How to Start a Career in Recruitment

How to Start a Career in Recruitment

If you’re drawn to the excitement of closing deals or the satisfaction of helping people find their dream jobs, recruitment could be the right career path for you. Recruitment offers both challenges and rewards, requiring a blend of skills from negotiation to people management.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to start a career in recruitment, from essential skills to career development prospects.

What is recruitment?

Recruitment consultants are key players in the job market, connecting companies looking for talent with people searching for jobs.

Their main objective is to meet companies’ hiring needs while also helping job seekers find roles that match their skills and career goals. This role involves understanding what employers need and what job seekers want and making sure both sides are happy with the job match.

Read the full breakdown, ‘what is recruitment?’

Types of Recruitment

The recruitment industry is diverse, ranging from small local agencies to large specialists operating worldwide. While the essence of what they do is similar, there are different types of recruitment businesses:

Recruitment Agencies

Recruitment agencies connect job seekers with employers with the goal of filling open positions with the ideal candidates. While specialist agencies like ours focus on SAP, IT and Data careers, offering specialist expertise, others operate more broadly and cover a wide range of industries.

Most of these agencies operate on a contingency fee model, meaning they are compensated when a client hires one of their candidates. This setup drives agencies to not only match skills and roles accurately but also to offer additional support, such as interview preparation and career advice, adding significant value to both employers and job seekers.

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO)

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) is a form of business process outsourcing where an employer transfers all or part of its recruitment processes to an external service provider. An RPO provider can offer its own or may assume the company’s staff, technology, methodologies, and reporting. In essence, RPO providers become an extension of the company’s HR or recruitment team, offering a comprehensive set of services that can include everything from job posting and candidate sourcing to interviewing, hiring, and onboarding.

The primary advantage of RPO is that it allows companies to outsource the complex and time-consuming tasks of recruiting, enabling them to focus on their core business activities while still ensuring they attract and hire the best talent. RPO solutions are flexible and can be customized to fit the specific needs of the company, whether it’s managing the entire recruitment process, a specific recruitment project, or providing additional support during peak hiring periods.

RPO is particularly beneficial for companies that have large-scale recruitment needs, want to improve the quality of their hires, need to fill positions quickly, or are looking to enhance their employer brand and recruitment processes. By leveraging the expertise and resources of an RPO provider, companies can achieve more efficient, effective, and scalable recruitment outcomes.

What Qualifications Do I Need?

The entry requirements for a role in recruitment can vary widely depending on the position you’re aiming for and the preferences of the employer. For entry-level or junior positions, you might not need much, or any, previous experience. However, more senior roles will likely require you to showcase your abilities with a solid track record, demonstrating not just recruitment skills but also commercial insight and knowledge of the market.

While having a university degree can certainly be beneficial, it’s not always a must-have for many recruitment agencies. Degrees that tend to be more relevant to the field include:

  • Human Resources (HR)
  • Marketing
  • Psychology
  • Public Relations

If you’re looking to work in a specialist recruitment agency, a degree related to that specific sector can offer a significant advantage. For example, holding a Computer Science degree could be especially valuable in an IT recruitment agency, as it provides deeper insight into the roles you’re hiring for.

Transferable Skills from Various Careers to Recruitment

Many recruiters start their careers in recruitment after gaining experience in other fields. Some jobs particularly stand out because they teach foundational skills that are highly useful in recruitment.

Sales experience, for example, is a great asset in recruitment. At its core, recruitment involves selling – you’re marketing job openings to potential candidates and advocating for candidates’ skills to employers.

Working in customer service can also prepare you for recruitment by improving your communication, problem-solving, and client management skills.

To help illustrate the impact of diverse professional backgrounds on a successful career in recruitment, let’s take a look at the story of Callum Harrison, a Recruitment Consultant in our SAP USA team. Transitioning from a career in the commercial property sector, Callum’s experience demonstrates how skills acquired in seemingly unrelated fields can be advantageous in recruitment.

Callum Harrison, SAP USA Recruitment Consultant

Callum Harrison
Consultant | SAP | USA

“Before my current position, I worked in the commercial property sector, where my role was quite different from what I do now. However, I acquired valuable skills that have proven transferable. For instance, as a property agent involved in both lettings and sales, I developed negotiation skills by managing offers and balancing client expectations. These skills have been beneficial in my current role, especially during offer negotiations with candidates, taking into account their needs and the expectations of our clients.

