How Do I Become A Recruiter When I Have No Experience?
As Head of Talent at VIQU, I am often asked “How do I become a recruiter when I have no experience?”. I love being asked this question, as I always feel excited when someone is interested in recruitment and wants to learn more. The industry receives a bad rap, but it’s a highly rewarding career that has treated me and my colleagues very well.
Getting into recruitment can be daunting. People don’t know where to start. They will talk to me about how trainee recruitment consultant positions are advertised with ‘industry experience’ as an essential. Lots of individuals don’t understand what they need to do to access opportunities like these.
So, in this blog, I am aiming to address these queries, setting out the core advice I give to individuals wanting to become recruiters with no experience in recruitment.
What makes a great recruiter?
The skills I mention below can be learnt and developed, but you should have a good foundation of these key skills to become a top recruiter:
- Active listening
- Time management
- Critical thinking
- Relationship building
- Industry knowledge
- Ability to read body language
- Business savvy
Recruitment has many transferrable soft skills. These can be acquired from your previous workplaces, so don’t fret if you have no recruitment experience. Your chance of becoming a successful recruiter often lies in your attitude and competency in a number of soft skills.
In addition to this, a key recruitment skill is your sales ability. To become a recruiter, you need to be able to sell recruitment services to organisations and jobs to candidates. Your ability to accurately present key information will be of paramount importance.
If you’re unsure whether you have the right basis and understanding of sales, start in an adjacent sales role, such as in customer service or retail. This experience will help you understand if you are suited to sales, and ultimately boost your profile to hiring managers.
How to become a recruiter without experience:
Find a mentor
Identifying friends or family members working in recruitment is a great place to start. Reach out to them and ask them questions about their careers. In my experience, most people like talking about themselves, so they’re normally happy to help. You could ask questions like:
- How did you become a recruiter?
- What are the pros and cons of recruitment?
- What does your day-to-day look like?
Their answers may help you to decide if a career in recruitment will suit you. If you don’t know any recruiters, consider reaching out to someone in the industry via LinkedIn or look for insights into the recruitment industry online. For instance, VIQU has a number of excellent blogs and Q&As regarding working in recruitment.
Understand the different types of recruitment
When first considering the question “How do I become a recruiter?”, it’s imperative to gain an insight into what recruitment actually is. Having this knowledge is a great way to get ahead of the competition when you do get around to applying for roles.
Understanding recruitment includes knowing the difference between contract and permanent recruitment. Additionally, it is a good idea to recognise the different job roles in the industry, such as recruitment and delivery consultants, and researchers. Not only will this help you understand what role you may like to aim for, but it will also show the hiring manager how invested you are in this career path. Whenever I hear someone actively interested and excited about recruitment, it always makes me more motivated to hear more about their background and consider them for an interview, even if they have no prior recruitment experience.
Approach agencies for experience
This is a great way of getting into recruitment. If you’re unsure whether you have enough experience to become a recruiter, approach a recruitment agency and see if they will take you on. If they don’t think you have enough experience, consider working in an adjacent industry to build up your skill profile. For instance, sales, business development, and customer service roles in call centres are excellent ways to prove that you are prepared to pick up the phone and talk to customers. The ability to deal with multiple personalities and the experience of handling difficult customers and situations will help you gain valuable experience that will make you a more suitable candidate for recruitment.
Enter a trainee or apprenticeship scheme
Many recruitment agencies will offer trainee schemes or apprenticeships, which can be a great path for those looking to become a recruiter without experience. These opportunities often come with a structured training scheme and career path.
Build a network
LinkedIn is a recruiter’s best friend. Make sure you build up your profile and start connecting with individuals you’ve worked with or have a professional connection to. Consider following recruiters, posting about the industry and clicking “open to work”. You might like to approach Rec2Recs (Recruitment specialists for recruiters) who can help guide you to find your first recruitment job. Also, consider attending network events or career fairs to talk directly to recruiters and recruitment companies to gain more insights into the career path.
FAQs for how to become a recruiter without experience
Do I need experience in sales?
If you are currently in a sales role and wish to find a role in recruitment, your skills and experience in sales will make you an attractive candidate. At VIQU, we often hire individuals with a sales or customer service background. We have also hired some fantastic individuals without direct sales experience, in cases where they can prove they have the right mindset for recruitment through their past experience, such as our ex-rugby professional colleague Gerard Ellis. However, having sales experience is a great way to showcase that you will be comfortable working in a high pressure environment where you’ll need to pick up the phone, ask uncomfortable questions at times and focus on hitting your target.
If you have no sales or recruitment experience, it’s not impossible to find a trainee scheme that will take you on, but you might find it harder. It’s a good idea to consider a job in a sales environment first, to gain the key insights I just mentioned. This experience will be vitally important for when you’re looking for a recruitment job.
Do I need a degree?
Although traditionally a business or HR degree would be advantageous, nowadays, most recruitment agencies will take you on based on your attitude and experience.
Good grades in English and Maths will help employers feel confident in your ability to communicate well with stakeholders and handle enquiries around rates/ salaries. You also often need to be computer savvy to navigate all the online recruitment tools and websites used in the industry. Recruitment isn’t just picking up the phone and having a chat like some people think!
There are multiple routes that can lead you to a career in recruitment. If you look at our Meet the Team page, you will see our recruiters have a mix of backgrounds. From ex-professional athletes, to law graduates to ex-military, we accept trainees from a range of backgrounds.
Is working in recruitment challenging?
Some people are turned off by the idea that recruitment is a Wolf of Wall Street-style atmosphere. I’ve never found this to be the case. However, let me be clear. It is a sales environment. Recruiters work tremendously hard to reach and exceed their targets – nothing comes easy. However, it’s also a very supportive environment, evidenced by our colleague Nicholas winning an industry award for ‘Most Inspiring Team Leader/Manager’. Everyone wants you to succeed, especially if you are new to recruitment, so they will be happy to help you out. Additionally, it’s important to have a willing, can do attitude and a growth mindset where you seek advice and feedback from managers, to help you improve.
Interested in starting your recruitment career with us? At VIQU, we provide all the skills, tools and knowledge to support you to be as successful as possible! Check out our internal jobs and benefits page here.
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