Recruitment Jobs & Graduate Schemes

Working in Recruitment

Recruitment is one of the few sectors that graduates already possess many of the skills required for the role. This is not because it is an easy sector. Quite the opposite, Recruitment is extremely competitive but graduates often exploit skills gained at university and extracurricular activities to improve their chances when they apply.

Recruitment can be one of two things. Either graduates work in a Recruitment agency and are outsourced by companies to find them the perfect candidate or they work in the bigger companies attracting or headhunting applicants for top roles. Graduates tend to begin in the Recruitment agencies and can make a successful rewarding career relatively quickly.

Graduates wanting to go into Recruitment need to combine a series of skills, some that will have been picked up at university or in previous employment. Roles like Trainee Recruitment Consultants require candidates to master skills in sales, marketing and maintain a target focused attitude. However like other fast paced jobs, if you put the work in you are rewarded.

The main responsibility of Recruitment consultants is finding and matching applicants on their database or in the working world, and putting them forward for roles that they think would be suitable. Recruitment consultants have to juggle recognising skills and experience with understanding a potential candidate's desires and career direction. Graduates must demonstrate that they have an understanding of people, by being able to demonstrate skills such as tact, discretion and respect. Graduates can provide examples of when they might have satisfied a demanded or found an appropriate person to help with a university project.

Graduates need a sales outlook when thinking about a career in Recruitment. This might not be selling charities on the high street, but the process of recruitment consists of three sales type stages. Firstly the recruiter must contract the work from the employer, and then sell the role to the prospective employees. With finally selling the potential employee back to the company. Sales skills include understanding who you're talking to, knowing their needs and finding a way to help them.

A key part of this process is understanding clients and candidates. If graduates are able to forge professional relationships, they can quickly get ahead in the game. Client relations in Recruitment are the life blood to some agencies. It could have been maintaining a rapport with the Student Union over their society's funding or previous work experience that has meant them liaising with outside companies. This sort of experience and evidence of skills is what Recruitment agencies look for.

To build these relationships, candidates need to have excellent verbal communication. Phone manner and clarity of speech are vital skills needed for graduates to make it in Recruitment. Graduates must be eloquent, succinct and clear in their expression over the phone as this is where much of their work will take place.

Recruitment Consultants must be extremely confident and be able to think on their feet. Graduates must be aware that they will spend the most of the day on the phone. It is this confidence to talk to strangers and not hold back when trying to source and place candidates that can make a Recruiter successful. When graduates start in the role, it will not be wining and dining clients in week two, although that will come later when successful applicants work their way up the ladder.

Excellent written communication is imperative. If they are able to express a professional tone and correct etiquette in early exchanges with employers, graduates have a much better chance at success. The application process can allow graduates to show off their skills early on. They should use the application form, telephone interview and face to face interview to show the employer that they are eloquent and able to sell themselves through a variety of formats.

Graduates could be the best communicators in the world, however sometimes recruiting potential candidates and clients just does not come through. The industry and individual recruiters often have barren spells. However what the recruiter wants to see is evidence of resilience and perseverance in their applicants. If the graduate has evidence of being determined to get something and not giving up until they have achieved it. This could be any campus campaigns that they have taken part in or lobbied university staff until a change has been implemented. Showing drive and ambition is exactly the attitude that Recruitment look for, especially when the going gets tough.

In the modern world, and especially in Recruitment, prospective applicants cannot get by without proficient IT skills. Most graduates will have spent the last year trawling through the internet undertaking degree research. The mixture of being tech savvy and having great research skills can be a huge help in a Recruitment role. Much of the way Recruitment works involves researching potential clients or candidates and assessing what they think their interest would be. These skills are likely to have been exercised at university and graduates would be advised to remind employers of the thorough research and IT skills they have picked up while gaining their degree.

Recruitment can be extremely stressful, long hours and sometimes a lot of hard work can be fruitless when deals do not come off. There is a simple reason why graduates might put up with this and also be drawn to the industry in the first place. The financial return available in Recruitment can be excellent. Starting salaries can be moderate in comparison to other sectors. However it is on commission, hitting targets and bonuses that Recruiters can make some serious money. Graduates, after three years of stretching to make ends meet, can enter this sector with the skills already in place and take home a tidy sum.

The industry is one of the most competitive out there. Recruiters are expected to reach targets and bring in a certain amount of business. For a graduate to be considered, they must show their competitive edge and drive to hit targets. They don't want to see a nasty or cut throat side of candidates. However, if there is evidence of a competitive nature employers will look kindly on that. This could be sporting endeavours or the debating society at university.

