A Career in Recruitment

Paul McClatchie

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Our purpose as a business is to align business with talent to create happier and more productive workplaces and that starts at home. Hopefully, you find the following useful to understand an objective overview of the Recruitment sector.

What does working in a recruitment agency involve?

A large percentage of the day is spent on the telephone initiating and developing relationships with both candidates and clients. Once a role has been secured a consultant will have to accurately match candidates to the vacancy. To do this they will need a thorough understanding of the client, their values and culture and the range of experience that they look for.

Some recruitment companies insist on meeting with all clients and candidates face to face or through a video meeting whereas others manage the entire process on the telephone. Activity levels are key, and most companies will monitor performance by setting a variety of targets e.g., number of candidates sent to active jobs, numbers of interviews arranged, etc.

To achieve these activity levels the day is often broken down into blocks of time where a consultant is either on the telephone making contact with clients or candidates, in face-to-face meetings, or managing their administration which could include writing advertisements, completing paperwork once a job has been filled, taking references, and updating their recruitment database, etc.

What sort of culture is it?

It can be a hardworking, commercially driven, and high-pressured environment and typically consists of hungry individuals who like to work hard and play hard and there is plenty of fun along the way. Long working hours are common to some, not least because interviewing candidates out of office hours may be necessary. Most recruitment environments are team-oriented and encourage camaraderie and a level of friendly competitiveness.

What sort of qualities will I need?

You will need to be self-motivated and committed to following things through from start to finish. You should demonstrate a level of self-belief and determination and a desire to succeed. The first six months are often the hardest and these competencies will be put to the test. Within most recruitment environments, you will initially be expected to “grow your desk” and develop your own business. As a result, you will be faced with several objections from prospective candidates or clients e.g., they may already be using an existing recruitment company; they may be too busy to talk, or they may have had a negative experience with your company before. The test is often how persistent and skilled you are in overcoming these objections. Consultants who do not succeed are often not well versed in such techniques and tend to give up too easily. In addition, the ability to listen and understand is a pre-requisite. Previous sales experience is not necessary although some recruitment companies do look upon this more favorably. Time management and organisational skills are critical due to busy nature of this role and being able to prioritise can be a key factor to the success of a consultant.

What sort of training will I receive?

Training varies from company to company, and it is important that you ascertain exactly what is on offer and what will work best for you. Some companies require people to learn by observation.

and pick things up practically as they go along. Others offer comprehensive sales and recruitment training to get you started in addition to ongoing training both on and off the desk.

What is the typical career path?

Graduates will typically join the industry as trainee consultants or resourcers. Trainee consultants will often “shadow” or be mentored by a more experienced consultant; this may include formal training or a more “on the desk” type of approach. They will learn the full cycle of recruitment i.e., dealing with candidates and clients. Resourcers tend to be candidate focused for a set timescale or dependent on performance levels and achievement. This could mean that there will be less of a focus on winning business and generating new clients and more emphasis on filling existing roles by sourcing suitable candidates.

Recruitment is a meritocratic industry – as a result promotions are more often than not based on over-achieving against set targets and demonstrating that you have developed strong relationships with both candidates and clients. However, it is not just about income generation, your contribution to team environment and the development of junior staff and new systems will also be considered.

Career paths differ from company to company; traditionally consultants typically moved into a people/staff-management position after 2 or 3 years of consistent billings. These days career paths have become far more diverse. Opportunities exist to mentor and coach new recruits at senior consultant level, to manage key accounts, to focus on business development solely and ultimately to be responsible for profit and loss of your own division or branch.

Please note, while Recruitment is a function of Human Resources, taking a role as a Recruiter is not the quickest path if your goal is to become a HR Manager.

How much money can I make?

Commission schemes vary and can be based on individual sales performance or that of your team. Commissions may be paid monthly, quarterly, or annually or can in fact be discretionary dependent on your choice of company. Most consultancies have a threshold figure or a minimum billing expectation before consultants are entitled to earn any commission – this often covers the consultant’s basic salary. Rewards in the industry can be substantial and top-billing consultants could be earning in excess of €200K+. On target earnings (basic salary + commission) at the end of your first year should be around €40-45k+; this should accelerate rapidly from year one to year two and so on.

And Finally:

A career in recruitment will not suit everybody. A high level of tenacity is required and the ability to keep positive when times are tough. Pressure can be high, and you will need to be totally committed. However, it can give you early responsibility, high earnings potential and a level of status and reward that would be difficult to match in any other industry.