Recruitment: the highs and the lows

How did I get into recruitment? Like everyone else, I think – I fell into it. After working as a bar manager for two years post graduation, 60+ hour weeks, minimal pay and even less recognition (plus being called a ‘Bar Maid’ constantly – grr), I decided enough was enough!! (To paraphrase Murtaugh – “I’m too old for this..stuff”). So I brushed up my CV and put it on Reed. And waited.

A short while later, I got a call from a company, a niche market recruitment firm who wanted to speak to me – I had a telephone interview which was pretty standard, then boom, a meeting with my soon to be director. Let me tell you, recruiters can interview. It’s their bread and butter. And this guy was a pusher. Should have been a bit of an indicator, but I was naive. It was in an office (WIN) and they were going to pay me a decent base (WINWIN) and the ‘extras’ that I got was not going to be crumpled, booze soaked fivers (SIGN ME UP!!)

Now two years down the line, I am in my second company (thankfully this one is a LOT nicer) and still in the same niche market in recruitment. And most of the time I love it. I like being the female in the lads club, I like speaking to people (bar wench leftovers), I tolerate the hours (never assume a 9-6 is actually so in this industry) and I like the constant challenge. However, my next move will be far, far away from this.

The reason? Let’s go with the pros before the cons, as I have had a bad week.


– You can earn a LOT of money, fairly quickly. Most successful recruiters can be earning 10K on top of their base (which will be admittedly very low as an ‘incentive’) dependant on the commission structure.

– You will make a lot of friends. Spend that much time with like minded people, you’re bound to. And when recruiters let their hair down, they really do. Most of my Friday nights entail walking home in a squiggly line at sunrise.. Some of my best friends have been from this industry.

– You learn some genuinely good – and transferable – skills. Phone manner. Elocution. Bad-ass email skills. Networking skills. Being able to sell ANYTHING. Rolling with the punches. I’m going to mention that one again. What was a drama in Uni is NOTHING compared to the lows in this game. And you get a truly business-minded perspective, which is invaluable.

– The highs – when you’re doing well, you’re on cloud 9 with chubby winged babies.

– Incentives, private companies, you see. Christmas trips abroad. Days out. Sexy coffee machines. All the swank.


– The hours. Your days get longer, lates and earlies become the norm. Learn to like coffee and the cover of darkness.

– The management – not all bad, hard arses for a reason. They’ve done it all before and they want you to get there quicker and ultimately BE SUCCESSFUL. But it’s not easy. And there is bureaurocracy, whatever anyone says.

– Everyone is money motivated. No two ways about it. I’ve been screwed by the best of them.

– The food, the booze, the fags, the 5 hours of sleep… Ever wonder why you don’t see many old recruiters? Much like bars, it’s a young person’s game.

– Oh and the lingo!! And high fives! And fist pumps! And bell rings! Wolf of Wall Street, eat your heart out.

– The pipeline. 6 months to build, 1 week to get destroyed. £150K+. True story.

So, would I recommend it? Yes! If you want to learn to be tenacious, and be able to step into any other role without so much as blinking at a ‘hard’ boss, then this is for you. Don’t listen to what anyone says about degrees – most of the successful people I know didn’t even graduate college – you just have to learn to talk the talk, and some old dinosaur will teach you that straight away.

My tips?

1. Please please PLEASE make sure that you can handle pressure, and also authority figures. If you have a problem with either, you will be dusting off your CV in no time. Just. Don’t.

2. Make sure you are somewhere you like. Being in Brighton is a godsend, as I am never more than a two minute walk to the nearest boozer. If I had to commute, I would probably not have lasted this long.

3. Don’t do any research – you will 100% be taught by someone, who will want to mould you to their own way of doing things, which works, so just take the advice and do it.

4. Do not take yourself too seriously. I hate those guys. City Boys. Douglas Reynholm, IT Crowd. One of the saving graces of this industry is that you can have a right laugh, because if you don’t and start to play the blame game, you end up very bitter.

5. Don’t do high-street recruitment. It may seem grand, but companies are large and sterile with no personality, the KPIs are set to be unachievable, you end up speaking to morons all day, and the turnover is ridiculous. I worked in two, small, niche companies, and albeit tough – I would take that anytime. Rather stab myself in the eye with a fork. *Cough*REED*Cough*.

Best of luck, Graduates! Happy job hunt!

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