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What is a Recruiter and How to Become One

By Ajoke Aminu


Are you intrigued by the prospect of matching talent with opportunity but unsure where to start?

The path to becoming a recruiter often seems clouded with uncertainty, from understanding the recruiter job description to mastering the necessary recruiter skills. This article demystifies the process, guiding you through every step towards becoming a recruiter, including insights into the recruiter salary and a deep dive into what exactly a recruiter does.

Career Summary

Recruiter Salary

Recruiter Salary

As of 2024, the recruiter salary in the United States exhibits a wide range due to various factors including job sector, location, experience level, and the specific type of recruiting role.

On average, a recruiter’s annual salary can vary significantly from entry-level to senior positions: 

  • Entry: US$52K
  • Median: US$69K
  • Senior: US$90K

The salary range for recruiters generally positions it above the national average income of US citizens at $59,428 according to Forbes, categorizing it as a mid to high-income salary.

What is a Recruiter?

A recruiter is a professional who specializes in finding qualified candidates for job openings. They act as intermediaries between employers seeking to fill positions and potential employees, handling various aspects of the hiring process. Their role involves identifying and reaching out to candidates, assessing their suitability for roles, and facilitating the interview and hiring processes to meet the needs of both parties involved.

What does a Recruiter do?

A recruiter is responsible for sourcing, screening, and selecting qualified candidates for job openings within an organization. They collaborate with hiring managers to understand the requirements of the role, create job descriptions, and develop effective recruitment strategies. Recruiters use various methods to attract candidates, such as posting job ads, searching online databases, and networking. They review resumes, conduct interviews, assess candidate skills and qualifications, conduct reference checks, and present top candidates to hiring managers. Throughout the process, recruiters provide a positive candidate experience, maintain communication with candidates and stakeholders, and ensure compliance with hiring regulations and policies.

Recruiter Career Progression

Here’s a career progression roadmap for recruiters:

  • Recruiting Coordinator/Assistant: Entry-level position responsible for administrative tasks in the recruitment process, such as scheduling interviews and managing candidate databases.
  • Junior Recruiter: Assists in sourcing and screening candidates, conducts initial interviews, and may specialize in specific roles or departments.
  • Recruiter: Executes end-to-end recruitment processes, including sourcing, interviewing, and negotiating offers. Develops relationships with hiring managers and candidates.
  • Senior Recruiter: Manages complex recruitment projects, mentors junior team members, and collaborates with leadership to define hiring strategies aligned with business goals.
  • Recruitment Team Lead/Manager: Leads a team of recruiters, sets targets, and ensures the team meets hiring objectives. Provides guidance, training, and support to team members.
  • Recruitment Director: Oversees recruitment operations, develops recruitment strategies, and collaborates with senior management to align hiring with organizational objectives. May also manage employer branding initiatives.
  • Head of Talent Acquisition: Leads the entire talent acquisition function, including recruitment, employer branding, and workforce planning. Shapes the organization’s talent acquisition strategy and ensures alignment with overall business strategy.
  • Chief Talent Officer/Chief People Officer: At the executive level, oversees all aspects of talent management, including recruitment, retention, and development. Shapes organizational culture and ensures the alignment of talent strategies with broader business goals.
Recruiter Career Progression

Best Aspects of Working as a Recruiter 

  • The opportunity to make a significant impact on individuals’ careers and organizational success.
  • The dynamic nature of the role, with diverse tasks and challenges.
  • High demand for skilled recruiters across various industries.
  • Potential for high earning, especially in sectors with hard-to-fill roles.
  • Opportunities for growth and development within the human resources field.

Worst Aspects of Working as a Recruiter 

  • High-pressure environment with targets and deadlines.
  • The challenge of balancing the expectations of candidates and hiring companies.
  • Constant need to adapt to changing job markets and recruitment technologies.
  • Emotional toll of managing rejections and disappointments.
  • Competitive landscape, especially within popular industries or for high-profile roles.

Useful Skills to Have as a Recruiter 

  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to negotiate and persuade.
  • Detail-oriented with strong organizational abilities.
  • Proficiency in using recruiting software and social media platforms.
  • Adaptability and problem-solving skills.

Popular Recruiter Specialties

  • Corporate Recruiter
  • Agency Recruiter
  • Executive Search Recruiter
  • Technical Recruiter
  • Healthcare Recruiter

How to Become a Recruiter

Recruiter 5 Steps to Career


Do I Need a Degree to Become a Recruiter?

