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How to Become a Recruiter

How to Become a Recruiter

If you’re searching for a dream job, it’s worth considering that you might just find yours by helping others find theirs. If you are interested in human resources as a career, becoming a recruiter can give you the unique opportunity of matching individuals’ interests, skills, education, experience, and accomplishments with the perfect organization to meet both of their needs. It can be a highly satisfying career and has the potential to be very lucrative, as well.

What is Recruitment?

The simple answer to “What is recruitment?” is - talent acquisition. It is finding the right person for the right job – the one who meshes with an organization’s mission and vision and has the qualifications for achieving the goals of the department, thereby helping achieve the overall goals of the company. However, recruitment, or talent acquisition, falls into two broad categories: internal recruiting and external recruiting. Though the recruiter is tasked with finding, screening and filling open positions in both, the roles vary in significant ways.

Two Kinds of Recruiters

Internal recruiters work for an organization as its designated talent scout. It is usually a salaried position within the human resources department and involves posting job openings to all relevant job sites, hosting hiring events, searching career apps like LinkedIn, and networking within the industry to identify the most qualified candidates to fill the open positions. Internal recruiters are often tasked with creating recruitment materials, handling all communication with candidates, conducting initial interviews, and managing all other interviews throughout the selection process. Once a candidate is chosen, the internal recruiter will likely extend the offer and handle any salary and benefits negotiations, as well. Internal recruiters play an important role within an organization and often engage in strategic planning with upper management as it relates to workforce needs and goals.

External recruiters do many of the same tasks as internal recruiters, but within a very different context that involves higher stakes but potentially higher rewards. Sometimes referred to as headhunters, external recruiters can work independently or within a talent agency. They are responsible for building a client base of organizations that contract with them to acquire talent. When an organization has an open position, it submits a job order to the recruiter to fill. The recruiter must then source a pool of qualified candidates to screen for the right fit. Recruiters will often focus on a particular industry, such as IT, health care or entertainment, and become an expert talent scout in that field. Because external recruiters’ work is commission or fee based as opposed to salary based, they incur a certain amount of risk if they cannot make enough placements to sustain themselves, especially if the job market is in a slump. On the other hand, the potential for a much higher income is also possible once the recruiter becomes well established.

What Skills Do Recruiters Need?

Whether you opt for being an internal or external recruiter, you will need some specialized skills to become a highly effective and sought-after talent scout.

  • Resourcefulness

Learning both how to beat the bushes and strategically identifying which bushes to beat to find the best clients and candidates often comes down to hard work and determination. Good recruiters will go above and beyond to find the perfect person for every job. They will look for talent in unique places, using their networking capabilities, job fairs, professional organizations, even talent already employed at other organizations to fill a position. They will also continue to learn and stay abreast of labor laws, the job market, as well as new resources and recruiting techniques. Adding a Master of Arts in Human Resources or earning recruiter-specific certifications through SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) are great ways to stay on the cutting edge educationally.

  • Relationship building and management

Recruiters serve as the bridge between those needing to fill positions and those wanting to be hired. This requires incredible relationship building skills that serve the needs of both entities. Genuinely caring about both client and candidate, developing trust, demonstrating professionalism, and showcasing strong industry knowledge will make it easy to build reference-worthy relationships on both sides of the aisle. Recruiters must also know how to manage multiple clients simultaneously and keep all the relationship plates spinning.

  • Sales and marketing

Recruiting, boiled down, is really about selling an organization to a candidate and vice versa. Recruiters must also sell themselves as the best person to get the job done, so sales skills are an important part of the recruiter’s job. Having the right marketing pitches, materials and outlets is also key to recruiting success.

  • Industry expertise

Rather than being a jack of all trades but master of none, recruiters can best serve themselves, their clients and their candidates by becoming an expert in one or two industries, such as STEM or retail. This gives them greater credibility and makes them the go-to “match-maker.” Recruiters can also watch the job market closely for those industries and give solid hiring advise based on trends they see developing.

  • Critical discernment

A candidate may look good on paper, but that doesn’t always make them right for the job. Doing homework on candidates and using expert discernment to uncover their strengths and weaknesses that can either clinch a deal or backfire is a skill developed over time by the best recruiters.

  • Digital savvy

This likely goes without saying, but in this age of everything digital, it is imperative for recruiters to be fully adept at utilizing the best that technology has to offer in order to comprehensively serve both client and candidate – and to make their jobs easier.

How to Become a Recruiter

Some of the above skills may come naturally to the recruiter, but most of them must be learned. That’s why a Bachelor of Arts in Human Resources (BAHR) is a must-have baseline because it provides the solid foundation for how to become a recruiter. For example, Ottawa University’s fully online BAHR helps students master the skills needed to take a leadership position in recruiting, benefits, and training for organizations in every industry, while leading in policy creation and change.

Through the degree, students will understand the challenges of employment and staffing; the complexities of compensation and benefits; the policies and programs that promote employee responsibility, production and satisfaction; and the methods to hire, retain, and terminate employees based on legal policies and ethical parameters that protect both the rights of workers and the interests of the company. An applied human resources capstone course addresses human resource issues and applies human resource theories and techniques to problems and cases through a process of decision making.

Ottawa University’s Human Resources degree fully aligns with SHRM’s HR Curriculum Guidebook and Templates. Throughout the world, only 252 programs in 201 educational institutions have been acknowledged by SHRM as being in alignment with its suggested guides and templates. In addition, Ottawa’s human resources online degree offers several concentrations that allow students to tailor their degree in an area of specialization, such as:

How Much Do Recruiters Make?

Answering “How much do recruiters make?” depends on which type of recruiter is being referenced. Internal recruiters are classified as human resource specialists by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with an average salary in 2021of $62,2901. This is a fixed salary paid by the organization with whom the recruiter is employed. Some companies will offer bonuses to the recruiter for meeting or exceeding established goals, and in larger organizations, a recruiter may move into a management position with earning potential of up to $126,0002.

External recruiters do not earn a salary but, instead, work on a commission structure either with recruiting agencies or independently as headhunters. The commission is most often a percentage of the total fees from a placed candidate’s first-year base salary, usually around 20%, or it may be a flat fee negotiated with the client organization. If the recruiter works for an agency, the fee will be split between the agency and the recruiter. If the recruiter works independently, s/he keeps the entire fee. Either way, an external recruiter’s potential salary can far exceed that of an internal recruiter, depending on the number of placements made each year and the base salary of the placements. External recruiters can also consider making contract placements, which allows them to receive money every week that the contractor works in exchange for taking care of the administrative functions of the employee.

Are You Ready to Become a Recruiter?


If you are ready to start your career as a recruiter, Ottawa University is ready to get you enrolled in its BAHR program. Contact us today!

Posted: 01/30/2023
Updated: 01/30/2023 by OU Online
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