Alumni Services

Career Journeys: working in Recruitment

From being Head Coach for a swim team to working in recruitment, here Francesca Christophersen shares her career journey after studying Applied Sport Science.

Name Francesca Christophersen
Degree Course BSc Applied Sport Science
Year of Graduation 2018
A photo of Francesca Christophersen
Francesca Christophersen

What path has your career taken since graduation?

During my last year of university, I worked for Assembly Theatre a couple times a week as front of house/bar staff to earn some extra money and I continued to work with them after graduating. In September, I took up the role of Head Coach for the club swim team at EUSWPC. I coached a mix of swimmers from performance athletes to water polo players and students swimming recreationally. Despite taking on this role, I wasn’t convinced I wanted to pursue a career in sport. Through school and university, my life had revolved around swimming and sports and I decided I wanted sport to remain a hobby and a way to get my mind off everything else going on.

My work experience to date had been very customer service related, so I knew I wanted a people focused career. I met with the founder of recruitment company Livingston James for some general career advice as I had left university without a clear idea of where I wanted to end up, and to see whether there would be an opportunity for shadowing within his business. After a few meetings, my head was set on joining this company, even though I hadn’t been given an offer! I loved their passion, their vision, ethos and culture. The business was only nine years old at the time, and I knew that the opportunity to learn all about the business world from experts in the field is something I wouldn’t get exposure to in a large corporate or established company. After a few weeks of waiting and beginning to apply for some Christmas temp sales jobs, I was offered a 6-month contract as a Research Associate within the Executive Search part of the business to cover a researcher who was going travelling.  I absolutely loved it!

My main role was to map the market of senior executives for the roles we were recruiting for our clients. My duties ranged from helping to write our proposals and tenders to win assignments over other recruitment firms, market mapping, lots of proofreading documents and presentations for client pitches, CV screening and doing screening calls with candidates, MI/update creation for clients, and helping with administration all the way through to placement of candidates. The role was so varied as we worked in all sectors recruiting at Board/Senior Director level. I had a chance to meet many senior executives in Scotland and further afield which helped me build wider commercial awareness. Although I was jumping in at the deep end with no prior experience in recruitment, I quickly picked up the role and after two months I was made permanent in the company!  My duties grew to helping recruit some more junior positions on my own and I was given total autonomy with my day-to-day responsibilities.

After the first month at Livingston James, I stopped working at Assembly but continued coaching the swim team five times a week including 5am morning sessions and late-night sessions on top of my full-time job for a year. I absolutely loved coaching and swimming will always be my passion, but I realised that I needed to focus on my career and start taking some time to relax after work or I was going to burn myself out.

After just a year and a half in the business, I was approached by our Chief Executive to see whether I wanted to be his Executive Assistant. It was a brand-new role in the company, and he had really been in need of an assistant for the last few years, so I knew I would be kept busy! Although I loved my research role and the variety it offered, I was delighted to accept this opportunity.

My current role is Executive Assistant to the CEO. I’m about one month into the role and as it’s a new role in the business, we are shaping it as we go. I am involved in all Group-wide operational aspects of the business, helping to increase efficiencies, and have a particular focus on assisting the CEO with administrative duties (diary and inbox management, scheduling meetings and researching/gathering relevant information); and anything else that he requires assistance with. Part of my role is also to challenge decisions and act as a sounding board for the CEO.  I’m required to keep many aspects of my job confidential as I now have knowledge of everything that’s happening internally and externally with the business and any changes as they occur. I am one of the youngest people in the company, so feel privileged to have the opportunity to make a real impact on the business and be able to influence at senior stakeholder level. I have always enjoyed helping, coaching and supporting others, so find this role extremely rewarding.  I can apply all my key skills whilst also helping to make other people’s jobs easier and more enjoyable.

What advice would you give to students who are interested in your area of work?

It’s really important to do your research and know what your best skills are and what jobs would allow you to put them to use. Then when the right opportunity comes up, you know you’re ready and truly believe you will be the best candidate for the role. Recruitment certainly isn’t for everyone as it is a really tough industry. However, if you’re good at what you do and you work hard, you really will reap the benefits. There are loads of great graduate schemes to train you up as a recruitment consultant and if you are confident and have a sales mentality, that could work really well for you. My executive search research role was different to the traditional quick sales recruitment that you find in other companies and that really suited me. If you get the opportunity to start out in a research role (particularly within executive search), it really helps you understand the process from start to finish at the top level and you get a chance to learn about a wide range of industries and sectors. I had the opportunity to do admin, data analysis, research, marketing, sales and operations in my first role, so I would highlight that recruitment is a highly rewarding and varied industry to work in.