Recruitment Consultant is the perfect Job for a graduate coming out of university to find themselves faced with a highly competitive job market, armed with a degree not specifically targeted to any job in the real world.
I had a 2nd Class Degree in Philosophy when I graduated. There wasn’t a single job in the paper asking for that! Nevertheless there are numerous ways to get a job in recruitment and earn the big bucks.
The standard procedure is to post your CV on a job board like Monster and then apply to the recruiter jobs posted there in. This method can be effective in generating interest. Depending on your location barriers to entry in the industry are sometimes very low, however competition can be high.
Actual recruiting experience, though desirable, is most definitely not essential. Telephone or face to face sales experience, or even just the right attitude coming straight from school or university can be all it takes to get your first job.
A good way to break into a firm is to know someone working there already that will put in a good word for you. Assuming that you don’t have that luxury the best thing you can do to demonstrate you have the fearless, entrepreneurial attitude that will impress any recruitment manager is to approach a firm yourself, just like I did when I started out. Coming out of university I broke into the industry by turning up at an agency first thing in the morning, a copy of my CV in hand, and asking to speak to the manager. I handed him my CV and looked him straight in the eye. I told him I wanted a high paying job, and asked what he had for me? The combination of my up front confident attitude, and surprising him by turning up first thing on a Monday morning impressed him and he asked me back to meet a team leader that very day.
I researched what recruiters do and made sure I asked the team leader as many if not more questions than he asked me. Within an hour I had a job offer and began my career. That was at a small firm with approximately 15 recruiters. It was also over 6 years ago. Since then I have interviewed countless potential consultants for my employers, and I have worked alongside many recruiters who have moved around to different firms in the industry during their career. Not only that, I went through a grueling series of interviews to secure my dream recruitment job in London. I have more than enough experience of the recruitment industry hiring process to improve your success rate at interview. So if you are looking to get your first job in recruitment, or to change firms and move up the career ladder, I suggest you do the following.
If you are new to the industry do your research. Reading this book will be more than enough to ensure you have the skills to do the job, but a few hours on the net finding as many sources as possible will be valuable time well spent. Once you have done that ring up a firm you are interested in and tell them you are looking to get into recruitment. Ask if there is someone you can speak to, to ask a few questions. Have plenty of questions ready. Asking questions is a huge part of the job and if you interview the recruiter they will notice it, and remember you. Speak loudly, slower than usual and clearly. Learn everything you can from the call. Just this call will be enough to pique their curiosity, and there is every chance they will ask for your contact details or ask you in to meet them. At the end thank them for their help, and ask if they have any openings at the moment?
Whatever their answer, ask who is in charge of hiring and if you can send them a copy of your CV to hold on file. Tell them you would be very interested in joining should an opportunity become available. Once again this will make a very good impression. The recruiter will be telling their manager about your call. Any good recruitment firm is always ready to hire another consultant. Each new consultant means more money, and more profit. It’s just a matter of whether they are prepared to train you from scratch or only hire experienced consultants.
Next you want to find as many firms in your area as possible to apply to. Use the telephone directory and Google and local papers. A fantastic resource is the website KellySearch where you can look up numerous companies in a particular sector. Record email, telephone and website details for all the agencies you can find. You will be calling through the list, and emailing them all a copy of your CV. The aim here is to secure as many interviews as possible. 3 or 5 interviews down the line and you will have been asked every question you can imagine. You will be prepared for anything. No matter how nervous or unprepared you were at interview 1 by now you will be relaxed at interview. You can name drop other firms you are interviewing with and probably offers you have received too.
This makes you appear calm, confident and in demand. A hot prospect who turned up to the office in person asking for the manager, who has interviews all over town, and has already received offers from competitor agencies is 100% more likely to receive an offer than a student who emails their CV in and calls a week later to ask if it has been received!
An aspect of recruitment you may not be aware of is ‘Rec2Rec’ or Recruitment to Recruitment. Rec2Rec firms help recruiters move from firm to firm and charge agencies for finding them new consultants. Agencies despise paying fees to Rec2Rec’s who are basically doing their job for them, and charging a premium. If an agency is looking for a new trainee consultant and a Rec2Rec has recently sent them several graduate CVs that look good, but then you turn up at the door; maybe not as well educated but obviously confident, well researched, and well presented, they will hire you and avoid paying the Rec2Rec every time! Rec2Recs often source their trainee recruiter candidates from Graduates who have posted their CVs online. Use this technique to jump ahead of them.
