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We know that our greatest asset is our people and that’s why the careers of our employees are our number one priority. Every one of their personal successes is a success for our whole business and we want to celebrate these. Whilst we are seeing improvements in gender diversity across all industries and professions, everyone has a part to play to continue this journey and at Hays we are firm believers that an equal balance produces better results. In support of International Women’s Day 2020 #HerHaysStory looks at the unique journeys of some of our inspiring female employees and how they have progressed their careers, whilst empowering others to do the same in the pursuit of a more gender-balanced world.International Women's Day Logo

Kavita Sharma

Kavita Sharma

Senior Manager

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3 tips for women who want to progress their careers (and how to help others do the same)

I joined Hays as an Associate Recruitment Consultant in 2014, after initially being drawn to the variety of the role and the reputability of the brand. I loved the idea of presenting tailored, specialist solutions to clients, whilst also acting as a lifelong career partner to candidates, and have felt able to succeed and progress professionally here in part due to the diverse and inclusive working environment provided by Hays.

My recent promotion to Senior Manager has made me more aware than ever of the need to enable my team to give their best, and this requires cultivating an environment where everyone feels that their opinion is heard, valued and respected. I find that a balanced team, whether with regards to gender, ethnicity or culture, unquestionably creates better results and fosters innovation.

So with that in mind, here are three tips for women who want to progress their careers, and also empower others to do the same:

1. Always put yourself forward for new opportunities

If I could give just one piece of advice, it would be to never turn down the chance to learn something new. Taking on responsibilities outside the remit of your day-to-day role is a great way to demonstrate your willingness to acquire new skills and progress professionally. This could be something as simple as leading a training session or attending a workshop to improve your presentation skills, but it’s a chance to give it a go and show what you can do.

As a manager, I am aware of how important it is for me to offer my team these opportunities, and always make sure to suggest to my Director if I think someone should take on a new challenge, or if I feel they are ready for more responsibility.

2. Learn to appreciate individual differences

I feel that as an organisation we are extremely authentic in the way that we recruit, and hire based on potential rather than background and experience, meaning no two team members are the same. Managing a diverse team with very distinct personalities can be challenging, but getting the best out of people is really about appreciating individual differences, and recognising that one single approach might not necessarily work for everyone.

Speaking from personal experience, I initially found management a challenging career move. However, I am very glad that I persisted and became more comfortable working in a management capacity, as it has demonstrated the importance of empathy when fostering progression in others, and how to recognise when someone might benefit from a different style.

3. Get yourself a mentor

During my career at Hays I have had some amazing female line managers who encouraged me to try new things and gave me some great opportunities. Hays is extremely supportive of those with ambition, and a significant proportion of the senior leaders here are women.

Proactively asking to be mentored by someone senior shows both initiative and willingness to learn, and you could receive some invaluable advice. I have observed some amazing diversity best practice at the organisations I have worked with, and am proud to be able to champion Hays in this respect as we continue to empower up-and-coming women into leadership roles.

Find out more about the opportunities available and start your Hays story today.

Rebecca Dance

Rebecca Dance


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3 tips for working mothers who are working towards leadership roles

On graduating from university in 2004, I was drawn to working for Hays by the reputability of the brand, the size and reach of the organisation and the friendliness and approachability of the people. As the years have gone on and the importance of diversity and inclusion has been tabled higher and higher on the agenda, we have reached the point where the office dynamic and workplace culture here has never been more supportive of women with ambition.

I was helped in an immeasurable way on my career journey by some very supportive female line managers, without whom I wouldn’t be where I am today. As a new mum returning to work after having a baby, I was anxious about the effect that the break might have on my career, but Hays was enormously supportive and in fact I was promoted whilst on maternity leave, which has to rank amongst one of my greatest career achievements.

As both a director and a working mother, I am very conscious of the importance of empowering women in Hays, and more specifically into leadership roles. I firmly believe that a 50/50 gender split around the table shouldn’t just be a numbers game or about ticking boxes – an equal balance produces better team results.

Here are a number of tips for women, and more specifically, working mothers who aspire to leadership roles:

1. Ask for flexibility

Coming back to work after maternity leave can be a scary thing, and I have to say that I only truly understood the guilt and stress that working mums must feel once I was in that position myself. I always make a conscious effort to make women going through a similar experience aware that they are an integral part of the team and offer them as much flexibility as possible. In fact, I have often found that being a working parent tends to diversify your skills portfolio – it helps you to be more organised, efficient and better at working to deadlines, simply because there is no alternative to getting it done.

