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“Fermez la bouche” is one of the few phrases that I recall from my French lessons at school, that’s because my teacher said it to me frequently. For those not familiar with the phrase, it literally means “close your mouth”, or in other words, “shut up”.


Even before that, my primary school reports often included the word “chatterbox”. I don’t usually need any encouragement to talk. Talking every day, probably far too much at times, is part of who I am. In my work life I have learned that time is precious and the words you use should sometimes be limited. The more important lesson I have learnt is that conversations have the power to change everything, especially those about your career.

2014 was a year of change for me and that started with a conversation about a role that didn’t really exist yet. I was working in the Learning & Development team when I was approached by someone from the Recruitment team about a new role that they thought I could be really suited to. I can vividly remember the “oh” moment where I felt a little blindsided; I had never even considered recruitment. The role was to recruit graduates and apprentices, this fitted in with my existing knowledge having worked with them in my Learning & Development position but this role was new, the job description was yet to be fully written and they were asking me to think about it.

What followed were further conversation, some with the recruitment team about what the team was like to work in and some with Carol, who leads the team, about my aspirations and how these were aligned to the opportunity.

Almost two and a half years from on those conversations the dedicated graduate & apprentice recruitment team has grown to three people, we’ve recruited over 500 graduates and apprentices and won an award for the best graduate recruitment strategy. I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved.

I didn’t apply for a role. I didn’t know recruitment offered opportunities for me. But I did have a conversation that changed my career at the perfect time for me and I wouldn’t go back.

When there is an opportunity to have a conversation about options open to you, whether that comes from someone you know or someone you don’t, whatever industry or specialism you work in, I would encourage you to go for it because after all it’s only a chat. One day you could look back, as I do now, and see what a change just talking made.

Over to you…..let’s talk

Are you interested in taking on some ambitious and exciting challenges in 2017 and beyond? We’d like to speak with you, in the strictest confidence, to understand more about your aspirations within the rail, highways and civil engineering sectors. Let’s Talk - register your interest here

Mel Clark is a senior recruitment specialist for graduates and apprentices at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff