by Victoria Sprott, Director Staff Development & Internal Recruitment
What do you know about careers in recruitment, and what do you think you know? The chances are, unless you've spent time working in the industry, the two will not be the same thing. Various myths have built up about recruitment over the years, based upon inaccurate information and a distorted view of how agencies work.
Recruitment is indeed a business development job, but there's far more to it than that. Recruiters work as networkers, business consultants, marketers, interviewers, strategists and problem-solvers - often all on the same day - as they aim to deliver a valuable service to businesses as well as job seekers. With their industry knowledge and expertise, business acumen, sound judgment and strong interpersonal skills, recruiters are able to bring employers together with the people they need, for everyone's benefit.
Recruitment careers can be highly lucrative for the right people - those who have ambition, drive, a fearless nature and an ability to build relationships. High remuneration lies in store for individuals who can successfully match leading businesses with skilled professionals, and there is plenty of scope to progress up the job ladder.
Yet owing to misconceptions over how the industry works, many ideal candidates could be missing out on rewarding recruitment careers. We're looking to shatter the common myths about the sector by tackling them head-on:
Myth #1: 'Recruiters are only out for the money'
Money is important to recruitment consultants, of course, but is this not the same across every profession? The potential to earn attractive salaries and a bonus is no doubt a major pull factor, but it's not the sole reason to work in the industry. High earnings are a by-product of success, and recruiters are unlikely to be high achievers if they are solely focused on their wage packet. Unless they are able to build strong relationships with clients and candidates - something that takes real care and dedication - they'll never hit their targets.
It's imperative that recruitment consultants are motivated to perform, and willing to dedicate the time and effort needed to achieve success. There needs to be a higher incentive for professionals, beyond the desire to simply earn money. They must get something else out of their work.
Myth #2: 'There are no intrinsic rewards'
On a related point, many recruitment consultants take great satisfaction in a job well done. When they identify a professional to fill a critical need at a company, there’s a tremendous sense of satisfaction. The opportunity to help someone find gainful employment and the impact this has on the individual’s life, family and sense of self-purpose is unmatched.
Myth #3: 'They don’t know my market, they’re just sales people'
While not everyone working within recruitment has qualifications in IT, finance, accounting or another field of expertise, many do. With their in-depth knowledge and practical experience, these 'career changers' and/or subject matter experts are ideally positioned to match clients with suitable candidates.
Even without a pre-existing specialism based on a previous career, recruitment consultants can become industry experts. Those who are willing to listen, learn and keep the conversation going can build up a huge bank of information, developing up-to-date knowledge of markets, key industry legislation and regulations, challenges and risks in identifying, hiring and managing talent, and the skills required for particular positions.
Myth #4: 'It just isn't very interesting work'
Forget the notion that recruitment consultants do the same job day-in, day-out - it just isn't that kind of role. There are targets to hit, but there is also a degree of autonomy, with recruiters getting out, meeting clients and candidates, and attending events. The more consultants are able to form new relationships and build their profile in the market by making calls, setting up appointments and conducting interviews, the better their chances of receiving inbound business and repeat custom.
Myth #5: 'There's not much scope for development'
Many of those working in senior roles within the industry began their career as a recruitment consultant - gaining the grounding they needed for a future strategic, decision-making role. Phil Sheridan, Robert Half's UK managing director, was one of them. He started out at the company as a recruitment consultant, having previously worked as an accountant.
The reality is, if you're a strong performer, there are good promotion prospects and clear pathways to the top. Organisations are always looking for future leaders, so those who can exceed their targets and develop strong relationships with business leaders have the chance to progress quickly.
Training is a major focus for many recruitment agencies. They want their consultants to drum up as much business as possible, and as such, are incentivised to develop their staff. Many firms invest significant sums on training, coaching and mentoring - aiming to build up their consultants' skill sets and also encourage their best people to stay for the long term.
Myth #6: 'I won't be using my education/degree'
Don't be fooled into thinking anyone can do this job, it simply isn't true. There's little doubt that recruiting is intellectually challenging, stimulating work. Having a degree isn't a pre-requisite for being a great recruitment consultant, but it certainly can come in handy at times.
Recruitment consultants need to be able to predict future demand and anticipate industry change, staying one step ahead where possible. If they can find solutions to problems, before business leaders even realise the issue exists, their services will be deemed all the more valuable. This is a job for bright, clear-thinking people - those who have a vision, but also an ability to turn theory into practice.
Myth #7: 'The non-financial benefits aren't great'
Everyone knows about the potential for high bonuses, but non-economic benefits are often overlooked. In reality, there are plenty of other rewards available to recruitment consultants in the course of their work.
Attractive annual leave allowances, pension schemes and private healthcare may be available, in addition to flexible working scheme, quarterly and annual performance recognition schemes and other benefits such as company car allowances. In some cases - particularly in larger companies - employees may have the opportunity to travel overseas and work in a different jurisdiction.
Recruiters typically work in a fun, competitive environment with an active social scene. There's always likely to be lots going on, whether after work or during the day. Agencies know that by fostering strong team spirit and a collaborative environment, they can get the best out of their people.
Once professionals know what life is really like for recruitment consultants, they can make a fair judgment over whether it's the career for them. Some people still won't be interested in working in the sector - and rightly so, as recruitment jobs aren't for everyone. But many professionals are ideally suited to the profession, and they have the opportunity to build successful recruitment careers, allowing them to take control of their future and reap the benefit from what they put in.