How to Start a Career in Recruitment

How to Start a Career in Recruitment

If you’re drawn to the excitement of closing deals or the satisfaction of helping people find their dream jobs, recruitment could be the right career path for you. Recruitment offers both challenges and rewards, requiring a blend of skills from negotiation to people management.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to start a career in recruitment, from essential skills to career development prospects.

What is recruitment?

Recruitment consultants are key players in the job market, connecting companies looking for talent with people searching for jobs.

Their main objective is to meet companies’ hiring needs while also helping job seekers find roles that match their skills and career goals. This role involves understanding what employers need and what job seekers want and making sure both sides are happy with the job match.

Read the full breakdown, ‘what is recruitment?’

Types of Recruitment

The recruitment industry is diverse, ranging from small local agencies to large specialists operating worldwide. While the essence of what they do is similar, there are different types of recruitment businesses:

Recruitment Agencies

Recruitment agencies connect job seekers with employers with the goal of filling open positions with the ideal candidates. While specialist agencies like ours focus on SAP, IT and Data careers, offering specialist expertise, others operate more broadly and cover a wide range of industries.

Most of these agencies operate on a contingency fee model, meaning they are compensated when a client hires one of their candidates. This setup drives agencies to not only match skills and roles accurately but also to offer additional support, such as interview preparation and career advice, adding significant value to both employers and job seekers.

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO)

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) is a form of business process outsourcing where an employer transfers all or part of its recruitment processes to an external service provider. An RPO provider can offer its own or may assume the company’s staff, technology, methodologies, and reporting. In essence, RPO providers become an extension of the company’s HR or recruitment team, offering a comprehensive set of services that can include everything from job posting and candidate sourcing to interviewing, hiring, and onboarding.

The primary advantage of RPO is that it allows companies to outsource the complex and time-consuming tasks of recruiting, enabling them to focus on their core business activities while still ensuring they attract and hire the best talent. RPO solutions are flexible and can be customized to fit the specific needs of the company, whether it’s managing the entire recruitment process, a specific recruitment project, or providing additional support during peak hiring periods.

RPO is particularly beneficial for companies that have large-scale recruitment needs, want to improve the quality of their hires, need to fill positions quickly, or are looking to enhance their employer brand and recruitment processes. By leveraging the expertise and resources of an RPO provider, companies can achieve more efficient, effective, and scalable recruitment outcomes.

What Qualifications Do I Need?

The entry requirements for a role in recruitment can vary widely depending on the position you’re aiming for and the preferences of the employer. For entry-level or junior positions, you might not need much, or any, previous experience. However, more senior roles will likely require you to showcase your abilities with a solid track record, demonstrating not just recruitment skills but also commercial insight and knowledge of the market.

While having a university degree can certainly be beneficial, it’s not always a must-have for many recruitment agencies. Degrees that tend to be more relevant to the field include:

  • Human Resources (HR)
  • Marketing
  • Psychology
  • Public Relations

If you’re looking to work in a specialist recruitment agency, a degree related to that specific sector can offer a significant advantage. For example, holding a Computer Science degree could be especially valuable in an IT recruitment agency, as it provides deeper insight into the roles you’re hiring for.

Transferable Skills from Various Careers to Recruitment

Many recruiters start their careers in recruitment after gaining experience in other fields. Some jobs particularly stand out because they teach foundational skills that are highly useful in recruitment.

Sales experience, for example, is a great asset in recruitment. At its core, recruitment involves selling – you’re marketing job openings to potential candidates and advocating for candidates’ skills to employers.

Working in customer service can also prepare you for recruitment by improving your communication, problem-solving, and client management skills.

To help illustrate the impact of diverse professional backgrounds on a successful career in recruitment, let’s take a look at the story of Callum Harrison, a Recruitment Consultant in our SAP USA team. Transitioning from a career in the commercial property sector, Callum’s experience demonstrates how skills acquired in seemingly unrelated fields can be advantageous in recruitment.

Callum Harrison, SAP USA Recruitment Consultant

Callum Harrison
Consultant | SAP | USA

“Before my current position, I worked in the commercial property sector, where my role was quite different from what I do now. However, I acquired valuable skills that have proven transferable. For instance, as a property agent involved in both lettings and sales, I developed negotiation skills by managing offers and balancing client expectations. These skills have been beneficial in my current role, especially during offer negotiations with candidates, taking into account their needs and the expectations of our clients.