Recruiters look at thousands of CVs a year so it is important that yours is well presented. Have a look online for some examples. Make sure to include an abstract under your contact details. This is a short paragraph written in the third person describing your skills and personality. Assuming that you are fresh from education and have limited experience then you are aiming for something along the lines of:
“An enthusiastic and dedicated Graduate who enjoys being part of a successful and productive team. A dynamic and hard working individual with a keen eye for detail and an analytical mind. A determined and commercially aware person with the ability to manage projects to on-time completion. Works well on own initiative and can demonstrate the high levels of motivation and organisation required to consistently meet sales and performance targets. Possesses excellent interpersonal skills and communicates well at all levels. Thrives in high pressure, target driven working environments.”
Feel free to edit that to your hearts content. Underneath have your educational record and then any work experience. Format for this can be as follows:
“May 2004 – September 2006
Commercial Recruitment Consultant & New Business Developer
Handbag Recruitment, Colchester, Essex
A recruitment consultancy specialising in Commercial, Sales and Service Sectors
I beat the monthly sales target set for experienced consultants by the end of my third month, and have continued to meet and exceed all monthly sales and performance targets since then.
o Establishing and maintaining strong client relationships for repeat business.
o Managing multiple clients in diverse industries.
Depending on the company you worked for it is always wise to include a short line describing what they do. It is not always apparent what ABC Ltd do from their company name. If your job title and bullet points are also somewhat generic it may not be clear what kind of work you actually did! This happens a lot more than you might think, so ensure it doesn’t happen on your CV.
Once you have your hot CV ready, and you have forwarded it to 20 plus firms and called them all up or visited in person you will no doubt have some interview requests. If not, you may need to work on your CV some more! Or you can post your CV on all the Job Boards online and apply for every recruiting job on offer.
Now I am confident you have interviews arranged. To ensure your success do as I sad before and book as many as you can. Even if you are not interested in a particular firm, attend anyway! You want to approach each interview as though it is a Practice Interview, and you are researching the company and the industry. This is what you are doing, and will ensure you take the pressure off of yourself and are able to relax and ask questions without fear of messing up. Trust me – after 5 interviews at different firms you will be as sharp as a razor and the offers will flood in.
Before you set off remember to put on smart business attire. Suited and Booted. Tie done up. Clean shaven (and the equivalent for girls). It is better to be over rather than under dressed. You must give the impression that you are ‘all business’ and that you are serious about the job. Even if the agency you are going to operate casual dress – many do – you must turn up dressed to impress. Make your first impression count. Have plenty of pre prepared questions, and when they are answered you must reply describing how elements of your professional experience, or personal character, are what is desired / or make you suited to the job. Recruiters are loud, confident communicators, driven by a desire to make lots of money. You must show you are money motivated, competitive, and thick skinned. A hard work ethic and expecting to work long hours when required always goes down well. You will have to work long hours starting out. Once you are billing above your targets and bringing in lots of new business, hours will be shorter!
Concentrate on the impression you want to give at interview. The same person can interview with 5 different companies and come across completely differently at each one. Begin by making good eye contact (without holding on forever like a weirdo) giving a firm handshake, and a smile! Watch how the interviewer acts, how they talk, and remember what you think is important to them as the meeting progresses. After each interview go home and write out every thing you remember. Several interviews along you should have lots of notes to digest. Model yourself on the interviewers themselves, and the most important notes you have written down. You will be well on your way to having all the knowledge you need to give stunningly good interviews from then on.
At the end of each interview if you have not been offered the job you must close by telling the manager you have been impressed and would love to work with them. Then ask ‘What is the next stage?’ This makes clear your interest, and ensured that you know what happens next and when. If you have done all of the above, I expect you will have been offered the job before you have to ask. However, they may have other applicants to see so you must make your intent clear. If you are told that you will be contacted in a weeks time then press the issue. Say that you ‘have some other offers on the table’ and that you ‘want to make an informed decision asap’. Follow with ‘Is there anything you are unsure about or you would like to know more, about me?’ If the manager has any small doubts you will hear them now. Answer well and clear these up and knowing you have other options 9 out of 10 times you will get your offer and the job will be yours – if you want it. They may not have even had other people to see, and just been testing your interest. Do not accept a ‘no’ or a ‘not yet’ and always press for a reason why that you can respond to and then re-express your interest. Being able to push in a negotiation like this is a key part of the recruiter job. If you get the chance to do this at your interview you must take it. As it is guaranteed to impress the manager!
So you got an offer – well done! Do you accept right away? Well that depends how happy you are with it! If you have several others on the table then you could try and negotiate further. Say that you are really keen to accept but you have been offered more by several other agencies. Tell them you would love to join, and if they match X figure then you will accept right away. See what you can get on top of the offer. If nothing else it will be fun to do. Of course if you are happy then go for it. I would still attend any other interviews you have booked. You never know, you might like them more, or get a better offer. You will find every agency is different, so having offers from several will enable you to choose the one most suited to you, and what you are looking for.
So there you go, that’s how you can get a job in Recruitment. It’s a fantastic industry to work in, where the financial rewards can be substantial.