Recruitment Jobs and Recruitment Consultant Jobs and Careers
Recruitment consultants work in many sectors of industry and commerce, either specialising in that one area (e.g. IT), or working across several sectors.
Some recruiters work solely with managers or particular professional functions (e.g. marketing).
Their role is to work with the employers and candidates to bring about a successful match that leads to a full-time permanent or short-term contract appointment.
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There are many variations to this process, which goes beyond interviewing potential candidates and forwarding their details to the employer. It is rendered complex due to aspects such as varied skills and experience, employment environment and corporate culture, and personality fit. For the match to be successful, the consultant has to ensure both parties are satisfied with the arrangement.
Types of Recruitment
Recruitment consultancies vary a lot in type and size. Some work across many different kinds of industry and sector, while others specialise in particular fields. Some are paid a retainer by major companies to undertake all their recruitment, while others work for employers but only get paid for the posts that they successfully fill. In both cases, the consultants are working on the employers' behalf, as this is where their revenue comes from.
When a position needs to be filled, the consultants advertise the post and then select a shortlist of candidates. They will either forward CVs to the company for further short-listing, or conduct 'screening' interviews themselves. In some instances, the consultant will actually select the person for the job.
Executive recruitment consultants may not advertise positions at all, but will research and approach suitable individuals for exclusive, higher management positions. This type of consultant is often referred to as a 'head hunter'.
Temporary staffing agencies are a little different: they have temporary staff on their own books and fulfil different employers' needs. These agencies pay the employees on the companies' behalf. In this regard, they are not quite the same as consultants, although many of their functions cross over.
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Responsibilities of a Recruitment Consultant
Although consultants usually work in agencies and are involved with staffing, it is not strictly true that they are part of the Human Resources sector. Recruitment consultants spend a great deal of time researching marketplaces, marketing their services to employers and nurturing those positive relationships, as well as identifying candidates for vacancies.
The consultant may be involved in all or many of the following activities during a week's work.
- Acquiring market knowledge and offering related advice to employers.
- Maintaining relationships with employers through face-to-face and telephone contact, promoting the consultancy as a first option when it comes to recruitment.
- Attending employers' events (e.g. seminars, product launches, PR events, etc) in order to evaluate culture and current and future recruitment needs.
- Establishing fees and conditions with employers and preparing contracts.
- Receiving job vacancy information and writing up job descriptions.
- Undertaking networking, advertising and referrals to source candidates for specialist positions.
- Developing and maintaining candidate networks by marketing and recruiting new members to lists.
- Interviewing candidates to go 'on the books' and for specific vacancies, recording experience and skills, checking references and administering psychometric testing.
- Working with potential candidates to improve CVs and interview performance.
- Working on the job offer and salary and benefits package negotiation.
- Networking as one aspect of researching relevant markets and commercial activity.
Would a Career in Recruitment Suit You?
Consultancies vary according to the sector or location of the work, but there are certain aspects common to all the work.
- In a specialist consultancy, you need to have sector specific knowledge. This is as important as recruitment knowledge. If, for example, you are recruiting in the IT sector, a superficial knowledge of IT roles would be insufficient.
- The ability to work individually or as a contributing member of a team is vital. Effective recruitment, especially at a higher or more specialist level, requires dedicated team work.
- A positive, 'can do' attitude, with plenty of motivation, is essential. Even with in-depth knowledge of a sector and recruitment techniques, you will not succeed unless you can make personal connections and make things happen.
- Your commitment to the work needs to be considerable. Being a successful consultant takes a lot of input and effective use of your time. It's a competitive field, in that there are many consultants out there and many candidates - the most dedicated and energetic consultants are the ones who will successful place candidates with employers.
- While there are quality networking relationships to nurture with employers, there are far more mundane networking activities to be completed. You must be able to handle the routine and sometimes dull tasks, such as making endless speculative phone calls, with dedication. These tasks will yield results in the long term.
- Sound judgement cannot be taught or acquired, but you do need to be able to know what the right move is to make at a particular time. This frequently involves reading people as individuals, rather than going by the recruitment textbook. A good sense of which candidates are right for particular employers or positions will develop as your recruitment knowledge grows generally. You therefore need to be able to listen to more experienced team members and learn.
Most recruitment consultants move into the field having already acquired some employment experience, often in a specialist area such as IT. They may be employed by a recruitment agency as a researcher or trainee, with the benefit of some intensive on-the-job training and mentoring. Larger consultancies offer induction or skills training.
There are usually targets to reach within the first 3 months to a year, and progression is dependent on achieving these. For trainee consultants, the targets are often financial and relate to remuneration received for successful placements - these are often for more routine positions, rather than executive or higher level specialist roles.
Researchers generally work at locating new candidates for permanent or contract positions. Targets will usually be the number of candidates you are able to match with vacancies, rather than the financial value of the appointments.
Additionally, new recruits may embark on proprietary or externally provided short training courses, covering subjects such as interviewing, assessment centres, psychometric testing, headhunting, employment law, payrolls, negotiation and sales.
In the UK, external training may be provided by the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) or the REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation). These associations also provide continuing professional development courses, as well as certificates and - in conjunction with business schools - a degree in recruitment practice, available by open learning.
Outlook for the Profession
In the UK, the economic climate has hit recruitment consultancies and agencies hard, as companies have reduced their payrolls to the minimum in order to reduce expenditure. Like their clients, recruiters have also had to reduce the workforce in order to survive, some by a reported 20%.
The only increase has been with temporary and contract staffing, as employers have preferred to reduce their commitments by seeking short term employment solutions. Unfortunately, this is at the lower end of the revenue stream for many consultancies. As a consequence, there is greater competition for recruitment jobs and fewer opportunities for untrained graduates.
The upshot is that at present, there is considerable uncertainty in this industry. It is probably a safer time to be moving sideways from a position of considerable experience in a specialist industry, rather than trying to come in at entry level, fresh from university or college.
Recruitment Jobs Sites
Jobs listings can be found on these websites: