It’s funny how you can end up in situations you would never usually see yourself in. Take it from Danielle Dale, who once upon a time was a Beauty Therapist and is now loving life as a Recruitment Manager at AO. In this interview, Danielle talks about how much she enjoys her unexpected career, how she’s progressed at the company and how she managed to convince managers to get a shaving foam thrown in their faces.
Tell us about your situation before you joined AO
I was a Beauty Therapist before I joined AO, and I’d lived abroad for a bit as well. When I came back, I hadn’ worked for 6 weeks and wanted to save up some money to pay for a teaching course. I signed up for a few agencies in Crewe and they set me up with an interview for a Customer Service role. The interview process was a bit different to what it is now, I had a 20-minute phone call and a week later I got started.
What was that first year like?
I was only in Customer Service for about 6 months before a job as a Recruitment Resourcer came up. For the rest of the year, I was doing a lot of admin tasks helping the team screen CVs and uploading notes on the internal systems.
Just after that first year, one of the Recruiters who was setting up staff for our Omega warehouse quit so they asked me if I would take it over. Within four and a half weeks, I’d found about 45 staff and got a promotion to be Junior Recruiter. I’d never done recruitment before, but I was really enjoying it.
How long had you been with AO before you went on the STAR programme and what was the recruitment process like for that?
I’d been with AO for about 18 months once I’d got on the STAR programme. To get on it, I had to fill in an application form to talk about my journey so far, why I wanted to do and what I think I would learn from it, then we had an interview with all the Directors in Crewe who asked us questions based on our development. It was like a whole other job interview!
What’s involved in the STAR programme?
I always sell it as a development programme, but not just a work one. It’s something that helps you develop personally as well. The first six months was a lot of internal courses with Managers and Directors of the business and you learn a lot about you as a person, how you deal with situations and really push yourself out of your comfort zone as well. The last six months takes everything you learn from the first six months and apply to your charity event. In the end, we raised about £20,000 for two really good charities.
We even set up a ‘pie your manager in the face’ day, which is the absolute best thing you can do. Think we got £4,000 just from that! Turns out a lot of people wanted to do it.
How did you manage it with a full-time job?
Well it was definitely stressful! It’s just a matter of managing your time with it really. I was lucky, my managers were really good and help me a lot. Before the charity event towards the end of the programme I was basically told to stop doing my job and just focus on the event.
What do you think you’ve learnt about yourself from doing this?
It’s probably a cheesy answer, but it’s definitely my confidence. If someone had told me I’d end up doing recruiting, I wouldn’ believe them. I was such a different person. It helped me realise that I was capable of doing things I never thought possible.
How did you go from being a recruiter to managing a team?
While I was on the STAR programme, I was promoted to Recruitment Advisor, looking after more roles, and then after that I became a team lead. Around November of last year, I got asked if I’d be interested in taking on a larger team and look after the driver recruitment and my job title was changed to Recruitment Manager to reflect that.
What’s been the best moments and biggest challenges in becoming a manager?
My best moment would have to be winning the Star of STAR award which was nominated by others on the STAR programme, so that was a massive thing for me.
The biggest challenge for me came was at one point, I was on the same level as the members of my team and suddenly I’m their manager. We were quite close inside and outside of work, so I found it quite tough to have to tell them what to do and they’re coming to me for knowledge as well. It was tough finding that line where I could still be friends but being their manager as well.
What would you tell anyone about AO? Could be your younger self or anyone in a similar position reading this.
Just to join, really. There’s such a great internal development, you never really know where it’s going to lead you but I can honestly say I love working here. I really enjoy what I do now but it’s exciting to think about what could happen here in the future and how I can be involved in that.
I don’ think it’s always a question of what experience you’ve had. As long as you’ve got the right attitude, you fit in with AO and you can still progress.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
In recruitment, it’s always nice seeing people progress. You start to see certain qualities in people and it’s nice to see them achieve their potential. As a manager, it’s about seeing my team develop and seeing where they go. Two members have been on the STAR programme so it’s great to see them take the next step.
Away from the day-to-day, how do you think recruitment will change because of the pandemic?
I think the biggest thing is that we’ve realised virtual does work. We’ve been cautious about doing interviews like this before, but it’s been working well and in the grand scheme of things it will reduce people coming into the office. We can also start to look a bit further afield for job opportunities, we’re not limited by distance as much anymore. If people are happy to work from home a few days a week, they might be willing to make a longer commute if it’s not as often.
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