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The benefits of a placement year in the recruitment industry

James Whitehead joined Xpertise Recruitment over a year ago to carry out his industrial placement year. A current student at the University of Surrey, studying Business Management, James wanted to learn more about what it was like working in the recruitment industry and gain some real-life work experience. James joined the Local Government team at Xpertise, where he was responsible for Defence and Public-Sector recruitment. However, over the year he had the opportunity to recruit for over 4 different sectors, and work with every team within Xpertise.

We spoke to James about what he has learnt from his placement year at Xpertise Recruitment and if spending a year out of university, in full time employment was something he would recommend to others..

“Going straight from university to a full-time job is a big step, it’s been made as seamless as possible thanks to everyone around me, asking questions from day 1 and taking note that no question is a stupid question, well, nearly none. When I first joined it was clear that Xpertise has a clear vision for each consultant to be famous in their market, giving me a clear indication of the expectations that will be the same for myself as they are for each consultant. Combined with this, they state how they look for the hardest to find talent and want to build and maintain strong relationships with major clients. As opposed to competitor organizations where it seems to favour quantity of clients as opposed to the quality of these placements and the revenue these provide.”

Key Learns

Over the course of the year I’ve really learnt that nothing comes easy in this job, those who do well are the ones who put in the extra hour, who come in early and leave late, but it pays dividends. Andy, my manager, really pushes accountability for yourself, when this clicked it’s when I went from a poor quarter to a strong quarter. It’s easy to blame failures on external factors, but looking at my own output and taking accountability for making less calls or sending less CVs resulted in more success.


Since joining Xpertise last August, I feel like I’ve achieved a lot! I have out billed my overall years target, learnt a huge amount about recruitment that I had no idea prior to joining Xpertise and I’ve developed professionally in my own opinion – shown in aspects such as resilience.  With recruitment being such an up and down job,  I have learnt that being able to try and keep a level medium is imperative – when negative results are all you’re getting, by coming back from these stronger – I feel this has helped me develop.

In addition, over the year I’ve worked on a variety of markets and roles and from this I’ve spoken to potential candidates on every pay grade, I’ve really learnt what jobs I like to recruit for and what I don’t, which ultimately is exactly what a placement year is for.

Transferable skills

I’ve gained a work ethic that will transfer over to university as I can see not only the need for a good degree, but real life experience – having seen thousands of CV’s and how my own hard work will have direct benefits. By having roles with deadlines I’ve also learnt to manage my time a lot better which will hopefully pay dividends with coursework & not leaving it to the last minute!

Would you recommend a placement year?

After a really enjoyable year working with a great team and a great company, I would recommend a placement year to anyone who wants to add to their CV, set themselves apart from the average graduate and really anyone who isn’t sure about what they want to do. I’ve been fortunate as I’ve enjoyed my job and know that I want to go back into recruitment once I graduate, but if it had been the opposite, I’d know exactly what I don’t want to do!


If you’re interested in applying for a role, you can check out our current vacancies on our career site.