AMANDA ARMSTRONG: MY TOP ADVICE FOR SURVIVING AND THRIVING

Recruitment consultant Amanda Reuben says experience and age are a benefit, not a barrier

The wisdom of those we surround ourselves with (virtually or otherwise) can make all the difference to how we live and work – and how we feel. How do other women manage to stay ‘up’ and face major challenges? How on earth did they get through 2020 and how are they remaining motivated day-to-day? Recruitment consultant and coach Amanda Armstrong shares her take on surviving and thriving – and a ray of hope for anyone who’s job-hunting and needs advice.

Describe your expertise and your typical clients or audience
I specialise in matching the right company with the right person for the right job. My expertise lies in recognising a good culture and values ‘fit’, and truly listening to what both the job seeker and the organisation want and need. My audience is two-fold: on the one hand I work with candidates – ie people looking for a new role. And on the other, I work with organisations – typically SME’s or owner-managed businesses with strong brands and identities across a variety of sectors.

What is your superpower, the one skill that makes you unique, that your clients or audience love you for?
I’d say my superpower is my ability to instinctively know which candidate will suit which business

Using your unique expertise and insights please share your top tips for thriving as an entrepreneur/businesswoman. Dig deep – what do you know that is often missed or misunderstood?
• We know our s**t. We really do, and we often forget because we’re so used to just doing what we do.
• Experience or age is a benefit not a barrier – just think of all the amazing things you’re bringing to the table.
• You can’t know everything about running a business; if it’s not your area of core competence, find someone who can help.
• Take a break when it suits YOU – after all, isn’t that why you work for yourself?

Briefly, what has been your journey to your current career?
My very first role was in a headhunting firm and then a recruitment business, before I spent 10 years in the City as an Account Manager for Reuters. I also had 7 years as an Estate Agent so you could say I’ve always been in a relationship building/sales role. I then found my way back to recruitment and, after 10 years working my way up in a couple of recruitment businesses, I was really motivated to work for myself and set up my agency Bijou Recruitment in 2013; it was the best decision of my career – clients followed me and a couple are still with me.

Describe your darkest moment of 2020 and what you learned from it about surviving and thriving?
Like most people, there have been a few, like not seeing my adult son for months on end. But, on a professional level, it was deciding to furlough myself from the business in April. We’d moved out of London to the South Coast 6 months before the pandemic and were just getting settled when everything literally fell off a cliff. Having defined myself by my work, I found it very hard to close my laptop, cut off contact and not have a constant stream of emails to be checking or calls to make. I’m really rubbish at doing nothing! Plus, I found there was a lot of ‘noise’ about other peoples’ (alleged) successes.

But in the end, I swallowed my pride and actually allowed myself some downtime – the sunshine helped – and walked on the beach with the dog , cooked more from scratch and worked on my boxing moves with our punchbag. I survived without the distraction of work and thrived on being more creative.

In what ways has the global pandemic led to you changing how you work and earn your living?
Everything I do involves people and meeting neither candidates nor clients face to face has totally changed the way I work. I’ve got to grips with Zoom interviews, which I detest, and I’ve managed my days more effectively without the need to travel, although I do miss it. For the period that Bijou was ‘closed’, I considered other income opportunities and have joined forces with a friend locally to offer an online course for job hunters called Job Hunting Fundamentals.

What new work habits have you created in the last year that really help?
I’m more disciplined about how I structure my day; I used to be fairly haphazard in my approach but I set aside the time I want in my week to do exercise, which is a massive part of my life, and to walk the dog every day. I switch off earlier than I used to and I don’t check emails over the weekend unless essential. I also don’t jump to attention the minute I have a request from a client!

How do you stay positive and motivated when the chips are down?
Walk on the beach; go for a run; box breathing; call one of my sisters or a girlfriend – social contact puts me right back where I need to be

What is your next project or goal and what are you doing now to help make it happen?
I’ve teamed up with a friend to offer Job Hunting Fundamentals, an online course on being the standout candidate when job-hunting. We did a dry run before Xmas and the feedback was really helpful in finessing the end product. As well as offering advice on CV structure, cover letters, knowing your own brand and interview skills, we provide a detailed workbook and a free CV Clinic to all participants. The Eventbrite link is in place – all we need to do now is promote the hell out of it!

What makes you feel optimistic about the future?
I’m not a natural optimist unfortunately so I have to work hard at it. The idea of a vaccination gives me hope and knowing, rationally, that we will get through this and it will end.

What advice would you give to any female entrepreneur who is really struggling to stay positive and keep their head above water?
As cliched as it sounds, I’d say ‘be kind to yourself’ and this goes for everyone. I know this because I’m super self-critical! Make sure you have someone in your life who has your back – either in a work or personal situation (and preferably both) and have a chat with them. Try not to get sucked into a negative headspace (easier said than done). Look at joining a networking group where you feel safe and understood.

Where you do you go for inspiration and fresh thinking?
I’m not a big podcast fan as I prefer silence in my ears when I’m out for a walk; having said that I did catch an episode of Postcards from Midlife last week which included a fascinating interview with a woman who practises Chinese Medicine. Currently, I’m finding it hard to get inspiration from anywhere as my world seems to have shrunk, but if I want to ‘lose myself’ I’m lucky to have a great expanse of beach from where I live and the sea just helps me readjust.
With thanks to Amanda Reuben: www.bijourecruitment.com; @bijourecruit
To find out more about Amanda’s next Jobhunting Fundamentals online course contact her at www.bijourecruitment.com

Surviving and thriving is easier with support from the likeminded women you’ll find in the Audrey Members’ Club, the ultimate place to feel safe and understood. You’ll also get access to group coaching and live Q&As with experts, so to find out more go to members.audreyonline.co.uk.