From ski guide to recruitment

Isabel Evans

After working as both a ski guide and senior salesperson, Isabel Evans made the bold career move to recruitment, joining Robert Walters in 2011. Six years on she is now senior manager in our commerce qualified division. She discusses switching careers, the benefits of working at Robert Walters and what it takes to succeed in recruitment.

What did you do before joining Robert Walters?

I actually studied law at university and initially thought my career would follow a legal route. However, after two weeks in my first law placement, I realised it wasn’t the right direction for me! I decided that I should pursue something I love, so I moved to France and worked as a ski guide for a couple of years. When I moved back to London, I used this experience in a senior sales role selling ski package holidays to customers over the phone.

How did you get into recruitment?

An acquaintance worked for Robert Walters as a legal recruiter and thought my background in law would make me a good fit for a researcher role that had become available in their department. A few of my close school friends worked in recruitment and really enjoyed it, so I thought it would be an interesting opportunity and I put myself forward for the role.

After discussing my work experience during the interview, my consultant suggested that a customer facing role would be a better fit for me as I’d be able to utilise my sales skillset. I was offered a role as an associate consultant recruiting finance professionals. Working in a completely new sector was a bit daunting; however, I felt confident that I’d be able to draw on my sales background to develop in the role, so I accepted the offer.

How did Robert Walters help you transition into your new role?

I spent my first two weeks with the company undergoing intensive training, which included sessions on headhunting and client management as well as topics specific to my industry. My department also offers an excellent training syllabus. Each member of the management team will train new starters in their area of expertise, such as candidate control or negotiation. This not only ensures a variety of training, but also means that new members of the team have the opportunity to build relationships with senior members of the team and learn new ways of working. Robert Walters hires a lot of people from industry, so you can gain amazing insight into your sector from just speaking to your colleagues.

What’s an average week like for you?

A typical week will involve a variety of activities, from meeting candidates to setting up interviews, headhunting and attending client events. I also work closely with my team, so we’ll regularly meet to brainstorm new ideas and discuss which candidates will be the best fit for the roles we’re working on.

What do you like most about your job?

There are some days where I can’t believe it’s work! Robert Walters sponsors a range of sports teams, including the British and Irish Lions as well as art exhibitions at institutions such as the V&A museum. There’s a big emphasis on leveraging these opportunities to network and build strong relationships with clients and candidates. What’s great is that staff at all levels can access these exclusive events. In the past, I’ve had the opportunity to host clients at some amazing events, including cricket at Lord’s and tennis at The Queen’s Club.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Each quarter, consultants that have achieved their £100k target are offered the opportunity to attend exclusive venues and events with one of the company directors as a reward for their hard work. It’s a difficult target to hit, so I’m incredibly proud to have hit it twice in one year whilst also managing a team of four. In addition, the reward lunches are really fun. On one occasion, I was taken for a meal at the Chiltern Firehouse and was seated next to Gerard Butler!

What are the best things about working for Robert Walters?

The autonomy and freedom to develop your own style of working is one of the best things about working here. It’s a meritocratic company, so as long as you’re willing to put in the hard work, you’ll be rewarded. This combined with the focus on collaboration has created a mature working environment where you receive the trust and support you need to develop your area of expertise.

What advice would you give to someone considering a move into recruitment?

Recruitment is far more than just matching a candidate to a job. It can offer a lot more fun and flexibility than some traditional vocations. Additionally, you don’t need to have come from a particular background or to have obtained specific qualifications to progress quickly. However, getting a feel for a company’s culture is crucial. I wouldn’t have thrived in a cut-throat work environment, so I’m glad I joined Robert Walters as it has a real team-based culture.

What qualities are needed to succeed at Robert Walters?

Team work is a core part of our company culture, so you’ve got to enjoy collaborating with your peers to deliver results. As a recruiter, you need to be resilient. The emotional highs of the job are brilliant but the lows can be tough, so a thick skin is essential. However, if you’re a self-starter who thrives in a fast-paced environment, Robert Walters offers a fantastic career with the opportunity for rapid progression.

Interested in a career with us?
Please send an up-to-date CV to liz.boston@robertwalters.com or call +44 20 7509 8414.