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.
As we alluded to above, there’s no set route to starting a career in recruitment. Sales experience is highly valued, so many people find their way to the industry via jobs such as working in estate agency or telesales. Alternatively, they may have a background in customer service roles and wish to increase their earning potential by combining it with a sales role. 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.
Although qualifications and courses are a good starting point, the most important attributes you can possess are having the right characteristics and personal qualities. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but if you recognise some of these character traits in yourself, recruitment could be a good career choice.
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!
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 is the key 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.
Your ability to obtain and fill vacancies will ultimately determine your success and how much money you make, although it’s important to be realistic about earnings. Many new consultants expect to make a lot of money very quickly, but you should focus on building your reputation and client base at the start of your career. Successful consultants enjoy a lucrative career but this won’t happen overnight. If recruitment is for you, you’ll be highly motivated by the chance to build your “own” business within your employer’s business. Your business will, if taken care of, reward you on an ongoing basis and it’s typical that great recruiters earn six-figure salaries once they have built a successful business.
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. Once you’ve got that information, you’re more likely to meet and exceed their expectations when you send over a candidate or speak to them about a job.
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.
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:
Broadly speaking there are two different areas of recruitment you can work in; internal and external. We’ve been discussing external recruitment so far, but if you like the idea of recruiting without the sales element, you may want to consider becoming an internal recruiter. This type of role usually forms part of the Human Resources department.
As an external recruiter, you’re likely to be working with a portfolio of several companies, often within a specialist division e.g. health, construction or office support. This requires lots of client and candidate telephone calls in order to find jobs to work on and people to fill those roles.
Recruitment agencies range in size, from small, independent companies focused on a localised area right up to large, international brands. You may need to research a few different agencies to see which type would be the best fit for you.
Searching for ‘entry level recruitment jobs’ throws up a whole host of available positions. As we’ve said, possessing the right characteristics and personal qualities is the most important thing, so it’s a matter of deciding whether you’d prefer to work in a large company or a smaller agency.