Career progression means something different to everyone. Perhaps you want to secure a higher salary, achieve professional growth, or switch to a more fulfilling role? No two pathways to attaining your professional goals are the same, but there are some fundamental ways to advance your career. We look at the myths on changing industries, the facts on relocation and the ‘how to’ on negotiating a pay rise.
Consider moving industry
The prospect of starting a career in a new industry can be daunting but you’ve probably already gained valuable, transferable skills in your existing role. For example, at La Fosse, we want the best recruiters. But that doesn’t mean we always hire recruiters. In fact, many of the best recruiters at La Fosse started out in other industries altogether - in IT sales, banking, law, software sales, publishing, real estate, or the charity sector. You name it, they worked there.
And in our experience, people who are considering moving into recruitment from a different industry often voice a similar set of anxieties, whether it’s a lack of experience, change in pay, or losing a network they’ve spent years building. But while our recruiters all have different backgrounds, they all share ambition, energy and a determination to be the best. Which counts for a lot – if you’re passionate about what you do and have the drive to excel – you will almost always do well.
Myth-busting about changing careers
If you’re ready for a new challenge, but worried about starting over in a new career, here are some myths we’ve busted for you:
1. I don’t know anything about technology - so how can I work in technology recruitment?
Some of the best tech recruiters have backgrounds in something else entirely. The recruiter Morgan Missen has worked at Google and Twitter and been described as one of Silicon Valley’s best recruiters. She has said that “even the worst engineer will be able to do things that you’re not able to do.” It doesn’t matter. Your job is not to be a programmer but to hire the best programmer out there. Otherwise, you’d be applying for the job - not recruiting for it.
2. IT recruitment? No thanks. It doesn’t seem like the kind of culture for me.
It’s true, IT once had a bit of an image problem. But the sector has changed beyond recognition in the last decade or so. Google, Apple, Instagram, SnapChat… Today, the biggest, coolest, most exciting and most important companies in the world are tech companies. And tech is transforming the world we live and work in.
3. I’ve spent years building up a network - if I move, I’ll lose it
We have never hired anyone for their black book. And we insist everyone respects their agreements with their last employer around their contacts. So, what's important is the skills you have developed when it comes to building and maintaining a high quality network - those skills are the same whether you’re in shipbroking, law, or other verticals in recruitment.
4. I used to manage an entire office - I can’t afford to start at the bottom again
You won’t be at the bottom. Recruiting companies know that someone who used to work in real estate and run a branch office can’t suddenly go back to earning next to nothing and living on the wages of a twenty-something. So, they make allowances. Many recruiters will guarantee your pay while you build out your desk and get back to the levels of your old salary - and beyond.
5. It will take me too long to get anywhere in a new industry
It might take a bit more time, true. But not much more because skills are transferable. Besides, good things do take time. As Stephen Covey says, if your ladder is not against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place, faster. You’ll be in your career for a long time: make sure you’re in the right one.
6. Recruiters - they’re a bunch of sharks, right?
Recruiting is like any industry. There are good people - and the not so good. Happily, there are ways to tell which is which. Chat to recruiters in the firm you’re considering joining. Ask if their company insists its recruiters treat everyone - candidate, or client, or cleaner - with the same care and respect. Ask if the company has schemes in place to encourage volunteering, or mentoring, or gym usage. You’ll pretty soon be able to see if you’re swimming with sharks - or in clear blue waters.
7. I’ve heard recruitment is too stressful
Recruiting can be a demanding job. But that’s largely if your time and energy are not managed properly. Many recruitment companies offer a plethora of employee well-being initiatives to help reduce and manage stress. From building strong support networks in the office, promoting lunchtime gym use and healthy eating, to providing coaching and mentoring for their employees. At its best, recruiting is not a stressful job, but an exciting one. And one thing it never is? Boring
Think about changing location
If changing industry doesn’t fulfil your career ambitions, then a change in work location could be the answer. It’s a popular career move as there’s often good potential for progression, professional development and a higher salary on the table.
It’s worth doing your homework before you take the plunge though. Recent research shows that top cities for relocation include Milton Keynes, Oxford, York and St Albans (source). All of which offer a mixture of above-average salaries, job opportunities, employment rate growth, and low unemployment figures.
However, it is London where a lion’s share of UK job opportunities lie. Technology and digital roles are especially more prevalent in the capital with around 30% of the country’s 3 million tech employees working for London-based tech companies. (source). At approximately £75,000, London also holds the top spot for the highest average annual salary for tech and digital positions. (source) So, what should you consider if you are thinking about a career move to the UK’s tech capital?
Find a place to live that suits you best
FACT: There are about 33 boroughs that make up London, so picking where to live may be tricky. The more research you do ahead of time, the better off you’ll be!
A brief London borough neighbourhood glance:
Hampstead, for the outdoorsy
Islington, for the homebody
Camden, for the night owl
Brixton, for the music lover
Clapham, for the social butterfly
Hackney, for the hipster
Shoreditch, for the adventurous
Notting Hill, for the shopaholic
Get familiar with the commute
FACT: The tube stops running at midnight on weekdays, so know before you go!
Apps like Citymapper will help you find your way around like a pro. Get savvy with Tube Exits, which will tell you where the closest exits are.
FACT: Brits love the pub.
