How to become a recruitment consultant

The number of recruitmentconsultants has been on the rise over recent years. According to de Poel, back in 1990, there were just88 recruitment agencies in the UK. There are now around 20,000 - and 2014 alonesaw more than 4,000 new agencies register with HMRC. So how do you go aboutjoining the ranks of this fast-growing profession? Here are some points to takeinto consideration…

Examine your skillset

This involves asking “Whatmakes a great recruitment consultant?” before thinking about how yourpersonal skillset matches up to what’s required. In a broad sense “selling”makes up a significant element of the job: you will typically find yourself sellingindividual candidates to your clients. What’s more you need to be able tosell the employer’s value proposition to prospective employees, especially whenit comes to top talent who might have their pick of placements or employers.

More generally, whether youdecide to go it alone or join an existing recruitment firm, you need theability to ‘sell’ the benefits of your service. You have to convincepotential clients that you are the ideal partner to work with for sourcing andbringing on board talent.

Success in this field isn’t builton one-off transactions. Crucially you need the ability to build and nurturerelationships, both with clients and with candidates. Take the time to listenand to get to know the specific requirements and characteristics of yourclient’s organisation. You will then be in a better position to offer advice onhow best to frame the job proposition and to build up a clear picture on whatconstitutes the ‘ideal’ recruit for this particular employer.

When sourcing recruits, theability to build rapport can help you to develop trust, ease concerns,establish whether individuals and firms are suitably matched and help to bringabout a ‘good fit’ for employers and candidates alike.

It’s worth looking at your ownCV, identifying those situations where you have demonstrated these types ofskills, and then ’fleshing out’ those situations in the main body of your CV. Examplesmight include the following:

  • Details of long-term relationships with clients.
  • Instances where you have had to undertake fact-finding exercises, working closely with clients to put together tailored solutions to meet their needs.
  • Instances where you have won or secured client contracts for your firm.
  • Involvement in events-based marketing and networking.
  • Involvement in the recruitment process within your firm, such as defining a new role and sourcing applicants.
  • Involvement in supervising and training new starters.

Consider putting your niche knowledge to work

In theory, the growth of socialmedia (especially LinkedIn) suggests it has never been easier for employers totake a ‘DIY’ approach to sourcing new recruits. Yet UK employers are stillstruggling to fill skilled, specialist positions. In the most recent Employer Skills Survey forinstance, it was shown that an estimated 22 percent of job vacancies are downto a skills shortage. The construction and financial services sectors find itespecially difficult to fill key positions.   

Social networking can only go sofar in helping businesses to find recruits for specialist roles. They stillrequire niche recruiters; professionals who understand their markets; who knowhow to reach the best candidates and who have in-depth knowledge of thecomplexities of particular industries.

Many of these specialist agenciesare staffed by recruiters who formerly worked in that particular industry(former solicitors recruiting in the legal niche, or accountants in financialservices, for instance). Your existing professional expertise could be yourgreatest asset if you are considering a move into recruitment.

Use your existing experience as astarting point and consider how you can build on this to strengthen yourcredentials as a niche recruiter. Here are some ways you could do this:

Work on your list of connections

Part of your value to potentialclients is based on your ability to source great candidates. As a professional youhave the ability to grow your list of contacts organically, by connecting withthem via LinkedIn, for instance. When it comes to making the switch into therecruitment arena you could already have a ready-made ‘database’ of potentialrecruits (and clients).

Bolster your market knowledge

What are current salaryexpectations among professionals in your niche? What are the biggest gripes ofemployees and employers? What trends are likely to impact the job market in thenear future? Talk to individuals within your niche to get a picture of therecruitment market. Even better, if you can identify failures in the way thingsare currently being done in your chosen niche, it could help you to formulateways to deliver a better service and fill a gap in the market.

Set out your stall as an expert

Businesses choose to userecruitment consultants because they offer expert, sector-specific knowledge, both on sourcing the right candidates and on building areputation as an employer of choice - i.e. as an ‘employer brand’.

In other words, businesses arelooking for expert insight and you do not have to wait until you’ve secured aposition at an agency or until you’ve launched your own business to startproviding these insights. Use Twitter and LinkedIn to share news and commentaryand provide your own views on issues affecting your industry. Join in withdiscussions online and draw on your own experience to add to the debate. Inthis way, you can increase your standing and establish yourself as someoneworth listening to - even before you start looking for clients.

Going it alone as a recruitment consultant

A consultant’s role reachesbeyond sourcing employees. As an expert, clients will rely on your advice andgiving inappropriate advice may provide clients with grounds for complaint orlegal action in negligence. You are also likely to be in possession of largequantities of commercially sensitive and personal data, so protecting yourbusiness against data breach should be a top priority. Before getting yourbusiness off the ground, speak to Bluefin Professionsfor insurance cover tailored specifically for the needs of your fledglingbusiness.  


The contentof this blog is of general interest and is not intended to apply to specificcircumstances. It does not purport to be a comprehensive analysis of allmatters relevant to its subject matter. The content should not, therefore, beregarded as constituting advice and not be relied upon as such. In relation toany particular problem which they may have, readers are advised to seekspecific advice. Further, the law may have changed since first publication andthe reader is cautioned accordingly.