Is recruitment the right career for me?

about 1 year ago Harry Elkington

Harry Blog

The recruiter revealed: Insights from those who seek out top talent.

Fancy turning your hand to recruitment but unsure what to expect? We spoke to our Head of Talent Acquisition, Harry Elkington at Investigo about what it takes to be a recruiter.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I’m not sure I knew…I spent my formative years working in an Aston Martin body repair shop with my dad, so I thought maybe I would end up in motorsport. But at school, all I wanted to do was science, studying Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Maths at A level.

I then realised my biggest passion was music. I have been playing in bands and producing music ever since. The music industry saw me interacting with lots of different people from all walks of life and taught me to pitch myself to labels. I didn’t see the crossover initially, but when my best friend introduced me to sales, I quickly realised just how transferable the skills I had picked up were.

How did your career in recruitment come about?

After a year in home refurbishment sales, I had become disillusioned by the ruthlessness that my manager employed to get deals across the line. My best friend, who had started a role in London, told me I NEEDED to come to the big city and interview at a recruitment agency because I would be a “great fit”. So I did, and turns out, I was.

How was the first six months in recruitment?

Intense. It was a baptism of fire; high expectations, long hours, steep upskilling. But I was loving the people aspect. The sector I found myself in wasn’t an ideal fit for me; I was dealing with the German audit market, which wasn’t very relationship driven. So, I moved to Talent Acquisition internally and it has been my calling ever since.

What advice would you give someone looking to move into a recruitment role?

You need to understand what it is that you are looking for from a job role. Personally, I love building relationships and speaking with people, that is my biggest passion. The colleague next to me is motivated by being the “go-to” for his clients in the sector to hear about market trends, and the person next to him is motivated by running her own business and is completely autonomous in her role. What I’m trying to say is, there are loads of reasons to join the industry – you just need to find the right business and cultural fit for yourself.

How would you advise them about what agency to join?

Research is essential. By using sites or awarding bodies like Recruiter Hot 100 or recruiter awards, you can start to identify firms’ credentials and USPs. And do your due diligence… So many people join a company because of the brand, or the marketing collateral, or what people tell them at interview. Head to Glass Door or talk to someone directly at the company that you didn’t meet at interview about their experience. A career move is an important decision and one that needs care and consideration.

What common misconceptions do you encounter about the industry?

Recruitment is a massive sector. Yes, there are horror stories of firms that lie to candidates and clients just to make deals happen, and of ruthless recruiters that are purely motivated by money, but the same can be said for any industry. It’s hearsay. There are SO many different agencies that offer a wealth of different cultures, sector-specific disciplines and geographical coverage, and these factors play into making that company what it is and whether it is the right fit for you.

What key skills do candidates need to be a good recruiter?

Like many industries that are client facing and operate in sophisticated markets, you have to be a strong communicator. Speaking with people is the biggest part of our role, both internally and externally.

It then comes down to IQ and EQ in my opinion. When dealing with senior level, highly skilled candidates and clients you need to be fast at thinking on your feet in order to overcome reservations, create solutions and strategise. You also need to be able to ingest, retain and regurgitate large amounts of sector information, terminology, market trends, legislation changes etc.

EQ is the emotional and social skill that influences how we perceive and express ourselves, and also how we perceive and influence others. Without a strong EQ, how can you understand what someone wants, what motivates them or how they are thinking? A progressive and empathetic mindset is arguably as important for being a successful recruiter as excellent commercial awareness and an ability to build relationships.


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