My international recruitment career


Oliver Sexton recruited in London and New York before joining Robert Walters in San Francisco. He shares his insights on the different markets, as well as some advice for anyone considering a career in recruitment.

What attracted you to the recruitment industry?

Recruiting is a people business. Whether you’re working with clients or candidates, everyone has their own needs and requirements and everyone has their own way of working. As a recruiter, you need to be able to work with different personalities and manage expectations; the relationship management piece was something that always piqued my interest. In addition, working in recruitment is very similar to building your own business - you have your own set of clients, your own targets and your own way of selling yourself. Having the opportunity to define my own focus was a really exciting prospect. 

Why did you want to work for Robert Walters?

The company's global presence played a huge part - the opportunity to move internationally and broaden my industry knowledge really appealed to me. More specifically, the San Francisco office was experiencing unprecedented growth and was somewhere I felt I could build a name for myself quickly. This office has a more localised approach than a lot of its competitors, so it was an environment in which I could fully immerse myself and grow organically.

What is it like recruiting in the San Francisco market?

San Francisco is a great place to work, but it's very different to somewhere like London or New York and that’s solely because it’s led by the tech industry. In the Bay Area, there are more jobs than qualified candidates, so demand for top talent is high. However, it’s an industry myth that the companies paying the highest salaries secure the best candidates. In reality, the companies that create an innovative work environment with little or no red tape are the most attractive to candidates.

What do you like best about your role?

I most enjoy the client side of my role, building rapport with key decision makers and then partnering with these individuals to define recruitment needs and develop strategies to meet hiring goals. As a problem-solver, I really enjoy helping my clients overcome resourcing issues. It’s also highly rewarding to identify the best talent for a particular search and then see that person have a positive impact on my client's business.

How would you describe the culture in the San Francisco office?

The office has a flat reporting structure; the management team consistently communicates the company’s goals which makes everyone involved feel part of a unified team. There’s always an upcoming event so the entire office has something to look forward to - it's a very social and collaborative environment.

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

When first starting a career in recruitment, it’s important to have realistic expectations - you need to understand there’s a ‘ramp up’ period, and not every win is a quick one. Keeping up with industry and local market trends and maintaining an awareness of what your clients and their competitors are doing will also help you to succeed. 

I strongly recommend the benefits of attending industry events. Not only do these help to develop your knowledge of the industry, but they also present a great opportunity for you to build up a network of highly skilled candidates. The day and age of a transactional recruiter is dead, so becoming an expert in your discipline is key to gaining market credibility.

Read our MD, Simon Bromwell’s story and see how he made the move from Tokyo to California to launch our office in San Francisco.


Interested in working for a dynamic, international recruitment firm in San Francisco? Send an up to date CV to Liz Boston at or call +44 (0) 20 7379 3333.