Graduate Recruitment Consultant Role To Director: Q&A With Danielle Keegan
With over a decade of experience, Danielle joined VIQU 3+ years ago as our Head of Permanent Recruitment. As part of her growth within the business, in October 2023, Danielle joined our Board of Directors.
I sat down with Danielle to understand how her career path from a graduate recruitment consultant role to Associate Director transpired. If you’re interested in getting into the recruitment industry through a junior or graduate recruitment consultant role, this interview will offer you a realistic insight into the highs and lows of being a recruiter.
Many graduates struggle at the start of their careers. How did you secure your graduate recruitment consultant role?
Danielle: Working in recruitment came about by accident. I had studied Sports and Exercise at the University of Birmingham, and was planning to do a PGCE to go into teaching.
A local recruitment company was sponsoring our graduate ball, and whilst I was queuing for my ticket, I noticed they were talking to the new graduates about careers in recruitment. I told the person it wasn’t a career I had ever considered. However, I needed money to do my PGCE course, so I thought I would try it for a year.
Thankfully it all worked out and I’m still in the industry over a decade later!
Did you have any misconceptions about recruitment before you started?
Danielle: I didn’t really know enough about recruitment to have a misconception.
When I started my graduate recruitment consultant role, I didn’t see it as the first step in my career. Rather, I saw recruitment as a side step to help me achieve my goal of becoming a teacher. Luckily, the role quickly exceeded my expectations and proved to me that I was in the right career.
What has kept you interested in recruitment throughout your career?
Danielle: Once I understood that the key to recruitment is about building relationships, I became more interested in it. I found that my skills and personality complemented the job. That’s when I realised that I was able to make a successful career out of recruitment.
Additionally, I liked how much control I could have over my career. If I worked hard and did well, there were lots of opportunities for commission, incentive rewards and promotions. This continues to be one of my main motivations to this day.
Why did you choose to join VIQU?
Danielle: In 2020, I was at the point in my career where I had been at a recruitment company for 10 years. I had started out in a graduate recruitment consultant role and worked my way up to Sales Director. I was feeling like I had reached the ceiling in that company and there were no more opportunities to further develop.
VIQU were trendsetters in the industry and were doing things I thought were very interesting. At the time, the business was very focused on contract roles, as that’s where most of the top-level managers had their experience. I saw an opportunity to build a permanent team there and add value to the company. They agreed with me and took me on. I have really loved the autonomy I have over building my team and the permanent department at VIQU.
What does your job look like?
Danielle: As Head of Permanent Recruitment, I oversee the management and delivery of our permanent recruitment services, including RPO, contingent and project-based recruitment. I ensure we’re constantly reviewing the success of our work and how satisfied our clients and candidates are. One of my main focuses is to expand our current customer base and develop deeper relationships with our clients.
Additionally, as a head of department, I am focused on the growth of my team, whether that’s through hiring or training/upskilling. This ensures we have the ability and knowledge to support our clients no matter what the scope of the requirement is. I really enjoy this aspect of my role.
Having the opportunity to hire individuals for similar graduate recruitment consultant roles who are right at the beginning of their careers, and those who are more senior and are looking to make the next step in their careers, is really rewarding. I take a lot of pride in training and supporting my team to provide the best service possible to our clients and candidates.
What have been your career highlights so far?
Danielle: Of course, there are obvious things like promotions, internal / external industry awards and nominations, and some amazing work trips. They have all been incredible moments in my career.
However, one of my main highlights actually happened very recently. A month ago, I went on an incentive trip to Faro with one of the junior consultants I have been training since he joined my team at the end of last year. He had exceeded his targets by 200% and had just been promoted from a trainee role to a Team Leader. It was so rewarding to see that someone I had trained was doing so well at VIQU. Long may it continue!
Congratulations on your promotion to Associate Director! What are you looking forward to in your new role?
Danielle: I am really excited to have more of a strategic impact on VIQU. Being part of the Board of Directors means I now have a larger influence on our company’s growth. I want to build out my team further to include more 360 recruiters. I’ve grown a great delivery team over the past 3 years, and I want to take our permanent team to the next level.
I’m also looking forward to supporting existing and new customers by investing further in our embedded supplier and RPO service offering. It would be fantastic to have the capacity and scope to offer it to a larger number of clients.
I am really invested in where VIQU is going, and I am so pleased to have a greater part to play in that now.
Any tips for someone wanting to join a recruitment agency – perhaps in a graduate recruitment consultant role like you were in?
- It’s not like a usual 9-5 office job. A lot more is expected of you. To do well in recruitment, especially at the beginning, it can take a lot of blood, sweat, and tears as you build up your desk. There are some amazing professional and financial benefits, but success doesn’t come easy.
- Recruitment is often described as an emotional rollercoaster, and it definitely is. I always advise new starters to stay as level-headed as possible and to not ride the highs too high. This is to make sure that you don’t feel the lows too much. Sometimes, when you make a deal, it can fall through at the last minute. If you go all out buying champagne and partying over each win, when things don’t work out it can hit very hard.
- Give it a try. A lot of people enter recruitment with big ambitions and then quickly realise it’s not for them. And that’s okay. But if you’re energetic, hard working, resilient and always up for a challenge, you might just end up enjoying recruitment as much as I do!
If you’re interested in exploring what a career in recruitment looks like or understanding how VIQU could support you in taking the next step in your recruitment career, please click here. With a wide range of experienced and graduate recruitment consultant opportunities, our Head of Talent, Melinda Queck would be happy to hear from you.
To gain further insights from our team regarding their recruitment careers and what working at VIQU is like, please check out our latest blogs here.
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