Thinking about working in recruitment? Here’s what you need to know12 min read
So you’re thinking about working in recruitment. That’s great! If it’s the right fit, recruitment can be an incredibly fulfilling job that introduces you to new and exciting opportunities and people. But, depending on your personality, lifestyle, and priorities, recruitment can sometimes be a tough way to make a living.
That being said, don’t let uncertainty scare you away from the joys of working in recruitment. Before setting out on this career path, it’s important to understand and appreciate what the job entails, and what will be expected of you on a daily basis.
To help get you thinking about whether or not being a recruiter is right for you, this article will take a look at:
- A day in the life of a recruiter,
- Pros and cons of being a recruiter,
- The skills and personality traits you’ll need to succeed,
- And some testimonials from real-life recruiters.
But before we get started, I should be clear about what type of recruitment position we’ll be talking about. Recruitment jobs can fall into in-house roles for specific companies, recruitment agency positions, or recruitment consulting. For the sake of this article, we’ll be focusing on what it’s like to be an in-house recruiter.
Let’s get started!
What it’s like to be a recruiter: a day in the life
The daily routine for an in-house recruiter will naturally vary depending on the company and the size of the team. Take this as a sample of what your day could look like, if you were to become a recruiter.
As a reminder, the job of an in-house recruiter involves talent sourcing, candidate screening, and conducting interviews for your company’s job openings. This can involve a lot of time spent on social media or professional networks, on the phone, sending emails, or meeting with people in person. A second layer to the job entails working with your team members and managers to meet hiring and revenue targets set out for you by the executive team.
As you can probably tell, this requires you to wear many hats and juggle a variety of different skill sets (more on that later in the article).
Now that we’ve covered general responsibilities, let’s look at what a normal day might look like, broken into three sections.
Morning routine: when you get into the office
- 8:30am: Grab a coffee, check emails.
- 9:00am: Assess new CVs that came in overnight and note who you will call
- 9:30am: Review social media and professional networking sites for new contacts or potential hires
- 10:00am: Call your new potential candidates; perform phone screen interviews or set up in-person interviews
Responsibilities throughout the day
- Team meetings: Discuss KPIs, strategy going forward, new positions and openings, and any new goals sent down from management.
- Fielding emails and calls: Continually monitor your emails and phone for new candidate applications for your vacant positions.
- Perform in-person interviews: A typical day can involve one or many in-person interviews that you will have to schedule your day around.
- Meet with hiring managers: Meet with the managers for the positions you’ve been assigned. Review candidates, brief them on interviewing techniques, and strategize the direction going forward.
- Schedule interviews and calls: Reach out to candidates you’ve screened to invite them for in-person interviews, job tests, etc.
- Review KPIs and ATS data for new opportunities: Spend some time reviewing your hiring data and talent pipeline to find opportunities for optimization.
- Write job descriptions, posts them online: Craft jobs ads and post them to the relevant sourcing websites.
You likely won’t have to tackle each of these tasks every day (and there’s inevitably many more that I’ve left off this list), but this should give you a good idea of what working in recruitment can entail.
Possible overtime requirements
One reality that every recruiter has to get used to is the regularity of overtime hours.
One of your primary responsibilities as a recruiter is to interview people looking for a new job. More often than not, that person will have a job already, meaning it will be difficult for them to get away from the office to attend an interview. Not everyone will need this – and some might not even be worth it – but if your highest-potential candidate has to schedule a call outside of working hours, you need to be there to talk to them.
Overtime hours might also include attending conferences, networking events, or any other engagement that occurs outside of normal working hours.
You may be feeling a bit overwhelmed at this point, and that’s normal. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of the gig before diving into a new profession.
And with that in mind…
Working in recruitment: pros and cons
Like all jobs, there’s a long list of positive (and negatives) about working in recruitment. This list is an aggregation of a number of different articles from actual recruiters, so it reflects the realities of a variety of recruitment roles.
First off, the pros.
Pros of being a recruiter
- You’ll change people’s lives. As a recruiter, you have the opportunity to provide economic opportunity for people who need it, and help your company reach its financial goals (thus helping your team).
- You develop personal and professional skills. Flexing the variety of skills required to perform as a recruiter, plus the knowledge you pick up from talking to new people every day, can lead to new and exciting career paths and personal growth.
- No day is the same, and no conversation is the same. If you want variety in your life and don’t like being bored, then you’ll love that each day as a recruiter brings something new (for better or worse).
- You can make great money. Recruiters often make a higher salary early in their careers that many of their peers. And that goes double if your company also offers commission.
- You’re at the heart of helping your company thrive. Recruiters are the engine that drives the talent and direction of the company. By being responsible for determining who works at your company, you’ll have the opportunity to shape its direction and be directly responsible for its success.
- The ability and connections to transfer between industries. By consistently meeting and talking to new people, you’ll develop a vast network of contacts to connect with if you decide to jump to a new job. Not to mention an inside understanding of how recruitment works.
- It gets you out of the office and meeting new people. Networking events, conferences, and travel can all be regular occurrences for recruiters. If you want a job that gets you out into the world and talking to people, then recruitment may be for you.
Cons of being a recruiter
- It can be emotionally taxing. Extending job offers, or breaking the news about a rejection, can result in extreme emotional highs and lows. The position itself can often be unpredictable, chaotic and disappointing if you’ve put a lot of effort into hiring a candidate, but it doesn’t go your way.
