I have been thinking about a career change. What background and qualifications do I need to join the recruitment industry?
Twenty years ago, I had the same thought! My answer depends on what aspect of the recruitment industry you would like to join. The recruitment industry is made up of a couple of different segments: recruitment agencies or external providers and in house or internal recruitment teams. Whilst recruitment can make up a portion of a human resources' (HR) role, in and of itself, recruitment is not HR. If you are looking to work for an external provider or recruitment agency, then you should be aware that these roles are focused on front line sales or business development.
The recruitment consultants are required to develop and maintain business relationships with prospective or repeat customers who seek to outsource their temporary or permanent recruitment requirements to a third party. Therefore, the recruitment consultants recruit for a variety of businesses, in a variety of locations and for a variety of vacant positions within their specialisations. In house or internal recruitment teams are employed by an organisation and provide a shared service to their internal line managers. These are therefore not business development or sales roles, as their core client base already exists within their shared employer. You need to assess which of your behavioural characteristics would best suit these types of recruitment roles. If you have strong influencing and persuasive skills, for example, a sales role might be preferable. If not, you may prefer the idea of working in a purely service delivery role.
A tertiary qualification, preferably a degree, will always be in your favour. For an agency position, some kind of demonstrable sales background is always preferred. An internal recruitment role has proven to be a popular alternative to those consultants who wish to opt out of the sales focused third party recruitment, or, in some cases, HR graduates who see this internal role as a means of obtaining experience to take them to the fully rounded HR role. (Remember: recruitment is only a part of an HR role.) It’s a very good idea to have a talk to someone working in both these types of roles.
You also need to ask yourself what motivates you to go to work each day. You will typically find that sales people enjoyed being rewarded by bonuses and sales commissions for the sales they generate. They are motivated by the direct connection between the work they perform and the financial results that can then be achieved. If this is not for you, then a capped salary model may be more to your liking.