Additionally, my experience with face-to-face property viewings has made me comfortable with direct interactions, easing my transition to virtual meetings. Despite the differences between the two roles, my ability to connect with people and enjoy conversations has been a consistent strength.”

Core Skills for Successful Recruiters

We’ve established some valuable skills from prior professions that will help you find your footing in recruitment, but what if you haven’t worked in any of those industries? The good news is there is a diverse set of skills that are advantageous for people entering recruitment. Let’s take a look:

How to Become a Recruitment Consultant at Whitehall

If you’re considering recruitment, you’re in the right place. We’re proud to be rated as one of the best small companies to work for in the UK! Curious about what it’s like to work at Whitehall? Explore our careers website to learn more about our culture and people. Check out our current vacancies or reach out to our friendly talent acquisition to start a conversation.

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After working at Whitehall for a number of years now, I look back and wonder why I didn’t get into recruitment sooner. The company values, team spirit and the atmosphere is what makes Whitehall the place to be. On top of that, the commission structure, company rewards and career progression are second to none and I am excited for what my future holds and the goals I can reach.

Nicola Saxham - Senior Consultant – International (DACH) team

I have worked at Whitehall for a long time now and it has been a pleasure to be part of the company’s continued growth. It is an exceptional place to work, with a family orientated mentality, and you are rewarded for working hard and being dedicated. I have loved my time here so far and look forward to progressing further.

Jason Wood – Credit Control Supervisor

Whitehall has really helped me curate my career into one I can be proud of – starting as an admin assistant,  I was promoted to the Facilities & Senior Administrator after just 18 months! Just recently, I was part of a project to help the company become Carbon Neutral, which is the best news!! The camaraderie of the whole team is wonderful, and I would thoroughly recommend Whitehall to anyone who is looking to kickstart their career into something amazing!

Abbie Elwood – Facilities & Senior Administrator

I joined the company as an entry-level consultant in the newly formed Key Accounts team back in 2010. Throughout those years I have progressed within the company and have had multiple promotions along the way and have never once looked back. At the moment, I’m looking to continue the growth of my team by adding to the current headcount and in supporting their development to help them to achieve their aspirations.

Adam Edgell – Associate Director – Key Accounts Delivery

The environment here is second to none, I am constantly learning and improving thanks to those around me and from the support of my managers. This is a company that rewards hard work and gives you all the tools you need to develop and succeed. I would recommend Whitehall to anyone, from those looking to start their journey into recruitment to those who already have a number of years’ experience as you will be joining a close-knit team and have the opportunity to thrive and work with some of the best in the industry.

Nathan Joseph – Principal Consultant – UK Permanent – ERP & IT Client Development

Since joining Whitehall Resources, they have given me the opportunity to grow and develop from a trainee position. Whitehall Resources is the ideal company if you are looking for career progression.

Kirsty Small – Contracts Administrator

I joined Whitehall with no experience in recruitment or IT and I could barely use a computer myself. Since joining, I have built a career and a joined a family here. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity I have been given and the guidance I have received from my managers and colleagues (friends). With hard work and a bit of tenacity, Whitehall can give you the chance to change your life for the better.

Jacob Lee – Executive Consultant – UK SAP Contracts

I joined Whitehall Resources with zero recruitment experience and a background in pharmaceuticals. Fast forward six years I have been promoted on multiple occasions and can vouch first hand that Whitehall Resources is a great place for career progression whilst having lots of fun along the way. On top of the career available you get to win lots of incentives including holidays abroad and overall, it is a great place to work.

Georgia Pike - Executive CSM - CSM

I joined Whitehall in late 2015 as IT Support Engineer and have now progressed to Team Lead. Whitehall is a fantastic place to work, where hard work and a strong work ethic is rewarded in both Sales and Operations alike.

Dan Appleby – IT Manager

Having spent a large part of my life at Whitehall, it’s fair to say I have seen the evolution from a successful recruitment firm, to one of the best in each market. Expanding globally, with some serious talent within WHR.

