Job guides

How to get an entry-level Recruiting job?

Role Basics: What is Recruiting?

Recruiting is essentially a sales role. You’re responsible for identifying candidates to fill a job, reaching out, qualifying them, getting them to apply, and often doing initial candidate screening. Then you coordinate with the hiring manager (usually the manager whose team is hiring and will be responsible for evaluating and selecting the candidate) and usher them through the hiring process. 

Flavors of Recruiting roles: 

  • Role specialization. While not available to entry-level candidates, there are more specialized roles focused on recruiting the most skilled and highest impact candidates, particularly technical recruiters and executive recruiters. 
  • Recruiting ops. In larger organizations, there also may be specific recruiting ops roles (similar to sales ops as a function, responsible for managing and improving the process to increase efficiency and improve experience). 
  • In-house or agency. The other big divide in recruiting roles (as with many marketing or advertising roles) is whether they are in-house at a company or at an agency dedicated to recruiting. 

Example projects in Recruiting:

Like in sales, most recruiting jobs are oriented around building — and moving leads through — a pipeline. The big difference is that, while most sales reps focus on selling the same set of products, recruiters are trying to fill a particular number of roles and will then switch to others (unless they’re part of a specialized agency or a company so large that recruiters focus on a single role).

Common activities in Recruiting:

  • Role definition. Work with hiring managers to define what skills and experiences to look for in candidates for a role, as well as ideal companies and roles to search for to find great candidates. 
  • Passive sourcing. Manage the posting of job descriptions and recruiting ads on job boards (often done through the Applicant Tracking System). 
  • Active candidate sourcing. Use LinkedIn to identify people meeting the job requirements and add them to a list for candidate outreach. Often, this may include identifying personal information so that outreach can be customized for each candidate. 
  • Candidate outreach. Reaching out by LinkedIn and email, with the goal of getting a call to qualify the candidate for a particular role.
  • Initial calls. Speaking with candidates who respond to outreach to qualify them based on key criteria for the job and their level of interest in the opportunity (or, if they’re not interested, to understand what they’re interested in so you can reach back out to them in the future).
  • Resume screening. Reviewing inbound applications against a rubric to 
  • Interviewing. Speaking with candidates, and asking questions on an interview script to evaluate performance. Usually this happens earlier in the process, as later interviews are done by the hiring manager and their team. 
  • Selling candidates. Throughout the process, but sometimes on dedicated interviews, answering candidate questions and getting them excited about the role and the company — this is especially important for senior and hard-to-recruit technical roles. 
  • Managing the interview process. Coordinating with the candidate and the interview team, to manage what can be 3-5 or even 10 or more interactions along the way to hiring a candidate. 
  • Managing candidate interactions in the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Every interaction with a candidate requires information to be logged in the ATS so that all the people involved in hiring can access important information and managers can see an overall view of how recruiting is progressing — both for individual roles and teams and for the recruiting team as a whole.

Recruiting metrics:

  • Time to fill. The total time from when the hiring process begins (with defining the role) to when the candidate accepts. 
  • Time to hire. The total time a candidate spends in the hiring process, from application to acceptance. 
  • Cost per hire. The total cost to hire a new employee, including both payment made and the cost of staff’s time involved in hiring. 
  • Retention. The average time employees stay at the company, measured either as a during (e.g. avg months) or in undesired (e.g. 10% undesired turnover after 1 year). 
  • Candidate satisfaction. Candidate satisfaction with the recruiting process, which can be measured by internal surveys or by feedback left on sites like Glassdoor. 

Recruiting compensation:

Entry jobs pay $40-60K, but experienced recruiters for technical and executive roles can make $150-250K or more.

Recruiting career path:

This can be a great way to build a career in HR, an opportunity to get sales experience, or an opportunity to build a network and experience as a recruiter or start your own recruiting firm. Talent is essential to success, so excellent recruiters are always in demand.

How accessible are Recruiting jobs?

  • Time to learn. 0-3 months. Many larger companies or recruiting agencies will hire junior recruiters without formal experience, for roles analogous to Sales Development Representatives — i.e. managing sourcing, outreach and qualification. 
  • Selectivity. Moderate. You need to be a great written and verbal communicator, personable, good at asking questions and listening and good at managing your time and withstanding lots of rejection. 
  • Ease of working remote. Good, but depends on the company. In general, recruiting activities can be done remotely, but companies that emphasize an on-site and co-location may require recruiters to be located in the office. 

Job Requirements: What you need to be competitive for recruiting roles?

Key skills for Recruiting:

  • Written communication
  • Verbal communication
  • ATS familiarity
  • LinkedIn searching and LinkedIn recruiter in particular
  • ATS 
  • Email Automation Tools
  • LinkedIn Automation Tools (like LinkedHelper)

Professional background for Recruiting:

Personal characteristics for success in Recruiting:

  • Resilience
  • Performance orientation
  • Organization

How to prepare for and get a job in Recruiting? 

Projects to learn and prove yourself:

  • Find an organization, business or startup and offer to run their hiring process to source and screen candidates.
  • Develop a mock set of screening criteria, and source 50+ candidates for a startup role.
  • Use LinkedHelper to create an automated outreach campaign to find people and conduct informational interviews.
  • Explore online content on the most common ATS systems, so you can understand how they work and use them.
  • Use LinkedIn and email automation to find a startup that will let you source and screen candidates for them.
  • Conduct any of the exercises for Sales.

Key recruiting concepts and resources:

By Taylor Thompson

Taylor is a co-founder at Purpose Built Ventures, where he helps launch mission-driven companies. Before Purpose Built, Taylor led growth at Almanac, strategy for Curious Learning, and product at PharmaSecure. His work helps 100,000s of people collaborate at work, 4 million children learn to read, and protects billions of medicines from counterfeiting. He has hired dozens of people, helped raise more than $50 million, and contributed to as a researcher with Clay Christensen. Taylor is an Echoing Green Fellow, and he has degrees from Dartmouth College and Harvard Business School.

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