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How to Become a Recruitment Consultant

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 29 Jul 2015 | comments*Discuss
Recruitment Consultant Agency

A career as a recruitment consultant can be very lucrative as it is largely paid on commission. The majority of recruitment consultants get paid a relatively low basic salary (usually around £20k to £25k) which can be boosted by making placements. Considering the fact that the agency will charge about 15-20% of the first year's annual salary of the employee as a recruitment fee, with the recruitment consultant getting perhaps 3-10% of the fee, it shows how you can quickly earn well in excess of your basic.

These figures are for ‘normal’ high street type agencies, with specialist agencies and Headhunters earning considerably more. Recruitment consultants with a reputation for being a ‘biller’ (someone who consistently makes lucrative placements for their agency) will usually negotiate not only a higher basic but also a greater percentage of the fee, so ‘money makes money’, as the saying goes.

The flip side of this, of course, is that those recruitment consultants who are not gifted in making regular placements can end up taking home their basic and not much more. In a commission-driven environment, this usually means that such ‘unproductive’ consultants do not stay in their jobs for very long, both because they’re not earning enough commission for the agency to warrant keeping on paying their basic salary, but also because they’ll be so disheartened.

Importance of Sales Skills

Thus, it cannot be underestimated how important sales skills are to being a successful recruitment consultant. While many agencies will say they are all about making the perfect match between candidate and client (and maybe some are) they are usually more focused on making money. If these can go hand in hand, then great, but if you’re just a really nice person but cannot Negotiate A Contract or overcome sales objections, then do not even think about a career in recruitment.

Graduate Opportunities

If you’ve decided that you do want to become a recruitment consultant, a great way to start is to join a respected high street agency as a graduate trainee. Most agencies look for sparky graduates, offer them a low basic salary, promise the moon on a stick in terms of commission and hope for the best. Some people flourish in this environment and go on to become great billers, where others will find it all a bit overwhelming.

Expert Recruitment

Many more specialist agencies pride themselves on only recruiting consultants from their field of expertise, so a marketing agency will only recruit consultants that have previously worked in marketing, for example. These agencies do tend to be less ‘crash and burn’ than the real factory-type agencies, although they all still want consultants to be making placements. No one gets a free ride in recruitment.

Recruiting at Interview

Many new recruitment consultants also start out when they go to register with an agency to find work. The consultant interviewing them will see something in the candidate that they think makes them suitable as a consultant and the opportunity is suggested. This can work well as the person is a little more ‘chosen’, but it also means there is great expectation to bring some related skills to the party.

Whatever approach a new recruitment consultant takes to join an agency, they will usually have a three-month probation period, during which they will be expected to achieve a certain number of placements, which will be agreed in advance. A new recruitment consultant will quickly know if this is the career for them!

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[Add a Comment]
I want to start my own recruiting business for the security industry, but I don't know how to start. At the moment I'm a security officer with over 20 years experience, so I've got a lot of knowledge in this field. So I know I can find the right candidate for what is needed for the right job.
gemini1969 - 29-Jul-15 @ 6:35 AM
@kevin. We cannot do individual research but here are some places where you will be able to find out the market in your area of interest: The Office for National Statistics
The Market Research Society
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation
ACareerChange - 31-Oct-14 @ 12:29 PM
I am looking at starting my own medical recruitment agency. Can you advise how I can find out further information on how viable this may be in terms of whether this is a flooded market or if there is a genuine demand for further suppliers. What specific requirements need to be met in relation to this kind of agency?
kevin - 30-Oct-14 @ 4:09 PM
I really want to be a recruitment consultant for French speaking in finance. Can you help me please
Pierre - 7-Jun-13 @ 2:04 PM
Please send me more info to open my own recruitment agency.
nasir - 11-Sep-12 @ 12:23 AM
Do you need any qualifications to become a recruitment consultant?
chloe - 22-Mar-11 @ 4:56 PM
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