How setbacks have helped me build a new career

Nick Arnold played for Reading FC as a scholar and subsequently for clubs including Wycombe, Aldershot, Wealdstone and Whitehawk. He is now Principal Recruitment Consultant at CPR Recruitment Ltd, as well as First Team Coach at Welling Utd FC. You can connect with Nick on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Turning Pro

My story is quite a different one when it comes to fulfilling my dream. I was late to the academy scene in joining Reading when I was 13. It was my boyhood team and I could not have been happier when I signed my scholarship and pro deal at 16. The thought of the chance to play for the club that I grew up 15 minutes away from, went to watch week in week out and many of my family were long time supporters, was such an honour.

That chance came when I had just turned 18. Getting the call from the first team manager saying I was in the squad for the Carling Cup game against Charlton was a surreal moment. The excitement in my family was high but it also came at a moment in my life when I needed it the most.

Weeks before the start of the season and this game, I had lost my best mate, another lifelong Reading fan, due to knife crime. It was a massive privilege to know that he would have been proud of me representing our team.

However, maybe the writing was on the wall with what was to happen next as the game was called off due to the London riots and the lack of available policing for the match. By the time the fixture had been rearranged, my first of many injuries had occurred and I was never able to fulfil the ambition of playing for Reading.

I would go on to play for some fantastic clubs such as Wycombe, Aldershot, Wealdstone and Whitehawk. Also, I got the honour of representing England C, the non-league England side, in a game against Estonia. Football being my biggest passion, this was such an honour for me as wearing the England shirt at any level was a dream.

Setbacks and injuries

I have had a few setbacks and injuries over the course of my career, starting with not being able to play the Reading game with a 6-month groin injury. The injuries I have had in my career are not recurring injuries, they have been significant but isolated injuries that I have tried my hardest to bounce back from every time.

After a series of ankle troubles, my next major injury was a 20-month ACL reconstruction. Turning on the pitch, I felt a pop in my knee which meant a full ACL rupture, MCL tear and meniscus repair. After three operations and a lot of hard work, I was back on the pitch in the Conference with Aldershot.

Since then, I dropped to part time and won the Conference South with Wealdstone. However, in my first season at Eastbourne, I have ruptured the ACL in my other knee, a full ACL rupture and meniscus tears both sides to be precise. I am now 4 months post op and getting along well.

All these setbacks and injuries have brought new challenges every time, both physically and mentally. I have had four major operations, endless pain relief injections and several physios and consultants helping me get back onto the pitch.

The hard work and determination to get up every time after being knocked down, gets harder to summon every time. Saying this, it gives me the drive and hunger to get back and playing and being successful. The setbacks are hard, but regrets are worse.

Transition to a business career

At the end of the 18/19 season, I took the decision to start a career that would run alongside semi professional football and then, over time, become my sole career and my future outside of the game. This decision was not made lightly but my footballing career was always going to struggle after the injuries and setbacks.

The reason I chose recruitment was the referral of a friend within a company. I had never been for an interview before, let alone go for an office job. After a couple of interviews at the company, I was offered a consultant role on my first go. I felt like I had a lot of transferable skills to take into a recruitment role and so far, have found myself having some success using them.

These transferable skills include resilience, a winning mentality and a knowledge of speaking with people from different backgrounds and areas. These have been influential for me to build a successful desk within recruitment.

Why have I ended up specialising in construction?

The pandemic hit, and I asked myself which industries were more or less affected by it? I thought construction was an industry which would carry on no matter what. I looked into a few different construction recruitment jobs, and at the same time I was approached by Randstad for a construction recruitment role, funnily enough. It fell hand in hand. I was interested in the sector and they happened to approach me.

For personal reasons I took a job at a construction specialist recruiter called LMRE, and again for personal reasons I then moved to where I am now – CPR Recruitment.

I do blue collar and white collar – anything on a building site. They have a need for everything going up to site supervisor, Project Manager, Quantity Surveyor, senior site manager, management and above. You can work on a contract desk or permanent desk, whether it’s short-term contract work or permanent roles.

I’ll like to go into leadership roles within recruitment, I was captain of my under 21 team, captain at Aldershot and also Whitehawk. I want to be a leader and help others so that’s the next step for me in my business career.