by Claire Harrison | 21 June 2017
To celebrate our 15th year in business we sat down with Manager Claire Harrison to discuss her career to date and her advice to anyone looking to secure a role in housing & property services.
How has your career developed since joining Sellick Partnership?
My career has developed considerably since I started working at Sellick Partnership. I joined at the beginning of 2016 after being on maternity leave for 12 months and was brought in to establish the Housing & Property Services division. I had a wealth of experience in housing & property services having worked in the sector for 10 years at a previous firm.
One of the most challenging aspects of starting a new division is promoting and marketing the brand to clients and candidates across the UK. The fact that Sellick Partnership was already a reputable brand within other sectors such as legal and finance helped immensely and gave me a real opportunity to grow our Housing offering across the UK. Initially I was the only consultant recruiting for this sector, and now one year on we have a team of four working from our office in Derby which has allowed me to not only develop the Housing division, but also myself as a manager and a leader.
How has your market developed since you began with Sellick Partnership?
A number of key pieces of legislation came into effect prior to my return from maternity leave which had a huge impact on the way housing associations work. One of the most prominent legislative changes was the rate decrease which forced housing associations and local authorities to cut social housing rent by at least one percent every year for four years. They needed to do this in order to stop rents increasing in the social housing sector. These decreases have forced housing associations to identify potential cuts, or cease certain activities, which has made them pull back on a number of development programmes. As a result, when I joined Sellick Partnership I had to change my initial strategy as housing associations were looking to reduce their workforce and not grow them.
To be successful in recruitment you have to be able to adapt to fit the needs of the market, and that is exactly what we did. I decided it would be more beneficial to focus on property services as there is always a demand for skilled candidates to maintain properties, and changes in legislation in 2016 meant these departments were also looking to bring their services back in-house instead of using private sector contractors. We have seen a strong demand for housing professionals with solid strategic and commercial experience within property services. Highly-skilled candidates such as these are being brought on board to dissect the way services are being run and to implement changes to ensure best practice and to drive cost savings. We have also seen a higher demand for candidates that are able to provide hands-on support, for example surveyors, site managers and multi-skilled operatives.
The housing and property services sector has changed a lot in the past few years, and will continue to evolve as legislation does. It is therefore essential that as a team we understand and remain adaptable to the market.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to start a career in housing & property services?
Anyone seeking a career in housing has to be passionate about the sector. All of my current clients and candidates are genuinely passionate about making a difference to people’s lives which makes them perfectly suited to this sector. For example in supported housing there are a lot of support workers and their primary role is to support vulnerable people. Candidates working within the housing sector have to be passionate about what they are doing otherwise the people they are serving will not get the care and attention they need. Housing is not necessarily a profession you join to make a great deal of money, it is a profession many people join to try and make a difference and to help people in need. To be successful candidates have to want to make a difference to the community, to society and to the people that live within the boundaries they serve.
Where do you see housing sector developing next?
The face of social housing has changed so much within the last 12 months due to changes in legislation, and I do not expect 2017 to be any different. Brexit will bring its own challenges and the general election could also change the direction the sector is going in. One area that is a big focus for our clients currently is the impact of the Housing Reduction Bill. This has been introduced to protect people across the country from homelessness. More focus will be placed on relieving and preventing homelessness to ensure support is provided to those who are at the greatest risk within our society. This will result in significant changes in the way local authority services are structured and there will be a greater need for temporary accommodation to keep people off the streets.
Recruiters must be able to adapt quickly to change, and as a team we must ensure our clients are not left without skilled workers when required. It is important to me that we ensure we understand the needs of our clients when talking to them, to ensure we constantly deliver an exceptional end-to-end recruitment service. My clients trust my judgement and that is because I listen to what they need and deliver high-calibre candidates every time.
What has been your proudest professional moment at Sellick Partnership?
My proudest professional achievement would have to be building our Housing & Property Services division to where it is now. I am extremely proud that I have managed to build a small and successful team, and watching them develop and the division grow rapidly over the past 12 months is exciting. I really enjoy managing and leading the team and I get a lot of satisfaction out of seeing their careers develop as well as my own.
To find out more about our 15th anniversary campaign please visit our dedicated webpage, alternatively you can find out more about Claire Harrison and the roles she is recruiting to by contacting the Derby office on 01332 542580 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.