Job opportunities are available all over the UK in recruitment and human resources (HR), with almost 100,000 people currently working in this fast-paced sector

What areas can I work in?

You could work in numerous areas of recruitment and HR, including:

  • employee relations;
  • employment law;
  • health and safety;
  • industrial relations;
  • payroll and pensions;
  • performance and reward;
  • recruitment and talent management;
  • strategy and organisation development;
  • training, learning and development.

Graduates in the sector usually take one of two routes: they either work in-house for an organisation or for a recruitment agency that hires employees on behalf of clients.

Working in-house at a large company would see you become part of an HR team, and possibly specialising in recruitment or one of the other areas listed above. At a smaller company, you may perform a range of different tasks.

Some companies outsource HR to recruitment agencies or consultancies. There are several large international agencies that operate in numerous sectors of the employment market; Adecco, for example, which has 6,600 offices in 70 countries. Many smaller independent agencies specialise in recruitment within a particular sector, such as education.

Other roles relating to recruitment and HR include careers coaching and occupational psychology.

For more examples of job roles in this sector, see graduate jobs in recruitment and HR.

Who are the main graduate employers?

Some organisations offer HR as just one element of a general management scheme.

However, graduate schemes specifically in HR are offered by numerous large employers across a range of industries, including:

  • construction;
  • energy;
  • engineering;
  • finance;
  • health;
  • pharmaceuticals;
  • retail.

Examples of employers that offer graduate schemes specifically in HR include:

  • Balfour Beatty;
  • BP;
  • Civil Service;
  • GlaxoSmithKline (GSK);
  • KPMG;
  • National Health Service (NHS);
  • Rolls-Royce;
  • Tesco.

Recruitment consultancies that take on recent graduates include:

  • Adecco;
  • Big Red Recruitment;
  • Cititec;
  • Client Server;
  • Hays;
  • PageGroup;
  • Randstad;
  • Spencer Ogden.

Recruitment and HR are functions that exist in the majority of UK companies across most sectors. However, HR is a head office function for some large organisations - meaning that you may be based in London or another major city.

What's it like working in the sector?

Graduates entering the recruitment and HR sector can expect:

  • a competitive industry with strict deadlines and targets, particularly in recruitment agencies;
  • high earning potential - the average salary is £44,033, while some companies offer commission and bonus schemes;
  • self-employment as an option with experience, as outsourcing is making consultancy work increasingly common;
  • to work in an office, most likely as part of a team in larger companies but on your own in smaller companies.

To find out more about typical salaries and working conditions in your chosen career, see job profiles.

What are the key issues in the recruitment and HR sector?

The recruitment industry is now buoyant, with the Recruitment & Employment Confederation's (REC) Recruitment Industry Trends 2014/15 report stating that turnover is now significantly higher than before the recession.

The Skills CFA Human Resources Labour Market Report 2012 notes that the sector has, over the past few years, moved towards strategic activities. As such, a greater number of HR professionals are now working as consultants and advisers to business.

Talent management is another growth area. This is a reaction to companies placing greater emphasis on attracting, retaining and developing the best employees.