There really is no limit to earnings in the sales division, the more effort you put in, the more rewards you receive. An exceptional CEO/MD makes life very easy, given they have both been a consultant and worked their way up. They understand a recruiter’s struggle and frustration and they are always around to help and guide you.There really is no limit to earnings in the sales division, the more effort you put in, the more rewards you receive. An exceptional CEO/MD makes life very easy, given they have both been a consultant and worked their way up. They understand a recruiter’s struggle and frustration and they are always around to help and guide you.

Great incentives, with great earning potential makes work very enjoyable. I am honest when I say, I do not see myself leaving anytime soon!

Harrison Pickett – Executive Consultant

I’ve been at Whitehall for over 5 years now, and I still LOVE going into work every day! Safe to say, the ups and downs can be really tough in recruitment, but Whitehall are always there to support, encourage, and inspire us as individuals, and they provide us with the tools to survive the rollercoaster ride!

Since my time here, I’ve been promoted to a Senior Consultant, become a homeowner, and this is all down to Whitehall and the opportunities given to us here. Can’t wait to see where it takes me next! 😊.

Katie Plowright – Senior Consultant

As someone who has worked in a number of different sales environments, I can honestly say that this has overall been the best place of work so far! I have only been with the business just shy of 2 years now and taking into consideration opportunity to earn, work life balance, and working environment, Whitehall is pretty hard to beat. I’d encourage anyone from a sales background looking for a place to grow and more importantly earn, to consider Whitehall Resources.

George Baker – Consultant

Working at Whitehall is very enjoyable and the atmosphere is always positive, but what makes it great for me are my colleagues who are all amazing!

Morgan Andrews – IT 1st/2nd Line Support Assistant

I have been with Whitehall Resources for nearly 10 years and have seen it go from strength to strength. We all work really hard to keep focused on our goals, but also make time to balance that with enjoying the progress and achievements. With awesome parties, food and takeaways delivered into the office, Mental Health Days and much more. Whitehall Resources really make sure they look after their employees, to give them the best of the work lifestyle balance.

Charlie Calderbank – Senior Consultant

As a relatively new member to the Whitehall family, I have already been made to feel so welcome and feel as if I have fitted right in. Everybody, no matter your job title, is made to feel included and equal.

Whitehall are so supportive of everyone, and they genuinely want to see everyone succeed and be the best they can be.

It’s a cliche but no day is ever the same and I am continuously learning and building new relationships – something the company is really keen on.

I truly love coming into work every day and am really excited to see where my life at Whitehall takes me!

Emily Jones – HR Assistant

I have been with Whitehall Resources for nearly 2 years, and throughout my time here it has proved I made the right decision in coming here. They really are a great company to work for, providing opportunities for growth, and helping you to strive to be the best you can be both professionally and personally. With the summer and end of year parties, lunch club, takeaways delivered into the office and mental health days they really do reward you for all the hard work.

I really was welcomed into the team with open arms, with a great family feel and look forward to what the future holds for me at Whitehall Resources.

Cheyenne Wood – CSM Coordinator

I’m approaching 8 years working at Whitehall and with everything in life there are ups and downs. One of the many things and reasons why I love coming to work, being part of a great team and the company overall is that when the ups come along the business and people are there for you to say a ‘well done’ and to celebrate that with you. When the downs arrive as we all know they do, again those people within the business are there but for support, reassurance and genuine care in helping you turn those downs into ups.

I’ve made some genuine and close friendships in my time with Whitehall and I think the company values continue to support this.

Shane Scott – Executive Consultant

I can honestly say I am thoroughly enjoying the time I have spent working at Whitehall Resources for the past 5.5years; the company gives you a great platform with continuous training to really build a career proving clear pathways for internal promotion. As well as the great opportunities professional Whitehall also offers a great social aspect to the job including summer and Christmas events, in office rewards and personal out of office rewards to name a few and has a real family feel in/outside the work environment. Personally, Whitehall have given me the opportunity to travel to several countries for work and reach personal goals quicker. I look forward to what the years ahead have in store.

Hannah Burch – Client Services Manager

Whitehall has really helped me curate my career into one I can be proud of – starting as an admin assistant, I was promoted to the Facilities & Senior Administrator after just 18 months! Just recently, I was part of a project to help the company become Carbon Neutral, which is the best news!! The camaraderie of the whole team is wonderful, and I would thoroughly recommend Whitehall to anyone who is looking to kickstart their career into something amazing!

Abbie Elwood – Facilities & Senior Administrator