How to Become a Recruitment Consultant

Illustration of a large magnifying glass focusing on a man from a group of five candidates

As any business will tell you, hiring the right person for a given role is absolutely vital. The perfect candidate must have the correct skillset and the appropriate level of experience and, ever increasingly, be a good fit for the company’s culture. Therefore, getting the hiring decision right can be a tricky, time-consuming and, ultimately, high-stakes process.

This is where recruitment consultants come into the equation. More and more organisations are realising that employing the services of a talented specialist – either through the in-house HR department or through an external agency – can streamline and speed up the process, which is good news for hiring managers and even better news for you.

So, if you want to know what it takes and what qualifications you’ll need, these are the key steps to becoming a recruitment consultant.

Is it the Right Job for Me?

Before you make any career decision, you first need to ensure that your prospective career path is right for you. For example, recruitment consultants need, above all else, to be able to build and manage relationships (with both clients and candidates), so if you’re not a people person, or if you’re a poor communicator, then it might be a good idea to consider something else.

Do as much research as you can into what the role entails day to day, either through online searches or forums (such as Reddit) or by utilising your network. Find out what the negative aspects of the role are, as well as the positive, and make sure that you have some idea of what you’re letting yourself in for.

What Qualifications Do I Need?

Once you’ve decided that working in recruitment is definitely for you, you’ll need to obtain the requisite qualifications to land a job.

Generally speaking, there is no one specific degree that you’ll need. Your area of expertise might have some bearing. If you possess a law degree, for instance, then it might help you land a role at a large law firm or a recruitment agency that specialises in filling legal vacancies, but on the whole, most employers are happy with some form of higher education.

There are, however, several industry certificates and qualifications that will set you apart from the crowd. In the UK, for instance, potential employers might expect you to possess an accredited CIPD qualification, such as the entry-level Foundation Certificate in Human Resource Practice, while in the US, it’s advised to pursue accreditation from the HR Certification Institute (HRCI). Indeed, some employers will ask for certification as a basic requirement in the job ad, so it’s well worth your time to invest in proper training and show everybody that you’re serious about your human resources career.

What Skills Do I Need?

It’s important to demonstrate your knowledge of the role through certification but, ultimately, your skillset is going to determine whether or not you are a success as a recruitment consultant.

Some of the key skills you will need are outlined below.

  • Communication skills: As previously mentioned, recruitment consultants need to be able to cultivate relationships and get an understanding of the hiring needs of the client, as well as the job goals of the candidate. Therefore, you need to be able to listen to and understand what is being asked of you.
  • Commercial awareness: In order to identify good candidates, you need to understand the industry that they – and your client – are operating in. If you don’t know what you’re looking for in terms of skill and experience, or you don’t understand the needs of the department you are hiring for, then it will be hard to put forward the best applicants. You should also understand the company culture of the organisation you’re representing; it’s no good putting forward a skilled candidate if they are totally misaligned with that company’s ethos.
  • Negotiation skills: Compromise is an important part of being a recruitment consultant, and knowing how to reach one can be a very valuable asset. This can be especially true if a candidate wants a higher salary, for instance, or a company are setting their sights too high.
  • Problem-solving skills: If you are given a particularly tough vacancy to fill, or the calibre of candidates for a certain position is lacking, then you need to be able to get creative and find solutions.
  • An ability to handle pressure: As a recruitment consultant, you will often work to deadlines and be under pressure to deliver the right candidate within a specified timeframe, so ensure that you can deliver when time is getting tight.
  • Multitasking skills: Whether you are working for one company, or for an agency, you will have multiple roles to fill and numerous applicants looking to fill them. Therefore, you need to be well-organised, capable of managing your time and able to handle multiple tasks at the same time.

How Do I Land a Job?

Once you’ve got the qualifications and demonstrated that you possess the requisite skills, it’s time to land the job.

1. Finding a Job

Companies will advertise positions for HR specialists and recruitment consultants through all the traditional methods, such as job boards, LinkedIn and through their individual company websites, but it’s also worth checking out industry-specific job boards where the chances of finding the right role are higher. Some of the top human resources and recruitment job sites include:

Also, make as much use as possible of your professional network. If you know someone who already works in HR, get in touch with them and see if they know of any vacancies. Start connecting with the right people on LinkedIn, too; it can’t hurt to introduce yourself to hiring managers or senior HR specialists who might consider you when a vacancy opens.

As already mentioned, most HR specialists and recruitment consultants work either directly within a company’s HR department or for an external recruitment agency.

If you have experience or an educational background in a particular field, then it would make sense to work for a company within that sector, or for an agency that specialises in it. In truth, though, there are pros and cons to both, and it essentially comes down to your personal preferences. For instance, there is perhaps less pressure in an internal HR department, but you might enjoy working with a wider base of clients and candidates at an agency.

2. Acing the Interview

Once you’ve started applying for roles, you’ll hopefully get an interview; this is your chance to shine. Make sure you prepare thoroughly and observe all the formalities, including looking, acting and sounding the part; do your research and have an idea of the kinds of questions you’re going to be asked.

Brush up on some of the more common interview questions, as well, such as why you’re leaving your previous role or where you see yourself in five years. The more bases you have covered, the easier the entire interview process will be.

Recruitment and HR is a fast-paced, exciting and rewarding industry and, what’s more, it’s in sharp demand. If you feel as though you have the skills listed here, and are prepared to secure the right certification, then there’s nothing stopping you from having a successful career as a recruitment consultant!

Do you work in HR? What advice would you give? Let us know in the comments below.