Is recruitment a good career?
It’s a common career path for many young people.
Read the below pros and cons and decide for yourself!
- it’s fun
- job satisfaction
- it can be quite lucrative
- low barriers to entry
- the perks
- great scope for career progression
- gives you very transferrable skills
- the work is varied
- lots of different career paths
- you build a network of great contacts
- competition is fierce
- it can wear you down
- sourcing candidates can be tedious
- long hours
- you are the middle man
- negative perception
- questionable ethics
- clients can also be difficult
- the work
- you have to be good at selling
Is Recruitment a Good Career? PRO #1: It’s Fun
In recruitment, there is never a dull moment.
There are lots of busy offices, people on phones, meeting clients and candidates, and lots of socialising.
If you are good with people and talking then recruitment could be the place for you.
People are generally outgoing, extroverted, opportunistic, and good company.
Compared to some other careers i.e. Finance, Science, it’s a lot of fun.
The ‘Work Hard, Play Hard’ mantra is definitely a big thing too in recruitment.
There are lots of networking, awards, client and candidate events, along with a lot of people of a similar age to you.
It’s much more sociable than many other jobs.
Is Recruitment a Good Career? PRO #2: Job Satisfaction
As a recruitment agent it can be very rewarding helping someone to find a job they really love.
You are a matchmaker of sorts, putting candidates in touch with the right hiring managers.
Placing a candidate that has been out of work for many months or even years can be a life changing experience for them and very gratifying for you.
On the client side, if you can continually source great candidates for hiring managers you will be highly valued and appreciated.
Many people don’t have this in their day jobs.
Is Recruitment a Good Career? PRO #3: It Can Be Quite Lucrative
In recruitment you get a basic base salary, and then commission for every candidate you place.
If you are successful at placing candidates, you can get rewarded extremely well!
The best recruiters can expect to earn six figures. The sky is the limit as far as your earning potential goes.
Many recruitment agents don’t make much in their first couple of years, but if they start to get a network of contacts and begin placing people you can start to make some good money.
For the successful recruiters it is common to start up your own recruitment agency and hire young recruiters to place candidates for you.
If your agency does well, this can be a big money spinner for you.
To summarise, recruiting can be tough and lowly paid at the start, but for the recruiters that stick with it and become successful it can be a very rewarding career financially.
Is Recruitment a Good Career? PRO #4: Low Barriers to Entry
Unlike other jobs and industries there are no requirements as such to get a job as a recruitment agent.
Many people who study subjects with no well-defined career path can find themselves working in recruitment. i.e. arts, geography
They hear about an exciting, fun job where you work with lots of young people, with lots of socialising and the potential of great money straight out of uni and think why not?
Most agencies only require a university degree. Some will give you a job even if you haven’t been to uni but show them potential.
It’s one of the few industries where your personality, people skills and potential are more important than a piece of paper you have from a university.
Many agencies will look for the people with the right attitude rather than qualifications.
This means people from all backgrounds can become a recruitment agent.
To give you an example, sports therapists, veterinary nurses, bar staff, and customer service managers are some of the people who have been very successful in The Sterling Choice Recruitment Agency
Is Recruitment a Good Career? PRO #5: Flexibility
As a recruitment agent, as long as you are sourcing good roles, and placing candidates, you will have lots of freedom to plan your own day.
If you are a self-starter and can plan and manage your own day, this can be a great perk of the job.
You can arrange to meet a few candidates in the afternoon for coffees, and then not go back to the office for the rest of the day.
A visit to a client site may take you a couple of hours but you decide to make some calls before you go there and so can work from home for the morning.
As long as you are sourcing some good roles and candidates, ultimately you have a lot of flexibility as a recruiter compared to other jobs.
Is Recruitment a Good Career? PRO #6: The Perks
If you do well in recruitment the perks are great!
You will eat at the best restaurants in town for free, go to events with free bars, have the chance to socialize all the time and do it with very successful people.
At some of the big firms you can also get trips abroad, cash incentives, and lots of different perks ranging from subsidized gym membership to discounts off high street retailers.
Are you unsure about which career path to follow? You have a vague idea what you might want to do, but are not really sure?
If so, check out my free online course on ‘How to Find Your Perfect Career’. It is 5 tried and tested exercises that I’ve used to take me from jobs I hated in my 20’s to a job I LOVE now!
Is Recruitment a Good Career? PRO #7: Great Scope for Career Progression
The best recruitment agents can quickly advance into senior leadership roles.
In recruitment, you are judged on performance – not by time in a role or what management think of you.
You can get promoted multiple times in a year. Clear targets make progression easy if you work hard and are good at your job
If you are placing more candidates than anyone else you will quickly rise through the ranks to Manager, Director, etc.
Once the top performers hit Director, many decide to set up their own agency so there is huge scope for progression if you are good!
