So You’ve Become a Recruitment Consultant … What Does That Really Mean?

Welcome to the recruitment industry; it’s an amazing place to work. I started a discussion on the Recruitment Consultants and Staffing Professionals LinkedIn Group recently to find out how long someone has worked in just one company. The winner so far is Wendy O’Donoghue with 34 years!
welcome-picSo at the other end of that journey, over the next 13 weeks, I’m going to review the first 3 months in recruitment from my own experiences. My first memory when joining the recruitment industry was that of a headache for the whole of the first week! There was so much to remember and I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember what all the acronyms and abbreviations stood for.

So my first tip when joining the recruitment industry is write everything down. This job isn’t like any others that I’ve come across when recruiting. I see it as 9 jobs in one. Let me explain.

In your first 3 months you are likely to be asked to be the following: –

a) Telesales representative

b) Field sales executive

c) Customer service representative

d) Administrator

e) Advertising and marketing executive

f) Public Relations representative

g) Careers Officer

h) Payroll administrator and Tax Advisor

i) Counsellor!


This is why recruitment is such a challenge. If you like your working day to be full where you don’t have to clock watch every minute, but get to check the time every now and again and wonder “where did that last 2 hours go?!” then maybe the job of recruitment consultant could be for you.

I put the two sales elements at the top of the list, because it is in essence a sales role. Too many people join recruitment not realising this and then leave the industry in the first three months. Ultimately this means that there is a lot of rejection in recruitment; so if you are the type of person that takes rejection badly, then reconsider.

There are amazing highs – when you get someone a new career that will change their life or advise someone to speak to their own company first before looking elsewhere and they end up being really happy with the outcome. It’s a great feeling, but there are the lows too – trying to get business with a company that you know you can help, but being rejected at the first hurdle every time by the ‘gatekeeper’, because of your lack of experience as a recruiter. Even worse is placing someone with a client that you have finally got commitment from and then finding out that your candidate hasn’t turned up for the first day or the interview.


Your role is to be the middle person and to fill in the gap for both the candidate and the client and you have to represent them both, without putting preference on either side.

In my first 3 months I can remember two big mistakes that I made. They were my first job take and my first placement!


My first job was 3 times the average salary that my colleagues were working on – I thought I was the ‘bees knees’. It was for an AS400 RPG programmer. Now remember that this was the late 80s and our office had never dealt with IT positions before – we didn’t even have a fax machine yet… it was either telex or send the minibus driver round with the CVs! After 2.5 months I had to admit defeat. I didn’t know any AS400 RPG programmers and neither did any of my colleagues or contacts.

My first placement was an accounts administrator in a local company with a candidate called Alison C. It’s amazing how over 23 years later I still remember her name (I’ve not put her surname to protect her!). She didn’t turn up on her first day and when I finally got hold of her she said she was sick and couldn’t start. I apologised to the client and said I would update them tomorrow. Day 2 and I couldn’t get hold of her. Day 3 and she had disappeared off of the face of the earth. At this point I was still hoping everything was OK and tried to keep the client happy. By the Friday I had given up and was now apologising profusely. I found another candidate for them, but I’m sure my reputation had taken a big knock and I’d only just started in recruitment.

So where did I go wrong? The answer is Qualifying – in essence I was working blind. I had taken on a job that wasn’t my core category and I knew nothing about the market. I didn’t question the client enough and was just blinded by the possible fee I would make. I hadn’t learned to say “No” yet. With the candidate I had given her a half an hour interview and hadn’t asked the key qualifying questions. She therefore had no commitment to me and certainly didn’t keep me informed.

I learnt many lessons during those first three months and realised it’s easy to get distracted and not follow the whole process. Whether it’s temp, perm or contract there are many steps in the Recruitment Process and I had failed on the first couple.

Approved and rejected icons.

Next week I’ll go into the detail of how you qualify your clients, jobs and candidates.


Angela Cripps
Angela Cripps
ANGELA has 25 years of experience in the recruitment industry and calls herself an industry advocate - anything that raises standards and Angela is likely to have a link to it somewhere. A professional trainer for the past 15 years, her LinkedIn profile shows she currently works for industry bodies. As a select member of our BizProphets "thought leadership" Panel, her expert insights afford industry participants the tools necessary to master the art of recruitment.

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