2. ‘Buddy up’

I think it’s very important that as colleagues we try to support each other, and so when members of my team come back from maternity leave I try to put them in touch with others who have been in a similar position. It means they have someone to talk to if they are feeling overwhelmed or struggling to cope, which can be invaluable in those first few weeks. I was very lucky when I first returned to work, as another Director had come back only 10 months before, so I was able to ask her for advice on how to balance the responsibility with the added pressures of my new position. She was incredibly supportive and it really boosted my confidence.

3. Get career development on the agenda from day one

It should never be too early to put a career plan in place, and talking to your manager about what you want to achieve early on helps to have your goals recognised and puts everyone on the same page. At Hays we’re very lucky that there are so many women in senior leadership positions working to inspire others, and they are testament to the fact that choosing to have a family shouldn’t lessen your ambition. There’s no need to lose sight of what you really want to do – you might just need to find a slightly different way of doing it.

Find out more about the opportunities available and start your Hays story today.

Roop Bhumbra

Roop Bhumbra


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How to be proactive and drive change

I began my career at Hays in 2000 as a Trainee Consultant. I had previously worked as a qualified teacher, heading up an economics faculty. After 5 years in the education sector, I decided that rather than teaching business and economics, I wanted to make my own mark in industry.

Before joining Hays, I had little knowledge of recruitment. However, I quickly realised the importance of the work we do. We work extremely hard to provide employers with great candidates who will make a real difference to an organisation, and help people find fulfilling and rewarding careers. Coming from a background in teaching, working for a progressive and ethical organisation and feeling like I am making a real difference to people’s lives, is incredibly important to me.

I would say that at Hays, we are all proud to #PressforProgress. For me, diversity and inclusion is not simply a ‘box-ticking’ exercise. It’s about ensuring that these values form an inherent part of our company-wide culture and how we operate as a business, which I feel has been evidenced by our recent NES accreditation.

Pressing for progress is the responsibility of individuals too and it is important to be proactive. Throughout my career, I’ve been able to #PressforProgress by putting myself forward for any and all opportunities with self-confidence, conviction and the knowledge that Hays would support me on my career journey.

Here are some of the ways I have been proactive, and how it has benefitted my career:

1. Seek out new opportunities, and don’t be afraid to volunteer yourself

I have been afforded many exceptional opportunities to progress. I moved up the ranks at Hays where I started by running my own desk, before becoming a regional and then national business director at Hays Education. After a short career break supported through Hays, I went on to set up Hays India as its Country Director. After a couple of years in that exciting environment, I returned to the UK, and since coming back from maternity leave I am now Specialism Director for Hays Social Care.

However, these promotions wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t always been on the lookout for new opportunities and then seizing them when they came along. Hays has always supported my ambitions, but it was up to me to be proactive and put in the hard work required to make a success of each new role.

2. Learn how to listen, not just respond

In order to have good client relationships, you need to stand in their shoes at all times. But to understand their unique challenges and objectives, you need to ask the right questions and listen to their answers. What concerns do you have? What are you working towards? What is the ethos and aim of your organisation? Only when you know all of this can you provide the right solution.

You should also practice the art of listening in your relationships with colleagues. Throughout my career, I have proactively mentored other women. At Hays, there are many successful and talented women who achieve excellent results and we want to ensure they are encouraged and confident enough to have their own voice and ideas heard. But mentoring goes both ways: ‘reverse mentoring’ is also an important part of what I do at Hays and encourage from others. This means senior professionals listening to more junior colleagues who may have ideas for change, innovation and improvements.

3. Hard work, ambition and resilience are the keys to success

Three attributes that I think are vital for all recruitment professionals are: being hard-working, ambitious and resilient. Like all jobs, recruitment can have its challenges. In those moments when you receive a ‘no’ from a client, you have to learn how to be resilient, pick yourself up, and keep going.

If you are finding that a struggle, reach out to someone who has been through this themselves, and seek their advice. Like all other the senior leaders in Hays, I strive to ensure that I do what I ask of others, and am available to offer help and advice when needed. Whether this is developing my own client and candidate network, winning business, or working one-to-one with individuals in the social care team, it’s important to me that I press to get the best consistently, and that my colleagues do too.