Traditionally, you would need a degree to become a recruiter. A bachelor’s degree in Human Resources or related fields is recommended for building a solid foundation in recruitment. Still, there are other conventional ways that don’t require pursuing a degree. At the end of the day, it depends on the company and the requirements in their recruiter job description

For instance, some large companies may require a college degree. Meanwhile, medium-sized companies may be more susceptible to hiring a No Experience Recruiter without a degree—allowing candidates with a related background and adaptable skills to excel in the role. 

Taking these points into account, it’s possible to break into the industry without a degree; however, advancing within the field will likely require one. 

Why is it Important to Get a Degree as a Recruiter?

Getting a degree can be important for a recruiter for several reasons, including:

  • Enhanced Knowledge Base: A degree, especially in fields like human resources, psychology, or business, provides foundational knowledge that can be directly applicable to recruitment processes, such as understanding organizational behavior, employment law, and effective communication strategies.
  • Credibility with Clients and Candidates: Having a degree can increase a recruiter’s credibility. It signals a commitment to the profession and can make clients and candidates more confident in the recruiter’s abilities.
  • Competitive Edge: In a competitive job market, having a degree can set a recruiter apart from others who do not have similar educational backgrounds. This can be particularly important when applying for positions in large organizations or highly specialized industries.
  • Professional Development: The process of earning a degree often helps develop critical skills such as problem-solving, time management, and analytical thinking, which are valuable in any career but particularly in recruitment where evaluating candidates and managing multiple hiring processes is key.
  • Networking Opportunities: College or university programs offer opportunities to meet professionals in the field, whether through internships, alumni networks, or professional associations. These connections can be invaluable as a recruiter seeks to expand their network of candidates and clients.
  • Access to Resources: Higher education institutions often provide access to the latest research, tools, and technologies related to human resources and recruitment. This can keep a recruiter at the forefront of best practices and industry trends.
  • Career Advancement: Holding a degree can be a prerequisite for advancement into senior roles within many organizations, and ultimately earning a more attractive recruiter salary. It may also open up opportunities for a broader range of positions within the human resources field.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Human Resources Management Degree?

Here’s an overview of what to expect in terms of duration and requirements for obtaining a Human Resources Management degree:

  • Duration for Full-time Students: Typically, a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management can be completed in three to four years if pursued full-time. This is the standard duration for most bachelor’s programs across various universities and online platforms.
  • Program Duration Variability: While the conventional duration is four years, some programs offer accelerated options that could shorten this time. However, part-time students might take longer than the standard period to complete their degrees.
  • Advancement: For those looking to advance more quickly in their HR careers, pursuing a master’s degree in HR might be a viable option to accelerate the process, although this would take two more years after obtaining a bachelor’s degree.

How Much Does it Cost to Study Human Resource Management at University?

Bachelor’s degree programs can cost anywhere from US$10,000 to US$26,000 per year, depending on your residential status. Online bachelor’s degrees in human resources present a more affordable option, with some degrees reportedly available for under US$14,000 in total

Master’s degrees in Human Resource Management also exhibit a range of tuition fees. The Georgetown University program lists its total tuition cost at US$51,909. However, this figure does not necessarily represent all master’s programs, as costs can fluctuate based on the credit requirements and the institution’s pricing. 

It’s essential for prospective students to thoroughly research and consider all financial aspects of their chosen program, including tuition, fees, books, and living expenses. Financial aid, scholarships, and in-state tuition discounts (for public universities) can significantly affect the overall cost of obtaining a degree in Human Resource Management.

Can I Become a Recruiter through Online Education?

Yes, you can become a recruiter through online education. A recruiter certification is a professional credential certifying your skills and ability to recruit employees, suggesting that obtaining such a certification, even online, can be a substantial step towards establishing yourself in the field.

The Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR) provides globally recognized recruiter training courses, offering another avenue for aspiring recruiters to gain in-demand skills online. Such platforms are dedicated to transforming careers in recruitment by providing comprehensive online training. With a variety of courses, certifications, and degrees available online, individuals can acquire the skills and knowledge needed for a successful career in recruitment from the comfort of their homes.

What are Some Web Resources to Learn Recruiter Skills?

