How to Become a Recruiter

By Talentwolf

Reading the confessional of a former recruiter article, it's clear that there is a right way and a wrong way to go about recruiting. She used outdated job descriptions, based her decisions on keywords alone, and exaggerated the attractiveness of job listings.

For those of you who aren't in the recruiting business yet, know that these are all big no-no's!

If you want to learn how to become a recruiter, you've come to the right place. It's certainly not the same terrain as it was twenty or even ten years ago and truthfully, there's always something new to learn.

Read on for some of our best advice for future recruiters. We'll cover the innate qualities of a good recruiter, as well as the skills you can--and should--pick up along the way!

What Is a Recruiter?

First on the docket is to explain what, exactly, a recruiter is. To put it simply, recruiters are a sort of middleman between a candidate and their potential employer. It is a recruiter's job to find the right candidate to fit an organization's vacant position. 

The question, then, is who does a recruiter work for? The candidate or the employer?

The answer is both, although it's typical for the recruiter to work more directly for the employer. In other words, an organization might contract the help of a recruiter who then seeks out qualified candidates and/or screens current applicants. 

Sound easy? Well, there's a little bit more to it than just match-making.

Although a recruiter may work for an organization, they also need to fulfil the needs of their candidates. That means communicating the roles and requirements of the position, discussing the candidates' qualifications (and red flags), and preparing them for their interviews. 

In the end, the recruiter wants to close the deal with the best candidate. This can be tricky because they have to sell the organization on the candidate's hard and soft skills. At the same time, they have to sell the candidate on the job. 

In the first year or so of recruiting, you can start out making around US$40,000 a year/ AU$45-50,000. However, experienced recruiters with a high success rate are well and truly into the six figures

Now that you've got a general idea of what a recruiter does, let's talk about how to become a recruiter.

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How to Become a Recruiter: The Innate Qualities

To become a recruiter, there are certain innate (or natural) qualities that will help you get ahead of the game. That's not to say that these traits can't be learned but rather that you're most fit to become a recruiter if you already possess them. In fact, the people who bring these qualities naturally are more likely to become executive recruiters.

Attention to Detail and Organization

Recruiting is a very detail-oriented work. There are times that you may work for more than one organization at a time. Even when you only have a single client, you'll still have an average of 250 applications to sift through per job listing you post. 

Because you're reviewing so many candidate's credentials, you're going to need to pay close attention to details. The last thing you want is to talk to a candidate about a job they had in the past that they never actually had! 

Additionally, you need to stay organized. A recruiter's weeks are filled with phone calls, meetings, interview preps, walk-ons, follow-ups, and emails. Keeping everything in order and staying focused on the task at hand is the only way to avoid a massive pileup of assignments.

Determination and Honesty

As we mentioned earlier, it is your job to sell both the organization and the client that they are the right match for one another. 

There are times when the best candidate for the job doesn't quite line up on paper and yet, you still have your reasons for believing that they are the best choice. You have to know how to explain that to the head of the organization you're working for. Recruiters are not easily discouraged people.

In that same vein, you might find the perfect candidate who has cold feet or doesn't find certain aspects of the job appealing. For example, some people may not want to relocate for or a position or they may be uncomfortable with the offered salary. It's your job to anticipate these concerns and address them head-on without sugar-coating an offer. 

Recruiters should never exaggerate a candidate's qualities or a job's benefits. Nor should they avoid the less-than-pretty stuff, like missing work experience on a resume or unappealing job requirements. Honesty is always the best policy because both parties will come to learn the truth eventually and it only serves to make you look bad if you weren't honest in the first place.


A recruiter is going to succeed if they are a people-person. Your entire job involves socializing and if that's not your thing, you're going to struggle.

As candidates move forward through the process, it will become increasingly important that you get to know them and not just their resumes. They are going to trust your judgment a lot more if they feel like you've taken the time to understand their experiences, personalities, and what they have to offer. The more they trust you, the more likely they are to accept a position you throw their way.

Plenty of introverts have succeeded in recruitment, as building meaningful relationships with your clients and candidates is the main part of winning long term business, but we still see many introverts pushing their boundaries to become more outgoing in pitching for new business

How to Become a Recruiter: The Learned Skills 

Just like any position, becoming a great recruiter is a learn-as-you-go process. Let's talk about some of the skills you should focus on as you gain experience as a recruiter.

Online Networking

In the digital age, it's important that we take control of our online persona.

Use social media to advertise your skills, your success stories, and your winning personality. Make sure that you are visible in a positive light to both organizations looking to contract a recruiter and to potential candidates who are seeking employment. 

If you're a freelance or independent recruiter, you should still join an online network that allows you to show off your skills. Organizations and candidates alike visit these kinds of online communities in order to access talented recruiters more easily. 

Checking Off the Yes's, Not the No's

Online algorithms are designed to screen candidates out. A recruiter's job is to see where people fit in. 

Keep in mind, as you review resumes and conduct interviews, that previous experience doesn't always indicate talent. When you stop checking off all of the no's in relation to what people haven't done, you just might find fresh new voices that will benefit the organization more than a seasoned employee will. 

Focusing on a Niche

When you glance through sites like TalentWolf, you'll notice that most of our recruiters focus on a specific industry. That's because when it comes to recruiting, it's better to know everything about one industry than to know a little about all industries.

The myth: When you leave your options open to all industries, you widen your market and get more work.

The truth: If you don't know what a company's needs are, you may struggle to pair them with the best candidates out there. A lower success rate means fewer offers from companies in the future.

How do you decide on a niche? Think about the needs in your region and look for gaps where those needs aren't being filled. Think, too, about your own previous work experience, where your insider knowledge lies, and what you enjoy. 

Preparing Your Candidates

Preparing your candidates is probably one of the most important things you can do as a recruiter. Their success, after all, is your success.

Create job listings that are clear and thorough but not so wordy that potential candidates get lost. When they make it through the first round of interviews with you, make sure they know what questions to expect before heading to their second interview. 

Start Your Recruitment Career Today

Now that you know more about how recruitment works, it's time to jump-start your career!

Sign up for a TalentWolf account and start advertising your skills. As you work with organizations and candidates, encourage them to leave reviews and feedback. That way, you can pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses while increasing your online visibility!

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