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How To Become A Recruiter

Recruitment is an industry that’s on the up. The UK market is currently worth over £30 billion, increasing by nearly 10% in 2015 alone, and it’s predicted that it will continue to grow over the next few years. That means there are plenty of job opportunities out there if you’ve got the right attitude and skills to succeed.


Generally, a recruitment consultant’s role is two-fold; to help employers find new staff members and to help job seekers find employment. Some recruitment agencies will specialise in a particular sector, such as construction or IT while others recruit across a range of industries.

You may find some within the industry saying that they ‘fell into’ working in recruitment, which could imply the job is easy and something anyone could do. However, the truth is you’ll need a host of skills and abilities if you are to forge a successful career within recruitment and it’s definitely not for those seeking an easy ride.

So if you’re looking for a challenging, fast-paced career where no two days are the same, read on to find out if recruitment is for you.


Training, Qualifications & Development

There’s no set route to starting a career in recruitment. However sales experience is highly valued, so many people find their way to the industry via jobs such as working in estate agency or telesales. Others start off working within a certain industry, e.g. finance and then decide to recruit for it once they leave, having gained a good understanding of that sector.

Others begin their career after completing their degree, as subjects such as Human Resources will give you an insight into some elements of recruitment. If you’re interested in specialist recruitment, such as medical or construction, having a relevant degree in that area could also help you get a foot in the door.

Most training will be done on the job, but there are qualifications and training courses available through  The Institute of Recruitment Professionals (IRP). They run accredited courses for recruitment practice, recruitment management and an apprenticeship in recruitment practice.



Essential Skills

  • Customer Focused

Offering a great customer service to businesses and individuals is the best way to build your portfolio and develop long-term, mutually beneficial relationships. Taking the time to learn about an individual or company and their culture will give you a greater understanding of their needs and help ensure you place the right person in the right role. Not only will this build trust and establish you as reliable and professional, it will also make your job easier. Happy candidates are likely to recommend your services to friends, whilst delighted clients will pass your details on to internal departments and other businesses, effectively doing part of your job for you! It’s also important to empathise, as your candidates may be going through a tough time personally. They may be struggling to find a job, facing redundancy, suffering from a lack of confidence or unhappy in their current role, so it’s important to be sensitive to their situation and manage their expectations.

Further Reading: Anything by Robert Ringer. Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People is a must read!


  • Target Driven

It’s amazing how many people considering a career in recruitment don’t initially realise it’s a sales role! The ability to negotiate, close deals and hit targets are the keys to success. That’s why a focused, driven attitude is important, as it will go a long way towards helping you achieve this.

You’ll have to be able to sell in different ways at each stage of the recruitment process. First of all, you need to sell yourself and your company to the client in order to be afforded the opportunity to fill their vacancy. Secondly, you’ll need to sell the job to your candidate before you can finally introduce them to your client and help them secure a role. Thirdly, you may need to sell a candidate to your client if their CV doesn’t do them justice.

Further Reading: Zig Ziglar and Tom Hopkins. The Magic of Thinking Big – David J Schwartz.


  • Tenacious and Resilient

To succeed in your recruitment career you’ll need to be determined, have the confidence to make cold calls and be motivated to pick up the phone to create and chase leads. If these are skills you possess, you’re off to a great start.

There’ll be days when the world seems against you, when your client calls don’t yield a return or you’re struggling to find candidates with the right skills. It’s at these moments when you need to stay positive and not take rejection to heart. Recruitment is a numbers game and you may need to make twenty unsuccessful calls before you strike gold, so the ability to keep your spirits up and go again is essential.

Similarly, you may need to be persistent in order to speak to the right person at a company; if you can persevere and get past the ‘gatekeeper’ at a company with tenacity and good grace, you’ll significantly improve your chances of winning new clients.