Additionally, my experience with face-to-face property viewings has made me comfortable with direct interactions, easing my transition to virtual meetings. Despite the differences between the two roles, my ability to connect with people and enjoy conversations has been a consistent strength.”

Core Skills for Successful Recruiters

We’ve established some valuable skills from prior professions that will help you find your footing in recruitment, but what if you haven’t worked in any of those industries? The good news is there is a diverse set of skills that are advantageous for people entering recruitment. Let’s take a look:

How to Become a Recruitment Consultant at Whitehall

If you’re considering recruitment, you’re in the right place. We’re proud to be rated as one of the best small companies to work for in the UK! Curious about what it’s like to work at Whitehall? Explore our careers website to learn more about our culture and people. Check out our current vacancies or reach out to our friendly talent acquisition to start a conversation.

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After working at Whitehall for a number of years now, I look back and wonder why I didn’t get into recruitment sooner. The company values, team spirit and the atmosphere is what makes Whitehall the place to be. On top of that, the commission structure, company rewards and career progression are second to none and I am excited for what my future holds and the goals I can reach.

Nicola Saxham - Senior Consultant – International (DACH) team

I have worked at Whitehall for a long time now and it has been a pleasure to be part of the company’s continued growth. It is an exceptional place to work, with a family orientated mentality, and you are rewarded for working hard and being dedicated. I have loved my time here so far and look forward to progressing further.

Jason Wood – Credit Control Supervisor

Whitehall has really helped me curate my career into one I can be proud of – starting as an admin assistant,  I was promoted to the Facilities & Senior Administrator after just 18 months! Just recently, I was part of a project to help the company become Carbon Neutral, which is the best news!! The camaraderie of the whole team is wonderful, and I would thoroughly recommend Whitehall to anyone who is looking to kickstart their career into something amazing!

Abbie Elwood – Facilities & Senior Administrator

I joined the company as an entry-level consultant in the newly formed Key Accounts team back in 2010. Throughout those years I have progressed within the company and have had multiple promotions along the way and have never once looked back. At the moment, I’m looking to continue the growth of my team by adding to the current headcount and in supporting their development to help them to achieve their aspirations.

Adam Edgell – Associate Director – Key Accounts Delivery

The environment here is second to none, I am constantly learning and improving thanks to those around me and from the support of my managers. This is a company that rewards hard work and gives you all the tools you need to develop and succeed. I would recommend Whitehall to anyone, from those looking to start their journey into recruitment to those who already have a number of years’ experience as you will be joining a close-knit team and have the opportunity to thrive and work with some of the best in the industry.

Nathan Joseph – Principal Consultant – UK Permanent – ERP & IT Client Development

Since joining Whitehall Resources, they have given me the opportunity to grow and develop from a trainee position. Whitehall Resources is the ideal company if you are looking for career progression.

Kirsty Small – Contracts Administrator

I joined Whitehall with no experience in recruitment or IT and I could barely use a computer myself. Since joining, I have built a career and a joined a family here. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity I have been given and the guidance I have received from my managers and colleagues (friends). With hard work and a bit of tenacity, Whitehall can give you the chance to change your life for the better.

Jacob Lee – Executive Consultant – UK SAP Contracts

I joined Whitehall Resources with zero recruitment experience and a background in pharmaceuticals. Fast forward six years I have been promoted on multiple occasions and can vouch first hand that Whitehall Resources is a great place for career progression whilst having lots of fun along the way. On top of the career available you get to win lots of incentives including holidays abroad and overall, it is a great place to work.

Georgia Pike - Executive CSM - CSM

After joining Whitehall, I have really found myself within recruitment and even achieved rookie of the year! I am continuously learning and growing. I am looking forward to challenging myself in the future and seeing what I can achieve here at Whitehall.

Hannah Pile – Consultant – UK SAP Perm

I joined Whitehall in late 2015 as IT Support Engineer and have now progressed to Team Lead. Whitehall is a fantastic place to work, where hard work and a strong work ethic is rewarded in both Sales and Operations alike.

Dan Appleby – IT Team Lead