So you want to become a Recruiter!

Written by David Landau – Co-Founder and Director of Richard Lloyd Recruitment

I have to say, when I started my first job in Recruitment in 1999 I thought; finding people jobs - that sounds rewarding and a fun option as a career. I like helping people so let’s give this a crack.

What I quickly realised is that there is an awful lot that goes into actually finding the right people for the right roles but it's even harder to find a role to recruit for in the first place and a huge amount that happens in between all this that needs to be organised and taken care of.

My name is David Landau. I’ve worked as a Recruiter in both London and Sydney, co-founded my own recruitment agency called Richard Lloyd in 2008 and today I will give you a high-level crash course on the realities of working as an agency Recruiter.

What we will cover

  • What is agency recruitment?
  • How do you find roles to recruit for?
  • How do you find candidates?
  • Difference between permanent, contract and temporary recruitment
  • What does a typical week look like as a recruiter?
  • A typical hiring cycle
  • How you make money in recruitment?
  • Ingredients that I believe make up a great Recruiter

What is Agency Recruitment?

In its most simple format - Agency Recruitment is the process of searching for, engaging, matching and representing candidates for job vacancies you are working on, on behalf of a client. The Recruiter is then paid a fee once the successful applicant has been hired.

To ensure transparency here, in agency recruitment, typically, a client is the person within a company that has engaged the Recruiter to find them talent. On the flip side of this, a Candidate is a job seeker. Candidates can be split into three categories:

  1. Not looking for a new job
  2. Passively looking - i.e. keeping an ear open if the right opportunity comes along
  3. Actively looking - these are people that are regularly checking job boards and reaching out to Recruiters.

In a nutshell, what you want to be doing as a Recruiter is to be representing clients with appealing job opportunities whilst having the ability to find and engage the right candidates that will be excited by these roles.

Recruitment is not a job where people typically stand up at school when they are young and say: “When I grow up I want to be a recruitment consultant”. The majority of people fall into Recruitment by mistake rather than by design. That being said Recruitment is a $700 billion dollar industry globally and is a job that I for one have grown to love over the years. It is not an easy job and I'd describe it as a ‘rollercoaster ride of emotions’ but it can be truly rewarding in a number of ways. I don't think I will ever get bored of the reaction of hearing someone squealing with joy about landing their dream job.

Building relationships and finding roles to recruit

Recruitment is a job that is defined by the quality of the relationship that you have with others in your space.

If you are planning on getting into Recruitment, I often explain to people that your first year is often the hardest. Why is this? Well, the first year is where you have to both learn how to recruit as well as do a significant amount of outbound activity in order to carve out a space for yourself in a particular market.

Your goal in this first year is to develop a network of job seekers and potential hiring managers that will look to you when they have a recruitment need in the future. In your second year, people know more about you and you would have carved out some relationships. However, the true payback for your hard work really starts in year three when your phone is ringing more frequently with people saying things like: "I was referred to you by Jenny who you found a job for last month", or, "You helped one of my colleagues fill a role in her team and I would like your help to find me a similar candidate". Relationships in any walk of life take time to develop, and Recruitment is no different to this so you must be willing to put in the effort to build these and your reputation.

How do you find roles to recruit for?

Next, let me explain a few of the ways that you can start to find roles to recruit for as this is typically one of the harder parts of starting out as a Recruiter. Here are just a few sources:

  • Could be someone you found a job for as a candidate that now needs to hire someone.
  • It could be someone, again you met as a candidate that you didn't find a job but they were grateful for your advice or simply enjoyed working with you.
  • Someone you met at a networking event (which involves you attending them in the first place of course)
  • Someone who was referred to you or the agency you work for
  • Someone who saw a blog or other social media post you created
  • Could be a lead you discovered from reading the news - perhaps an overseas company is setting up a local office. You can then get in touch with a relevant stakeholder in that business.
  • The dreaded cold call and the list of course does go on....

In essence, you need to be ready to put yourself out there, become an expert in your space, offer value wherever possible and build your reputation and relationships by offering a quality service.

How do you find candidates?

So now you have the job, how do you find candidates for the vacancy?

Everyone knows about job boards and social media and these are a great way to connect with the actively looking pool of potential candidates that we discussed earlier on. Essentially, if you craft a well-written and appealing advert then this may attract relevant applicants.

But what does that mean for the passive and 'not-looking' candidates? Well, this is where you have to use your investigative skills, your agency's database, online search tools, your industry network that you've built up, asking relevant people for referrals, and the list goes on. Then, once you have identified potentially suitable targets for your role, you need to contact them, engage with them, understand their current status, and gauge their suitability and interest for the position.

However you end up with your shortlist of candidates for the vacancy you are recruiting for your client, you need to ensure you have interviewed them and can represent them accurately.

Difference between permanent, contract and temporary recruitment

There are three different ways that a company can employ a candidate. Those are:

Temporary - also known as ‘Temp’ employment. This is when an employer needs someone in a specific role for a defined period of time. For example, an employer might need a temp accountant to cover for an employee who's out on a special project for the next three months. The client typically pays that employee an hourly rate via the Recruitment Agency. So the temp is not actually an employee of the company which makes their life easier from an admin perspective as the recruitment agency takes care of all of the additional costs such as insurance, tax, and other on-costs and bills the client for the hours the temp has worked.

Contract - is similar to the temp option in that the candidate is hired for a defined period of time. The difference here however is that the candidate works directly for the client and is paid by them directly. In other words, the candidate goes on to the payroll of the company and will therefore also accrue sick leave and annual leave during their time there.

Permanent recruitment is whereby the candidate joins a company on a contract with no end date. These employees are paid directly by the company.