Based at a larger company in their recruitment team, graduates would be advised to emphasise the same skills as mentioned before. Make sure to play heavily on the research and analysis skills so they can express to employers how they are thorough in their work. The role at the big organisations requires successful candidates to go out and find excellent options to fill usually high level positions. This sort of work can lend itself to HR and be trickier to enter straight from university.

Recruitment Case Study - Morgan McKinley

Case Study
If you are engaging, this really allows you to progress in Recruitment, especially when talking to clients and managing your contacts.

The Employer - Natalie Lightfoot (Talent Acquisition Specialist - Morgan McKinley)

Natalie Lightfoot

Name: Natalie Lightfoot
Job Title: Talent Acquisition Specialist - Morgan McKinley

What competencies do you like to see in candidates?

From their CV I want to know that they have read the job description, they have an understanding of the industry and they've linked their CV to the job. This is key and can show that someone is not sending out their CV to hundreds of jobs but they're very specific about what career they want to go into and they have put a lot of thought behind it. This could be tailoring their experiences to what the job requires. For example, if they have worked in a supermarket they would understand that in Recruitment you need strong customer service and they can link the two. It is looking at their key transferable skills.

For me it is also about personality. This can be difficult to get across in a CV or covering letter, however when you get to the phone interview you don't need to have robotic answers. It is encouraged to be engaging, to ask them questions and be positive in your answers.

Another competency is seeing that someone knows the industry, they know about the highs and lows and understand the sales environment. They know that it is not HR but is Sales. I'd also advise applicants to research the business. Knowing we're a global company is not enough depth. Research the person that is interviewing you and ask them some key questions at the end, which can show you're taking this seriously.

Can you talk us through the application process?

You would start by applying through, which sends the applications through to our main inbox. We then shortlist applicants, usually by those who have included a covering letter, tailored their CV and acknowledged the person's name on the job description. We tend to pick up on these small things as it demonstrates whether a candidate has paid full attention to the job description.

We then shortlist the hundreds of applications we receive and telephone them to ask them their availability for interview, what their salary expectations are and other basic telephone screening questions. They are then invited for an hour long telephone interview or a digital interviewing process called HireVue, a digital video based interview done online. After that there is an assessment day at Morgan McKinley where candidates will undertake individual, group and paired exercises. There is more of a cut down and then a final one-on-one interview.

What is the most common mistake you see in an application, which leads to candidates being rejected?

Besides spelling mistakes, it is not addressing Morgan McKinley. People submit applications for jobs in Marketing, when there are no marketing positions at Morgan McKinley. Candidates must proof anything before they send it in. Also make reference to the position, why you want to work there and some basic background information about yourself.

What is the main piece of advice you would give a graduate starting in the Recruitment sector?

Graduates should not think about the Recruitment sector as a job but as a career. Recruitment is not a stepping stone into something else. It can be but you shouldn't see it as that. You do not reap the rewards in year one, you reap them in year two. Recruitment is not a quick win; it is about building a foundation.

Be aware that it is a sales environment, not HR. Every day you will need sell yourself, sell your client and sell Morgan McKinley as a brand. So it is being confident in being able to do that. We'll give you the training and the technique to approach clients in the first instance, but it is having that confidence in the first place to just pick up the phone.

I know it's a cliché, but it is definitely a work hard, play hard environment. It is long hours, tough days, lots of client meetings but there is also a big social scene. You're encouraged to go out with clients, colleagues and candidates. If you place a candidate in a role, the likelihood is you're asked to take them out for a drink afterwards.

What's the main challenge graduates face when they start?

Our consultants are industry experts in what they know. When you come out of university, you don't tend to know anything about a risk manager; it's more about picking up industry knowledge and awareness. We work in very technical areas, whether it is in Tax, Operations or Asset Management, so it is important to know your industry inside out so you have the gravitas when talking to senior level people.

Where do you see the company in two years' time?

We're planning even more growth. As a privately owned company, with over 500 members of staff, we are celebrating our 25 year anniversary this year. We are still run by the same guys who started the company all that time ago. We aim to have more market share in the next year.

If you weren't a Talent Acquisition Specialist, what would you be?

I would like to be on TV. I think I could be Britain's answer to Oprah.

The Employee - Sophie Loughe (Consultant-Tax - Morgan McKinley)

Sophie Loughe

Name: Sophie Loughe
Job Title: Consultant - Tax - Morgan McKinley
University: University of Leeds
Course: Management
Graduation Year: 2011

How did you find your graduate job in Recruitment?

I applied to Morgan McKinley after I received an email from where I'd stated I was interested in Sales and Recruitment. I wasn't so keen on selling an object, but rather could see myself selling people for roles. I saw the email with vacancies in London, I got in touch and attended an open day where the recruitment sector was totally sold to me as a fantastic career.

