This is a response to a recent comment I received – thought it was worth posting the reply I e-mailed to her:

She said: How can I break into the recruiting field? There doesn’t seem to be a path to follow. It’s my main interest, and I’m not sure how to go about it.

I started working in HR about three months ago, where I do some support work for recruiting, and I’ve started a resume-writing business and blog. I’m also working in a bookstore, which will give me a background in sales to add to the HR experience. (Recruiters seem to have sales background.) All of this comes in addition to my 10+ years of experience as a newspaper journalist. I’m hoping that in two years or so that I’ll have enough HR/sales/resume-writing experience to land a recruiting job. Am I doing enough? What do hiring managers want to see from recruiting candidates? 

And, he said:

First off, you need to determine if you want corporate or third-party recruiting (headhunting, in funner terms).  If it’s the corporate side, then you’ll need to put your time in, but make sure that they know you’re interested in recruiting – see if they’ll let you get involved with sourcing new candidates.  With a background in journalism, that type of research should be a snap for you.  It’s also one of the less sexy aspects of recruiting (to some) so you’ll likely find that your company’s recruiter is happy to let you take a swing at it.

If you’re looking to dive into recruiting, you’ll probably find it’s easier than you think to get an agency job, particularly with the journalism background: recruiting and journalism overlap a lot, actually – both require great communication skills, persistence, an investigative mind-set, and the ability to quickly build rapport with a stranger.   Several of the most successful agency recruiters I know started out as journalists.  The plus here is that you can dive right into recruiting, and the experience you’ll get working with a diverse client base and a broad swath of candidates can make the leap into corporate recruiting easier.  There’s nothing like agency experience to instill you with a sense of urgency when it comes to finding the best candidate for a role.  The down side is that most agency recruiting roles are full commission-type sales roles, and you’ll live or die by your success.

I’d recommend trying the agency side our for a bit, but make sure you have some way of living for the first few months until your commission checks start rolling in.  Even with a draw, the first two or three months can get tight financially – the upside is that you can do very, very well for yourself once you ramp up.

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