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Have You Got What it Takes to be a Successful Recruiter?

Employability Graduate Jobs Recruitment

"Ever considered recruitment as a career or even just your first graduate job? We run through the 10 attributes that make a successful recruiter"

Recruitment can be incredibly lucrative and rewarding if you can tick the right boxes. The average recruiter (after training) can earn £40-50k including commission, and that's just the beginning. For example, after year three or four in the industry, recruiters can be earning six figure salaries. However, it is not generally regarded as a 'sexy' industry, nor is it the career of dreams for many children. The job is demanding, and as such staff turnover is high; many don't make it past their first year. Some recruitment environments can be cut-throat, others can be amicable and supportive, but the former tends to breed bad habits, which ultimately give the entire industry a bad name. Yet it's a popular career for some of the hardest-working, happiest, and well-paid workers in the country for a reason...

So, have you got what it takes to be a successful recruiter?


1. Excellent communication skills

Well, duh. Firstly, you need to effectively communicate with prospective clients, persuading them to potentially part with thousands of pounds by choosing you above all the recruiters out there. You'll also need gravitas; you could be speaking to Managing Directors. Once you have a client you'll be taking and understanding the job specification and building a job advert that sells. Not only that, but you need to be able to communicate the job and its perks, as well as persuade the candidate that it would be a good match to their needs. Once you have your shortlist, you need to be able to 'sell' the candidates to the client, and negotiate effectively at offer stage. Communication skills are therefore absolutely essential, and the more professional you can come across, the better.

2. Ability to sell

work desk mobile tablet recruiter

The art of selling is not easily mastered, no matter how many people say: "anyone could work in sales/recruitment" - no, they really can't.

3. Money motivated

It's extremely difficult to do well in recruitment if money isn't a key motivator for you. The long hours, the constant rejection and the high duration of time on the phone won't seem worth it if that commission package isn't enough reward for you. Of course, job satisfaction is attainable, especially when you help a candidate find a new job that fits them perfectly, but often it's the money that keeps recruiters going.

4. Goal-orientated

On top of money, a successful recruiter will be someone who is driven to hit and exceed goals and targets set for them; they are propelled by success and recognition. People who are motivated by tangible goals tend to get a kick out of the recruitment industry, as it's a competitive environment and it's very clear when you are doing well.

5. Organisation

You're constantly juggling as a recruiter. Be it the 100s of candidate applications you've had to a role, the LinkedIn InMails you need to tackle, or the difficult client who won't take your calls. You could have three assessment centres in one week, meaning you'll need to book everyone in, make sure they're prepared, and then get feedback for every single candidate from both sides. A successful recruiter will be able to take on all of this and still flourish

6. Resilient

Your efforts will be rejected, and you will not succeed at times. But that doesn't mean you should give up. You'll need a thick skin to succeed in recruitment, or at least the ability to grow one.

7. Lateral Thinker

posters recruiter

You need to be able to think outside the box when speaking to a candidate. For example, your success could rely on your ability to match the candidate's skills perfectly to that conversation you had with a client three months previously, or connect them with something entirely leftfield that they had never thought of before.

8. Relentless

Recruitment is not a nine-to-five job; it really is relentless. You need to really want it, and be prepared to do whatever you need to make it happen, even if that means being there for the client who passes you that urgent job specification at 6pm on a Friday afternoon. You can't do that on 90% effort. You have to keep going, even when the chips are down. There is always someone else to call, and if you don't do it, your competitors will.

9. Influencer

Yes it's sales, but you're not a market trader. Recruitment is a lot more subtle. It's all about persuasion: understanding peoples' needs and motives so you can convince them that what (or whom) you have on offer is what they need. As a recruiter, you are expected to be consultative; you need to understand the problem (i.e. the client's hiring needs) and find the solution (source the candidate shortlist).

10. Commercial Awareness

You need to have some sort of grasp on how businesses work in order to excel in recruitment, or at least a willingness to learn more. For instance, learning about the area you are recruiting into (e.g. IT) means you will be able to more effectively sell a role to a candidate, or offer relevant solutions to a client. Further into your career, you can become an expert in your niche market area, which will further increase your success at winning business.


If you feel you can tick most (or all!) of these boxes, get in touch today. There is a huge variety of the type of recruitment role you can work in - be it agency, in-house, in a small or medium firm, to a huge corporation - so if you can do it, there is very little stopping you.

lizzi hart grb author

Lizzi Hart is the Social Media & Content Manager at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau (GRB). Outside of work, she enjoys reading, music, binge-watching TV and dreaming about the dog she'll one day own.

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