but it bares mentioning. You need to be a loyal employee, a “good” employee. Ask your employer “How can I make you look good?” From the other perspective, you need to find a sympathetic hire person. Someone who perhaps is a returner themselves. I think the market is becoming more sympathetic generally, because let’s face it there is a large talent shortage and in order to get hold of some of that talent recruiters need to see the light and see beyond the standard, beyond the box. I would rather hire a risk taker, someone who has been brave enough to change careers a few times and is willing to try something new, than someone who is a “straight line” career wise.
Generally speaking I think fear is a very large factor from both sides of recruitment. Recruiters are too scared to look beyond the “normal” and job seekers are often too scared to go for something new. With people living and working for longer we need to get rid of that fear and search out what actually works for us in that moment and not what will work for an entire lifetime.
Needless to say, we could not agree with Laura more, which is why ViewVo/Brave Starts was set up in the first place.