From law to recruitment

Erin Donkin

Erin was admitted to the High Court of New Zealand as a barrister and solicitor in 2008. Her career grew to international heights, and in 2015 she moved from litigation law to recruitment. She talks about her move into recruitment and what she loves about her job. 

How did you move from Law to Recruitment? 

It’s never an easy decision to change careers. I had invested a lot of time into law but I knew my heart wasn’t really in it when I moved back from Singapore, and I needed to make a career change. I knew I wanted to continue working in the professional services industry and working with a range of different people.  A friend working at Robert Walters confirmed they had a great working culture, so I took the plunge. 

How were your skills transferable? 

What I loved about practicing law was consulting with clients. I would sit with them, take a brief, work to understand their needs, liaise with them on a daily basis, and present findings. I managed expectations and represented the needs of different parties with confidence. It is something I really enjoyed about law and now I consult with clients every day – it’s what recruitment’s all about. Liaising with different people is a big part of being a recruitment consultant and my previous experience has set me up to do that well. 

How did Robert Walters help you transition into your new role?

I work with the most supportive team and they really helped to make the transition as easy as possible. They are all from different career backgrounds and understand what it’s like to be learning a new career from scratch. I get to work with people who have real longevity in the company and they spend time up skilling and supporting me so I can achieve my potential. My days were packed full of meetings straight away, I truly hit the ground running and it helped to build my confidence quickly. 

What sort of skills does a recruiter need to have? 

You need to have an objective approach as you offer a lot of advice throughout the recruitment process.

Being able to build relationships and rapport quickly means that people trust you to make decisions which adds to your credibility in the market. A drive to understand the industries and companies you are working with is crucial as the more you know, the more you can offer your candidates and clients.

Why should someone choose Robert Walters over a competitor?

Internally it is about the people; my team is amazing and have always put my career progression first. As soon as I started I had a clear development plan in place and for someone at my level that is really important.  

Working to put the needs of people first also means that we can offer more to our candidates and clients which is really important. This is accomplished through a non-commission based structure, so we don’t have candidate ownership. 

Before I went on maternity leave my manager made sure I was happy with my period of leave, and was doing what was best for me and my family. There was also really clear communications around what I would be doing when I started back, and I felt supported through the whole process. 


Interested in a career with clear progression? Please send an up-to-date CV to our internal recruitment manager for Australia and New Zealand, or call +61(3) 86 282 100.

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