The reality of working in recruitment

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Posted
March, 2022

James Taylor, CEO of recruitment consultancy, Macildowie, shares his thoughts on how the industry offers genuine job satisfaction as well as many other benefits for its dedicated workforce

For those working in the recruitment industry it's often the 'buzz' of a fast-paced working environment and the rewards you can secure following a successful day at the office that make it all worthwhile.

Salary

Like any industry, salary can vary from business to business. The average recruitment consultant's salary can significantly increase depending on the location, performance, and bonus schemes that may be on offer. Depending on your role and previous experience, you may be offered a basic salary plus a performance-related bonus or commission.

The numerous opportunities for progression also come with added benefits, with managers earning a basic salary in excess of £40,000. For those entering the industry the ability to increase your take-home pay by three and even fourfold is unheard of in your first few years.

Not only do consultants enjoy extra income through bonuses, many recruitment firms also offer an excellent EVP (employee value proposition) that covers wellbeing and mental health. From employee discounts and gym membership, to reward schemes that allow high performers to travel to destinations such as New York and Las Vegas.

Culture

Many working in the sector love the extra incentive of boosting your salary through commission which can make the occasional extra hours worth it. Working in a recruitment agency may be demanding at times, however this tends to be balanced with a range of staff incentive schemes and workplace perks. More recently, the industry has been investing significant resources into staff wellbeing initiatives and culture workshops.

These schemes are enabling staff to voice their opinion on how the workplace can be improved, ensuring a transparent culture conducive to a happy working environment.

Flexible working was already on the rise before COVID-19, but the pandemic undoubtedly accelerated this and I don't envisage recruitment going back to being five days a week in the office. The next big challenge for all businesses is how to ensure that their staff can be upskilled and inspired while working in a hybrid formation. Those recruitment businesses adopting digital technologies will prosper and benefit culturally as a result.

Employees typically benefit from leading performance coaches and enjoy nights out on behalf of the company, all of which drive the team's desire to succeed and boost morale. During lockdown, Macildowie hosted twice-weekly HIIT PT sessions to keep people active and fit, we also extended our lunch break from 12pm to 1.30pm to allow everyone to get out and about for some fresh air during daylight hours.

Competitiveness

Appealing to a range of skillsets and expertise, securing a graduate or entry-level role in a recruitment consultancy can be competitive and requires you to have a determined mindset.

Often 'soft skills', such as the ability to communicate effectively, manage your own time and succeed under pressure are the most valuable. Recruitment is a people-focused career, so being able to build rapport and establish strong relationships is essential.

Previous sales experience may be viewed as beneficial but is by no means required and most organisations offer in-house training alongside rigorous personal development plans.

If you can prove yourself as a successful recruitment consultant, able to interact with clients and candidates to secure a high volume of successful hires, you may find you are quickly promoted. Securing a management position offers the opportunity to manage your own team, develop a broader range of skills and allow you to further progress and develop.

It's also worth noting that the industry's competitive atmosphere naturally demands individuals with resilient attitudes - with targets to hit, phone calls to be made and candidates receiving counter offers at the last minute - having a positive mindset and strong-will to carry on is vital.

The industry once had a reputation of 'fight or flight', with some consultants finding it a challenge to maintain the strength of character and emotional resilience needed to succeed. Those days are now behind us and there are many people who view working in recruitment as a vocation. Helping others to find their dream job is incredibly rewarding. 

Typical working day

The role is varied, active and challenging from chatting over the phone with clients to get a sense of their business goals, to meeting face-to-face with aspiring candidates.

Most recruitment agencies operate a typical 9am to 5pm working day, but this is by no means set in stone and the pandemic has meant that many have had to be more flexible. The hours typically flex in line with the workload and type of tasks you have on. For example, you may be expected to spend one day on site with a client, and another attending a meeting or training day, helping to broaden your knowledge on a particular sector or skillset.

While you may have to work in challenging or competitive environments, the recruitment industry can be hugely rewarding. Helping a candidate secure their dream job or finding the perfect employee for an appreciative business can bring a great sense of job satisfaction.

Since summer 2021, the recruitment sector has seen demand reach unprecedented levels.  Good candidates are in high demand, meaning that clients value the services of recruitment professionals like never before.

Opportunities for promotion

Recruitment consultancies are vibrant environments, with employees supporting each other to achieve targets. In particular strong performers with determined characteristics will see great opportunities to progress.

There is also the choice for recruiters to specialise in a particular sector or location, hiring for roles in HR, marketing, sales or not-for-profit, for example. Recruiters consistently hitting their personal goals will often have the chance to progress to become a senior consultant or manager and lead their own team or division. Senior consultants who desire to take an alternative career path can also go on to earn great bonuses.

The industry is particularly important for graduates, who are seeking a creative and thriving environment. Testament to this a number of our own graduates have gone on to remain within the company for almost a decade, becoming integral members of the overall business.

Challenges in the recruitment sector

The war for talent is one of the major challenges facing the industry and increasingly there seems to be a shortage of great candidates to meet the needs of recruiters and their clients.

The COVID-19 pandemic is without a doubt the biggest challenge that I have encountered. The challenge allowed us to re-position our brand to become the UKs first 'Recruitment and Retention Consultancy', which now gives us the chance to help our clients with more than just the hiring element of their people strategy.

I fully expect that 2022 will bring more challenges. The UK hasn't (in my opinion) yet experienced 'The Great Resignation'. I believe that it could happen in April 2022.  If it does happen, it might just be the best recruitment market I have worked in since I began life at Macildowie in 1997.

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