As we're sure you're well aware, you’ll find yourself (often) grabbing a pint with your new colleagues. But once you’re ready for a change of scenery, there are plenty of other places to meet new people.
Join a sport to make friends outside of work while getting physically fit. #DoubleWhammy! Get Active London is an extremely useful database for all the many outdoor and indoor activities London has to offer.
Have a crazy adventurous side? Thinking Bob offers fun, outside-the-box social gatherings. If you’re itching to learn some new skills, City Lit has got you covered. For those on a budget, TimeOut offer discounted tickets for theatre, concerts, comedy events, nightlife and more. And finally, if you want to give back to the community, you can always become a volunteer. Team London lists pretty much every opportunity there is.
Hear those bells? It could be London calling your career…
Negotiate a pay rise
Whether it’s industry or location, a key motivation for a shift in career is the prospect of a better salary. So, what happens when you want to stay with the company you work for, but would like a higher rate of pay?
It’s not often we have to prove our worth to the business we work for outside of our everyday role, and the conversation around negotiating a pay rise may seem difficult to instigate. These 5 tips will help you negotiate like a pro by conveying the value you bring to the business and approaching the discussion with confidence and clarity.
Do your research
Before you raise the subject with your employer, make sure you’ve done your due diligence. Look at job boards and salary benchmarking tools to get an idea of what the market rate is for your role and summarise your findings by creating some collateral to bring to the discussion. If your role title’s quite niche, look for positions with similar responsibilities to yours and give reasoning in your summary.
Recruiter top tip: “If during your research you realise that you’re at the top of the salary band for your role, all is not lost! Experience is also an important consideration – someone who has held a role for three years is likely to be able to add much more value than someone who’s just moved up to that level. We continually review benchmarking for all roles here at La Fosse so that our People department is always aware of market rates and can help employees out when needed.”
Know your value
The second piece of preparation you’ll need to do is around your personal achievements and capabilities. You’re essentially presenting a business case to your employer, and this is your chance to be persuasive, outlining all the ways you’ve added value and why you deserve this pay rise. A few great questions to ask yourself are:
What have I achieved in my role?
What have I done that’s above my role’s responsibilities?
How have I added value to the business? (If you can, come prepared with figures – perhaps you streamlined a process to save time, or introduced a new method of bringing in money to the business.)
What does the company stand to lose if they lose me? (This doesn’t need to be framed as a threat! It’s about a way of showing off your individual skill set and how you are a valuable employee of the business.)
Recruiter top tip: “Whether you’re ready to ask for a pay rise or not, it’s always useful to keep an ongoing log of your achievements and accomplishments, especially when you’ve gone above and beyond your role or helped the business make or save more money through your actions.”
If you’ve followed the steps so far, by the time you tell your manager that you’d like to discuss a salary increase, you’re already halfway there! Now it’s time to gather your research and book a meeting with your manager. We recommend sending an email or having a conversation in person beforehand so they’re not caught off guard and have time to adequately prepare themselves – if you like, you could attach your research/business case so they can familiarise themselves with it in advance.
Recruiter top tip: “You can be as prepared as you want, but sometimes it’s still difficult to approach the topic in person. It’s always a great idea to practise with someone you trust, whether that’s a colleague, friend, family member, or even a recruiter you’ve worked with in the past. Our consultants are always more than happy to help out candidates even if they’re not thinking of leaving their current role – it’s not an easy task to ask for a pay rise, but we’ve got a lot of experience advising people at all levels and can help you prepare!”
As much as you believe you deserve a pay rise, this is a business decision and will likely be focused on the tangible impact you have on the company’s bottom line. Make sure you’re respectful of your employer’s position and try to put yourself in their shoes. Equally, it pays to be flexible – maybe you can’t get a salary increase straight away, but you can always negotiate for other benefits such as a one-off bonus or extra holiday days!
Recruiter top tip: “Never start an interview with ‘I want more money’! When negotiating, it pays to be precise and aim high – if you ask for a 7.5% raise when you’re only expecting 5%, not only does it give you some wiggle room to negotiate, it also shows your boss that you’ve done your research and know exactly what level of pay increase you’re looking for in line with market rates.”
You did it! Regardless of the outcome, we recommend following up with an email to your manager, thanking them for their time and outlining what was discussed and what actions are yet to come.
It’s unlikely your request will be accepted in the meeting, but if it is, congratulations! This isn’t easy and your prep beforehand has helped you move your career forward by demonstrating your value.
If you’re waiting on a response, make sure you set a date to follow up.
If your pay rise request was rejected, try not to be too disheartened. Ask your manager what actionable changes or additional responsibilities you can work on to get to a better position, and schedule in time in a few months to review the request again.
Recruiter top tip: “If the answer wasn’t what you were expecting, try not to take it personally. Remember, this is purely a business decision, so you should continue to be professional and respectful, and start planning how you can achieve what you need to reach that next level. At La Fosse, everyone has quarterly Personal Development Plan meetings with their manager to help them keep track of their personal wins and what they need to achieve to get to the next stage in their career journey."
Where to next?
If you’re not getting the progression you need in your role, or if you’re not working in tech but would love to, a move into recruitment could be your next wise career move. La Fosse is a multi-award-winning, fast-growing tech recruiter and we have lots of roles available at all levels. Get in touch to learn more!