What does a typical week look like as an agency recruiter?

A typical week will see you juggling a lot of different activities. Here are some key tasks in a typical week of an agency Recruiter:

  • Screening candidates by assessing CVs and conducting phone interviews to gauge their suitability for roles
  • Video or in-person interviewing of candidates for specific job opportunities
  • Chatting through and advising job seekers about relevant roles you're representing if you feel they match the roles you are representing
  • Helping candidates with their CVs, LinkedIn profiles and interviewing techniques
  • Leveraging off existing relationships and networks, researching and mapping out a market to identify suitable talent for roles.
  • Data mining using online tools and databases and then making professional and targeted approaches to relevant people to headhunt them for positions you’re representing.
  • Speaking with multiple prospective clients to understand their company, team, hiring processes, and key stakeholders, whilst also making them aware of suitable talent that you are representing and think highly of.
  • Meeting with interested prospective clients and current clients to build relationships so that you are ready when a need arises within their team in future. In my experience, meetings in-person help to build better relationships, and understand office environments and cultures.
  • You will have to pitch for new business. This is when a prospective client wants to hire someone and will meet with you and maybe 1-2 other agencies in order to determine who they will engage to help them with their hire.
  • Taking down job briefings from clients and helping them to optimise the attractiveness of their role and position description to attract candidates.
  • Writing job adverts for roles that you’re recruiting for.
  • Regular communication and answering queries from job seekers and clients.
  • Organising interviews between job seekers and employers and facilitating feedback.
  • Taking reference checks on candidates.
  • Presenting job offers and helping candidates through the resignation process.
  • Advising clients on onboarding.

And whilst doing all of this, remembering that you are the middle man looking after the job seeker and employer throughout the process doing your best to foresee and overcome any issues so there are no unwanted surprises later in the process.

Tying all of this together, most successful Recruiters are hiring for multiple positions at different points in their lifecycle at any one time, so you can probably start to understand that there are often multiple plates you have to keep spinning.

A typical hiring cycle

Each job you work on would typically go through a cycle similar to this:

  1. Detailed job briefing session with the client - hiring approach determined
  2. Search for and screen candidates
  3. Candidates are interviewed by the Recruiter
  4. Shortlist is presented to the client - typically around 5 candidates
  5. Organise interviews - co-ordinate diaries of candidates and clients
  6. Facilitate interview feedback - to both successful and unsuccessful candidates
  7. Organise subsequent interviews if required
  8. Reference checking
  9. Presenting job offer
  10. Facilitate contract signing and resignation
  11. Regular follow-up to ensure all parties are happy

How do you make money in recruitment?

Next, let's talk about how you make money in agency recruitment.

First and foremost typically candidates receive a free service. It is the Employer that pays the Recruitment fee.

Earlier on we talked about the three different types of recruitment - Temp, Contract and Permanent. Recruiters will charge their clients a fee for helping them to find the right person.

On the contract and permanent side, this is commonly a pre-agreed percentage of the successful candidate's first-year salary package - i.e. If a candidate is offered a role at a salary package of $100,000 and the agency fee is 20%:

  • The Recruiter will charge the Client $20,000 for a permanent recruit.
  • If the role is for a 6-month contract, typically this fee will be halved to $10,000, 3 months would be $5000 and so on and so forth.
  • With temp recruitment, it is slightly different as the client pays a margin as part of the hourly charge rate that the agency charges.

Typically, Recruiters work towards what is called billings targets. Different agencies offer varying commission schemes which you would need to understand as part of your decision process on which company you wish to join.

Again, taking a simple example, an agency may in your first year with the business, offer a scheme whereby you receive 10% of everything that you bill. Taking the example we spoke about earlier, where the agency has charged the client $20,000, you would therefore receive $2,000 as commission on top of your regular salary.

Ingredients that I believe make up a great Recruiter

I have tried to list my top 8 key ingredients that I have witnessed from the best recruiters I have worked with:

  1. Well Organised - can multitask and prioritise efficiently
  2. Have strong Emotional Intelligence - they're very aware of the way they express themselves and the way they handle interpersonal relationships
  3. Smarts and learning ability - intelligent, be able to write coherent emails and job adverts, whilst always picking up new concepts quickly
  4. Great at Listening - Ability to hear the real meaning behind what is being said by clients and candidates and ask the right questions to limit surprises and wasted time
  5. Positive Attitude - They say you cannot teach someone to have a good attitude. The best I have seen in the business, work hard and smart with the belief that what you put into recruitment is typically what you get out. I.e. If you put in the right quantity of quality work aimed at the right people then you are more likely to succeed.
  6. Resilience - Recruitment is not an easy job. You will have people being rude to you, not returning your phone calls, blaming their poor interview feedback on you, not keeping their commitments, turning down job offers they said they would definitely accept, and the list goes on. If you are someone that gets easily upset by things like this, perhaps recruitment is not the job for you.
  7. Hunger and drive - Recruitment is the career you make it. In other words, you can be successful quickly if you have the hunger to be better, more thorough, faster, more informed, and better connected than your competition. But, nobody can do it for you. It has to come from within.
  8. Relationship builders - Recruitment is based on relationships. You have to be able to work with a range of stakeholders and be someone that can build meaningful connections.

In summary

Recruitment has given me an amazing career so far and I've had to navigate plenty of highs and lows along the way. Working with many great Recruiters over the years, it is very clear to me that those that have been successful have understood that the first year or two are the hardest but typically, what you put in is what you get out. So, if you can get through them with a smile on your face, you will likely be able to enjoy a long and rewarding career in recruitment.

I hope that has been of some help and if you are still reading, perhaps you will seriously consider a career in recruitment. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below.