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How long does it take to 'master' recruitment?

Posted on 20/05/2021
by Nick Boulton

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How long does it take to ‘master’ recruitment?

It’s an interesting question, but in my opinion, you can never master recruitment. You gain experience, improve your skills, certainly get better, but if you believe you’ve ever mastered it, you’re delusional.

That’s one of the things I love about this job—you are always learning, finding out new things, discovering new clients, engaging with new candidates, and the market is always moving. It provides challenges in droves. The best recruitment consultants are continuously learning, trying to better themselves and working on how to improve at all different aspects of the job.

But this question did get me thinking about how long it takes to get good at this job, and I don’t mean proficient. I mean really good. All singing, all dancing recruitment ninja!

If you apply the 10,000-hour rule, a concept I have touched on in previous blogs, that would roughly equate to just over 5 years of being in full-time recruitment, living it, breathing it working all hours before you could claim to be really good (even then I sometimes wonder!)

It doesn’t just stop there—you don’t think Roger Federer or Tiger Woods just stopped practising when they hit the 10,000-hour mark or won their first Major, do you?

No, that’s what makes them really great; they still hit hours of practise balls, day after day. And the same applies to recruitment. Unless you are practising and honing your skills daily, how can you possibly expect to get any better? So you need to remain “recruitment fit” if you’re going to perform at a top-level consistently, which is especially important when you start on your recruitment journey.

When you’re a fresh-faced graduate, that is the time to put in the hours, that is the time where the biggest gains can be made, massive strides towards being successful at the job:

  • Learn off everyone
  • Listen to all the recruiters around you
  • Follow the best people in the business
  • Take advice, decipher it, discard what you don’t need but absorb what you do
  • Learn from your mistakes
  • But above all, give it everything! Like sport, there are no prizes for second place in recruitment. You get ZERO, quite literally.

But like sport, you can improve “off the field” too, in other words in your own time. I know the concept of doing work on your own might sound alien to many people, but how do you think the best consultants become so successful? You don’t believe they turn up to work every day and get better at the job?

No, they are investigating companies, learning about technology, reading sales books, listening to audiobooks, reading newspapers, searching LinkedIn. Essentially they are gathering information and becoming more knowledgeable. It gives them better credibility with candidates, clients and peers – all of this can be done in your own time.

If you’re still wondering why would you do this? Then recruitment is not for you, but I’ll tell you.

Simple. Why would you want to join a sales-driven environment with stress, targets, huge market swings, emotional clients, emotional candidates—just an emotional rollercoaster—and not want to get better and make your life easier? Why wouldn’t you want to better yourself, become more knowledgeable, earn more money and enjoy the fruits of your labour?

That’s why people want to join in the first place. If you think it’s an easy buck, then you’re mistaken. Those days of recruitment are long gone – only the fittest, strongest recruiters survive.

So when are you going to start your 10,000 hours?


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