As a professor in a large business school, I am frequently asked, “What is the most exciting and impactful job in the corporate world?” While others may answer differently, to me the most exciting and impactful job is clearly recruiting.
It is full of excitement because every day as a recruiter you are in a head-to-head competition to attract top talent, and fortunately you know definitively within 90 days whether you have beaten the competition. The impact of a recruiter is twofold: first, you can literally change the life of an individual by placing them in their dream job, and second, you can effectively change the direction and the success of a corporation with a single great hire in a key job (i.e. recruiting LeBron to your NBA team).
So if you’re a college student ready to select a career or someone who is considering shifting into a new career field, I have compiled a list of the many reasons why you should consider becoming a corporate recruiter.
Even if you have no interest in becoming a recruiter, reviewing the list might give you some insight into why the recruiters you deal with are so passionate about what they do.
The Top 20 Reasons You Should Pursue a Career in Corporate Recruiting
The 20 reasons are divided in three different categories: the impact factors, the excitement factors, and the career factors.
If you’re interested in having a big impact, here are five reasons to consider a job in recruiting.
- You literally change people’s lives— other than getting married or buying a house, few things in life have a bigger impact on an individual and their family than landing or missing out on a great job. Because of that tremendous impact, most recruiters find it easy to maintain a high level of excitement and commitment to excellence. Incidentally, even though you can’t hire everyone, recruiters can certainly help improve the chances and the experience of every applicant by finding their hidden skills, by answering their questions, and by calming them down through educating them so that they feel comfortable and prepared for the rest of the recruiting process. Recruiters can even impact those who don’t land a job this time by informally coaching them and helping them understand how they can better develop themselves, so that they will have a better chance of landing a job next time.
- Recruiting is No. 1 in business impact— research has shown that recruiting ranks No. 1, with the greatest bottom-line business impact on revenue and profit of any talent management function. Just like in sports, it is obvious to almost everyone that you are making a difference when you successfully recruit top talent into the organization. New products will get to market faster and projects will be completed on time because you didn’t allow ineffective hiring to become a roadblock to business success. In some cases, a single new hire who you bring in could create a major innovation or a new product worth millions. If you have the right skill set, you can tweak your own recruiting process so that it also successfully presents and hires high-value diverse candidates and innovators.
- You will be the face of the company — you will be the first and in some cases the only contact that applicants have with your organization. As a result, you will have the unique opportunity to represent the company and reinforce its image by treating them as they were a customer. As a “brand ambassador,” you also have the responsibility for spreading the word in person and on social media and the Internet about the factors that make your firm a great place to work.
- Employees and managers will be grateful —as you fill more jobs, the number of employees who will be grateful to you for helping them land their current job will continue to increase. Hiring managers will also be thankful that you helped to improve their team’s performance by finding and landing top candidates. As result, most recruiters will have a large number of thankful employees and managers who are willing to do them a favor in return or who will gladly offer their assistance in recruiting additional new talent.
- If you have initiative, you can create new recruiting programs — in some organizations, heavy req loads and a tactical focus by most recruiters means that most simply don’t take the time out to create new recruiting initiatives. As a result, if you as an individual find the time to discover or design new recruiting, technology, or metric approaches, you may be given the opportunity to develop and implement them, even though you aren’t yet a senior person.
If you’re interested in excitement, here are eight reasons to consider a job in recruiting.
- The competition is exciting— if you are competitive, as a recruiter you will realize that filling each job is a head-to-head competition that can be energizing. Every day you are competing against recruiters who represent powerhouse firms like Google, Apple, and IBM. Most recruiters also find that discovering hidden talent is also exhilarating, as is successfully convincing top prospects who have multiple choices to pick your firm’s job. Corporate recruiting’s globalization further adds to the excitement and the challenge.
- There is a clear winner —unlike in many fields, recruiting for a particular job has a clear beginning and ending point. As a result, after a top candidate makes their job choice, there is little ambiguity about who won the competition. And you won’t have to wait long to find out if you won, because in most cases, you’ll know within 90 days. And even if you lose an individual talent competition, you won’t have to wait long to get back into the game because another competitive recruiting opportunity will open up almost immediately.
- An opportunity to meet the best— if you like to meet and interact with exciting people, recruiting allows you to meet and get to know hundreds of outstanding people and some innovators each month. In many cases, you get to know these individuals in some depth because that is necessary if you are to fully understand their needs and to be able to successfully present them to hiring managers.
- An opportunity to interact with management — recruiters have the opportunity on a daily basis to interact with hiring managers and executives in all levels of the organization. As a result, not only will you get to know them personally, but they will see the quality of your work directly.