Here are some web resources to help you learn the recruiter skills necessary to become a successful recruiter:

  • Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM): SHRM is a renowned professional organization that offers a wealth of resources for HR professionals, including recruiters. Their website provides access to articles, webcasts, templates, and research papers on various aspects of recruitment, talent acquisition, and HR best practices.
  • LinkedIn Talent Solutions: LinkedIn Talent Solutions is a dedicated platform for recruiters. Their website offers a range of resources, including guides, webinars, and blog articles, focused on recruitment strategies, sourcing techniques, employer branding, and leveraging LinkedIn’s features for effective talent acquisition.
  • Recruiting Daily: Recruiting Daily is an industry-leading website that covers a wide range of topics in recruitment and talent acquisition. They provide articles, podcasts, webinars, and expert insights on sourcing, candidate experience, employer branding, recruitment technology, and industry trends.
  • ERE Media: ERE Media is an online community and resource hub for recruiters. Their website offers a wealth of content, including articles, webinars, and forums, covering the latest trends, technologies, and strategies in recruitment. They also host events and conferences that provide opportunities for networking and professional development.
  • is a comprehensive platform for recruiters and HR professionals. Their website offers a range of resources, including articles, training courses, job boards, and a network of industry experts. It covers topics such as recruitment strategies, interview techniques, candidate assessment, and building a successful recruiting career.
  • The Staffing Stream: The Staffing Stream is a blog platform that features articles and expert opinions from industry professionals. It covers a wide range of topics related to staffing and recruitment, including sourcing strategies, candidate engagement, workforce trends, and leadership development.

Practical Experience

What are Internship Opportunities for a Recruiter?

Below are brief descriptions of various types of internships in recruitment, each offering a distinct learning experience that can pave the way for a successful career in this rewarding field.

  • Talent Acquisition Internship: This internship provides practical experience in the entire recruitment cycle, from sourcing and screening to interviewing candidates, offering a comprehensive understanding of talent acquisition strategies.
  • HR Internship: An HR Internship offers a broad overview of human resources functions, with a focus on recruitment processes. Interns learn about job postings, candidate evaluation, and the integration of new hires into a company.
  • Recruitment Agency Internship: Working at a recruitment agency, interns assist in matching candidates with client needs, learning about various industries and the specifics of external recruitment processes.
  • Corporate Recruiting Internship: This position allows interns to understand the nuances of recruiting within a single organization, focusing on internal hiring needs, company culture, and long-term HR strategies.
  • Technology Recruiting Internship: Specializing in tech roles, this internship involves learning about the recruiter skills and qualifications specific to the tech industry, staying abreast of industry trends, and understanding the unique demands of recruiting in the tech sector.
  • Diversity and Inclusion Internship: Interns focus on implementing recruitment practices that enhance workplace diversity and inclusivity, learning about strategies to attract a diverse pool of candidates and promote an inclusive culture.
  • Campus Recruiting Internship: Assist with the organization and execution of campus recruitment events and programs, aiming to attract young, entry-level talent directly from colleges and universities.
  • Remote Recruiting Internship: This internship focuses on virtual recruitment techniques, including remote interviews and digital onboarding processes, reflecting the growing importance of remote work in today’s job market.
  • Employer Branding Internship: Support efforts to improve an organization’s image as an employer, working on initiatives that enhance the company’s appeal to potential candidates through various channels.
  • Social Media Recruiting Internship: Gain expertise in using social media platforms like LinkedIn and X for talent sourcing, employer branding, and engaging with potential candidates in innovative ways.

What Recruiter Skills Do I Need?

Naturally, you will need a diverse set of recruiter skills that are essential for success in the field. These skills encompass both technical expertise and interpersonal abilities.

Here are some key skills you can expect to learn and develop as a recruiter:

  • Sourcing and Talent Acquisition: Recruiters need to be skilled in sourcing and attracting top talent. You will learn various techniques to identify qualified candidates, including using job boards, social media platforms, and networking. Additionally, you will develop skills in conducting effective candidate searches, screening resumes, and evaluating candidates fit for specific roles.
  • Candidate Assessment and Interviewing: Assessing candidates’ skills, qualifications, and cultural fit is a crucial aspect of recruitment. You will learn how to design and conduct effective interviews, ask insightful questions, and evaluate candidates based on their responses. Additionally, you will develop skills in using assessment tools, conducting reference checks, and administering pre-employment tests.
  • Communication and Relationship Building: Strong communication skills are vital for recruiters. You will learn how to effectively communicate with candidates, hiring managers, and other stakeholders throughout the recruitment process. This includes active listening, conveying information clearly, and maintaining professional and respectful interactions. Building relationships with candidates and keeping them engaged throughout the hiring process is also a key skill that you will develop.
  • Data Analysis and Reporting: Recruiters increasingly rely on data to make informed decisions and optimize their recruitment strategies. You will learn how to collect and analyze recruitment data, such as candidate metrics, sourcing channels, and time-to-fill. This will help you identify areas for improvement, track recruitment metrics, and provide data-driven insights to stakeholders.
  • Negotiation and Offer Management: As a recruiter, you will often be responsible for negotiating job offers and managing the offer acceptance process. You will develop skills in understanding candidate motivations, negotiating compensation and benefits packages, and managing candidate expectations. Effective negotiation and offer management ensure a positive candidate experience and successful placements.
  • Compliance and Legal Knowledge: Recruiters must have a solid understanding of employment laws and regulations to ensure fair and ethical recruitment practices. You will learn about equal employment opportunity, anti-discrimination laws, and other legal considerations in recruitment. This knowledge is vital for ensuring compliance and avoiding potential legal issues.

