My move from law into recruitment

Pieter Van Schaik

Pieter Van Schaik was working as an M&A lawyer in private practice before he decided to make the move into recruitment this year. He talks about how his legal skills were transferable into his role as a consultant, what he enjoys about his new career, and having an improved work-life balance.

How did you get into recruitment?

"After four years of working in private practice I decided I was ready for a new challenge. I first became interested in recruitment after a friend who worked in the industry spoke to me about it. I thought it sounded like the kind of role I could really excel in. I was initially interested in Robert Walters as it was a well-known company and a global brand. So I picked up the phone and rang the associate director in the Amsterdam office and after meeting with the team here was really sold on the role.

Were your skills transferable into recruitment?

Definitely. I was previously an M&A lawyer, which is a very transactional role. There are lots of people involved in any deal and everyone has a different interest in the process, so you need to know what really motivates people. This is quite similar to when you’re dealing with clients and candidates - they each have their own interests and you have to know how to effectively manage those different parties. As well as that there are project management, organisational, and time management skills that have been extremely transferable into my new role.

How does recruitment compare to your previous role?

Being a lawyer is very procedural and that’s similar to recruitment which is quite process driven. Compared to law however, you can progress much faster, and there is a much more structured path to the top. There’s constant learning throughout your career in recruitment, particularly at Robert Walters where training is really valued. It also helps that the hours are shorter – I don’t miss working nights until 2 am!

What are some of the benefits of working at Robert Walters?

I personally really like the team based approach and how we celebrate success as a group (Robert Walters is different to other firms in that there is a team bonus structure instead of individual targets). I also love getting to work closely with clients and candidates.

You are given a personal development plan and have all the opportunities that working in a global company like this can offer. You have the autonomy to do your own thing, but within the Robert Walters framework. So essentially they give you the tools you need and with them you are free to create your own success. It’s very entrepreneurial and I like that.

Describe the culture in the Amsterdam office

The Amsterdam office is made up of hard working professionals. There are people here from different career backgrounds but everyone is very much results driven, enthusiastic, open minded and direct. The team is really helpful and will make time for you if you need it - there are no barriers and you can ask anyone for help.

In terms of perks we have a quarterly premier club where we get to go to some of the best restaurants in the Netherlands every few months. Our MD here is very enthusiastic about food so we go to some great places! We also get involved in charitable causes, for example we recently took part in a run to raise money for the children’s charity Heppie.

What advice would you give to those interested in a career in recruitment? 

Be honest with yourself about what motivates you. In recruitment it helps to be results driven, sales focused and commercially minded, but above all you should be genuinely interested in other people and what drives them. If you are enthusiastic and can connect with people it’s a fantastic role. It’s been a great decision for me and a highly rewarding one - the rewards are definitely there if you put in the work."

You can progress very quickly in your career and there is a much more structured path to the top. I also don’t miss those 2am finishes!

Take a look at our latest job openings in the Netherlands.

Read how Christian Brown made the career switch from law into recruitment and find out about the international opportunities he’s had since.

Interested in a career in recruitment? Please send your CV to or call +44 (0) 20 7379 3333.

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