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How I learned to stop worrying and love recruiting

It’s not often you hear recruiters speak about their career choice as a vocation. Meet Mike.

The staffing industry’s reputation has advanced a lot in the last decade, and I feel like we’re not all judged as harshly as we used to be when I was starting out. Both inside our own businesses and outside in the market place, there is a lot more respect for what a good recruiter can offer their customers.

Now more than ever, there’s a lot to gain from choosing a career in recruitment.



By the time they’re ten years into this life, a lot of recruiters have a passport that’s more stamp than paper. Whether you spend a lot of time on short trips to a lot of different places, or like me you’ve made a long term move to a different country, there are always genuine opportunities to travel. This is particularly true in industries like engineering and energy, where the job market is truly global, and where expats are critical to projects from Canada to Australia. I moved to the US from England in 2008, to help recruit engineers in Oil & Gas across a wide array of clients. By choosing this career I was given the opportunity to emigrate to another part of the world, and opportunities like that are rare.


Career Progression

Recruitment was always seen as such a great thing to see on someone’s resume, is that it meant they were likely to be comfortable working harder and faster than average. These days not everyone is finding it quite so necessary to use the job as a stepping stone to something else. With the right company and coaching, you can progress through the company ranks over time and find yourself catapulted into more strategic and visible roles managing teams or spearheading staff-augmentation projects for high-profile clients.


More people are staying in the industry. The evolution of different styles of service has been a factor: in house recruiting models, RPO and other managed services have given professional recruiters more options than sitting in an open plan office all day. There’s more variety on offer and more responsibility. When you’re seen as the go to expert for a whole organization’s recruiting effort, and you’re sitting in their office being consulted by their senior management, you’ll find a status and respect you may not have been expecting when you signed up.



The money has always been good, relative to other starter careers. There are few people who actively choose a career in this field for the long term; most of the people I know (including me) fell into it in their twenties, because of the money. I can honestly say, hand on heart that getting into recruitment was one of the best things to happen to me, and I’ve been able to forge a strong career with lots of experiences meeting a lot of interesting people along the way.

If you’re reasonably good with people and not scared of hard work, then you can make a decent amount of money in the early days, while you’re working out what you want to do with your life in the long term. But now, with all of the opportunity for global mobility and career advancement, it’s not just a way to make money during the early days. For the right person, there’s a career you can retire from, or meet whatever your long term financial planning goals are. You’ll find that bonuses add up, and if you’re smart with money and take the right advice, you’ll be in a strong long-term position.


Working culture

I think there are still a lot of people who picture Recruitment Agencies as pretty tough environments, and I don’t think that’s true anymore. It’s fast paced, for sure, but there is far more process and infrastructure to govern the working environment. Technology has made it easier to do things quickly without cutting corners, and the continuing advancement of HR centric recruiting practices, have made us all more aware of the need for rigorous process as a defense against multitude of issues, legal and financial. But above all, it seems that values in the workplace are not negotiable any more. The vast majority of us see integrity as a cornerstone of who we are. What recruiters seem to have realized, some time ago now, is that even if your motivations are entirely financial, the key to your success lies in the long term, repeat business that can only be earned through a trusting relationship with your clients and candidates. All of those pile-them-high, sell them cheap operations went to the wall long ago. Nobody wants the cowboys any more. We deal in straight talking, transparency and realism. I’m not here to sell anything anymore. I’m here to do what the industry should always have been doing – finding the right long-term opportunity for my candidate with a client that needs them and wants them.


Ultimately, if you’re working with people you respect, doing a job where you know how to deliver, and if you feel like you’re moving forward into more interesting things, you’ll probably find yourself ahead of the working pack. You’ll probably have some fun too.


Michael Johnson is a Senior Client Development manager for Competentia, the global energy specialist.



I’m here to do what the industry should always have been doing – finding the right long-term opportunity for my candidate with a client that needs them and wants them. Mike Johnson


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