How to become a recruiter: A practical guide

Are you a people person? Do you enjoy working to clear targets? Like the sound of meeting clients one day, running interviews the next, and attending an event the day after?

If you answered “yes” to those questions, a job in recruitment could be perfect for you. With that in mind, in this article we’re going to look at how you can become a recruiter, what it would entail, and key skills you’ll need.

What is a recruiter?

A recruiter’s role is all about matching the ideal candidate with their perfect job. Once a vacancy opens up at an organisation, the recruiter will handle much of the hiring process, from advertising the role to reviewing suitable candidates to briefing them on what the interview stage will entail.

Provided at least one of the candidates they put forward meets the hiring manager’s expectations, the recruiter may also get to offer them the job and support them in the early stages of onboarding.

What are a recruiter’s responsibilities?

No two recruitment jobs are exactly alike, meaning your responsibilities will naturally differ based on the specifics of the role. For instance, an internal recruiter — who recruits candidates for the organisation they work for — will have slightly different targets and priorities to a recruiter who works for an agency with a range of clients.

Still, there is a lot of overlap between most recruitment jobs. Common responsibilities include:

  • Writing and promoting job adverts to attract potential candidates
  • Meeting with hiring managers to understand the goals and resourcing requirements
  • Screening potential candidates via background checks and preliminary interviews
  • Recommending suitable candidates from their personal network
  • Negotiating offers of employment with successful candidates
  • Processing paperwork to begin the employee onboarding process
  • Networking with candidates online and at career events

What skills do recruiters need?

While recruiters do not require many specific hard skills, they absolutely need the right combination of softer skills, such as:

  • People skills. Recruiters are constantly meeting with or speaking to candidates and hiring managers, so they need to enjoy - and be good at - speaking to people
  • Industry knowledge. The most successful recruiters have deep knowledge of the industry in which they work and the types of roles for which they recruit. That way, they’re more likely to recommend quality candidates.
  • Communication skills. As the go-between connecting candidates and hiring managers, recruiters must be adept at managing expectations and accurately conveying information throughout the hiring process. 
  • Confidence. Recruitment involves a lot of networking, so you need to be prepared to “put yourself out there” and speak to a wide variety of people.
  • Empathy. Understanding how candidates and hiring managers are feeling is a key element of the recruitment role. Applying for jobs and hiring candidates can be stressful processes; recruiters are there to make them that bit easier.

How to start a career in recruiting

There is no single roadmap for how to become a recruiter, but the following steps should help:

Get a bachelor’s degree

Not every recruiter has a bachelor’s degree, and it’s not a requirement of the role, but it might help you stand out from other, less-qualified candidates. There are no recruitment-specific degrees, but research from LinkedIn revealed the most popular courses for recruiters are:

  1. Psychology
  2. Human resources
  3. Sociology
  4. Communications
  5. Political science

Work in a relevant field

What if you’ve completed a bachelor’s degree but can’t find the right job in recruitment? In that case, the smart move is to work in an adjacent field — one that helps you build the types of skills that can help you become a recruiter down the line. According to LinkedIn’s research, the most common past jobs before starting a career in recruitment are:

  1. Sales
  2. Operations
  3. Administrative
  4. Support
  5. Research

Gain a certification

There are lots of certifications aimed at recruiters. As with a bachelor’s degree, it’s not compulsory to complete one of these certifications before becoming a recruiter, but it could be a point of difference between you and other candidates. If you’re going to enrol in a certification programme, be sure to choose one from a reputable body, such as the Recruitment & Employment Confederation.

Build your personal network

If you’re going to consistently find great candidates, you need to have a substantial personal network full of talented people. So why not start building your network before you’ve actually become a recruiter? LinkedIn is an obvious starting point, but don’t leave all your networking to the digital realm. Start attending networking events and career fairs too, because they’ll play an important part in your role as a recruiter.

Apply for a recruitment job

The final step is the most obvious: actually applying for a job in recruitment. Provided you write a great cover letter and CV, the interview stage will give you the opportunity to demonstrate all the recruitment skills you’ve acquired. Be sure to read our job interview tips to give yourself the best chance of impressing.

For more insights into how to get into recruitment, we interviewed on our very own senior recruitment consultants to share her story from retail to recruitment. 

Top tips on being a great recruiter

Senior Consultant at Michael Page Finance, Alice Cartwright, shared her top tips on becoming a recruiter and how to succeed in your career. Here’s her advice: 

My first tip to people looking to get into the world of recruitment is that you have to be a sponge! You’ll be surrounded by people with experience varying from a year, 5 years or even up to 15 years. So, make sure you’re always listening to what they’re saying and take parts of their advice into your own technique. Don’t stop listening but also don’t force yourself to be like somebody else. Take parts of what other people do and really make it your own.

My next tip would be to always yourself - you are your USP! Be honest, genuine, be consultative. You’re looking to build long term business relationships with people, and by having some personality and being yourself that’ll really help you. People see past a mask, so being yourself is the best way for you to succeed in a career as a recruiter.

What’s next?

If you think a career in recruitment is for you after reading our guide, why not come and work for us at PageGroup? Check out our careers page to find out everything you need to know about working for PageGroup and the great career growth and benefits you can expect here.



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