Is Recruitment a Good Career? PRO #8: Gives You Very Transferrable Skills
Even if you are not the most outgoing person, working in recruitment will quickly develop your communication and interpersonal skills.
As a recruiter you must engage with candidates, and clients from all walks of life.
Depending on the impression you make with these people, they will decide whether they want to work with you or not.
Working as a recruiter will give you several transferrable skills:
You will also need to be able to market and sell roles to people and candidates to hiring managers. Convincing someone your product or service is better than anyone else’s is one of the most valuable skills you can have.
- Relationship Building
Good recruiters are great at relationship building. They will build up a rapport and trust with you so that when they come to you with a role, you will instinctively trust them. It’s what all good sales people do.
All good recruiters are confident. Being around confident people all day long breeds confidence. You see how the best and most polished recruitment agents act and it rubs off on you.
- Time Management
The top recruiters quickly learn how to focus their time on the best opportunities. There is only so much time in the day and often candidates get snapped up and roles get filled quickly. As a recruiter you learn how to make the most efficient of your time
All of the above skills are very transferable into any other job.
Want to know the top soft skills that will get you ahead in your career? Check out my post on The Most Important Soft Skills to have in The Workplace
Is Recruitment a Good Career? PRO #9: Variety of the Work
No two days are ever the same working as a recruitment agent.
While you may be on calls and attending meetings a lot of your days, they will be with different people about different roles. Anything can come out of the blue at you.
You are dealing with people, who by their nature are unpredictable.
You may think you have got a candidate into a role only for them to turn it down or accept a different job at the last minute.
It could be relatively quiet at the start of a week.
Then a client rings you asking you to help fill several roles towards the end of the week and you are busier than ever with very little notice.
You will also hear varied stories about people’s backgrounds, their personal lives, the economy every day.
Is Recruitment a Good Career? PRO #10: Lots of Different Career Paths
Working in recruitment opens a lot of doors for you.
Sourcing good candidates and matching them with the right role is at the heart of Human Resources.
Many recruitment agents use their skills to progress into other HR orientated roles i.e. account management for a big company, talent acquisition, head or recruitment, etc.
You could also veer into advertising, sales or marketing as you a lot of the required skills already
If you are placing people into a certain industry, you quickly find out lots about that industry and what types of roles there are.
A friend of mine used to be a recruitment agent that helped banks fill vacancies in their compliance departments.
She placed so many candidates that she got to know a lot about what they did. So much so that she got a financial crime job herself and has never looked back!
Not sure of what career path is right for you? If so, read my post on How To Find Your Perfect Career
Is Recruitment a Good Career? PRO #11: You Build a Great Network of Contacts
The more people you know the better chance you have of matching good candidates up with the right hiring manager.
Top recruitment agents will build up hundreds of contacts over the years, many will pride themselves on not forgetting a name or a face.
Working in a very people focused industry, you will quickly create your own network of very successful people.
This is something that can be very good for your career and open doors for you.
It’s also something a lot of people won’t have in other jobs as it is not easy to build up a wealth of useful contacts.
Is Recruitment a Good Career? CON #1: Competition is Fierce
Working in the recruitment industry is not for the faint hearted.
People can keep contacts, candidates, and opportunities to themselves, and be slow to collaborate.
You will not only be competing against other recruitment agencies, but against people in your team as well.
If another agency is getting better candidates and roles than you, and if fellow colleagues are earning commission that you aren’t, it can be tough going.
The recruitment industry can have a ‘sink or swim’ atmosphere.
When you start off you are up against people with more experience, more clients and candidates than you. It can be hard to catch a break
The people who are persistent and resilient often do well often at the expense of the less determined.
Is Recruitment a Good Career? CON #2: It can Wear you Down
You will get a lot of rejection working as a recruitment agent, in different forms:
- candidates might not return your phone calls/emails
- they may reject a job offer from a company after all your hard work
- candidates may start a new job which you have helped them secure but leave soon afterwards
- clients may decide to give the work to another agency
- clients may decide to go with someone other than your candidate at final interview stage
Recruitment agents often spend a lot of time and effort trying to get a candidate or role over the finish line, only for it to come to nothing.
You are in effect selling a product that can say ‘no’ or doesn’t show up.
Some weeks nothing will go your way.
Roles you have go on hold or are filled by other agencies, you have nothing else on the horizon and can’t even get any good leads to tell management about.
The above makes it tough to stay positive and resilient.
Is Recruitment a Good Career? CON #3: Sourcing Candidates can be Tedious
Finding good candidates is hard!
To find one good candidate you may have to sift through dozens of CV’s and have many meetings that come to nothing.
If you don’t have that many good candidates in your contacts, then you have to go looking for them which can mean cold calling.