What is the Work-life Balance of a Recruiter? 

Recruiters often face high-pressure environments due to the need to meet hiring quotas, tight deadlines, and the competitive nature of sourcing top talent. This can lead to long hours and the necessity of being available outside of traditional work hours to communicate with candidates who may have their own work during the day.

According to a report by SHRM, talent acquisition specialists rank highly in terms of work/life balance satisfaction, with a rating of 4.0 out of 5, indicating that despite the pressures, many recruiters find ways to maintain a satisfactory balance between their professional and personal lives. This satisfaction can stem from the flexibility often found in recruiting roles, where the outcomes—filling a position with the right candidate—are more critical than adhering to a strict schedule.

However, the work-life balance can differ markedly between agency recruiters and internal recruiters. Agency recruiters may experience more variability in their workload, as it can be tied closely to the fluctuating demands of their clients. This can sometimes result in periods of intense work followed by slower periods. On the other hand, internal recruiters may have a more steady workload but still face pressure to fill positions quickly to avoid operational disruptions within their organization. 

While the role of a recruiter is inherently demanding, many professionals in this field successfully manage to achieve a good work-life balance. The satisfaction derived from matching the right candidate with the right job, along with the flexibility often afforded by the profession, contributes to this balance. However, the extent to which a recruiter enjoys work-life harmony can depend greatly on their specific employment context and their personal strategies for managing stress and workload.

What’s the Career Outlook for a Recruiter?

The career outlook for recruiters is notably positive, reflecting a growing demand for skilled professionals in this field over the next decade. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of human resources specialists, which includes recruiters, is calculated to increase by 6% from 2022 to 2032, indicating a faster-than-average growth rate compared to all other professions. This growth is attributed to the ongoing need for organizations to recruit and retain talent in a competitive job market.

Furthermore, LinkedIn’s analysis supports these findings by showing that recruiter job openings reached a three-year high in January 2022, increasing 4.35 times over January 2019. Although there was a slight downturn, the overall trend underscores the significant demand for recruiters, buoyed by global hiring needs.

Taken together, these insights paint a bright future for individuals considering a career in recruitment. The profession is set to experience healthy growth across various sectors, driven by the critical need for talent acquisition and management in an ever-evolving job market.

Recruiter Popular Career Specialties

What are the Job Opportunities of a Recruiter?

As a recruiter, you can explore a variety of job opportunities across different industries and sectors.

Here are some common job opportunities for recruiters:

  • In-house Recruiter: Many organizations have internal recruitment teams dedicated to sourcing and hiring talent for their own company. As an in-house recruiter, you would work directly for the organization, collaborating with hiring managers and HR professionals to fill open positions within the company.
  • Recruitment Agency/Staffing Firm Recruiter: Recruitment agencies and staffing firms specialize in providing recruitment services to external clients. As a recruiter in this setting, you would work with multiple clients, sourcing and placing candidates in various industries and positions. This role often involves building strong relationships with clients and candidates, managing candidate pipelines, and coordinating the recruitment process.
  • Executive Recruiter: Executive recruiters, also known as headhunters, specialize in recruiting top-level executives for organizations. This role involves identifying and attracting senior-level candidates, conducting extensive candidate research and market analysis, and managing the executive search process. Executive recruiters often work on confidential and high-profile searches.
  • Recruitment Consultant: Recruitment consultants work as independent contractors or freelancers, providing recruitment services on a project basis. They may work with multiple clients or organizations on short-term assignments, such as helping with specific recruitment campaigns, conducting candidate assessments, or providing expertise in niche areas of recruitment.
  • Campus Recruiter: Campus recruiters focus on attracting and hiring recent graduates and entry-level talent from colleges and universities. They often work for large organizations that have dedicated campus recruitment programs. This role involves building relationships with educational institutions, organizing campus events and job fairs, and managing the end-to-end recruitment process for entry-level positions.
  • Technical Recruiter: Technical recruiters specialize in sourcing and hiring candidates for technical roles, such as software developers, engineers, data analysts, or IT professionals. This role requires a deep understanding of technical skills, industry trends, and the ability to assess technical qualifications and fit for specific roles.
  • Healthcare Recruiter: Healthcare recruiters specialize in sourcing and hiring healthcare professionals, such as nurses, doctors, allied health professionals, or administrative staff, for healthcare organizations. This role requires knowledge of healthcare regulations and licensing requirements, and an understanding of the unique challenges and demands of the healthcare industry.
  • Remote/Virtual Recruiter: With the rise of remote work and virtual teams, there is a growing demand for recruiters who can work remotely. Remote recruiters use digital platforms and technology to source and engage with candidates, conduct virtual interviews, and manage the recruitment process from anywhere in the world.

