Managing your career: How to optimise the recruitment process


On 1st August, 30+ members of Women in Wine London enjoyed an insightful presentation with Gary and Elizabeth O’Kelly, of Vinokelly recruiters at WSET, Bermondsey Street.

This husband and wife duo set up Vinokelly just three years ago. Gary worked in fine wine sales for a number of years and Elizabeth in financial recruitment, and they recognised a gap in the wine market for recruitment which they filled by combining their experiences.

We discussed different approaches to applying for jobs. Elizabeth and Gary said that often women don’t feel qualified because they don’t fulfil all points in a job spec. It is important to remember, however, that many employers don't expect any one candidate to have all their requirements (and certainly not fulfilling each criteria doesn't prevent men from applying). Instead, employers are taking a more fluid approach to hiring and such specs are just a starting point. They are really looking to see what individual candidates can bring to a role holistically.

Across the informative hour long discussion we covered the following topics:

Writing your CV and cover letter:

  • Use statistic to illustrate what you have achieved. For example: sales figures, margin targets, operational KPIs, ROI, budgets managed.
  • Cover letters aren’t as important as they may seem but make sure you tailor it to the role nonetheless; write three great points about why you are good for the role
  • Use bullet points and don’t use any funny fonts or alignments.


  • LinkedIn is a really useful tool, more hiring managers use it to find candidates than you think
  •  Keep it updated and current (the content as well as your picture)
  • Get as many high quality endorsements and quotes as you can

Working with Headhunters:

  • Trust your instincts: if you don’t like the recruiter or don’t think they are working in your best interest (and especially if they ask for money to place you), walk away.
  • If you change your mind about an interview or an offer that’s fine, just let the recruiter know. Often candidates just stop responding which shows a lack of professionalism.
  • Ask as many questions as possible. Voicing any concerns and queries is going to make the process much smoother for all parties.
  • As frustrating as it may be, don’t expect too much feedback. In most instances, recruiters are just told by their clients that the candidate just isn't a good fit.  

Negotiating your package:

  • Make sure you outline all of your current package including salary, pension, bonus, transport/technology and wine/drinks package. Forgetting these will make negotiations more difficult.
  • Ask for what you want. Be honest. If you don’t get the salary, see if there’s a way to write an increase into your contract.
  • Often there is more in ‘the pot’ than you may think, it’s always worth asking for but be prepared for the answer.