How To Become a Recruiter

Updated March 10, 2023

If you're interested in a career in human resources, then you may want to consider becoming a recruiter. In this role, you can help others find their dream job. Likewise, it's your job to help companies build a team of qualified staff. In this article, we discuss how to become a recruiter and describe what this career entails.

Related: Job Cast: Think Like an Employer - A Recruiter's Perspective of the Hiring Process

What is a recruiter?

A recruiter finds candidates to fill open positions. In this role, you need to find candidates who are qualified for each job opening. You are responsible for overseeing most of the hiring process. It's your goal to help candidates find a job they love and help employers find quality employees.

Recruiters need to be personable since they are constantly meeting with candidates and helping them apply for job openings. You want to be someone they can trust throughout the job search process. It's important that you have a deep knowledge of your industry so you can reach out to the appropriate candidates.

Read more: Learn About Being a Recruiter

What does a recruiter do?

A recruiter is responsible for the following tasks:

  • Meet with employers to learn about their staffing needs

  • Speak with candidates to learn about their career goals

  • Find potential candidates through job networking websites or online job portals

  • Screen candidates by conducting phone interviews and background checks

  • Interview candidates who pass the screening process

  • Learn about candidates' skills, qualifications and professional backgrounds

  • Attend job fairs to meet candidates and attract talent

  • Negotiate employment offers with top candidates

  • Call references to learn more about candidates' prior work experience

  • Process employment paperwork and start the onboarding process with new hires

  • Create an onboarding process for better employee retention

Related: 10 Interview Questions and Answers for Recruiters

How to become a recruiter

Follow these steps to become a qualified recruiter:

  1. Earn a bachelor's degree.

  2. Gain relevant experience.

  3. Learn what kind of recruiting you like.

  4. Build your network.

  5. Continue your education.

1. Earn a bachelor's degree

Most recruiters have at least a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, such as human resources, business administration or psychology. Enroll in classes where you can study people and their behaviors. Communications, psychology and sociology are great subjects for aspiring recruiters to study. Although some firms may not require you to have higher education, it can help you stand out from other candidates and provide more opportunities.

2. Gain relevant experience

Get comfortable interacting with other people throughout your workday. During your undergraduate degree, gain experience in this field by joining relevant student organizations and getting human resources internships. Job shadowing a professional recruiter is a great way to see what this profession entails and make connections with people in the industry. During your day of job shadowing, ask your mentor all of the questions you have about this career.

3. Learn what kind of recruiting you like

There are many types of recruiters, such as:

  • Headhunter: You work for a staffing agency that fills a variety of positions. It's your job to find qualified candidates for these miscellaneous roles.

  • Executive recruiter: You specialize in finding executive personnel for high-level roles. You need to have the expertise to find highly skilled leaders.

  • Internal recruiter: Rather than outsourcing recruiting companies, you would work for a company that has its own human resources department that handles staffing. You would look for candidates within your own workplace.

  • Information technology (IT) recruiter: You specifically look for candidates to fill IT jobs. You identify people with technology skills, such as coding, data analytics and development.

  • Legal recruiter: Your job is to find candidates to fill a variety of legal jobs like attorneys, lawyers and paralegals. You can even specialize in a specific area, such as corporate law.

  • Management recruiter: Your focus is to find people to fill management roles. You need to know how to find natural leaders.

  • Military recruiter: It's your job to influence people to enlist in the military. You teach interested individuals about job opportunities within your specific branch of the military.

  • Pharmaceutical recruiter: You focus on hiring candidates for pharmaceutical roles, including pharmacists, technicians and sales representatives.

  • Sales recruiter: You fill sales positions across a wide variety of industries. Job openings you need to fill can vary from entry-level to executive-level positions.

  • Sports recruiter: Your job is to find and sign athletes for your team. Sports recruiters tend to work for colleges or professional teams.

Narrowing down what kind of recruiting you want to do can help you specialize in a specific skill set. Employers may like candidates with more specialized experience.

Related: How to Find the Right Recruiter for You

4. Build your network

To consistently fill positions, you need to build a large social network. This way, you can ask your connections for recommendations or reach out to people directly. Your connections may know someone who is a great choice for your job openings. One way to build your network is through social media websites. Regularly interacting with your followers' posts and sharing interesting career-related content is a great way to engage with others. Recruiters can also go to networking events or career fairs to gain even more contacts.

Read more: 10 Tips to Help You Network Like a Pro

5. Continue your education

Even after graduation, you can continue to learn more about this career. Attending professional development workshops and seminars is a smart way to stay current on the latest hiring practices. You could also earn a relevant certificate to move up in your recruiting career. Organizations such as the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems, the American Staffing Association, the National Association of Personnel Services and the Society for Human Resource Management all offer certifications and educational resources.

Frequently asked questions about recruiters

Here are some commonly asked questions about how to become a recruiter:

  • What is the salary of a recruiter?

  • What is the job outlook for a recruiter?

  • What skills does a recruiter need?

  • What is the work environment of a recruiter?

  • What are similar job titles?

What is the salary of a recruiter?

The national average salary for a recruiter is $57,281 per year, although your salary can vary based on your education, experience, location and company. Common benefits that come with this job include paid time off, the ability to work from home, vision insurance, commuter assistance and gym memberships.

What is the job outlook for a recruiter?

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for human resources specialists is supposed to grow 5% from 2018 to 2028. This is about as fast as the average rate for all occupations. This career continues to be in demand as companies need recruiters who can understand complex employment laws and healthcare coverage.

What skills does a recruiter need?

A successful recruiter needs the following skills:

  • Attentive to detail

  • Empathy

  • Industry knowledge

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Organization skills

  • Problem-solving skills

  • Sales knowledge

  • Time management skills

  • Written and verbal communication skills

What is the work environment of a recruiter?

Your most typical work environment is in an office setting. Recruiters spend most of their office time using the computer or making phone calls. You may also need to travel to meet with candidates, attend job fairs and visit college campuses. Most recruiters work full time during regular business hours.

What are similar job titles?

The following job titles are similar to a recruiter:

  • Career advisor

  • Compensation and benefits manager

  • Human resources manager

  • Labor relations specialist

  • Training and development manager


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