The honest truth about starting out in recruitment

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5 mins
Updated: 2nd May, 2021

I got myself into over £40K worth of debt before becoming a recruiter.

How, you ask? Simple – by spending three years of my life studying a degree under the impression that it’d leave me in a great position to pursue a career. Although that impression was (technically) accurate, I never once planned to become a recruiter – I didn’t even know that recruiters existed.

But that’s the thing about going to university, right? It seems that almost everyone goes through these depressive periods of doubt about what they’d like to do with their life post-degree. If we take a study conducted in 2015 (by ‘Allaboutcareers.com’) on over 37,000 undergrads across 1500 universities worldwide, the results showed that at least 52% of students either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement of: “I have no idea what I want to do with my career”.

If you are, like I was, one of the 52% then I have some super exciting news for you – you’re a recruitment company’s dream! With the promise of earning an unbelievable amount of (‘uncapped’) cash/commission (to buy a sexy new Porsche to overcompensate), getting private jets to Ibiza (lads on tour oi oi!) and the sexiest of designer watches (to flex on a night out to attract your future/husband wife, I think?), why wouldn’t everyone want to be a recruiter!?

The answer is simple – recruitment is hard. In most interviews, you’ll be promised the world and more (some listed above which, by the way, are all cringe as hell) without being told the honest truth about what it’s like to start a career in recruitment...

So here it is...

The top five things to typically expect in your first year of recruitment

1. An OTE between £22k – £35k

Anything more than that is incredibly rare.

2. A tough work-life balance

You’ll be working 10 hour days in most cases.

3. Constant rejection

The consistent feeling of being heartbroken by receiving an endless amount of rejections from what’ll feel like everyone you speak to on the daily. 

4. A training plan that throws you in the deep end

After the first 1-3 months, you'll be set KPI’s that seem so unattainable, it’ll leave you feeling dead inside.  

5. Alcohol

Take it from me, after dealing with the previous 4 points you’re going to need to blow off steam and drown your sorrows. So be prepared to get embarrassingly drunk in front of your workmates. You'll get overly excited to be going out for free drinks because your depressingly low base salary is barely keeping you afloat renting in central London.

"By now you should (I hope) be getting the impression that your first year in recruitment sucks..."

and also asking yourself the question “well Reece, why the hell are you still in recruitment if the job is that shitty?”. Luckily, I have some good news for you! Recruitment gets better. Way better, in fact.

"Recruitment is an endurance game"

Like most careers, when you start out it’s really tough. But, and this is a big but (and I cannot lie – sorry I couldn’t resist), if you can get through the first year of serious graft and deal with the emotional lows that you never thought existed, then this job actually gets pretty damn good.

The reason why I decided to pursue this career was that I wanted to

  1. Earn a tonne of money
  2. Work in a meritocratic industry where I could get out from it what I put in.

In other words, I didn’t want to be stuck on an average graduate salary and not be in control of how much I could earn. Recruitment is, without a doubt, one of the best jobs for this.

I’ve now been in recruitment since 2016 and in the past year alone I’ve had multiple monthly pay cheques over £10,000, 3 all-expenses-paid-holidays and I’ve met some of the best (and smartest) people I’ll ever meet in my life. Now don’t get me wrong, recruitment can still suck some days/weeks, but you’ve got to take the highs with the lows and just get through it with a level head.

So, what am I trying to say with this ridiculously long article?

Put simply: recruitment can be the best job one day and the worst job the next day so, if you’re like me (and you have no clue what to do with your life after uni), all I’d suggest is that you do your own research and, for the love of God, please don’t believe that this job isn’t one of the hardest things you’ll do.

"After all, why would we be able to earn “a tonne of uncapped cash” if this job wasn’t incredibly bloody difficult?"

If you still think recruitment is for you, then pick somewhere that will give you an environment with great people and have some awesome experiences.  These are critical in making it as easy as possible to get through the shit!

- Reece Warren, Team Lead and Senior Engineering Consultant at Few&Far

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