How to become a recruitment specialist (plus definition)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 12 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The role of a recruitment specialist is to work with an organisation to find the best candidate for a job opening. This means recruiters are typically responsible for interviewing people, organising hiring events and working with clients to ensure they meet their needs. As a part of this, they also create job descriptions and write advertisements for positions they're required to fill so they can adequately communicate the requirements for that role. In this article, we look at what a recruitment specialist is and how to become a recruitment specialist, both with and without going to university.

What is a recruitment specialist?

A recruitment specialist is responsible for helping an organisation find new employees capable of fulfilling vacant roles successfully. Recruitment specialists usually work for a company or organisation, but they may also work for a government agency. The type of work that recruitment specialists do varies according to the industry they're working in and who their client is. For example, recruitment specialists may help businesses hire employees for different departments, such as customer service or accounting. They may also help companies find sales representatives, engineers or other job roles that aren't always easy to fill.

Related: What is a recruitment consultant and what do they do?

How to become a recruitment specialist

Here's how to become a recruitment specialist in five steps:

1. Obtain an undergraduate degree in a related field

Obtain an undergraduate degree in a related field before becoming a recruitment specialist, as this helps you learn how to recruit people for different positions within organisations. This is especially important if you want to become a manager of a large company. This kind of education also allows you to better understand what employers are looking for when hiring new employees and how you can improve their recruitment process. This makes it easier to contribute to their pre-existing recruitment team, as you can provide additional insight into what to look for when interviewing candidates.

Relevant degree subjects for prospective recruitment specialists include:

Human resources

Human resources is a field that requires a broad knowledge of business practices and the ability to apply this knowledge in the workplace. This means that it's important for students to obtain an undergraduate degree in human resources to become recruitment specialists. Studying this course at the university level provides students with the broad perspective needed to effectively recruit people for an organisation according to who they need most. The programme also helps students develop the skills necessary to perform other essential HR tasks such as payroll, employee benefits and performance evaluations.

Related: Why is HR important? An essential guide

Business administration

Undergraduate degree schemes in business administration help prepare students for a successful career as recruitment specialists. These courses help students understand the various aspects of running a business, including accounting, marketing and human resources. Such knowledge is essential to becoming a successful recruiter because it allows them to understand how businesses operate, which helps them identify key team members during the recruitment process.

This degree also teaches students how to manage people and implement beneficial processes for both employees and employers. These skills are essential when working with clients on a daily basis since many recruiters work on behalf of multiple organisations at once.

Related: A guide to administration vs. management in business

2. Take the CIPD Professional Recruitment Qualification (PRQ) examination

Passing the CIPD Professional Recruitment Qualification (PRQ) examination conveys both your knowledge and skills in recruitment. The PRQ is a recognised certification that proves to employers that you've already achieved a certain level of competency in your field. The exam helps candidates grow as employees and develop their skills, making them more valuable to potential employers. Taking the exam also helps them stay on top of industry trends so that they can be successful in this field.

3. Gain experience relevant to the recruitment industry

Gaining experience relevant to the recruitment industry allows potential recruitment specialists to become familiar with the industry. They become familiar with the various processes and practices that take place in recruiting. This helps them improve their performance as a recruitment specialist and provide better services for their clients, as they have the skills and understanding necessary to guide them through various scenarios.

Having relevant experience also allows you to build your professional network. When you've previously worked with people in the industry, they know that they can rely on you and trust your judgment. This gives them more confidence in hiring you as their recruitment specialist because they know they're not likely to have any problems communicating with you or trusting you about certain things related to their business strategy or goals. If no permanent positions are available at this agency, such experience may also serve as a useful reference to accompany your CV and cover letter.

Related: 10 essential recruitment consultant skills

4. Gain certification from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC)

Becoming a certified recruitment specialist with the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) is an important step to becoming a successful recruiter. This is because to gain REC certification, it's necessary for candidates to meet their standards of knowledge and expertise in the field while also demonstrating an ability to work within a team. REC certifications show employers that you've invested time and effort into learning about the industry. This is especially important for organisations actively looking for candidates who can transform their recruitment processes.

5. Complete an enhanced DBS check

It's important for candidates to complete an enhanced DBS check when becoming a recruitment specialist, as the role often involves working with vulnerable individuals. The enhanced DBS check gives employers access to restricted information held by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). This means that your prospective clients can be sure that you've undergone rigorous vetting and that there are no black marks on your record. This builds trust between you and your prospective clients. It also helps employers to ensure that they're hiring someone capable of their role.

Related: How long do DBS checks take? (With types and stages)

How to become a recruitment specialist without going to university

Here are some examples of how to become a specialist without going to university:

1. Study a college course

Studying a recruitment specialist course at college provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary for the role. They allow students to learn about how the process works and how they can involve themselves in it. For example, they may specialise in becoming a headhunter that finds executives for mid-level organisations. Students also learn about ethical issues related to recruiting, such as ensuring that candidates aren't discriminated against because of their race or gender. They also learn HR-related topics such as how to avoid problems like sexual harassment in the workplace. Relevant subject areas for college courses include:

Human resources (HR) and recruitment management

Human resources (HR) and recruitment management courses give you an extensive overview of the field, helping you understand how it works and what to do to succeed as a recruiter. This course teaches students how to write effective CVs and cover letters, making it easier for them to apply for jobs confidently. In addition, the course teaches students to use their skills effectively when interviewing potential hires and how best to spot candidates who match an employer's requirements.

Recruitment marketing and selection

Those looking to become recruitment specialists may also study a recruitment marketing and selection college course. These courses aim to teach students how the industry works generally, with specific knowledge about how to recruit candidates according to the different requirements associated with various industries. Students also learn about the different recruitment strategies that organisations around the world are currently using. This helps students decide which ones work best for different clients, especially if they work with external clients. This helps them better communicate to candidates the skills necessary for the job.

2. Get a recruitment apprenticeship

Getting a recruitment apprenticeship lets you gain real-world experience in the industry. This helps you understand what it takes to be a successful recruitment specialist and how best to use your skills and expertise to benefit your organisation. A recruitment specialist apprenticeship allows students to learn about the different types of roles within the field, including jobs like head-hunter or recruitment consultant. They also learn about what it takes to make these positions successful, including how they differ and how they fit into an organisation's hiring process.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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