Why a career in recruitment can be more than one you ‘fall into’


I’ve run a recruitment agency for a decade and interviewed many consultants over that time.

A question I regularly ask is: “so how did you get into recruitment?” Unfortunately, this is commonly met by an even more common response: “I just fell into it.”

I want to point out that I see nothing wrong with starting your career in the recruitment industry without meaning to. Nor do I think it reflects your capability or contribution to our industry.

I have met some amazing consultants who ended up joining an agency after interviewing with them as a candidate, or were in between jobs and were encouraged to try recruitment by a friend working in the industry.

My concern with this comment about “falling into it” is the impression within our industry that all (or at least the vast majority) of consultants unintentionally found their way in a career in recruitment.

Intentionally, or unintentionally, it infers that anyone can be a recruitment consultant and it is often a second choice.

However, I would argue we need to change our language and the associated perception it gives of those working in our industry.

WE NEED FRESH TALENT

Our industry is facing a talent shortage. In December 2017, a report by online recruitment platform Indeed listed Recruitment Consultant as the 17th hardest job to fill in Australia.

The Australian Department of Home Affairs has made it even more challenging to attract and engage international talent by removing our occupation from the Strategic Skills Occupation List meaning recruitment consultants can no longer work in Australia under 457 Visas.

If our industry is to draw in new talent, we need to promote recruitment as a career of choice that should be pursued, not a safe back-up option.

EASY TO FALL INTO – EASY TO FALL OUT OF

The recruitment sector is plagued with high staff turnover rates and this transient nature frequently leads to high levels of frustration and criticism from both clients and candidates alike.

I believe there is a correlation between the mentality that the recruitment sector is easy to fall into, and as such, as individuals we are not sacrificing much if we decide to exit the industry either.

If the role of recruitment consultant is one you didn’t need to work hard to secure, why would you work hard to keep it?

BUILDING VALUE AMONG STAKEHOLDERS

Clients across all industries are consistently looking for recruitment agencies to reduce margins and provide more competitive rates meaning margin pressure will remain a mainstay of our industry.

We are well trained and skilled at justifying our cost and value to clients as recruitment consultants, but if we don’t have a genuine passion for what we do and a true desire to work meaningfully with clients and candidates, our credibility is eroded.

Like a lawyer or an accountant, our knowledge, skills and expertise are unique and we fulfil a role that cannot be replicated by the unqualified.

WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO ACTIVELY PURSUED A CAREER IN RECRUITMENT

As you have probably guessed by my unintentionally defensive tone, I am one of those recruitment consultants who rather than falling into the profession, pursued it academically and then professionally.

I graduated from Melbourne Uni with a Bachelor of Commerce and had an opportunity to enter as a HR graduate at a bank and an FMCG company.

Instead I chose to take a job as an Associate Consultant at Hays, earning a base salary 30 per cent lower than the other roles. Why? I wanted to start my career in recruitment consulting.

I thought that a role in external recruitment would provide a better platform to exercise my university learnings and personal skills than a career in HR. I also felt recruitment would better sustain my interest and engagement with my career as well as genuinely believing the role of a recruitment consultant is of more value to the world.

Fast forward 12 years and I still think it was one of the best decisions of life - possibly with the exception of asking for my wife’s phone number 15 years ago.

OUR IDENTITY CRISIS

Our industry is facing an identity crisis. It is often misunderstood and undervalued by clients, governments, school leavers; all critical stakeholders to the future prosperity of our industry.

The RCSA is working hard to promote and protect our industry, but the responsibility to do so also sits with those working within the industry.

Recruitment is no longer just a sales role. The modern recruiter is highly skilled in marketing, digital branding, networking, business strategy, negotiation, counselling, conflict resolution, employment law, operational health and safety and risk management.

It is not a job for the faint hearted as it requires a unique and complicated combination of skills to be successful.

It is important we stop giving people the impression that anyone can do it.

If you have an inspiring story about how and why you ended up working in recruitment, share it with us. If, on the other hand, you fell into the sector, let us know what has made you stay.

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