6 reasons why a recruitment career is great for graduates
by Ross Clennett FRCSA
This article originally appeared in Recruitment Extra (July 2006 issue).
Recruitment Extra is published monthly and is the leading publication for the recruitment and on-hire industry in Australia. This article is reprinted with the kind permission of Loud House Communication Pty Ltd.
I joined the recruitment industry as a 22 year old, naive graduate. Long on self belief and short of a job I thought this recruitment caper was a bit below me as an economics graduate (!) but I made up my mind to stick with it for a year or so and gain some skills before I’d head off and get a “real job” (whatever that was). Little did I know that my ‘year or so’ would turn into nearly 15 years!
As I now build a successful business as a professional coach, I often reflect on the great things I gained during my time as a recruiter and how grateful I am for them. Here’s a list of some of them.
As a graduate in recruitment I got ...
1. Broad business knowledge
I learned an enormous amount about different organisations, different industries, different work cultures, different organizational structures, different remuneration packaging, and different recruitment practices.
Dealing with a bank one minute, a transport company in the next hour, a not-for-profit after lunch and a publishing company late in the day. What other job provides such a rich array of intimate insights into the business world? (maybe a tax auditor - which job would you prefer?)
2. An understanding of human behaviour in the real world
In other industries most graduates are put into some sort of ‘graduate program’ which gives them a range of carefully monitored experiences to build their confidence and competence. Sometimes you even get to interact with a client in the first year!
In the recruitment industry, graduates are lucky if they get to knock off time on their first day without some form of exposure to raw human emotion. As many studies have confirmed, moving jobs is one of the more stressful human endeavours.
What a fascinating look we get at human beings in action under pressure (clients, candidates AND colleagues!) we get. How often do people lie? How unreliable are some people? How selfish can some people be?
After the somewhat polite and ordered campus life where the most stress you were under was working out whether to start with a VB or Carlton Draught at the Uni Bar, the humans-under-the-microscope environment shows you the human character warts and all. If that doesn’t prepare you for success in life nothing will!
3. An opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of many, many people
Regardless of all of the negative stuff mentioned above all it took was one grateful email, a bunch of flowers, a bottle of wine or just an appreciative hug from a candidate who found their dream job and putting up with all the crap suddenly became worthwhile.
After personal relationships, a person’s job/career is typically the next most important thing in the world so when you have an opportunity to positively impact this area of life for people, it can be profoundly fulfilling (my father was an ATO tax auditor for 35 years and I don’t recall him ever coming home from work looking profoundly fulfilled).
4. An opportunity to be a front room driver, not a back room processor
I’m competitive. I played competitive cricket to the level below first class cricket so when I became a recruiter I was excited to find out that it wasn’t really placing people in jobs – it was a game ... to be won. Beating the competitors was desirable, fun and it made me money!
Each day dawned as a fresh challenge, with new jobs to be won, new competitors to be beaten and a scoreboard to be taken higher.
I could never understand recruiters who left to go and be an HR flunky. Are you kidding? Why take a backroom job, where it’s rare to be taken seriously as a business critical department by the rest of the company, when you can be the ‘big kahuna’ at the pointy end of the organisation (and earn the money to match)?
5. An opportunity to meet some fabulous, generous, interesting and rare people
How many graduate jobs give you exposure to such a variety of people as we get in recruitment? Given the number of colleagues you might work with, the number of candidates you interview and the number of clients and prospective clients you meet inside organizations you’d want to hope you would meet some interesting ones. I did!
Interviewing people is a real window into some amazing lives and when you hear the stories of how companies have grown and prospered and how people have grown and prospered you truly appreciate that nothing’s impossible for some people.
Some of my closest friends are people who started out as a colleague, a client or a candidate (occasionally all three of those categories were covered by the same person!).
6. Unbeatable influencing and negotiating skills
If I can influence an Irish temp to travel from Coogee to North Ryde for 3 weeks (and for him to turn up on time every day) then resolving the Middle East conflict shouldn’t be beyond me.
I may exaggerate slightly, but my career as a professional coach has been fast tracked because of all I learned about effective influencing and negotiating as a successful recruiter.
What job worth having doesn’t require these gilt–edged skills?
Other industries may have more high profile graduate positions or programs but nothing beats the recruitment industry for an opportunity to fast track your career - earn what you are really worth and experience raw emotion in all its forms! Why would you make any other choice?