5 Ways to Survive Your First Six Months as a Rookie Recruiter

The recruitment career path is certainly a rewarding one, being able to connect clients with their ideal candidates, and connecting candidates with their ideal jobs.

In the beginning everything was daunting, being spat out of university and told to find a job where I would soon learn I would either sink or swim was something that truly scared me. Could I do this? Was I ready? How was I going to prepare myself for the daunting new world of full-time employment especially one as demanding, high pressured and fast paced as recruitment.

Over the past six months I have hit highs and I have hit lows, I have made mistakes (plenty), I have learnt a lot, I still have a lot to learn, I have hit barriers, I’ve had set backs, some days I wonder what the hell I am doing and other days I get an overwhelming feeling of success and happiness as I know I have chosen a career that I love and that I am learning to be great at.

Through my many mistakes I have slowly learnt ways to keep myself afloat within this industry and my organisation.

I’m learning to swim……. But for now, I’m still doggy paddling.

#1 Join an organisation that is ready to support you

By joining an organisation that is willing to put in the time, effort and resources to teach you everything that your HR degree didn’t, is something invaluable. Being able to start off your career in an organisation full of colleagues and a great boss who are there to catch you before you go under, makes coming to work every day so much easier and the fear of failure soon disappears. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by experienced professionals who are willing to be there when I fall, pick me up and brush me off and show me the best way to fix the mess I have just made.  If you don’t have the luxury of this then seek out a colleague within your organisation that you can use as a mentor, someone who is happy to assist you and give you advice when you need it. I have learnt in the last six months that one of the best resources you can have in the industry of recruitment is ‘Human Resource’ colleagues around you who are there to support you, push you and teach you as you learn the ropes of the recruitment industry.

#2 Listen and Learn

As millennials we are not great listeners, we are young and full of confidence and sometimes we even believe that we know everything. Take a step back and have a look around, you are most likely the youngest employee in the organisation with the least experience. Being able to listen to what your boss or colleague is telling you, explaining to you and trying to teach you is one of the most important things you can do as a rookie recruiter. Your boss or colleague isn’t telling you these things because he or she likes the sound of their own voice, they are telling you these things because they have been in your shoes, they have started from the bottom and worked themselves up to where they stand today. My advice to you would be to take in everything they have to say and try and put it into action

LEARN! Learning is so important to succeeding in recruitment. In the first six months, ask as many questions as you can, learn from not only your mistakes but also those around you who make mistakes (yes, even the most experienced recruiters still make mistakes). Ask your boss about participating in short training programs, training days, follow experienced recruiters in the industry on LinkedIn and read what they have to say.  I’ll tell you a secret: you will never stop learning and you will never know everything, so I encourage you to listen and learn as much as you can every day. The best way to learn is to be a sponge of information.

#3 Learn from your mistakes

We all make mistakes, we are all human and it is inevitable that we are going to make mistakes whether it is saying the wrong thing, not following the exact procedure or promising something you can’t deliver (yes, all mistakes I have made). Mistakes unfortunately happen, the first few that you make will send you into a complete and utter frenzy, you will feel helpless and you will probably be at a loss on how to fix it. When you make a mistake ASK FOR HELP! Although it may feel like the end of the world in that very moment it isn’t! Often there is always a solution to the problem, you just don’t know it yet. Ask those more experienced around you for help, trust that they will know how to help you and remember you don’t need to do it alone. This might sound crazy, but the more mistakes that you make in your first six months that you learn from and can put reminders or actions in place to stop from happening again, will help you survive your first six months as a rookie recruiter and will ultimately make you a better recruiter in the years to come.

#4 Be resilient 

Resilience is something that you NEED to be able to survive your first six months of being a rookie recruiter. Resilience is also something that you need to have to be able to survive a career in recruitment. Being a recruiter means that you will frequently be thrown curve balls. As a recruiter you will learn you can’t trust everyone you meet. Candidates will let you down, flake at the last minute, not show up for an interview, ring with nasty things to say and possibly take another job over the one you are offering them. Clients will take forever to get back to you, ask for you to fill a job and then at the last minute decide they don’t need the job filled, they will decide to go with another agency’s candidates, they will call and tell you exactly what they think of you and your work if they’re not happy and you will lose the job and they will try their best to make your job hard. Competitors will frustrate you, they will beat you to filling a job, take jobs away from you and steal your clients and candidates. The recruitment industry can be a nasty place, a war ground of career growth, change and competition. How do you deal with all of this …? You become resilient. These things WILL happen, keep your head high, move onto the next role and continue to persist. You will have set backs and I encourage you to learn from them and move onto the next role. Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficulties and tough situations. I learnt quickly that this is what we do every day as recruiters.

#5 LOVE what you do

Without passion and love for recruitment you will not succeed, and you won’t be happy. If you’re not happy you won’t be good at your job. To be a great recruiter you must love what you do, enjoy the hectic madness of what each day brings you, love being under the pump, enjoy the unknown and thrive on a challenge. Recruitment is a constant challenge of reading people, asking the right questions, finding the right candidate and most importantly pleasing the client. The thing I love most about recruitment is the satisfaction you get from being able to assist a candidate in finding the perfect role for them whether it is an entry level position, a career change, a stepping stone or their dream job. It’s about seeing the happiness in the candidate after you give them the offer, when they thank you for your help or even when they go above and beyond to send you flowers to say thank you (this is yet to happen to me, but my fingers are crossed).  Having passion and love for what you do every day as a recruiter is what helps you get out of bed in the morning and enjoy going to work. Life is too short to do something you don’t love, so find what you love and be GREAT at it.

Over the last six months I have learnt a lot more than just five ways to continue to survive in this industry, but I believe the ones above are the most important. These five ways to survive your first six months are the things that get me through the tough days and make me enjoy every day.  These five steps are what have helped me swim in this industry, in this organisation and as a temp consultant. These five ways to survive the first six months are what I always go back to and make sure I am doing when I am having a tough day or when I think the industry is about to sink me as a recruiter. Being a rookie recruiter is not easy, you must work with people who are more senior than you and it can be hard to get them to trust you, trust that you know what you are doing and that you can find the perfect candidate for their organisation. It is dealing with a diverse range of candidates, a diverse variety of jobs that require different skills and pre-requisites. Being a rookie recruiter is exciting, intimidating, nerve-racking and scary. You have someone’s possible livelihood in your hands. We may not be able to heal people, fix people or make people better but we are career doctors in our own right.

The last bit of advice I have to all the rookie recruiters out there doing it tough in their first six months is be confident but not too confident, be brave but take calculated risks, take initiative but be prepared to hit setbacks, work to your strengths and build new strengths , do it for yourself and no one else, do what you love not what you hate, listen and learn ALWAYS, make mistakes and create solutions, ask questions but investigate answers and most importantly be resilient, persistent and never give up.

By Matilda Hubbard

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