Why do you think you were successful at Morgan McKinley?

The Recruitment process here is mainly based on values and these values are important for financial success for the company. You need to be confident and the person that someone wants to talk to. The values that they hire by are:

Always Communicating – you have to show in the recruitment process that you are a good communicator, enthusiastic when engaging with people and know the importance of that. Always Committed – they like people that have worked hard to get where they are and prepared to work hard if they're successful. Embracing Change – looking for people that were dynamic in the way they went about the tasks. Building Trust – there were quite a few questions asking how you would feel about lying to someone or how far would you go to get a fee.

What do you actually do?

When I first started I was a Researcher and was largely focused on the candidate side. This meant I was mainly sourcing candidates for the consultants and their side of the job. Whether this was a job they were working on at the moment or a good candidate for them to know about. This meant a lot of headhunting, calling ex-candidates seeing how they were getting on, advertising jobs, responding to the jobs, clearing people, meeting people and face to face for screening interviews.

Now I'm at a consultant level, so I speak to clients and try to pick up jobs and work both sides of the recruitment process.

What skills do you need?

Confidence is the first skill you need to have because even though you've spoken to one client 18 months ago they might not remember you so it can be a bit like cold calling. Having the resilience to carry on when someone tells you to go away because some people don't have the time to speak to recruiters. There are some people who have had bad experiences with recruiters so will not speak to you.

If you are engaging, this really allows you to progress in Recruitment, especially when talking to clients and managing your contacts. Organisation because sometimes the candidates that you have can form a large list and it is being able to manage that and be organised in your approach to them

What is the best thing about your job?

With everyone being driven and working hard, between every call people chat and discuss clients. It is not everyone sat in silence; people discuss candidates they have just spoken to.

Likewise, the best thing about my job is speaking to the candidates that I look after. You become interested in them and interested in your industry. I quite like the fact I'm talking to different people all the time. This leads to the perfect match which is a great feeling when you have the perfect CV for a role or the perfect candidate for a role.

And what is the worst thing about your job?

You can't force people to talk to you, which is sometimes frustrating. When I first started I was working through lists of one hundred people or more and you would only get through to ten of those and, of those ten, only three of them could speak to you. This can be a bit demoralising at the start. Also, sometimes you have to give candidates bad feedback from interviews which can be difficult early on.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I've been here nearly a year. At Morgan McKinley they have got a very good progression structure which can take you right to the top, should you wish to pursue it. You can either pursue the client side or the candidate side and they expect the driven attitude to be successful and progress when you start.

What advice would you give to graduates applying to Morgan McKinley?

You should definitely look at the role as a Sales job because you are targeted and need to be prepared for that. Show yourself as confident and willing in anything you do. For Morgan McKinley I'd definitely recommend researching the values. They are really important and are followed through in everything we do. Go in with an open mind and know the industry to make sure you know what you're going into.

If you want to find out more about graduate jobs with Morgan McKinley, please take a look at their minisite.

Recruitment Interview Ratings


    Communication: Initial contact with the interviewer was via email after I had shown interest in the role a couple of weeks beforehand. I was then contacted by the recruiter who had…


    The initial process was a phone interview with an Internal recruitment consultant who asjed generic questions such as why recruitment and what are my goals etc. Then I was invited to…


    First was an initial phone interview where I was challenged on my reasons for wanting the job and my skills and competencies. Other things discussed was my current situation (university, living…


    Started in a group introduction where I had to do a 30 on the spot in "welcoming" of myself to the other candidates and interviewers. Then a 3 min interview with…


    Initial telephone interview was first carried out, followed by an invitation to attend the assessment centre. Here, we did various exercises, first an elevator pitch, followed by a paired exercise, then…


    After applying for the recruitment consultant position online, I received a telephone call a few weeks later. It was a quick phone conversation, ultimately asking why recruitment and why the Allegis…


    4 stage Interview processes Stage 1 -Phone interview with internal recruiter, following the successful phone interview.... Stage 2 -I was invited to their London HQ for a face to face interview…


    THe first interview was via the phone, asking why you want to go into recruitment and what motivates you. You're then given lots of information about the company which comes in…


    Initial telephone interview lasted about 20 minutes with one of the higher ups in the graduate recruitment team. I was asked what attracted to me the role, my skills, strengths and…


    Following initial phone conversations with the recruiter, a face-to-face was arranged with the client company. This interview was a 'traditional' one-to-one format with one of their senior managers. It started off…


    Obviously, as with any other company, the first thing I have done was to send my CV and cover Letter. I then received a call from one of their recruiters just…

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