Recruitment and Talent Acquisition

Job snapshot

SALARY average:

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USD $49,000 GBP £25,000 cad $46,000 AUD $59,000

fixed or variable remuneration: Fixed and variable (Commission)

number of open jobs: 1,056,744+ jobs on ziprecruiter


The Role

What Recruiters Do

In-house recruiters help companies identify and acquire talented individuals to fill various roles throughout their organization. This typically means meeting with department heads and identifying which skills the ideal candidate must possess, creating job descriptions, marketing the role, and screening candidates. They often host on-site job fairs or attend networking events, and keep an active list of candidates who might be good matches for the company. They may work with candidates to prepare them for final interviews with department heads and execs, schedule ongoing rounds of interviews, and arrange travel for candidates when trying to fill certain roles.

It’s common for recruiters to be part of contract negotiations, to ensure the candidate and employer reach terms both are satisfied with. In-house recruiters will fill all vacancies for the company they serve, while those in independent firms may also have executive search professionals who exclusively find senior or executive personnel for companies.

Who would enjoy a career in Recruitment and Talent Acquisition?

Being a naturally social person helps, as networking and creating relationships with employers and developing a diverse candidate pool are essential components of the job. Negotiation skills, salesmanship, and having effective communication skills are import traits as well. Those with strong organizational and time-management skills will find it much easier to follow through with the various job duties too. Lastly, it’s important to be comfortable with technology. The career can be lucrative for top performers, so those who are motivated by money or financial return, but comfortable with variances in pay, are well suited to a recruitment role.

Who mightn't like the career?

People who lack resilience may struggle in the position, as employers may reject good matches or may set unrealistic expectations. The job can also be difficult for those who need a standard schedule, as job candidates and employers often need to speak outside traditional working hours. Lastly, pay is often dictated by placing employees, so fluctuations may cause some to seek positions with a more reliable salary.




There is not a single degree or career path that leads to a job in recruitment, nor are any certifications or licenses necessary. More often than not, people become a recruiter after working in an industry for an extended period of time and then transition into work as a recruiter for that industry. However, some firms prefer to hire people with backgrounds in business, public relations, marketing, or human resources. For further reading, see “Best Advice: To Recruiters Starting A Career In Recruiting” and “The Top 20 Reasons Why Recruiting Is an Exciting and High-Impact Job.”


It’s important to demonstrate tenacity when interviewing for a position, simply because those performing the interviews are adept recruiters. They know how to size up a candidate and may be more prone to asking challenging questions that may throw off the candidate to gauge real-world responses to stress.

As potential recruiters must be able to “sell” organizations on a particular candidate, interviewees must be prepared to sell themselves during the interview process. This means knowing their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as being capable of demonstrating how the agency will benefit from choosing him or her.

Moving into Recruitment and Talent Acquisition from another career

Virtually any career can transition into a career in recruitment, provided the individual has the additional sales, networking, marketing, and negotiation skills necessary to excel.

For further reading, see “Why you should quit your banking job and become a recruiter,” “From banking to a career in recruitment,” “Moving from teaching to recruitment,” and “A Second Career for Retired Military – Recruitment.” However, those coming in with a sales-based, public relations, marketing, or human resources background may have an easier time transitioning.

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Role: There is no definitive career ladder for recruiters. Those in larger firms may see a progression from Research Analyst to Associate, Consultant, and then Director, while other firms simply measure tenure in years. Professionals who work in corporate HR departments may see Junior and Senior Recruiter titles, followed by Recruiting Manager and Recruiting Director.

The duties will vary from one firm to the next, though entry-level recruiters typically spend the first three years perfecting their sourcing, interviewing, and presentation skills while working under the direction of a senior recruiter. Following this, they’ve refined their skills and processes enough to move into virtually any recruitment role. The job duties are the same at all levels, which include communicating with department heads to identify their needs, marketing open positions, interviewing candidates, helping candidates prepare for interviews with department heads, and keeping contact negotiations running smooth. For a comprehensive year-by-year advancement guide, see “The Life Span Of A Recruiter” or “A Recruiting Life - What's The Path For Me?

Recruitment Manager

Role: Those who wish to take a leadership role may progress to manager after 3-5 years in the industry. Recruitment managers oversee recruiters, set goals, create policies, and may also handle some of the same duties recruiters do. In addition, managers are responsible for hiring and training recruiters, which can be an ongoing issue when recruiters fail to meet their goals.

Recruiting Director

Role: Most people who rise to a directorship role have at least five years’ experience in recruiting, management experience, and a business degree. Recruiting directors are strategists. They examine the company’s policies, analyze performance-related data, identify and implement changes to improve efficiencies, and oversee the recruitment team.

Travel Opportunities

Occasional travel for networking and career fairs is common.



Entry-Level Recruiter (0-5 years): According to PayScale, the average salary of an entry-level recruiter is about USD$49,000 in America, CAD$46,000 in Canada, £25,000 in the UK, AU$59,000 in Australia.

Mid-Career Recruiter (5-10 years): USD$56,000, CAD$55,000, ₤35,360, AU$71,400.

Experienced Recruiter (10-20 years): USD$60,000, CAD$61,000, ₤29,120, AU$69,600.

Late-Career Recruiter (20+ years): USD$65,000, CAD$51,000. (UK and AU salaries not available.)

Recruitment Manager: USD$73,000, CAD$68,000, ₤36,000, AU$90,000.

Recruiting Director: USD$81,000, CAD$92,000, ₤78,000, AU$110,000.


Bonuses, profit sharing, and commission may all be part of a recruiter’s salary, increasing the take-home pay by as much as 50%.



Why Recruiters move on

As noted in the base salaries, a recruiter’s pay based on experience typically forms a bell curve; the pay drops off for those with experience below the levels professionals in the middle of their careers see. This may be because, as recruiters gain experience, they often move into positions where the bulk of their pay comes from bonuses, which are tied to placing job candidates.

High-performing recruiters can earn six-figure paychecks, but they are few and far between. In general, it’s difficult for recruiters to earn a steady income that provides a comfortable lifestyle from the profession. The turnover rate in recruitment is also high due to lack of advancement opportunities and failure to meet goals set by recruiting agencies. It’s common for recruiters who work for recruitment agencies to report that the expectations are set too high and the support they’re given is not enough to enable them to reach goals.

With that said, recruiters usually have a former career they can go back to, and they pick up many skills along the way which may help them transition into a new career, such as sales, account management, advertising, public relations, communication, negotiation, personal assisting, networking, and event management.

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Companies that hire this role