- You often have to act as a mediator. Candidates and hiring managers will almost always be on different pages when it comes to expectations and pay. As a recruiter, you’re stuck in the middle of that conflict, and often have to guide the disagreement to a fair conclusion. This may not be for everyone.
- You’ll have to learn how to handle rejection. For every offer you have accepted, there will be many more that are rejected. Learning how to deal with regular rejection from candidates and hiring managers is just part of the job.
- It can be a grind. As mentioned, there can be long hours, lots of phone calls, sifting through CVs, and long waits to find the right candidate. There can be lots of work and overtime for a very short feeling of accomplishment.
- It can eat into your evenings and weekends. Again, overtime is just a reality of the working in recruitment. It’s not uncommon to find yourself working long after hours, sporadically on the weekend, or even during your holidays. That’s because you will usually have to bend your schedule to other people, especially if that person is highly sought after and is only available on a Saturday morning at 5am.
- It may not be permanent. Because recruitment can be so emotionally and physically taxing, many people don’t last in these positions. That’s why it takes a special kind of person to be a recruiter.
At the end of the day, you should weigh what is important to you against each of these pros and cons of being a recruiter.
Take some time to think about what you want out of your career, and what you want your lifestyle to be. If it aligns with what I’ve outlined so far in this article, then you may have a future in recruitment.
If you’re still with me, then you may be wondering what skills you’ll need to be successful. I’m glad you asked!
Skills every recruiter needs to succeed
The range of skills you need to succeed as a recruiter is as varied as the tasks you’ll complete and the people you’ll talk to. While we’re focussing on in-house recruiters in this article, recruitment consultant skills and those needed to be a recruitment agent are all quite similar. Each niche will require its own subset of skills and experience, but this will serve as a nice starting point.
In general, recruiters should be personable, outgoing and comfortable speaking with and meeting new people. They should also have a wide range of hard and soft skills to compliment their personality.
Here’s a shortlist of some of the recruitment skills you’ll need to succeed.
Here’s a list of the hard recruitment skills you’ll need to rely on during your career.
- A data-driven mentality.
- Marketing and sales skills.
- Ability to use technology.
- Critical thinking.
- Social media.
- Multitasking and time management.
- Ability to manage expectations.
- Strong aptitude for learning.
Luckily, each of these hard skills can be learned and improved over time through education or on-the-job experience. Mastering these skill-sets will set you up for success when working in recruitment.
On top of hard skills, recruiters should have a number of soft skills they can rely on to get the job done. It’s ideal if you possess the following personality traits or abilities, but don’t get discouraged if you’re missing a few.
- Strong communication abilities
- Intuitive listening
- Body language conscientiousness
- Big picture thinking
Each of these soft skills will serve you well with the plethora of tasks, responsibilities and people you’re likely to meet as a recruiter.
Up to this point, you’ve heard a lot from me about what it’s like to be a recruiter. But don’t take it from just this blog post. The best way to really get a handle on what the job is like is to hear it from a variety of real-life recruiters!
What real-life recruiters say about the gig
To help with this part of the article, I sourced statements from actual recruiters about what they like and dislike about the job. And, to give you a laugh, I’ve included a few hilarious recruitment stories to show you the funny side of the job.
Here’s what they had to say.
“It’s the best career I’ve ever had. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. It pays me very well, (Not like ‘Doctor well’, but like low 6-figure well). I never forget the “first-worldiness” of this job: Comfortable desk, comfortable environment, expense account, nice commission, completely flexible hours/locations (I can work whenever from wherever), great “team activities” (like dinners at really nice restaurants all the time) an awesome manager (she’s simply the best leader I’ve ever had) and an incredible team. What’s not to like?”
– Corporate recruiter
“Being a recruiter is exhilarating! You get to evaluate countless candidates, make a match between the job and the candidate and then literally change their lives with two small but potent words: “You’re hired!” It can be extremely rewarding.”
– Career expert, former corporate recruiter
“As someone who has spent more than 10 years of their life in recruitment I can tell you its a challenging and rewarding career. That said it’s not for everyone and far be it for me to dispute an earlier response but it’s very hard and very challenging. In fact, a lot of people leave the profession in their first year either because they haven’t the desire or skill level to make it in the industry.”
– Former talent acquisition specialist
You have to have the balance of being a great communicator, highly analytical, excellent research skills, master tracking, and documentation, need to know how to cold call and “sell” (jobs), a scheduler, thinking outside of the box to find candidates from untapped sources, responsive, empathetic but understanding the bottom line…there’s a LOT that goes into being a recruiter.”
– Senior resume writer and career coach
“I was doing a tech screen phone interview, and you could tell the guy was googling his heart out every time we asked a question. He would say, “Hmmm, let me think about that for a second.” The background ambient noise would cut off, and then cut back on a second later, and he’d start reading off stuff from the top Google result.”
“Candidate arrived in rollerblades. Stayed in rollerblades the whole interview. He used the word “blade” instead of “walk” or “go” for the whole interview. Can’t tell if I was being punk’d.”
“I once saw a resume that stated they were a “valid Victorian”. Either they were trying to say they were top of their class or that they were a genuine person from 19th century England, neither of which were true.”
Hopefully, by now, you have a clearer understanding of what it’s like to work in recruitment. If you’re still interested, then congratulations! You’re about to join a group of some of the most fun and smartest people around (or maybe we’re just biased).