Karen Collier, fashion recruitment consultant
Karen started out working in a clothing factory, training to be a sample machinist. She then worked her way up within the fashion industry until she was running her own recruitment business. Karen explains her career journey and offers tips for getting into fashion recruitment.
I’m from Chelmsford in Essex.
What job do you do?
I am a fashion recruitment consultant and I run my own recruitment business called Karen Collier Careers Ltd.
How did you become a recruitment consultant?
After I left school, I started working in a clothing factory. I worked there for two years, training as a sample machinist. I knew that I wanted a career in the fashion industry and that if I was going to make my big break into fashion, that I was going to need to go to college and get a Diploma in clothing. So I went to the Colchester Art & Design College and left with a distinction.
From there I worked my way up from an assistant designer for a Marks & Spencer’s supplier to a garment technologist for Laura Ashley. I worked in the Laura Ashley headquarters based in Fulham, London and I also got to travel around Europe, India and the Far East.
Join a professional body for recruitment, as they will be determined to help you stay ahead of the game.
Over the next six years I worked in various retail headquarters until 2008 where I was unfortunately made redundant during the credit crunch. It was at this point that I decided to become a freelance garment technologist.
I had gained so much experience for various different brands that I knew I could offer my wealth of experience and passion to many fashion brands.
I had also built up some very good relationships at business and supplier level over the years. Both of these things helped me get my freelance career started and within six months, I was inundated with work.
Before I knew it, I had fifteen freelance garment technologists working for me.
As the work continued to build and not wanting to let my clients down, I started contracting my work out to other trusted garment technologists.
I set up my own recruitment business and joined the REC (The Recruitment & Employment Confederation). Before I knew it, I had fifteen freelance garment technologists working for me.
My clients were so delighted that I had placed the 'right first time' freelance consultants; they asked if I could help them place permanent candidates. I was then given six exciting new fashion roles to work on, across four existing clients.
What qualifications do you have?
I have a Diploma in Clothing & Distribution and I have also completed and passed many courses such as:
- Recruitment Business Academy (REC)
- Recruitment and Employment Confederation
- City and Guilds in Pattern Technology in Womenswear
- Recruitment Law: Managing PAYE Temporary Workers
- Getting started with Headhunting
What do you do for your job?
I maintain current client relationships and generate new leads, ensuring our client’s recruitment needs are being facilitated in the best possible way. I do this by meeting with various clients in order to become a recruitment partner of choice.
The best thing about my job is letting a candidate know that they have been successful.
I also manage the candidate process from initial enquiry through to placement, by sourcing and registering new candidates. I then arrange to meet candidates face-to-face within London and surrounding areas.
I only ever send a small number of carefully selected candidates for each role rather than a pile of CVs for a client to sift through.
On permanent roles, the efficiency standard we aim to reach is a ratio of 3:1 – for every three candidate CVs you see, you’ll make an offer to one of them. For temporary roles we work to 2:1, but more often than not we reach 1:1 and quite a few of our contractors will get offered temp to perm roles, as they become a valued member of the team.
What is the best thing about your job?
Jobs transform lives! So the best thing about my job is letting a candidate know that they have been successful.
And the worst thing?
Informing a candidate that they have not been successful on that occasion
How do I become a fashion recruiter?
1. Learn as much about the fashion industry as possible. It’s much better for someone to come from a fashion background and then go into recruitment so that they can really understand the marketplace.
2. Join a professional body for recruitment, as they will be determined to help you stay ahead of the game .
3. If you are competitive, money motivated and are prepared to work hard to progress quickly then recruitment will offer you are career that you will enjoy.