Graduate trainee job description

As a graduate or trainee in recruitment, you'll be learning how to be the intermediary between organisations wishing to recruit (the client) and people seeking a career move or temporary assignment (the candidate).

It's primarily a sales role, and offers great rewards for those that get impressive results.



So, what will I actually be doing?

Your role will include things like:

  • Amending applicant's CVs
  • Obtaining references 
  • Researching
  • Taking incoming calls and questions
  • Maintaining the company database
  • Organising consultant's schedules

By shadowing more experienced staff, you'll learn on the job and pick up valuable knowledge to help you on your career path.

You could work within an employment agency, where you could specialise in recruiting for a particular industry - say, IT or engineering. Or, you could work in-house within the human resources department of a company, and recruit for internal positions.

You could be dealing with permanent, contract and temporary placements, and finding suitable candidates at a range of different levels.

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The finer details...

Your hours will likely run Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm. Although the role is mainly desk-based, you'll get to meet clients and candidates both on and off site.

There are thousands of recruitment agencies in the United Kingdom. And they all deal with different industries and specalisms in the job market. If you're interested in a particular field, or your expertise lies in a specific area, there are many opportunities to drill down to this level of detail with your work as a resourcer.

If you start your recruitment career in a general agency, without focusing on a specialist field, you can transfer your skills over if you decide to follow a more structure path.

With experience, and typically with larger companies, the potential to move up the career ladder can feel more structured. Promotion into a consultancy, business development or management role is a real possibility - especially if you're consistently delivering, or exceeding, targets and making a big impression on clients and candidates alike.

Or if you prefer the idea of going solo, then you could choose to set up your own agency.

Money, money, money

As a graduate your basic salary would range between £15,000 and £18,000 a year.

Once experienced as a consultant your salary could increase to between £20,000 and £40,000, depending on the organisation, plus commission.

At senior levels this rate can exceed £50,000 and jobs in London will tend to offer higher salaries.

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The good points...

With more experience comes the opportunity to get more involved, interviewing and selecting candidates and working directly with clients.

...and the bad

Typically, when you first start out you'll be tasked with basic administrative work which can seem tedious.

Is there study involved?

More and more employers are hiring graduates, in particular for executive placements, so a relevant degree would be an advantage. Alternatively, if your degree is in an unrelated subject, there are a number of courses you can take to add to your qualifications.

Experience is always an advantage, even if you've completed temporary or contract work in personnel, sales or an office during your studies.

Joining a large agency, you're likely to find in-house training programmes to give you the skills you need to progress on your career path. These may include a combination of on-the-job training and courses run by the recruitment agency staff themselves. External courses are also popular and plentiful, and are generally run by the industry body Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).

The REC offers two awards, available through distance learning:

The Foundation Award in Recruitment Practice: Ideal for the first two years in the industry, or if you wish to refresh basic knowledge and skills. If you want to embark on a career in recruitment or set up your own agency, you could also take the Award.

The Certificate in Recruitment Practice:
With at least one years' experience, you can go for the Certificate; or if you have less experience, but have studied for A levels/H grades, a degree or equivalent.The REC also offers a range of professional development short courses covering subjects such as sales, interview techniques, employment law, finance and management.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development offers a Certificate in Recruitment and Selection too, available through distance learning, plus a range of professional development short courses in interviewing techniques, employment law and psychometric testing.

An NVQ/SVQ Level 3 in Recruitment Consultancy is another option to think about.

OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?

To be a good graduate or trainee in recruitment, you must:

  • Have good communication skills
  • Be able to gain people's confidence and put them at ease
  • Be persuasive, persistent and patient
  • Look smart
  • Be able to cope with pressure
  • Be flexible and adaptable
  • Have a mature personality
  • Have good organisational and administrative skills
  • Have the ability to prioritise
  • Have good IT skills
  • Be able to work to deadlines


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