From Retail … to A Career in Recruitment

  • March 22, 2022

Tracy Welch FIRP explains what led her to switch from Retail Management to Recruitment - and why she’s never looked back!

“When I left school, I was clear that I wanted to work in retail and I quickly got a position through a youth training scheme with M&S in my home town of Cardiff.

At M&S, I was taught that the customer is king (or queen!) - and that’s something that is still 100% at the heart of how I work today.

After a happy decade with M&S, I did a short spell working for another retailer. They had a very different ethos and I realised that this was totally contrary to my values. 

Unlike M&S, I discovered that working somewhere where I wasn’t able to provide customers with the high level of service I'd been used to really compromised my personal standards and made me deeply unhappy. 

I was young and idealistic and thought I could change the world - but soon realised that if I stayed there, I would have no freedom and no scope to use my creativity. 

So I decided I was done with that way of working - and a 16 hour shift one Christmas Eve was the final straw!

Discovering Recruitment 

At that stage, working in recruitment wasn’t even on my radar. Then a friend of mine was headhunted from an estate agency to work for a recruitment company and suggested I take a look at the opportunities on offer.

I already know that I wanted to work in a role that involved people - which always was and still is my passion - and I wanted to use my skills to help others.

On a more practical level, I was pretty keen to get my weekends and bank holidays back, and to have the opportunity to get paid more the harder I worked. 

When I looked into working in recruitment, it was as if everything in the universe aligned! I found a sector that was all about helping people, and which offered a good starting salary and attractive commission.

Making the Move to Recruitment

I went for three interviews with recruitment companies - and got offers from all three! That was a massive boost to my confidence and made me realise that I had transferrable skills and all the right personal qualities to work in recruitment.

So I joined what was then Select Appointments (we became Priority Appointments in 2014), and Barbara Law, the owner and MD, suggested I spend half a day shadowing the team.

I found that I absolutely loved the work and the company and knew it was the place for me!

Building on Strong Foundations

When I joined, Barbara became my mentor. She told me she wanted someone to take on a senior role managing the business and I threw myself into learning all I could.

I did every job - running the temps desk, permanent recruitment and business development as I wanted to learn every aspect of the business from practical experience.

Barbara and I shared the same passion for helping people, the same set of ethics and the same values of integrity and service. 

I was excited and inspired to be part of the success story of a profitable business.

What’s Great About Working in Recruitment

It’s now over 22 years since I joined the company as I am as passionate about the job now as I was back then!

One of the very best things about working in recruitment is that no two days are the same. 

Finding a job for someone that will make a difference to their life is hugely satisfying, as is helping a manager or business owner to find that ideal person who will make a difference to their business.

One of my favourite elements of my job is meeting clients face to face (we’ve all missed that SO much over the past couple of years!). We’ve specialised in finding people for the manufacturing, precision engineering and distribution industries for years, but I never get tired of visiting new sites and seeing what makes different companies tick.

I also love it every time we successfully place great people in great positions and add to our collection of amazing five star testimonials from happy clients and candidates!

Plus, we all have a good laugh and plenty of banter in the office, as everyone works as a team. We may do different jobs, but we all have the same common goal of providing the best service to our clients and candidates. 

As with any career path, there are challenging aspects to working in recruitment of course. Sometimes you can work really hard on a vacancy but it doesn’t always work out. At the end of the day, we’re dealing with people, and people are unpredictable.

But I tell my team that in this job, you need to be a bouncy ball and come back quickly from the setbacks! 

Could You Be a Recruiter?

Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need experience of the recruitment market to become a recruiter. 

What you do need is an inner passion to do the right thing and help people get jobs that are right for them. 

This role demands impeccable ethics, strong values, integrity and - perhaps most important of all - really great listening skills. When I’m training new consultants I always tell them that a client meeting or candidate interview should consist of the other person talking for 80% of the time while you listen…really carefully!

We invest in training and support our team to add to their qualifications, working with our professional body, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.

One of the best things about working for an independent recruitment agency is that we genuinely care for our clients and candidates. It’s so great to know that when we find the right people for a company we are playing a key role in helping to transform their business. 

As we’ve worked in Basingstoke for so many years, our long-standing clients rely on us for local intelligence about the manufacturing, precision engineering and distribution markets. We always look to add value, so we can provide information such as salary benchmarking so they can be sure they’re offering the right package to attract the best candidates - even in the current challenging market.

Opportunities in Recruitment

If you want to find out whether a career in recruitment could be right for you, I’d love to talk to you with no obligation. 

Give me a ring on 01256 334575 or email me direct at to arrange a chat.


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