Recruitment is an incredibly challenging yet rewarding industry. What you get out of it is wholly dependent upon how much you put in; work hard and you’ll be suitably rewarded, adopt a half-hearted approach and expect to enjoy limited success. With over 9,000 employees across 33 countries we think we’ve got a fairly good idea what it takes to be a success in the recruitment world, so if you’re ambitious and passionate about people, read on.

Prioritising personality

The right attitude and personality is a crucial consideration when taking on an employee in any industry, and this couldn’t be more accurate in the recruitment industry. At Hays we hire based on your personal strengths and potential, rather than your CV or background – as articulated by MD of UK & Ireland Nigel Heap in this video.

Excelling in recruitment is all about having the right personality, not necessarily experience or qualifications. There’s an abundance of characteristics that will serve you well in our industry, all of which you can find on our careers site.

Working your way up

Excelling in recruitment is all about having the right personality

Don’t worry if you don’t tick all of the boxes yet because unlike most recruitment agencies who only consider you when you’re fully trained with proven billing history, Hays will invest significantly in your professional development. We support you with on-going training throughout your career; whether you’re an Intern, Associate Consultant, Manager or Director. Whatever your background, our training will give you all the tools you need to become a successful and reputable recruiting expert and we will help you build a successful and stable career in recruitment – you can read more about the training we offer here.

We recruit based on your potential and we exercise this philosophy throughout our internal recruitment process. Our brand values are the attitudes, skills and qualities we look for in our people – the same qualities that make us successful as individuals and as a leading team in the world of work:

1. Inquisitive

As a recruiting expert at Hays, you will be required to know a great deal about a wide variety of roles within a certain sector, and so a certain intrigue in these different roles will help to accelerate your learning. Excelling in recruitment is very much all about being curious about people and the world in which they work.

One of the most common reasons I hear as to why people chose to go into the recruitment industry, and Hays in particular, is because no two days are the same. Each day presents a new challenge and with that an opportunity to learn and grow. Inquisitiveness is something I seek to identify in a candidate right from the beginning, even in the initial telephone conversation. I expect candidates to ask lots of questions about the role and provoke wider discussion without prompt.

2. Ambitious

Recruitment is a results oriented business, which means you have to be driven

Another fundamental characteristic needed to be successful in the recruitment industry is ambition. Recruitment is a results oriented business, which means you have to be driven. Successful consultants require energy and dynamism in order to consistently exceed their sales targets and expand their network. Recruitment is not the industry for you if you are not competitive or are happy with a 9 to 5 job!

At Hays you won’t just need to be ambitious for yourself, you’ll also need to be ambitious for clients, candidates and your team. If you want to maintain long and profitable relationships with clients and candidates (which of course you do!) then you need to provide them with the very best service possible, 100% of the time. This means always being prepared to go that extra mile.

3. Expert

As a recruiting expert you’ll also be expected to develop a deep and broad understanding of the markets you recruit for. Again, don’t worry, you won’t be expected to have all of this information immediately; you will slowly accrue it over time as you build up your network. To add, your background can sometimes determine what sector you will be recruiting for which is why, considering Hays recruits in more than 20 sectors, we have a very diverse workforce.

You’ll often be required to share your knowledge with clients and candidates across your network, which in turn demands good people and communication skills.

4. Passionate about people

If you’re genuinely passionate about people then you’re likely to do well

Recruitment is a people business and successful recruiting experts put the creation of valuable, lasting relationships at the top of their priorities. Recruitment agencies are often animated and collaborative environments, where you’ll be in constant communication with your team, clients and candidates.

Being able to communicate clearly and confidently on all levels is often half the job when it comes to sourcing or placing a candidate, so if you’re genuinely passionate about people, and are able to convey this to the client or candidate then you’re likely to do well.

A final thought

Recruitment is an often challenging but very rewarding profession to be a part of. There will inevitably be highs and lows – sometimes they’ll be out of your control (economic situation, oversaturation of the market, size of your team etc.) – so ultimately your success will be dependent on how strong a personality you have. Don’t just take my word for it – here’s what some of our top billers have said.

Think you might have what it takes? Play our interactive Join Hays video below, and then visit the Join Hays site here.

Visit the Join Hays website to find out more about life at Hays


Michael Jones is the Head of Internal Recruitment and Training for Hays UK&I. He’s worked for the company for 10 years and started his recruitment career at Hays in Australia, joining as a trainee with no previous experience. After four years as a successful Accountancy and Finance recruiter, and winning ‘Best Performing Associate of the Year’, he joined the Training team and transferred to Hays UK&I in 2013. Michael manages a team of sales and systems trainers, supports the National Internal Recruitment team and, over the last six years, he has personally trained thousands of trainee recruiters.