The reality of working in recruitment

January, 2020

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 incredible rewards you can secure following a successful day at the office that make it all worthwhile.


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 in excess of £40,000 as a basic salary.

 Not only do consultants enjoy extra income through bonuses, the financial incentives on offer at most recruitment firms ensure that staff members’ wellbeing is cared for. From employee discounts and gym membership, to once in a lifetime reward schemes that allow high performers to travel to destinations such as New York and Las Vegas.


Many working in the sector love the fast-paced nature of their job and the extra incentive of boosting your salary through commission can make the occasional extra hours worth it. Working in a recruitment agency may be demanding at times, however this tends to be balanced out 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 is on the rise across a number of industries, and the recruitment industry is no exception. From encouraging autonomous working and flexible working hours, to training plans to inspire career development.

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.


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 fast-paced and 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.

Due to these demands, the industry has developed 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.

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 9.00am to 5.00pm working day, but this is by no means set in stone. Hours can differ from day-to-day, depending on workloads and client expectations. For example, you may be expected to spend one day on site with a client, and the other 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.

Opportunities for promotion

Recruitment consultancies are competitive but 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 fast-paced industry is particularly important for graduates, who are seeking a creative and thriving environment. Testament to this is 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 consultants to meet the needs of recruiters.

The job market is changing rapidly, bringing new hurdles and challenges for recruiters. This has left many consultancies searching for new talent with the skills to find great candidates for the modern workplace. Many recruiters are on the hunt for outstanding consultants who have these skills in abundance to tackle the digital age.

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