What Type of Companies Hire a Recruiter?

Recruiters are in demand across a wide range of industries and sectors. Virtually any company that requires talent acquisition and hiring expertise may hire a recruiter.

Here are some types of companies that commonly hire recruiters:

  • Large Corporations: Many large corporations have dedicated in-house recruitment teams to handle their hiring needs. These companies may have a high volume of job openings and require recruiters to source, screen, and hire candidates for various positions within the organization.
  • Startups and Small Businesses: Startups and small businesses often rely on recruiters to help them build their teams from scratch or scale their workforce. Recruiters in these settings may have a broader range of responsibilities, including defining job requirements, sourcing candidates, and managing the entire recruitment process.
  • Recruitment Agencies and Staffing Firms: Recruitment agencies and staffing firms provide recruitment services to external clients across various industries. These companies specialize in sourcing and placing candidates for their clients’ job openings. Recruiters working in these agencies may have the opportunity to work with multiple clients and industries.
  • Consulting Firms: Consulting firms, including management consulting and IT consulting firms, may hire recruiters to support their talent acquisition needs. These recruiters often focus on finding candidates with specific skills and expertise to meet the requirements of their consulting projects.
  • Healthcare Organizations: Hospitals, medical centers, and healthcare facilities often have dedicated recruitment teams to hire healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals.
  • Technology Companies: Technology companies, including software development firms, IT services providers, and tech startups, frequently hire recruiters to find top tech talent. These recruiters often possess technical knowledge and expertise to understand the specific skill sets and qualifications required for technical roles.
  • Financial Institutions: Banks, investment firms, and other financial institutions often have recruitment teams to hire professionals in areas such as finance, accounting, banking, and risk management. Recruiters in these organizations may have specialized knowledge of the financial industry and the skills required for these roles.
  • Government Agencies: Government entities, such as federal, state, and local government agencies, may have their own recruitment teams to hire employees for various positions within the government sector. These recruiters often follow specific guidelines and regulations related to government hiring processes.
  • Nonprofit Organizations: Nonprofit organizations, including charitable organizations, NGOs, and advocacy groups, may hire recruiters to attract and hire talent to support their missions. Recruiters in the nonprofit sector may focus on finding candidates who align with the organization’s values and goals.

Should I Become a Recruiter?

It’s one thing to learn how to become a recruiter but deciding whether to pursue a career as a recruiter is a significant choice that warrants careful consideration and self-reflection. You must weigh the key points discussed, such as the recruiter job description, positive job outlook, the evolving nature of the role due to technological advancements, and the increasing focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion in hiring practices. These factors highlight the dynamic and impactful nature of the profession, offering a fulfilling career path for those aligned with its demands and rewards.

Equally important is an honest assessment of your personal interests, skills, and long-term career aspirations. Recruiting is a profession deeply rooted in communication, relationship-building, and strategic problem-solving. A passion for connecting with people, a knack for negotiation and persuasion, and an aptitude for adapting to new technologies and methodologies are crucial for success. Consider how these aspects match your strengths and areas of interest.

Lastly, think about your long-term goals and how a career in recruiting aligns with them. Whether you’re drawn to the prospect of shaping organizational cultures, driving business success through talent acquisition, the recruiter salary, or making a meaningful impact on individuals’ careers, it’s important that your career path resonates with your personal and professional aspirations. Taking the time to reflect on these considerations will help ensure that your decision to become a recruiter is informed, thoughtful, and aligned with your vision for the future.

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Ajoke Aminu

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