May 17, 2018

How to Become a Recruiter


A job in recruitment can be one of the most rewarding career choices a person can make. After all, a recruiter is someone who helps talented candidates turn their dreams into reality by finding the right employment opportunities.

In this piece, you will find everything you need to know about getting started in recruiting, including why you should consider recruiting as a career, what the prerequisite skills are, and how to position yourself to land your first recruitment job.

Why Recruiting?

For starters, recruiters bring home an average salary of around $50,000 a year; however, experienced recruiters in the top 10 percent can make well over $100,000 a year. Similarly, recruiters with expertise in specialized industry niches can also make significantly more money.

At $50,000 a year, you would be earning an income that is comparable to the average salary across all industries in America. Of course, depending on which part of the country you live in, the actual value of your salary can vary widely. But for the most part, you will be able to live comfortably, and you’ll have potential for future salary growth.

While recruiting can be a financially lucrative career path, one shouldn’t neglect the ways in which is also emotionally fulfilling. By helping skilled candidates find employment, you are helping others achieve their goals — a reward of its own.

Skills and Knowledge

While education is certainly important, it is often a recruiter’s soft skills that prove to be most vital to their career success.

Soft skills include things like effective communication and building relationships. These can’t necessarily be taught in school, but recruiters can develop and refine them over time as they interact with thousands of candidates throughout their careers. Soft skills matter because successful recruitment often comes down to whether or not a candidate trusts a recruiter.

This isn’t to say that hard skills aren’t important. On the contrary, hard skills can help you stand out in a crowd of applicants with similar backgrounds. Recruiting certifications from institutions like SHRM and HRCI add credibility to your resume and teach you the hard skills you’ll use to excel as a recruiter. Experience with applicant tracking software highlights your technical know-how and showcases your ability to use hard data and recruiting metrics to optimize recruiting initiatives.

Education Requirements

Holding a degree isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for becoming a recruiter, but it certainly can help. Great recruiters can come from a wide variety of educational backgrounds, and many hold degrees in psychology, business, marketing, sociology, and/or human resources. Looking at these degrees, we see a common element: These are all fields that involve the study of people and their behaviors.

To become a proficient recruiter, you must have a keen understanding of how people fit into different kinds of roles. You don’t need to go to school to learn how to interact with people. Many of us acquire our people skills from simple day-to-day interactions. So, with regard to education, both formal and informal sources of learning are important for recruiters, and it is advantageous to take advantage of both.

Career Experience

Past job experience isn’t necessarily a must for your first recruiting gig, but it helps to have some relevant knowledge, perhaps through similar work in human resources or a client-facing role like customer service.

As mentioned, interpersonal skills are critical to the recruitment process. Any candidate who can demonstrate their capacity to work closely with a wide range of individuals will have a leg up on the competition.

Getting Your First Recruiting Job

Now that we know what is required to get a recruiting job, let’s consider a simple step-by-step process to help you get started on your journey toward your first recruiting job.

Step 1: Get Educated

As mentioned previously, a bachelor’s degree in a people-centric field can be of great use to a prospective recruiter. Additionally, there are many recruiting certifications that can help supplement any educational or practical deficiencies in your resume.

Step 2: Gain Experience

While pursuing your education, it would be a good idea to work a job that requires interaction with clients and/or leadership skills. For example, a supervisory role in customer service would combine both these skill sets.

Step 3: Build Your Brand

Building your brand means building your online presence as a soon-to-be recruiter. You’ll want to use social media to showcase your relevant skills, knowledge, and passion for recruiting. Your interviewers are going to want to know how you present yourself online. Your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social profiles should clearly demonstrate your professionalism and your commitment to recruiting.

You should be active in the recruiting community on your social media profiles. Write and share blog posts, converse with other professionals, disseminate valuable articles — do whatever you can to show employers you are already engaging with the space.

Step 4: Build a Recruiting Network

As you get your social media presence situated, reach out to other industry professionals to see if they would be willing to provide you with some advice or insight into the recruiting landscape. This tactic is especially useful if you’re aiming to land a job at a specific company. People working at the company will likely be on social media, and many of them will be more than happy to give you some pointers on how to get your career started.

Step 5: Ace the Interview

When you reach the interview stage, one of the key elements on which you will be evaluated is your ability to lead the conversation. The recruiting community is full of go-getters, and for good reason: Recruitment is essentially a hunt, and those who sit on their hands will have a difficult time succeeding in this career. Therefore, you must be prepared to effectively communicate why you want a job as a recruiter and how you can use your skills to build interpersonal relationships and create value for clients and candidates.

You will need to recruit your interviewer to your brand, just like you would recruit a candidate to a job. Whether or not you succeed in this will determine whether you land the job.

As with many things, becoming a recruiter requires a lot of trial and error. However, if you stick with it and believe in what you’re doing, you will have a career that is both financially rewarding and personally fulfilling.

It cannot be stressed enough: Recruitment is all about people. If you’re ready to dedicate yourself to this cause, then nothing can stand in the way of your exciting career ahead.

Aiden Mathieu is a digital marketing associate at Newton Software.

Aiden Mathieu is a digital marketing associate at Newton Software, a leading applicant tracking system provider. Built by recruiters for employers, Newton makes it easy to streamline and manage every stage of the recruitment process, saving you time and money. When not blogging about topics related to HR and recruiting, Aiden can be found drumming for his band Carrot Cake or playing a round of disc golf.