Everyone knows that after working in investment banking you can go into recruitment.
But what if you start in recruitment? What then? What can an ex-recruiter do?
It’s a question worth asking because we have it on good authority that a larger number of people than usual are disaffected with their recruitment/headhunting careers and are looking for alternatives.
“I’ve had six or seven very senior, very well known people, coming to me recently and saying, ‘How can I get out of this?”” says one former headhunter-turned entrepreneur. “There’s a whole group of people who are getting to their late 30s or early 40s and realising that the glory days of recruitment are over.”
Back in the day, it was possible to come into work as a headhunter on a Monday and make 100k by Friday, alleges this recruitment escapee, who regularly billed 3m-4m a year. “That was ten years ago,” he reflects. “The easy money isn’t there any more. And it’s less entrepreneurial.”
So what are the alternatives?
“Recruitment gives you a sales skillset which can be applied easily anywhere else,” says the director of one recruitment firm in the City. “A lot of these guys have good – although not necessarily stellar – academics, and can easily get jobs elsewhere.
“We say one guy go off to KPMG to train as an accountant,” he adds.
For many former recruiters, the temptation is to build a business (although not necessarily a recruitment business) in a related area.
Trevor Foster Black, a former recruiter with Robert Walters and Heidrick & Struggles, left the industry in 2002 to set up Coalition, a company providing intelligence on financial markets.
“A successful career in recruitment provides you with the confidence and ability to talk to anyone, about anything,” he informs us. “It also provides you with invaluable connections. I would have struggled to set up my business without the client relationships I developed over 10 years in financial services recruitment.”