Career Management

One of the myths that perpetuates in the recruitment industry, is that you need to be a graduate to succeed in the field. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth!

While many recruiters do have degrees – particularly today – there are also a large proportion of highly successful big billers who took alternative routes in their education, and still rose to the top of their game!

If you have a degree, then it’s important to know that it won’t be enough to succeed in the tough world of recruitment.

Equally, if you don’t have a degree, don’t automatically assume you don’t have what it takes.

Let’s look at the qualities required to forge a successful recruitment career in more detail:

Communication skills:

Great recruiters are superb communicators, and not simply in terms of what they say.

The best in the business know that their ability to listen is the secret to their communication success, and they show incredible flair in their verbal and written communications, as well as their body language. This is one of the most fundamental personal skills required to succeed in the vast majority of industries, and it’s not one that you will learn inside the pages of a book! Most great communicators instead spend their time honing their abilities in real life situations, whether that’s in part-time roles as students, school leaver positions, volunteering capacities, social and leisure activities such as sports and coaching, or other occasions where they are engaging with people.

Excellent presentation:

Students are notorious for presenting themselves in a casual fashion – even at job interviews! However, great recruiters understand that first impressions count, and that their presentation needs to be faultless. This includes their appearance, their handshake, their manner – and manners – and their skills at building relationships.

The ability to present well makes even the youngest recruiters seem instantly professional and competent in their roles, and inspires client confidence.


Great recruiters are superb networkers and prioritise their relationships. They nurture their contacts and find ways to build their networks, using a range of face to face and online channels. This helps them to find out where the best jobs – and the best candidates – are. This means getting out into the real world and engaging with people working in it – the network will not be found in the university bar!

READ MORE: Networking: Face-to-Face or Online – The Numbers


Recruiters are sales people with a powerful raft of additional skills. The best recruiters are naturally blessed with tremendous ambition and self-determination. Many choose not to pursue the higher academic route, and instead are hungry to get straight into a job, whether that’s as a recruitment junior, or in a complementary and preparatory role such as customer services or sales. Great recruiters often learn heavily on the job and will take time to learn academic models and approaches during their career, rather than necessarily taking time out to study a full time degree.

Self belief:

Similarly to the quality above, great recruiters are resilient and know that they are the best. This quality cannot be taught. It is intrinsic, and usually built via a mastery of real world situations. This explains why many of the best recruiters side-step further education and focus on finding employment either during school and college, or shortly afterwards. Self belief and confidence tends to be built through experience, so the sooner you can start to experience the highs and lows of recruitment, the sooner you will begin to build your skills and faith in your ability.

A positive attitude:

Yet another quality that cannot be taught through a book! Positivity tends to be an intrinsic attitude that is summed up by the ‘glass half full’ mentality. Positive individuals will naturally be resilient and ‘can do’ – which automatically places them well for a career in recruitment. This is a vital attribute for the more challenging times and aspects of the role. Those with negative outlooks will find it hard to bounce back from failed sales and difficult months, which can rapidly persist into poor performance in the longer term – regardless of academic achievements. Positive people recognise that good months and bad months are both natural and fleeting. They will put in the work to achieve their wins, and learn from their mistakes, rather than overly dwelling on them.

The ability to learn from one’s mistakes:

As mentioned previously, great recruiters can learn from their mistakes and apply remedial actions to ensure that they don’t happen again. They have the ability to analyse their own performance, reflect on outcomes, and identify learning points and actions, which they will implement. This gives the recruiter a ‘continuous improvement’ methodology, and sees their performance soar over time. Again, this is a skill that would never be covered in a degree – it is learned through life lessons!

So if you don’t have a degree, and are passionate about breaking into the recruitment industry – or you are leaving college and considering whether a degree is necessary for the field, don’t be put off pursuing your dream. Get that CV perfected, write an excellent and tailored covering letter, start to build your contacts and network, and dust off that suit for interview!

Author: Satnam Brar is Managing Director of Maximus IT, an Oracle Gold Partner which specialises in recruitment in the ERP, CRM & Database sectors, specifically ORACLE, MS Dynamics, and SAP.

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