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Women in HR: An interview with Katie Underwood

International Women’s Day has just passed, where we interviewed HR professional Louise Slattery in support of female empowerment. As this month is all about celebrating women in HR and the business world, we celebrate a fantastic member of the Ashley Kate team. So we interviewed Katie Underwood about her time in the world of HR…

What role are you currently working in? 

I am Recruitment Consultant in our Midlands division.  I support clients and candidates on roles up to £45K, across all disciplines in HR, across all sectors.  Working this way enables us to source the very best talent from different sectors, encouraging change and different ways of working within our clients’ respective teams.

 

Can you talk us through your journey in being one of the successful women in HR?

I joined in 2018, initially starting with the business on an apprenticeship programme, completing my Business Administration Level 3. After that, I was given the opportunity to work as a HR Resourcer in the Midlands region, which proved invaluable. I gained knowledge about how to communicate effectively with candidates, and what drives and motivates them when looking for a new job. About a year or so later, I was given the opportunity to train as a Recruitment Consultant and work in partnership with clients to identify talent for their organisations.

Like most people, I never really thought about a career in recruitment. After finishing my A Levels and working in a bakery part-time, I didn’t know what to do next. But I knew I wanted to learn something new, whilst earning money, and the apprenticeship seemed the most obvious route.

As I immersed myself in the business, I realised I wanted to move forward long term into recruitment and Ashley Kate had a clear path for me to follow. I haven’t looked back!

 

Can you recall the first major hurdle that pushed your career forward?

Three months after I started as a recruiter, COVID struck, and I was furloughed. I was fortunate to retain my position, as I know the recruitment industry was badly hit, which made me even more determined to succeed. A few weeks after returning to work, I secured a job offer for one of my candidates. They were so happy, that new job had such a positive impact on their lives, I was so proud of myself. This gave me even more of a push, and so far, I have exceeded my targets.

 

How has recruitment changed during your time at Ashley Kate?

Recruitment has changed quite a bit in general, especially post-pandemic. Employers must think differently when recruiting. Money is not the only motivation, most are looking for flexibility, such as hybrid working and flexible start and end times. Any recruitment models from 2018-2019 no longer exist! Hiring managers need to feedback on CV’s within 48 hours as candidates are multiple job processes. Their competitors will know this and strive to move faster to secure the candidates. Layered interview processes are a thing of the past too. Hiring managers need to start thinking outside the box and look at talent outside of their own.

 

Katie Underwood joined Ashley Kate HR & Finance back in 2018

 

Can you give us an insight into the next stage of your career for other women in HR?

Longer term, I would like the opportunity to work towards being a senior consultant, developing people like me that came into the business at resourcer level. I have already been supporting my manager with our current resourcers. I would then like to look at potentially moving on to our management development programme and working towards a management role with recruitment.

 

If you could give one piece of advice to other women in HR and Recruitment, what would it be? 

Just do it! Join a business that can support and develop you; I think that is paramount. When looking for a new job, ask the question about development opportunities and what training is provided. Look at the career histories of the Consultants already in the business. What can you learn from them? Recruitment can be incredibly rewarding, you get to work with so many different people, supporting them on in their career journey.

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