Why Recruiting is the Best First Job Out of College

I remember the feeling. Time was ticking down to graduation, and despite my numerous applications that would allow me to become a “productive member of society,” I hadn’t heard much back. Not that I was completely crushed, mind you, most of what I was applying for didn’t really sound all that appealing to begin with.

I never quite knew what I wanted to do as a “career” growing up, flip-flopping from one half-baked idea to the next. My BA in Political Science/International Relations and Double Minor in History and Philosophy clearly reflected that indecisiveness. Still, I knew that whatever I ended up doing, I

– wanted to help people or a cause, and

– wanted to be challenged.

After more than a year and a half working as a recruiter at Proven Recruiting, I can say with confidence that I’ve accomplished both of those goals. If you’re anything like me – and you find yourself facing the uncertain abyss of post-graduation life – I would strongly recommend following a similar path.

Need more convincing? Check out these four key ways recruiting will change your life.

1. You’ll learn how to deal with people—ALL types of people.

Notwithstanding the occasional group project, academia does a pretty poor job of teaching you to effectively work with others in a professional environment. However, if you’re going to be successful in your career you’re going to have to learn to play nice with others — and no industry does this better than Recruiting.

At its core, Recruiting requires a high degree of emotional intelligence. Is my candidate money-motivated, or do they want to spend more time with their kids? Does my Hiring Manager need someone with “been there, done that” experience, or are they looking for a worker-bee to get through a huge backlog? What is making this person tick and how can I meaningfully engage with them?

With time and commitment, you’ll learn how to clue into and flush out peoples’ deep-rooted motivations—and trust me, this skill will come in handy in your personal life (“why is my significant other really upset at me?”). And not surprisingly, a high EQ (emotional intelligence score) is associated with significantly greater career success. A growing emphasis on soft skills even has some companies developing tests to measure a candidate’s EQ rather than their IQ.

By recognizing, verbalizing, and challenging peoples’ verbal and non-verbal cues, you can influence agendas, see through deceptions, and determine core values. Essentially, recruiting turns you into a master of human interaction – the benefits of which are limitless.

2. You will learn the power of (and how to be good at) networking.

Sometimes, it really is “who you know, not what you know.” Complain all you want, but the power of networking and the relationships you build from it are nothing to scoff at.

I won’t lie, when I joined this industry, I did have an ulterior motive—I thought that exposure to different companies and high-level individuals/hiring managers would give me a chance to break into something different. Little did I know, the exposure itself would allow me to practice my new-found people skills and expand my network in numerous directions and industries I would’ve never considered.

Importantly, networking is not only valuable when you’re looking to switch jobs—it’s a crucial part of developing your skills as a professional, learning from leaders in your community, and becoming part of something larger than yourself.

Yet this skill rarely comes naturally. Let me put it this way: being able to walk into a room full of strangers, start a conversation from nothing, spark a connection, and exchange business cards/contact info is not a talent many are born with. It’s a learned skill, one that absolutely will pay off in your personal life and professional career if you give yourself the opportunity to hone it.

3. You’ll be an expert at interviewing and negotiating for the rest of your life.

I like to think my resume looked nice as a new grad; that I presented well while interviewing with companies, and that despite my relative inexperience, I was a good candidate—in hindsight, not so much.

Starting your career in recruiting is basically a step-by-step guide of how to (and how NOT to) get hired. A good recruiter is a subject matter expert, not just of the field(s) they’re recruiting for, but they’re also experts at resume writing, job applications, interviewing, and value assessments (i.e. how much a person is worth salary wise).

You likely have a good many years before you retire, and in that time you’ll hold a variety of jobs. With the average age of retirement in the US peaking at 63, and assuming you’re graduating in your early-to-mid 20’s, you have a solid 40 years in the workforce.

Now consider our parents’ generation; Baby Boomers, born between 1957 and 1964, held on average more than 11 jobs between the time they were 18 and 48. ELEVEN JOBS! Don’t wait to get good at job searching, interviewing, and negotiating your salary—it will cost you a lot in the long run.

4. Work hard, and you’ll get out what you put in.

Not to sound like a jerk, but school came pretty easily to me. By midway through my junior year, I was fairly disillusioned with college and academia as a whole. I was putting in all this hard work, trying to come up with original thoughts and theories, and for what? So that all my efforts could be boiled down to a letter?

Remember when I said I was looking to be challenged after college? When I started at Proven Recruiting, I went so far as to tell our CEO that “I want to fail at something.” I was just so tired of getting a pat on the back for doing what I knew I was already good at.

Since working here, I’ve met that goal many times over—failure is part of the job. But what I’ve really gotten out of this experience has come from the discovery of my own grit and perseverance. I’ve had the benefit of learning from my mistakes and being all the better for it.

But recruiting does more than help you learn, it helps you earn. Unlike most first-jobs, recruiting has literally no ceiling on your wage potential, fast-tracking your salary for the rest of your career. With my BA I was realistically targeting $40k-$50k in the San Diego job market; an average rookie at Proven Recruiting earns about $70k-$90k. A few of my peers blew that number out of the water. But the point is that the numbers—the dollars and cents—and lessons you take away are completely within your control. It just comes down to how hard you work.

At the end of the day…

…Recruiting is extremely rewarding, not just financially, but emotionally as well. I guess it’s personal for me—my sister is probably the only person I’ve ever met who knew what she wanted to be when she was 5 years old and then actually went and followed her childhood dreams (she’s now a veterinarian in Davis with her fiancé and two gorgeous German Shepherds). So as someone who always tried to figure out how best to use my talents, but could never quite put my finger on it, it gives me endless joy to work with and help people who do know what they want to do.

The beauty of recruiting is in its infinite variety; as recruiters, we’re exposed to countless types of people, in different stages of their career, with different specializations. No two days are the same: every day is a new opportunity to collaborate and connect with people as they make some of the most significant decisions of their lives.

Sometimes what we do isn’t glamorous — in fact, it can be absolutely grueling — but having helped people land life-changing opportunities, seeing the look in their eyes or that excitement in their voice, makes it incredibly worthwhile.

About the author:

Wes Shoup
Associate Partner, Proven Recruiting

As an Associate Partner of Technical Recruiting, Wes works tirelessly to identify, train, and place qualified tech candidates.

During his time at Proven Recruiting, Wes has made it a point to foster strong relationships with tech-specific awareness initiatives. Most recently, he presented at Girls in Tech’s ‘Hacking for Humanity’ Hackathon, an event aimed at supporting Diversity in Tech by offering girls the opportunity to broaden their skills. 

Have a question for Wes? Ask him in the comments below!