- Everyone will want to be your friend — because most people look for new jobs several times during their lives, almost everyone understands the value of knowing recruiters. As a result, many of the people who you meet both in your business and private life will want to maintain a relationship with you on the hope that you may someday help them find a job. They will also want a relationship in the hope that you will provide them with periodic help in improving their resume and their job search skills. And because it’s part of your job as a recruiter to be continually scouting for new talent and building your network of influence, the time you spend building these professional relationships is considered work time.
- Continually changing assignments — because most corporate recruiters handle a variety of different job openings, you’ll face a variety of assignments and challenges as different jobs open up. This variety can be challenging but it also keeps the job interesting and continually changing.
- Freedom and control — because filling each req has its own unique challenges, most corporate recruiters have a great deal of control over their work. That complexity generally means that your recruiting manager may provide you with recommended approaches but they seldom require that you follow a fixed regiment. This means that most recruiters have a great deal of freedom over the “what and the when” of their daily work, as long as they produce results. In many cases, remote work and contract work options are also available. And in most cases, your degree of independence will increase even further when your results rank among the best.
- Recruiting tools are continually evolving — if you enjoy continually learning, you will find recruiting to be exciting because it is probably the fastest changing field in talent management. Because of this rapid rate of change, you will be constantly learning how to use new technologies and new communications approaches. This is in part because you simply can’t successfully recruit top talent without using the same advanced communications approaches that your top candidates have already embraced. This continuing evolution means that you can’t ever stand still in recruiting but you won’t want to, because you will find the new recruiting approaches to be so compelling and exciting. And fortunately you won’t need to return to school in order to update your recruiting knowledge, because the best recruiters learn continually but informally on social media and the Internet.
If you’re interested in pursuing a new career in recruiting, here are seven reasons that contribute toward making it a desirable choice.
- No heavy entrance requirements— recruiting is an easy profession to join because there are no strict degree or certification requirements in order to become a recruiter. Many in recruiting come from a variety of backgrounds because the focus when selecting a recruiter is on their skills. And if you have those skills, you will find it relatively easy to sell yourself in your resume and during your own interviews with the recruiting manager. Entering into the subfield of college recruiting is even easier for recent grads because they are already likely to know the college job search process and in addition, they likely have empathy and understanding for what top college prospects expect.
- Good pay and job opportunities — as in any profession, the pay varies by company and region but the average pay for a mid-level corporate recruiter is around $70,000 per year and technical recruiters can earn much more. Contact recruiters are often paid well over $100 per hour and external executive search professionals can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. In addition, recruiter positions are needed in all industries, so you have more opportunities available when job searching.
- You will have the best tools —if you work for a successful recruiting function, you will invariably have the latest equipment (i.e. smart phone, tablet, etc.) as well as an expense account for coffee and lunches with top prospects. If you are assigned to recruit at professional conferences or on college campuses, recruiting can also provide exciting travel opportunities.
- Becoming senior takes less time —even though recruiting is exciting, many in HR actually prefer the more predictable fields of training, development, and OD. As a result of this yearning, recruiting has a high “pass-through rate.” So if you stick with recruiting as a profession it often takes much less time to reach senior or manager status then it would in other areas of HR.
- Being a recruiter means you will have excellent personal job search skills— your familiarity with the job search process almost assures that, should you seek another recruiting job or a job outside of the field, you will have a powerful resume, extensive contacts, and exceptional job search skills that should ensure your success. Those recruiting skills will also carry over if you later become a hiring manager.
- At a top firm, recruiting is easier —if you are lucky enough to work at a top employer-branded firm like Google or P&G, the applicant flow will be so great that recruiting becomes more of a sorting problem. If the firm has a top-performing employee referral program, by finding and assessing top prospects, your employees will do as much as half of the recruiting work for you. In addition, at top firms the recruiting processes are so well refined that they will guide even those with little experience to success.
- You’ll know right away if you are any good — unlike many fields, it doesn’t take years of practice to become competent as a recruiter. And in the same light, because success is so obvious, you will know within months whether you have what it takes to become a good recruiter.
Even though this article focused on the many reasons why recruiting is such an exciting and impactful job, there are obviously also some drawbacks. The strongest drawback is that recruiting runs in spurts and there are some time periods where recruiting slacks off and recruiter layoffs are possible. However, even during tough times, the very best recruiters are still kept on board, and especially those top recruiters who have a strong secondary skill like internal placement, outplacement, or technical recruiting.
In some organizations, the req loads can also be crushing during growth periods, but that is a factor that you should examine before you accept an assignment. If after reading the 20 positive arguments above you’re still unsure about recruiting as a career path, informally meet up with top recruiters at one of the famous recruiting conferences (like those put on by ERE). It only takes meeting a handful of top recruiters over coffee to realize that they are among the most friendly, engaging, intelligent, and innovative corporate people you will ever meet. They almost universally love their job and the impact that they have. They take great pride in their profession and if you become a recruiter, you will too.
Dr. John Sullivan
Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.
He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all sixcontinents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on www.ere.net. He lives in Pacifica, California.