How to become a recruitment consultant: Emily's story

Meet Emily, 22, from Hertfordshire, to find out more about life as a recruitment consultant. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

Emily talking to a client
"If you’ve got good communication skills, anyone can be good at recruitment."

What is your job?

I work with companies (clients) and people looking for jobs (candidates). I build long-term relationships with clients to understand what they're looking for in the ideal candidate. I’ll then go out to find the best candidates and build relationships with them and match them with jobs. I work specifically in the health, safety and environment industry.

What skills do you need in your job?

Communication skills are really important. You spend a lot of your time interacting with people. That can be face-to-face, over the phone, or over email. I need to communicate all day, every day. It’s also very helpful to be organised.

Is this the job you always wanted to do?

I think, perhaps, I've had a slightly different ride from school friends who knew what they wanted to do. But I was still quite unsure, even through university. So, I took each day as it came really, and never said no to any opportunity.

How did you get into recruitment?

I got into recruitment by building my communication skills. I did a lot of part-time jobs alongside my A-levels and university course, including working as a kids' party entertainer. This role pushed me out of my comfort zone but I faced my fears and it helped me build my communication skills.

In terms of finding the right career in recruitment, if you’ve got good communication skills, anyone can be good at recruitment. In terms of the sector, it can really vary. Do your research. Talk to recruiters - we’re nice. We don’t bite and we’re always happy to give advice.

Emily on the telephone in the office.
She speaks to candidates and clients on the phone.

Top tips

  • Don’t turn down any opportunity
  • A-levels were the toughest time - for me it was tougher than university. Just get yourself mentally prepared for it. Remember that teachers are there to help you
  • Get as much experience as you can, not just in school but outside of school as well.

What to expect if you want to be a recruitment consultant?

  • Recruitment consultant pay: £16,000 to £60,000 average per year
  • Recruitment consultant working hours: 38 to 40 hours per week
  • Typical entry requirements: You can get into this job through a university course, an apprenticeship, working towards this role, or applying directly. As a graduate it's possible to enter recruitment with any degree, although some employers may prefer a subject related to the industry, such as Human Resources, Marketing or Public Relations. You'll usually need two to three A-levels (or equivalent) for a degree. As some recruitment agencies specialise in a sector of work, you may be expected to have a relevant degree or industry experience, for example a background in pharmaceuticals could help get you into pharmaceutical recruitment. You may also be able to get into this job through an advanced apprenticeship as a recruitment consultant. You’ll usually need five GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), usually including English and Maths.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

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