Recruitment/employment agency consultants are responsible for finding permanent and temporary work for candidates, and helping organisations fill their job vacancies.
Any organisation that needs assistance to find specialised staff, wants to fill a vacancy quickly or does not have the internal resources to recruit themselves may use a recruitment/employment agency consultant. Consultancies charge organisations a flat fee or a percentage of the candidate's salary in return for filling their vacancies.
The recruitment process consists of:
Depending on the size and the type of the agency or consultancy, recruitment consultants may focus on developing new business or providing an account management service to existing clients. There may be separate recruitment teams to deal with permanent and temporary jobs.
The role is very varied, and may include:
Recruitment consultants tend to work long hours, Monday to Friday. They often have to interview and call potential candidates outside of core business hours. It is possible to work on a part-time, flexitime or job share basis, although these options tend to be limited.
The role is split between the office and going on client visits. A lot of time is spent on the telephone, interviewing candidates, and using a computer.
Some recruitment and employment companies provide a car, mobile telephone and laptop computer.
Smart casual or business dress is normally expected and a driving licence may be very useful.
Starting salaries, without commission or bonuses, may be between £14,000 and £20,000 a year.
Nearly 100,000 people work in recruitment. Opportunities with national, regional and small, independent recruitment consultancies exist throughout the UK.
Agencies may specialise in recruitment for particular employment sectors, for example law, accountancy, secretarial work or nursing. There are also internet-based job agencies, undertaking all of their recruitment activities over the internet.
Vacancies may be found through local and national newspapers. It is also worth approaching agencies directly, as they are often looking for new, suitable candidates. Jobs are advertised on websites such as www.totaljobs.com, www.jobserve.co.uk and www.fish4jobs.co.uk.
Because of the nature of the work this is a career not normally open to school leavers. The normal minimum age for course entry is about 21, although some colleges accept younger entrants. In Northern Ireland the principal route to professional qualification in Youth Work and Community Work is through the DipHE Community Youth Work course at the University of Ulster. This is a two-year programme with an optional additional year to complete a degree.
There are no formal entry requirements, although employers are likely to ask for five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), including English and maths.
Many recruitment agencies have graduate entry programmes. Most degree subjects are acceptable.
Entry to a degree course is usually with a minimum of two A levels/three H grades and five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), or the equivalent. Entry requirements may vary, so candidates should check with individual colleges or universities. Courses usually last three or four years, full time.
Candidates with experience of working in human resources (HR), sales or customer services, or within the particular employment sector they are interested in recruiting for, may be at an advantage.
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the trade association for the UK's private recruitment industry, offers recruitment training courses and nationally recognised industry qualifications, including the:
Certificate in Recruitment Practice (CertRP), which includes modules on recruitment processes, essential legislation, client development and candidate management.
Diploma in Recruitment Practice (DipRP), a specialist distance-learning qualification suitable for anyone involved in finding, assessing and selecting staff.
Once qualified, students are eligible to apply for full membership of the REC and use the letters CertRP or DipRP after their names.
The REC also supports higher-level programmes, including the Degree in Recruitment Practice, offered through Middlesex University Business School, and the Certificate in Company Direction, offered through the Institute of Directors. The REC website has further details.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) supports an NVQ/SVQ at Level 3 in Recruitment.
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A recruitment/employment agency consultant should:
Career progression is based on sales results, managerial potential and experience.
Promotion is normally from trainee or junior level to consultant, then senior or executive consultant and office or branch manager. With some recruitment consultancies there may be the opportunity to work on a regional or national basis.
With experience, recruitment consultants may decide to open their own agency, become self-employed or move into human resources, sales or marketing.
Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD),
151 The Broadway, London SW19 1JQ
Tel: 020 8612 6200
Institute of Directors (IOD),
116 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5ED
Tel: 020 7839 1233
Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC),
15 Welbeck Street, London W1G 9XT
Tel: 020 7009 2100
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.