Further Reading: Anything by Tony Robbins and Jim Rohn


  • Confidence and Optimism

Selling has to be underpinned by a confident, optimistic outlook, as you’re constantly looking to showcase yourself, your company and your roles in a positive manner in order to make them attractive.

Having an approachable demeanour will put your clients and candidates at ease, as will being a good listener. Listening to people shows that you care and will allow you learn a lot about the person you’re speaking to.

Whilst it’s important to be confident, you shouldn’t take any success for granted as things can happen outside your control which could change your situation for better or worse. It’s also important to remain upbeat when things aren’t going so well; as long as you’re doing the right things, working hard and learning from your experiences, the rewards will come.

Further Reading: Jim Rohn, Tony Robbins, and Zig Ziglar.


  • Problem Solving

The ability to be innovative and think on your feet will also stand you in good stead. When cold calling you’ll often face questions and objections from clients, so thinking quickly and formulating a response could be the difference between making and losing a deal. You’ll also need to act as a mediator from time to time. No matter how well matched a candidate and client seem, issues can always arise once they start working together. If either party is unhappy in any way, you’ll be their first call and it’s then your job to remain calm, listen carefully and come up with a solution that resolves the situation as amicably as possible.


Other useful skills and abilities that will stand you in good stead are:

  • The ability to work well under pressure
  • Organisation, time management and administration skills A professional manner and appearance
  • Teamwork
  • Self-motivated and opportunistic; the ability to spot openings in the marketplace


Working Life


The day to day aspects of a job in recruitment will obviously vary depending on experience. An entry level position will initially involve more shadowing as you learn the ropes while a more senior position may involve managing staff or an office. Generally, though, you can expect to be doing some or all of the following tasks:

  • ‘Cold calling’ companies to introduce yourself and secure vacancies to work on
  • Using job boards, social networks, and databases to source potential candidates
  • Calling candidates to discuss opportunities
  • Keeping in touch with current clients and candidates
  • Meeting candidates in person to register and screen them before sending them out to interview
  • Developing good working relationships with employers and gaining an understanding of their business
  • Going out to visit businesses, including existing and prospective clients Administrative tasks; keeping records of calls made, visits booked, keeping records of placements and billings, sourcing references etc.
  • Meeting / exceeding set targets Negotiating fees with companies Writing and placing job adverts
  • Negotiating fees with companies
  • Writing and placing job adverts


Career Progression


You’ll initially start your career as a trainee recruitment consultant or resourcer. If you are more experienced, you’ll start as a consultant. As a trainee, you’ll shadow and support a more experienced consultant in order to help you learn the job. A resourcer will primarily focus on candidate generation and a consultant will have a baptism of fire by taking on the full role immediately!

Once you’ve picked up the necessary skills and experience, you’ll be entrusted to build your own database of candidates and clients. In order to progress your career, you must be able to consistently hit your sales targets as this is how your success will be judged.

Career progression will ultimately depend on the company you work at; larger businesses may have a defined career path, giving you the opportunity to move into a management role or a specialism. Smaller companies may offer you similar options as well as a route to a directorship and possible equity. You could also choose to branch out and set up your own agency if you feel you have all the necessary recruitment skills, business acumen and an appetite to embrace risk (definitely read Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson). Other options open to an experienced consultant include business consulting, teaching and training or specialist headhunting.


Incomes will vary depending on the company and their location within the UK. They typically comprise of a basic salary with commission and bonus on top, which are determined by individual or team performance. Generally, you would be looking at basic salaries in the region of:

  • Trainee recruitment consultants: £15,000 to £20,000. OTE £25,000.
  • Recruitment consultants: £22,000 to £28,000. OTE £50,000 +
  • Senior consultants: £28,000 to £50,000. OTE £60,000 +
  • Managers: £40,000. OTE £60,000 +

The majority of consultant roles will have an uncapped commission structure, allowing them to earn far more than their basic salary. To gain a better understanding of salaries for recruitment roles near you, take a look at some local job sites.