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26th Sep, 2018

Claire Bacon
Claire Bacon
Job Title
Head of Employer Brand

Here at Reed we wanted to help give you a snapshot of the recruitment industry, what jobs you might come across, and what you need to get into recruitment.

Let’s start with a few basics.

What is recruitment?

In a business context, recruitment companies / agencies provide services to client organisations which help them find suitable candidates for their job vacancies. In return the clients pay the recruitment agency a fee.

Are all recruitment businesses the same?

No. The UK recruitment industry is vast and businesses range from local boutique agencies with a handful of staff, to global agencies like Reed which have offices in hundreds of locations. Whilst the list below is not exhaustive, these are typical types of recruitment businesses you might find.

Recruitment Agency – Reed Specialist Recruitment is an agency with offices across the UK and globally. Each team within an office will have a recruitment specialism such as finance recruitment, tech rec, Further Education etc. (see the full list here). These recruitment teams utilise the company resources (such as our database with millions of candidate CVs) but ultimately focus on developing business with clients in their specialism and geographical ‘patch’ or region.

Managed Services – Bespoke and tailored management solutions for a particular client (normally large businesses), including the management of other agencies / suppliers. At Reed our Managed Services sit within Reed Talent Solutions.

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) – The recruiter takes full ownership for a client’s recruitment strategy, including (if desired) any candidate assessment and on-boarding needs. More about Reed Talent Solution’s RPO offering can be found here.

Executive Search (Headhunting) – this is low volume, high-end recruitment consultancy work where dedicated consultants (often working on a retainer) are tasked with filling senior C-suite vacancies for clients such as CEO, CFO, HR Director roles etc.

Job Boards / Jobsites – these are online platforms where vacancies are advertised for candidates to apply for. Adverts may be posted by employers directly (who pay a fee to the website) or may be posted by recruitment agencies who have contracts with the jobsite. Reed owns the well-known job board

Recruitment Job Titles

Whilst all recruitment roles share similar benefits and challenges, they do vary slightly. Here’s a few job titles (not including management roles) you might come across as you figure out how to get into recruitment.

Resourcers/Researchers support consultants in their team by focussing on resourcing candidates for the vacancies they have / are due to have. Sometimes referred to as a 180 degree recruitment role.

Recruitment Consultants are responsible for ‘360’ recruitment; i.e. securing new clients to work with, maintaining relationships with them, and sourcing candidates for the clients’ vacancies. These recruitment roles are typically divided into:

  • Permanents Consultants

    (who fill clients’ permanent vacancies – i.e. salaried roles)

  • Temporaries Consultants

    (who focus on clients’ temporary vacancy needs – i.e. staff on hourly / daily rates or fixed term contracts).

  • Hybrid Consultants

    a combination of the above.

For Managed Services / RPO teams job titles may include names such as Account Manager, MSP Coordinator, Resourcing Business Partner – to name just a few. These are typically jobs relating to larger contracts – i.e. high volume recruitment for one client.

Internal Recruitment / Talent Acquisition teams are in-house staff that look after the recruitment needs of their own business. These teams typically only exist in larger businesses; like our own team at Reed. These teams may also work with recruiters from external agencies on hard-to-fill roles.

What are the typical responsibilities and tasks?

You will definitely need to be comfortable talking to a range of people both on the phone and in person and be able to make decisions about the suitability of candidates quickly and assertively.

If you are a ‘360’ consultant and/or deal directly with clients you need to be confident in how you present yourself in meetings and be prepared to negotiate with senior managers regarding prices, deadlines and specifications, and be prepared to deliver on the services you agree to provide them.

Almost anyone getting into recruitment will also need to be competent at using IT software as you will likely be using candidate databases and Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to manage your clients’ vacancies. Legislation around data protection continues to tighten as time goes on, so attention to detail and responding to candidate and client request accurately and efficiently is crucial.

What skills and attributes are needed to be successful in recruitment?

Working in recruitment you are almost guaranteed to be doing these two things:

  • Working with People

  • Working to Targets

Therefore you need to have strong interpersonal skills and enjoy working to targets and deadlines. There will be days in which you miss targets or deal with difficult people; that’s why resilience is an important attribute to possess.

Adaptability and a willingness to always be learning are also very important when working in recruitment as no two days are ever the same!

What qualifications do you need to be a recruitment consultant?

Generally speaking, there is no blanket standard for qualifications you need to become a recruitment agent, but some schemes with a broader remit may have certain prerequisites.

For example, the Reed Graduate Training Scheme develops future leaders for the business through three one-year placements (including at least one year in a recruitment / sales role) and requires applicants to have a 2.1 degree classification when applying.

Where to find the best suited vacancies for you

You will find thousands of recruitment consultant vacancies on all major job boards such as, so how do you find the right one?

Ultimately, if you demonstrate the desire to work in recruitment and exceed targets, then combining that with good communication skills and demonstrable resilience will mean many recruitment companies will be keen to hire you. That puts you in the driving seat – so do your research!

Top Tips for researching employers:

  • Visiting employers own websites / careers sites (like this one) will help give you a better feel for this business than a generic job advert they may have posted

  • Explore what their employees say about them on places such as Glassdoor – and how they compare to their competitors

  • Social Media – follow their careers pages on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn etc. and check if they have any common hashtags used by their staff. At Reed for example you can check out both #LifeAtReed and #StartAtReed

  • Ask people! If you know someone that works in recruitment then ask what its like to work there – if you and your friend think you’d be a good fit then ask them to recommend you!

Make your application stand out

Following from the last point above – being recommended / referred to a company by an existing employee is by far your best chance of being considered for a role. If you don’t know anyone that works in recruitment then just get in touch with a local office and ask for a chat!

When it comes to applying online, remember that your application will be read by people who look at CVs every day – so make sure it is accurate, legible and highlights your most relevant skills and experience.

Make sure to also ensure that any cover letter / answers to application questions really highlight your understanding of the role, the challenges involved, and how you are the best person to deliver results for their team. Further tips about CV and cover letters can be found here.

How to Become a Recruitment Consultant at Reed

We may be biased, but we think the best place to start in recruitment is at Reed. Don’t just take our word for it though – see what some of our new starters have said about us on LinkedIn – #StartAtReed.

We are also a very social bunch (as are most recruiters) and the most common thing our co-members say about working at Reed is that they love the people! All our staff say they have made friends for life at Reed and many of them see their colleagues in a social capacity outside work (some have even ended up married and with children!).

Make sure to search #LifeAtReed if you want to gain a holistic view of how Reed co-members spend their time.

Reed entry routes:

Graduate Training Scheme

Undergraduate Placement Year

All Current Vacancies

Hopefully this guide has helped you decide if recruitment is the right choice for you and given you a better idea of how to become a recruitment consultant! We hope to hear from you soon and to join in with our Life at Reed.