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Lucy sat at desk


From prison to recruitment - my career with Sodexo

Lucy Mellor, Resourcing Advisor from the Sodexo UK Talent Acquisition Team shares with us her career journey from working in a prison, to growing confidence in the world of recruitment.

If you'd asked me at 18 what my career would look like 14 years later, I would not have guessed that I would be working in recruitment.

At 18, I was incredibly shy with not a great amount of confidence so the idea of being in a recruitment role would have been my last guess! So how did I get here?

Pictured: Lucy working in recruitment at Sodexo

My Sodexo journey started in August 2005 when I applied for a Custody Clerk position at HMP Forest Bank, a prison now run by Sodexo (then UKDS). It was an environment that, although scary at first, helped me grow into the person I am today.

Although I didn’t have much contact with prisoners, it was still a daunting place for an 18-year-old in her first job. When you say prison to someone, many thoughts come to mind but for me it was like its own community. 

I was responsible for collating prisoner files for court appearances and maintaining the filing system for the Custody Office, but after roughly six months, a position became available to move up into a Custody Clerk Scale 2 - which brought increased responsibility.

This new role forced me to come out of my shell by liaising with various agencies to arrange court appearances and be one of the points of contact for any queries from inside and outside the prison. I became more confident as I grew in the role and made some great friends in the process.

By 22 I was promoted to Senior Custody Clerk within the office, which was another increase in responsibility. I was now responsible for checking that release dates were correct or that prisoners could be released. This role helped me with my decision-making skills, to take responsibility for my decisions and to communicate effectively with people of all levels. 

Being in a senior role pushed me as it was not something that came naturally to me, and it was hard work at times, but I always had guidance from my manager when needed. 

My most memorable moment was trying to explain to a judge why the paperwork issued by the court was incorrect without saying he was wrong. It was a tricky one but we got there!

In 2016 I was craving a new challenge outside of prison life but still within Sodexo. An opportunity came up for an HR Administrator role at our shared services centre in Salford and although it was frightening to go into a brand-new role (one I had no clue about), I wanted to make the most of the chance so applied for the role.

I was successful and was asked if I’d be interested in a general HR administrator role or recruitment. Both I knew nothing about but ultimately there was something about recruitment which drew me to it. 

I was outside of my comfort zone, having left a job I knew inside out to something I was starting from scratch with, but I learnt the basics of recruitment quickly. I arranged interviews, processed offer paperwork and was often the first contact a candidate had with Sodexo. 

I was given upskilling sessions around the various areas of the business but found that I still loved all things Justice. I saw a position for a Resourcing Advisor for Justice become available, but it was a fixed term contract. 

Did I stay where I was and wait for something permanent to become available, or did I take a chance and go for it with the view that maybe the role could become permanent?

You don’t get anywhere in life without taking a few risks, so I decided to go for it and was successful.

This is perhaps the role where I’ve developed the most, with the help of a great mentor and manager, and after a year my role was made permanent.

I love this job. Being the person who can make someone’s day by offering them a chance to join Sodexo makes it all worthwhile, especially when you hear the excitement in their voice as they accept a position. 

I recruit to a variety of roles for prison and probation, coordinate large recruitment campaigns and am constantly learning. I don’t think I’ve received as much development as I have in the past few years, always pushing you to strive for more.

In the past few years I’ve attended networking events on my own (something I never thought I’d be able to do) and conducted interviews for some of our recruitment campaigns. 

My next step is to be able to deliver the training for these interviews, which I would not have considered previously.

I firmly believe that with the right guidance you can do anything you want to, even if it’s not what you initially set out to achieve.

Did I think I would be working in recruitment? Never. 

Would I change career now? Not a chance.

If you are interested in a career journey with Sodexo, visit our Careers page to find out more.

August 22, 2019

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