Katelyn Buenfeld on making a shift from 360 Recruitment to Internal Recruitment


This week’s “Meet the Expert” interviewee is Katelyn Buenfeld, an Internal Recruiter at Astute People – a company focusing on energy recruitment.

Katelyn contributes to Astute’s People Team with a primary focus on bringing exceptional talent into the organisation while staying abreast of market trends in the recruitment world. She is the face of Astute’s internal talent acquisition and often the first person a potential employee interacts with.

Before entering the world of recruitment, Katelyn enjoyed a career as a makeup artist. She has since made a shift from being a Recruitment Consultant to an Internal Recruiter who puts emphasis on candidate experience, EDI and sharing her passion for recruitment.

But let’s give Katelyn the word. 👇

How did you get started in recruitment/talent management/HR? Was working in the field something you always wanted to do?

I started as a 360 recruiter in my previous company on their training programme where I soon realised 360 recruitment wasn’t for me. At that time, there was the opportunity for me to move internally and be more candidate-focused. This is what got me into the door of internal recruitment as, looking back, I wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to work internally if I had not had the experience of 360 recruitment.

What would you say is a common misconception about the work of a recruiter/TA manager/HR professional?

That recruitment is easy. I think internal recruitment comes with a lot of the same challenges as 180 and 360 recruitment. You are dealing with hiring managers, candidates and the interview process and focusing on other aspects like market research, internal projects, HR and much more. So there is always a lot at stake and a lot of work to be doing, not just speaking to candidates all day, every day.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve managed to overcome or improve on during your career so far? How did you do it?

When I first moved to internal recruitment, I found it hard to get the same respect from my new peers as when I was working as a 360 consultant. They were my superiors, so it was a hard learning curve for them and myself to learn that I had the same level of respect and authority when it came to new hires and decision-making. Over time, the respect was there when they realised what I brought to the role, but as a younger woman in a crucial role for the business, it took time to gain credibility with senior stakeholders.

What are some of the most rewarding experiences or achievements you’ve had in your career so far?

As cliché as it sounds, working internally will always be rewarding as every day I get to see my hires flourish in their newfound roles, every CV sent, interview and placement feels like a little win for myself. It always makes me feel proud.

But then, on a more personal level, I have had the opportunity to do lots of development and learning opportunities within my new role. I have completed my Level 2 in Equality Diversity and Inclusion and am planning for a HR qualification later on in the year.

What kind of experiences have you had as a candidate yourself?

When I was made redundant from my first recruitment company, I was at first scared as you hardly see internal recruitment positions become available where I am locally. I was worried it would take me ages to find a job, and this had the added stress of having to support my family. However, I was offered a new role within less than a week of my redundancy. It plays to stay in contact with old colleagues as, thankfully, a close colleague of mine that I previously worked with mentioned me to their Head of People, and I got a job for a position they weren’t even advertising for.

I am an optimistic person, so any trends that are set to happen I am looking forward to whether they work out or not. It is always great to try and learn and adapt to new things. With all the hype regarding AI, it’s exciting to think how this could change the industry.

What do you feel is unique about your current place of work?

Astute is such a great place to work. We have the best benefits I have seen, including our 9-day fortnight, which is a dream. Most importantly, though, they are all about People and well-being. We have dedicated Mental Health first aiders, EDI Champion and Neurodiversity Champion to make everyone feel included and safe at work. Making sure our employees have the right work-life balance is really important which is why we have our flexible working policy so that people are able to spend time with their family and children.’

What tools are the most valuable to you in your day-to-day work? What do you use them for?

  • This will sound pretty boring, but for me, it is my notebook that I carry everywhere. I am constantly jotting down on it and making notes of things I need to do. I would be lost if I didn’t have it, as I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on what I need to get done. It is mapped out minute by minute and colour-coded with important tasks and projects I need to do.
  • As well as this I am a diehard spreadsheet user. Everything is planned and tracked so that I am able to reference back for data and market trends. Everything else I use is an added luxury.
  • Other than LinkedIn – where would any of us recruiters be without it?

In your opinion, what are the most critical skills and qualities a recruiter should possess to be successful in this field?

When I recruit new recruiters I am always looking for attitude over experience. Anyone who has been in the industry can talk the talk, but being able to walk the walk is a different story. People have to have the discipline and resilience to do the job. Things like attitude and willpower can’t be taught, whereas the recruitment process and market can be taught to anyone.

How do you approach diversity and inclusion in the hiring process, and how do you ensure fair and unbiased recruitment?

I recently completed my Level 2 in Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion, so incorporating this into the recruitment process is something I am really passionate about. EDI shouldn’t be something people are scared to talk about. It is a part of everyone’s lives, and people shouldn’t be embarrassed.

At Astute, we use things like Gender Decoding for job adverts, we offer flexibility for people when interviewing and working for us as well as so so much more. No one is an expert, so there is a lot for everyone to learn.

How would you define a good candidate experience? What strategies do you use to offer one?

I am all about the candidate’s experience. No one should feel like they are in the dark through the process, as this is a reflection of the company. Whether people are successful or unsuccessful, I try my hardest to ensure everyone knows where they stand and what I happening behind the scenes. Being as transparent as I can with candidates is the most important part of my job. We are all humans so we can get this wrong sometimes, but making sure the candidates know what is happening throughout every stage and maintaining communication is ultimately the most important thing we can do.

What is the key to attracting and retaining top talent? How to keep building strong teams?

I think the key to attracting any talent is to showcase company culture. You can offer the best package in the market, but if the culture when they join is toxic, no one is going to stay. If you showcase a culture people want to be a part of, then the other stuff becomes secondary. As well as this the key to retaining top talent again is communication. Knowing where they stand and how they are feeling ensures they are getting praise when needed etc.

Recommend us 3 books/TV shows/podcasts and let us know why you love them.

  • The Mindset Mentor Podcast – they are short 20-minute podcasts every day all about developing yourself. Plus, Rob is an ex-salesman, so very relatable to the industry I am currently in.
  • The Fast and the Curious Podcast – I am a huge F1 fan, and this is a great F1 fix for me during the week. Plus it is presented by my favorite radio host … Greg James so an all-around winner for me.
  • Staying Relevant Podcast – Sam and Pete are two of the funniest people, and listening to their podcasts every week never fails to put a huge smile on my face.

How do you know when it’s time to take some time off to avoid burnout and take care of your mental health? How do you recharge?

I am very passionate about mental health, and for me, I know when it is time to take some time off when I start to become tired all the time, no matter how much sleep I get. This can result in me retreating from friends and family. Over the years, I have learned these ques and know it is time for me to slow down and take some time to myself. This is usually a long walk or a self-care day.

What motivates you professionally? What is your biggest professional goal for 2024?

My professional motivation is knowing I am doing a good job, and this usually comes from recognition from my director. If they make the effort to tell me that I am doing something good, then I know I really must be doing something right, and this gives me the motivation to keep going. Recruitment is hard and it is times like this when I get fired up to do the best I can do. My biggest professional goal for 2024 is to achieve my HR qualification.

How would you describe your job to people considering transitioning into recruitment/talent management? Any tips on where to start?

Recruitment is a roller-coaster, but the highs are just amazing. Typically, people get into it for the money, but there is nothing wrong with wanting to get into recruitment to help people find a new role. As long as you have a motivation you are passionate about, as well as resilience and determination, you will succeed. I am always happy to chat with people wanting to get into recruitment, so if you have any questions, reach out, and I would be happy to talk you through the steps.

Thank you for sharing your insights, Katelyn!

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Merilyn Uudmae


Content Marketing Manager

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