Hays is pleased to have achieved the National Equality Standard (NES), one of the UK’s most rigorous and prestigious accreditations for equality, diversity and inclusion. Our reports are designed to help other organisations achieve their diversity goals.

To take part in our next round of research into diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and add your voice to our next report, take our short survey.

Find out more about the opportunities available and start your Hays story today.

Lucy Palmer

Lucy Palmer


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Five tips for women who want to progress in recruitment

Nine years ago I joined leading recruiter Hays, an exciting and forward-thinking organisation that could support me in my professional development and ultimately provide the opportunity to reach my full career potential. I started as a recruitment consultant and after grasping several opportunities head-on and receiving seven promotions, I am now Head of UK Client Engagement.

Throughout my time at Hays I have learnt that in order to build relationships with clients you need to demonstrate a deep desire to understand their organisation and really get to know them. Hays recently achieved the (National Equality Standard) NES, which is an important independent recognition of our commitment to building a culture of diversity and inclusion. This has helped me #PressforProgress in my role by leading by example: discussing our diversity and inclusion best practice with my clients, and connecting them with other organisations who are on a similar journey, allowing them to share their learns and experiences.

Within my personal career, I am highly ambitious and for me pressing for progress and leading by example is absolutely key to success. It has allowed me to push forward in my own career, support other women on my team succeed in theirs, and ultimately help Hays become even more successful through winning new business.

So, if you want to progress in recruitment, these top five tips are for you.

1. Deliver customer service

Winning business is all about delivering exceptional customer service, building a rapport with clients and creating relationships that will last. A passion to win and the desire to learn from the outstanding colleagues you work with, combined with support from your employer to advance and hone your business skills, will help you to achieve great success within a recruiting career. If you want to win you have to prove it, you have to work hard and be bold.

2. Be creative

I believe you have to be creative in your approach to recruitment, which means you can’t be afraid to be different. Once, while pitching to be on the preferred suppliers list to a well-known retail brand, I sent them a USB of the presentation on one of their own necklaces in a gift wrapped box. Although a small gesture, this helped us stand out from our competitors and secured us a place on the preferred supplier list. During another pitch we were asked to demonstrate cultural understanding of our client – my team and I created a huge flower arrangement representing their logo, the seasonal nature of their business and using their company colours and values. The idea was that we could demonstrate brand understanding whilst grabbing their attention. By thinking outside of the box we were able to secure another opportunity.

3. Accept new challenges

You have to be prepared to accept a new challenge when it arises, it could be the opportunity that sees your career take the next step up the ladder. Your manager could ask you to set up a new division within your sector or you could spot an opportunity to create a new position within the organisation that will add to the business’s competitive advantage. Being bold and taking on challenges head first gives you the opportunity to shine by pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, while building upon the support provided by your employer.

4. Learn and improve

Recruitment offers the opportunity to continuously learn and improve. Whether you are dealing with clients or candidates, managing a team or influencing more senior colleagues, make sure you are open to new ideas and that you learn from those around you. I have been fortunate to work with colleagues, clients and candidates from all walks of life, always making time to meet with as many people as possible, whether interviewing, pitching for business or providing advice to add value to the client’s own recruitment process. Every meeting and interaction offers an opportunity to up skill yourself and learn new ways of working. You gain a wealth of knowledge by communicating with others that naturally you may not acquire and it’s this knowledge that can set you apart.

5. Be innovative

The world of recruitment continues to evolve at a rapid pace and it is important to be innovative if you want to succeed. You should never be afraid of standing out, as long as it is for the right reasons! It’s an industry that actively welcomes people with ideas and you should never be afraid to put forward thoughts that can make the way you work more effective and put you and your colleagues in a better position to win business.

My career so far at Hays has been exciting and I look forward to writing the next chapters in my Hays story. Bring on the next nine years of pressing for progress!

Hays is pleased to have achieved the National Equality Standard (NES), one of the UK’s most rigorous and prestigious accreditations for equality, diversity and inclusion. Our reports are designed to help other organisations achieve their diversity goals.

To take part in our next round of research into diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and add your voice to our next report, take our short survey.

Find out more about the opportunities available and start your Hays story today.

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