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Recruiting FAQ: How to Look for a Job in Recruiting

Alison Ringo heads the KAS Placement marketing recruitment research team

by Alison Ringo

So you’ve decided you want to work in recruiting. Good for you – I can definitely understand the drive to do so, having worked as a sales and marketing recruiter since 2006. It’s one of the industries that “never the same day twice in a row” really does describe.
 

But just like job-hunting in any other industry, choosing the right recruiting firm to work at is crucial to your success in and your enjoyment of the industry. Here are some basic tips to pick out winners and avoid pitfalls.
 
 

The firm should offer a livable wage. There are unfortunately a lot of headhunting firms out there that pay their recruiters on a purely commission basis.
 

While this might have cut it in the golden days of sales, commission-only jobs don’t work for the majority of professionals these days, from a purely economic standpoint.
 

Any firm not offering its employees base salaries sufficient to cover living expenses, be they in recruiting or real estate or insurance, does not respect its workforce. And if someone’s in the business of third-party hiring, you’d surely hope they have respect for workers. Speaking of which…
 
 

The firm should treat job seekers with professional courtesy. One of the problems with paying recruiters only on commission is that those recruiters are then pressured into treating hiring projects like cattle calls, where the job seekers themselves become so much livestock.
 

This doesn’t mean that the recruiting firm should have a hard-line policy about calling back every job seeker who emails a resume, no matter how irrelevant the CV is to any open job; unfortunately that’s just not realistic.
 

It does mean maintaining a reputation for the headhunting agency as one that deals respectfully with the job seekers it engages, so that other job seekers know it as a good bet, and are more likely to respond to contact requests.
 
 

The firm should be choosy with the clients it takes on. Another crucial factor in a recruiting firm maintaining its solid reputation (and you should want a solid reputation for any company you work for, in any industry) is what companies they choose to take on as clients.
 

In the sales and marketing disciplines, some of the bigger companies out there are known as cold-calling factories with zero upward mobility and disgruntled middle management. I would never feel great about suggesting someone spend the next 3-5 years of their life there, so KAS doesn’t work with such firms.
 

Whether you’re talking sales and marketing, or some other discipline or industry altogether, there are certain known firms and certain red flags that lesser-known firms wave that ought to scream “don’t take on this contract!” Make sure the recruiting firm you’re thinking of joining pays attention to these signals.
 
 

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