When recruitment agents ring people up to ask them if they are looking for a new role, sometimes the person on other end of the phones doesn’t want to know, or simply doesn’t pick up.
Reaching out to people like this can be tedious and painful.
When you do get through to someone, not everyone is good on the phone. It can be difficult to extract info out of some candidates.
Is Recruitment a Good Career? CON #4: Long Hours
Typical hours for a recruitment agent are 8:30 am to 6:30 am
Also, you will be expected to answer emails/calls on holidays/into the evening to ensure a placement gets over the line.
You are never fully off the clock in recruitment.
There are a few reasons why the hours in recruitment are longer than in other industries:
- Your candidates will usually be free to call you before or after work, so you need to make yourself available at these times
- You get paid based on commission, so you are willing to put in extra effort to create or follow up on any potential opportunities
- In your first 1-2 years, you are really starting from scratch, you have no contacts, no relationships, and little understanding of how the industry works, so you have to put in the hours to get up to speed
Is Recruitment a Good Career? CON #5: You are the Middle-Man
As the recruitment agent, you are the middle-man between candidate and client.
If the candidate turns up late, doesn’t turn up at all or does a bad interview it reflects on you.
There are a lot of moving parts in recruitment, and lots of thing can go wrong.
Being the bridge between candidate and client can be time consuming and frantic sometimes as both parties will contact you if something goes wrong and you have to sort it out.
Also, with the rise of LinkedIn, many roles are getting filled by companies reaching out to candidates directly cutting out the middle-man.
With the advent of AI, recruitment is one of the industries most at risk with the rise of automation.
If companies can get 5 great candidates through a computer program, then why do they need recruitment agents?
Is Recruitment a Good Career? CON #6: Negative Perception
When you tell people you work in recruitment, they will judge you.
Everyone will have had to deal with recruiters at some stage in their lives.
There are usually more bad recruiters than good ones so this can give the industry an image problem.
Recruiters can be seen as opportunistic salespeople, who try to sell you roles and candidates that are completely wrong for you and are only motivated by money.
Hiring managers can look at recruiters like they are used car salesmen trying to sell you anything just to get their commission.
Candidates can view some recruiters as annoying and a waste of time, as they never have any good roles for you but they are constantly calling you so they can look busy.
Hiring managers, and candidates will be short with you as they think you’re expendable in the hiring process.
They view you as a necessary evil, instead of being a helpful step in the hiring process.
Is Recruitment a Good Career? CON #7: Questionable Ethics
I can’t tell you how many times a recruitment agent has called me up as I have applied for one of their job adverts online only to find out the role doesn’t exist!
They don’t even have any similar roles, but they want to meet me in person and find out more about what I’m after.
I think they just put up fake adverts to try and source some good candidates.
I’ve also heard lots of questionable stories from friends of mine who work as contractors where the recruitment agent has told them they company is paying them a certain daily rate.
The contractor then finds out that the daily rate which the company is paying is £5 or £10 more than what the recruitment agent has let on and is pocketing the difference.
Is Recruitment a Good Career? CON #8: Clients can also be Difficult
Clients can be hard work for a number of reasons, they:
- can be very wishy-washy with what they are looking for
- give you a very vague job description or none at all!
- expect you to do all the hiring for them
- are always too busy to interview candidates
- give out when the role isn’t filled even if they
- expect lots of top candidates to choose from
- don’t give you any feedback on why a candidate wasn’t suitable
- just want the result and don’t want to engage in the rest of the hiring process
- think you are just a trained monkey who sends them cv’s
- will not respect you as you are not working in a ‘real’ job
- take their time to get back to you and the candidate has taken another job!
Is Recruitment a Good Career? CON #9: The Work
Work is recruitment is not the most intellectually challenging work.
You are basically matching people up with other people, it doesn’t get any more varied than that really.
People might in other jobs, work in a different area, department, industry or country to keep things interesting as their career progresses, recruitment is more or less the same as you get older.
One of my friends who is a recruiter told me when he became a Director in a Recruitment Agency, he liked his job less as it was more about people management and less about placing candidates.
Often people who end up working in recruiting may have not done great at college or university.
Also, as soon as you fill a role, there is another one to fill, and another. The work is non-stop. There’s always more clients to phone, more opportunities to follow up on.
Spending all day every day talking to people on the phone can be tiring too
It’s especially draining if you are an introvert
Is Recruitment a Good Career? CON #10: You need be Good at Selling
To be a good recruitment agent you need to be good at selling.
Selling anything is one of the hardest things to do in the world.
In recruitment, often you are selling opportunities to people who aren’t even looking.
You must convince them that what you are offering is worth their consideration.
It can be a very difficult thing to do once never mind over and over again.
If you found the above advice helpful and want more, check out the advice of 100 graduates 10 years out of university in my book ‘1000 Years of Career Advice’.
You can get the free ebook version here.