Mixed reactions were what I got when I told people that I’d be making the move in to PR recruitment. “Recruitment?! I know someone who tried recruitment and they HATED it.” Personally, I really like it! Granted, it’s not for everyone but for any who may be thinking of moving in to the industry, here are three lessons I’ve learnt over the course of my first ever few months.
For context, I previously worked in retail and was determined to not do another Boxing Day sale (anyone who’s done one of those can relate I’m sure). Some things I loved about my old job were meeting great people, selling, and the good old chestnut that no two days were ever the same. On the other hand I knew I didn’t want to do a “typical” office job, so all things considered, I decided to give recruitment a shot.
I am still very much a PR recruitment baby with loads to learn and there really is a level of skill to this job which comes through a great deal of trial, error, experience and time. Something Lizzy (my manager) has said to me from day one is that this job is very much a “learn as you go” and she’s right.
There is no way to prepare for everything you could potentially have to face during the recruitment process. There are so many factors of the job beyond your control, that even when you’ve done all you can there comes a point where things simply have to be left up to the recruitment Gods. The trick is, I’d say, to take both the good and bad with a pinch of salt and remember that nothing can be forced, only gently arranged and then left alone, otherwise you put yourself in danger of coming across as a pushy, commission hungry dragon.
Speaking of which, recruiters can get a really bad rep, which leads me to personal lesson number two. Not everyone will be happy to have that initial phone conversation or make that LinkedIn connection with you, so for budding recruiters something to bear in mind is that it’s not as easy as it may sound. One of the daily challenges of this role is learning how to break barriers down and genuinely gain people’s trust.
One way I’ve tried to do this personally is by quite simply listening. For PRs, you need to listen to your clients. For me, I need to listen to my candidates and tailor my approach accordingly, to show the person on the other end of the phone that I’ve made an effort to take what they actually want in to account. Only then will I make suggestions of what I believe could work for them in terms of a new role. I’d argue that with recruitment this approach works best for both parties (as I said before you really can’t force anything). If you don’t listen to what candidates want, regardless of what you may personally think might be the perfect role for them, you’ll find it much harder to get a successful outcome for the people you’re working with.
As cliché as it may sound, the third major lesson I’ve learnt since starting recruitment at Hartigan in June is that persistence really is key. Not all the people you reach out to about a role will be interested in having a conversation with you. Some people will not reply at all and others simply may not be looking for a new role at that particular point in time, and this is when persistence comes in to play. You need to go back to the drawing board with renewed energy and optimism hoping that the second, third or fourth time around you will be successful in finding the right person at the right time for the right role. It can feel a little like searching for a needle in a haystack, but one of the most rewarding and motivating things about this job is when you do help find someone their perfect job.
The highs absolutely make the ground work of searching far and wide well worth it, but to achieve them you need to be mentally ready to put the work in and stay determined. Candidates won’t fall in to your lap, you have to be prepared to put yourself out there and stay positive!
For anyone seriously thinking of trying out recruitment, I’d say if you have the drive, go for it! Give it your best shot and don’t let the horror stories you might hear put you off – we’re not all bad – as it can be a truly rewarding job.