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Career Q&A: What it's really like working in recruitment

What it's really like working in recruitment

In general, the traditional view of a recruiter can be a bit negative, but a lot has changed in the past few years and working as a recruiter can be incredibly rewarding. Like any job, recruiter jobs and working in recruitment has pros and cons – but if you have the right skills it could be the perfect career for you.

To give you an insight into the pros and cons of being a recruiter we spoke to Principal Recruitment Consultant Rebecca Brown about working in recruitment as part of the Cpl Science team and her advice for anyone looking to enter the industry.

Can you tell me about your background? When did you first get interested recruitment?

I worked part-time from the age of 15, no matter what the job I was fully committed. I always loved taking part in extra curricular activities like running a breakfast club in school. I set it up so pupils could get their breakfast before class. I was there every morning from 7.30am and loved it. I’m a people person and from a young age liked helping others whenever I could.

In school my favourite subject was business studies so when it came to apply for college courses I knew I wanted to study something business related. I’m from Wicklow so didn’t want to commute to Dublin for college. I really wanted to get the experience of moving away, but also wanted to be close enough to home, so I could continue to work weekends. In the end I decided to pack my bags and study Business & Marketing in the sunny south east of Co. Carlow.

When I graduated in 2014 most of my friends left Ireland to travel but I wanted to get a job straight away. I did a 3-month internship in a college of creative arts where my main responsibility was to attract potential students. I organised open nights and led a campaign in secondary schools around Ireland where I would speak to students about their career options. Once the leads from events came in I’d follow up and meet potential students to discuss their options. This is the part I found interesting and made me realise I wanted to work in recruitment.

I stumbled upon a graduate recruitment consultant role on and the rest is history.

What did you study in university? Would you recommend this course for someone who wants to get involved your type of career, and why?

I studied a B.Sc. in Business & Marketing and I would absolutely recommend this degree to anyone. Marketing is a broad topic but covers so many fundamentals for a successful career in recruitment. Building relationships, understanding your customers wants, needs and demands, identifying your target market and managing customer satisfaction core areas of Marketing, and key pillars of working as a recruiter.

One of the modules I studied was Selling & Sales. As part of this I had to come up with a product to market and sell. I enjoyed the entrepreneurial aspect of this, which again is a core trait of a recruiter.

Along with his, studying Digital Marketing was hugely beneficial. During my degree I created a strategy for a company using social media platforms, taking into account the messaging and target audience. Again, very transferable to posting job ads and searching for the right candidates online as a recruiter.

I also learnt about employer branding and ensuring that their company was ahead of their competition. In recruitment, you are constantly doing competitor analysis and consulting with your clients on how they can improve their employer brand.

Tell me about some of your jobs after college that led up to your current role.

Cpl was where I began my career so jobs prior to it were part time or summer work. I saved during the year in college to be able to go abroad for two summers in San Diego and New York. The experience I gained in the US and my internship definitely had a part to pay in me landing my role with Cpl.

What skills are important to excel as a recruiter?

I think what’s helped me to be a successful recruiter are the following skills. There are plenty more skills that are important, but these would be core ones:

  • Resilience– The most important characteristic of a good recruiter is the ability to bounce back from disappointment or failure. People are our product and people have emotions and commitments, so it’s the nature of recruitment to be unreliable.

  • Listening – When interacting with candidates or clients it’s essential to listen carefully so you can then make decisions based on sound information. For example, you can’t write a job description without fully understanding what the hiring manager really needs. At the same time, you can’t help a candidate find a job without knowing exactly what they’re looking for!

  • Being inquisitive – I’ve always loved learning new things. For example, I realised the importance of marketing yourself in recruitment and took it upon myself to complete a diploma in digital marketing, which has helped me to create content and manage my professional presence on social media.

  • Building relationships – Talent relationships are a very important aspect to being a successful recruiter. I build relationships based on trust which has helped me attract candidates and clients.

  • Having marketing skills – As a recruiter you need be able to market and sell your services to clients and candidates. In time, doing so also means you create a positive employer brand for your company. Promoting yourself and your brand on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter can be extremely beneficial and enables you to reach out to and engage with passive candidates.

Talk us through a typical day at work as a recruiter.

I like being in early so I’m usually at my desk before 8.30am. The first thing I always do is call any candidates that I’ve scheduled calls with. Most of the candidates I work with are in a pharma plant and can’t take calls during the day so mornings suit them best.

On an average day I could be advertising new jobs, sourcing candidates, conducting training or doing business development. I love Fridays because I’m hardly at my desk. I love to go out of the office, find a nice coffee shop where I can brainstorm on ideas for content, meet my candidates and visit clients to chat about their recruitment needs.

The good thing about working as a recruiter is that no 2 days need to be the same and you don’t need to be at your desk to get your work done. Flexible working has made a huge difference in my productivity.

What’s your favourite part, or parts, of your job?

There is a couple of things actually.

  • Cpl have been a very flexible employer. This year I decided to take off some time to travel. It was always something I wanted to do but needed to work first to save money. In February I went to South East Asia for 4 months to explore the culture and make memories. This is something that is feasible to anyone.

  • The autonomy that comes with being a recruiter is great. If your someone who is self-motivated this type of job is perfect. Once you have your targets in place, how you reach them is entirely up to you. You have the freedom to manage your own daily tasks however you see fit.

  • If you work hard, you get rewarded – that’s the basics of recruitment! This means your pay can have no limits if you continue to do well. However, it’s not all about the financial rewards (although this helps!) The feeling you get when you successfully place someone in a job they want to do is extremely rewarding as well. Getting a new job can change someone’s life completely, and you play a massive part in helping them to do that.

  • I love meeting clients, listening to their challenges and being able to deliver exactly what they’re looking for.

  • Cpl is great for giving back and I’ve been fortunate to get involved in fundraising events with the company. I took part in an external initiative called 100 minds in my first year working in Cpl and was able to hold a fundraiser in work where I raised just under €1,000 for ChildLine.

Really, Cpl has no limits. It has a strong entrepreneurial culture and if you come up with a good idea they will always back you.

What’s the salary like and opportunity for progression?

The salary depends on your experience. It’s the commission however that makes all the difference and what keeps you motivated. In terms of progression, the more you’re curious and the more you want to learn, the more doors will open.

For example, I’m now moving to an on-site role for 3 months to progress on my current experience and there are other opportunities across our offices in Dublin, Galway, Cork, Waterford, the UK and Europe.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work as a recruiter?

If you're considering recruitment as a career, or want to switch from your current job, Jennifer Roche is a great person to talk to. Jen looks after internal hiring within Cpl and can fill you in on the opportunities that Cpl have.

I have just moved from the Science and Engineering recruitment team where I worked for 3 and a half years. The team is brilliant and led by Associate Director Jenny Navan who was instrumental in my journey with Cpl. Personally, I have no doubt that if you decide to join her team you will have a fantastic career.