When I Grow Up I Want To Be... A Recruiter!

When I Grow Up I Want To Be... A Recruiter!

This past week, a friend called me up and said she was thinking of switching career paths and wanted to talk about being a recruiter. After our conversation, I sent her resume to a company, and she promptly got an interview. So I figured, if this person was thinking of switching careers – you might be too!

Recruitment is a service industry. You are helping both the companies you are contracted through, and the people you interview. Recruitment is sales, customer service, and social work all in one. You tend to wear many hats, and tend to give both bad and good news. There are many high points and some low points. So let’s dig a little deeper on what it’s like to be a recruiter.

1)      You have three different types of contracts:

Contract only: Basically short term contracts; your employee will work in one position for a few weeks/months and they will be laid off or moved to a different contract. For recruiters, this is a high volume call to find your perfect employee for the position.

Contract to hire: Bread and butter for recruiters! The companies who contract your agency will have contract lengths (typically 3 to 4 months) for your employee. After the contract is up, the company has the ability to hire the employee directly. For recruiters, this is where you make your (somewhat consistent) commission (more to follow), and the majority of your work day will go to finding these employees. Typically, you scour different resume websites to find candidates and bring them in to interview. So for each position you have, you likely are interviewing at least five different candidates and submitting the cream of the crop to your client. If your candidate gets hired, they will be “on your books” until they are hired directly. These candidates are YOUR employees. If they need verbal warnings, you do it. If they need to be fired for whatever reason, you do it. Contract to Hire is a great learning experience for brand new recruiters, and really helps you transition into a more HR directive position.

Direct Hire: The money maker and every recruiters dream. A company will use your agency to find a new employee and they will be directly hired to the company. Typically, the company will sign a contract stating they will pay your agency X amount if someone gets hired and the recruiter will get a percentage of that contract amount. Direct hires are very competitive because there is usually a higher amount of money if your candidate gets hired.

2)      You get paid different for all three types of contracts.

Contract only and contract to hire will pay you basically the same. For every SECOND your employee works, you get a small kick back. I’m not going to get into specifics about contracts, but typically you will get a commission check every month for the people who are on your books. If you have to terminate your employee, you will no longer get paid for them since they aren’t working.

Direct hire will pay you one lump sum, and you typically have to wait until the employee works for a certain amount of time (usually 90 days). Yes, you have to wait a while, but a nice fat check is worth it!

3)      You have to be comfortable with cold calling.

To my sales warriors - I promise, cold calling people for a job is WAY easier and more fun than calling to sell a stupid product. Once you get a job description, the search is on! This is competitive - if you work in an agency, you likely have coworkers who are working in the same position, searching for the same type of skill set. You have to be computer savvy and have a warmer personality. By calling someone you find on CareerBuilder, you have to be able to quickly create rapport and trust with this person because they are likely a passive candidate - or not necessarily looking for a position.  You have to call as many people as you can, leave voicemails, emails, and follow ups.

4)      You have to interview someone.

The (second) best part of being a recruiter - you get to meet SO many people. I love hearing people’s stories of why they want to leave their job, or what they want in their life. I’ve met people who were homeless and just wanted a shot, I’ve met people who worked for 25 years for a company and got laid off. I’ve met happy people, sad people, mad people. You meet strange people, you meet quiet people. To be a recruiter, you have to love people. You also have to learn how to interview someone. Ask the right questions, probe them for more answers, and ask the tough questions. You have to be in charge of the interview, and know when to end the interview because the person isn’t the right fit for your client.

5)      You have to be able to have tough conversations.

I’ve had to fire many people when I worked for an agency. I’ve had to call someone who was in the middle of eating dinner to tell them the company doesn’t think this is a good fit. I’ve had to call someone to tell them the company didn’t have enough money to continue the contract. I’ve had to rescind job offers because of a slew of things. I’ve had to sit down with someone and tell them people were offended by what they said. I’ve had to call someone’s emergency contact because their son/daughter/whoever showed up to work drunk or high. I’ve had to talk to multiple employees about a graphic photo that was going around the work place. All in all, when you become a recruiter, you tend to have uncomfortable conversations with people. As much as this sucks sometimes, it helps you in your personal life too. Breaking up with someone is so much easier after firing 32 people.

6)      Your pay will vary every year

From what I’ve seen, recruiters typically make a base salary - somewhere in the $30’syear. Your commission will vary based on the contract, the company, and the position. My first year, I had a key account which brought in around $800-$1000/month. When we dropped that client, my poor commission check dropped to $250/month. Direct hires also vary depending on contract and amount of salary the employee will be making. The smallest I’ve made was $100, the largest was over $1000. On average, you could make $2K-$10K+ in commission a year. This also varies from company, but from my own experience and talking to other recruiters, this is what you can expect.


7)      Saying “You’re Hired” is the best part of the job.

The great thing about recruiting is you’re helping someone. I’ve had people cry when I hired them, scream in excitement and tell me thank you a hundred times. Hiring people is the best part of the job, and makes the hours on the phone or in the interview room worth it!


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