How To Maintain Good Mental Health In Recruitment

One recruiter helping another by talking to them about good mental health in recruitment practices for him to follow

Just like with many jobs in sales and business development, recruitment can be stressful at times.

In fact, 82% of recruiters have reported suffering from regular stress in their job. Thankfully, due to an increase in awareness surrounding mental health struggles, organisations are facilitating helpful measures to support their employees, and an increasing number of individuals are recognising the symptoms of stress and anxiety and are seeking help to manage it.

Whilst recruitment can be a fantastically rewarding and well paid career path, there are a number of challenges associated with working in the industry, from lack of control in the process, to rejection and high targets. With some recruitment agencies doing better than others when it comes to supporting their teams, maintaining good mental health in recruitment must continue to be a priority and a topic of conversation for those in the recruitment industry.

Is recruitment stressful?

Absolutely. Just like any other job, working in recruitment is stressful at times. The National Accident Helpline listed ‘Recruitment Consultant’ alongside a number of other jobs including, teachers, nurses, welfare professionals, and legal professionals, as the top most stressful jobs.

In recruitment, you can face a number of challenges that can lead to moments of stress and anxiety.

  • Being out of control

Recruitment is often described as a two-sided sale. You need to sell a business and a job to a candidate, and then sell a candidate to a business. For a deal to happen, you need multiple stakeholders to agree to and action their part in it – whether that’s the HR representative giving feedback on CVs, the hiring manager offering the candidate the role, or the candidate accepting the job offer.

There are multiple stages in the recruitment process where communication can fail and things can go wrong. Be it a candidate dropping out or receiving a counteroffer, or a business changing their budget last minute or enacting a hiring freeze, the recruitment process is full of risks that can turn a normal day upside down!

To an extent, these issues can feel like they are out of your control. However, there are plenty of actions you can take to minimise the risks of a placement falling through, such as strong communication and transparency, and regular check ins with all stakeholders in the process.

If things do go wrong, that’s part of recruitment and accepting that is important. The key is to not focus on these issues and to move on to the next role.

  • KPIs and targets

Recruitment is a sales job. Usually, at least part of your target will be based on securing deals. As mentioned in the point previously, this part of recruitment can be stressful and might impact your mental health. If aspects out of your control go wrong, you may not be able to secure enough deals to hit your target.

KPIs and targets are goals, but they should be achievable. However, some recruitment agencies don’t tailor KPIs and targets to individuals and you could end up with a goal that is out of your reach and then receive criticism for not achieving it. This can result in anxiety and feelings of dejection.

Ways to counteract this can include working hard to focus on yourself and your individual goals, asking for help when needed, and not comparing yourself to others. If you are given unrealistic targets, have a chat with your manager about them. However, if you are experiencing a negative work culture, you might want to consider looking for a different agency that will be more supportive of good mental health in recruitment and will put the assistance in place to help.

  • Handling rejection

Rejection is a common bedfellow to recruitment and resilience is an important part of maintaining good mental health in recruitment. You need to be okay with facing rejection and push back because they are common. Whether that’s from hiring managers not wanting to talk to you, or candidates ghosting you, unfortunately, they are regular occurrences in the recruitment world. Many recruiters will develop a thick skin within their first few years in the role and soon hearing rejection will be like water off a duck’s back!

  • Rollercoaster of emotions

A lot of stress in recruitment can be attributed to the very chaotic highs and lows. One minute, your candidate has accepted an offer, and you’ll be getting great commission from it. You feel great and on top of the world. Then, the next, something goes wrong and that feeling can be taken away from you. This can happen on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, though it varies between industries and sectors.

The constant highs and lows can induce stress or problems with anxiety. My colleague Danielle Keegan, in her advice to new starters, said that a great way to deal with this is not to go too crazy when things go well. Keep yourself grounded and so when things go wrong, it’s not too dramatic a fall.

Tips for maintaining good mental health in recruitment

Talk to your colleagues

Recruitment can be stressful. It’s likely your colleagues also feel the pressure sometimes. It’s important to create an atmosphere where you can support each other by giving advice and being known as someone who is happy to listen.

Approach your manager

If you are struggling with workload and targets, discuss your troubles with your manager. They may be able to move around your workload to make it more manageable or give you tips and support for tackling the challenges you are facing.

Take some time for yourself

Whether that’s going to the gym or for a walk, doing yoga or meditating, take time to just move your body. All of these activities can release tension and calm your mind. One of the big mental health in recruitment problems is feeling like you are always on. Taking time to disconnect from work, your phone, and responsibilities for a while is crucial.

Make sure that you take breaks from work when you can, particularly using your lunch break to separate yourself from work and switch off. Working through lunch is a necessary evil for all professionals on occasion, but make sure it’s not a daily occurrence.

Focus on small wins

The great thing about recruitment is that there are always lots of small wins. Whether that’s getting a candidate to interview or finding a great candidate for a company’s role, focus on these achievements. Putting all your attention on whether a deal goes through or not, means that you are ignoring all the smaller achievements you’ve had along the way.

Eat well

This can be difficult and something a lot of people have problems with when experiencing poor mental health. It can also be tricky if you are working long hours, not taking a lunch break etc. Eating healthy regular meals and keeping up with hydration will be great for your mind and body.

Understand the signs of stress in recruitment

Stress is unavoidable for everyone, not just in the recruitment industry. By understanding that you are experiencing stress, you can actively work to manage it. The issue comes when people don’t identify that they are experiencing symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression, or try to ignore it. This can lead to symptoms or problems worsening.

Drink sensibly

Occasionally, in some recruitment workplaces, there is an attitude to “work hard, play hard” and while that can mean some great work socials, drinking too much can lead to anxiety, particularly if you worry about something you’ve done or said at a work event. Some individuals also use drinking as a coping mechanism for anxiety, stress or depression, if you think this may be the case for you, you might want to consider seeking advice or support.

Don’t compare yourself to others

Some people thrive on being competitive. However, if you are constantly comparing yourself to others, particularly if you’re having a slow period, this can make you feel worse. Competition can be healthy and push you to greater heights, however, it can also be some individuals’ undoing.

Every day is a new day

If things are going poorly now, it doesn’t mean they will continue on that path. Dwelling on a negative week can make you feel worse. If you’ve had a bad day, week, or even, month, dust yourself off and continue to do your best.


For more information on how VIQU are constantly working towards good mental health in recruitment, and for insights into what a career in recruitment looks like, check out our blogs on the topic here. If you’re interested in joining our team, feel free to look at our internal hiring page here.

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