What To Expect as a Graduate Recruitment Consultant - Herd Digital

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Graduate Recruitment Jobs: What To Expect as a Graduate Recruitment Consultant

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If you’re searching for a graduate recruitment job, you’ve probably seen job adverts out there saying you could earn upwards of £50,000 in your first year. And while yes, this is possible, it’s not the reality. 

Here at Herd, we’re always looking for new members to join our team; including graduate recruitment consultants. Because what matters most we’ve found, is a graduate recruitment consultants passion, drive and determination. It’s those qualities that drive recruiters to excel,

Which isn’t to say there’s not money to be made in recruitment of course…

How much can a Graduate Recruitment Consultant earn?

As a graduate recruitment consultant with no prior sales or recruitment experience, you can expect to earn around £28,000 to £30,000 in your first year: Not a bad salary for anyone in the first year of a new career, let alone for a graduate learning the ropes. 

Someone entering the role with sales experience (or something similar), could realistically earn from £32,000 to £35,000. 

In your second year, if you’re consistently hitting your targets, you could earn as much as £45,000. 

By your third year, you could be earning as much as £100,000. A six-figure salary so early in your career isn’t something every recruiter is going to achieve, but it is a goal you can work toward. It takes hard work, drive and determination.

earning potential of a graduate recruitment consultant

But there are more factors to how much you can earn than your experience and ability; so let’s have a look at some of the factors you should consider when applying for jobs in recruitment.

Your Training

A large part of your earning potential, and your overall enjoyment of the role, will stem from the quality and quantity of training you receive. Some of the questions you may want to consider are:

  • Will you be in a classroom setting, or will your training be on the job? Choosing a recruitment agency that teaches you how you learn best is essential to your development.
  • Will your training be only your onboarding? Or a continuing development, with regular appraisals and a defined development strategy?
  • How closely will you get to work with the company’s top recruiters? Exposure to experience and talented recruiters is one of the best ways to learn the skills you’ll need to have a successful career in recruitment.

The Type of Agency You Work At

The type of agency you work at can have a huge impact on your training and in turn the amount of money you can earn:

  • For example, at a start-up agency, you’ll probably be working in a smaller team. This means you get to work closely with managers and the company founders, which can be a great way to learn from experienced recruiters.
  • Meanwhile, at a boutique specialist agency you will work with experts in a specific field and become an expert in your field yourself. The connections you build will likely support you throughout the length of your career. Here at Herd, we work with the same candidates repeatedly, as digital marketing is an industry where people regularly change roles and areas of work.

And the Type of Recruitment You Do

Similarly to the kind of agency you work at, the different kinds of recruitment you can work in will have an affect on your enjoyment of the role and on your earning potential:

  • Enjoy working in a fast paced environment? Temporary recruitment is an area where you make deals at short notice and lots of them. You need to be agile and quick on your feet, as companies need positions filled and quickly.
  • But if you prefer seeing the results of your work and want to be a part of a business growth, internal recruitment would allow you to be an integral and important part of a business.

Company Social Culture

One of the biggest perks of working in recruitment is the company culture. A company’s culture tells you a lot about the relationship between an employer and their employers.

Recruitment is renowned for a work hard, play hard culture that attracts graduates and for good reason: There aren’t many careers where you reap the rewards of your hard work as much as recruitment.

“What I mean is that when you work harder than everyone else, you’re rewarded for it. Recruitment isn’t like a typical office job, where if you do a good job all you get is an employee of the month award and a pat on the back.”

Kyle Blake, Herd Digital Graduate Recruiter

Holiday incentives are a common perk of working in recruitment or sales. They give recruiters both targets to strive for and a reward for their hard work.

Regular company socials help create a collaborative team environment as well as welcome new members to the team. At Herd we find that creating a collaborative team environment is essential to providing the highest quality of service to clients and candidates, making sure that we enjoy our work, and helping junior recruiters feel support is available whenever they need.

Company Business Culture

A defined development strategy is important to your professional development: But it also gives you an insight into the culture of the business you’ll be joining. 

All recruitment agencies are performance and results focused. But if you know you know that in joining the business you’re not being given the opportunity to learn from the top billers and senior recruiters, this could indicate that results come before every other aspect of the business: The managers don’t want their top performers to spend time training you that could be spent making deals and placements.

A part of being a recruiter is being in the office together and sharing each others successes.

But one thing that the recruitment industry learned from the pandemic is that recruiters can work flexibly and remotely; and still deliver great results for candidates and clients. So not only is the option to work flexibly a perk that’s nice to have, it shows you that employers and managers have trust in their recruiters to deliver results regardless of where they work from.

the impacts on your success as a graduate recruitment consultant

Progression Opportunities for a Graduate Recruitment Consultant

Another great benefit of working in recruitment are the opportunities for progression: And for graduates just starting in their career, this is an attractive prospect.

In the majority of careers, promotions and new job opportunities are based on your years of experience. And while it’s not the only industry to do so, recruitment is much more focused on the results of your work. This means you have the opportunity to advance much more quickly in your career than in other industries.

A big consideration for your success is if you’ll be working a ‘warm desk’ or a ‘cold desk’. 

A ‘warm desk’ means you’ll be working on a set of pre-existing clients and job vacancies: So if you’re taking over from someone for example, the desk is still ‘warm’.

A ‘cold desk’ means you will be creating new business sales starting from nothing. This could be if you were starting recruiting in a brand new area for the agency. So while working a ‘cold desk’ means you have greater control over your work, it is much more difficult for a graduate with limited recruiting experience. 

Here at Herd we always start our graduate recruitment consultants with a ‘warm desk’. Our senior recruiters provide new recruitment consultants with roles to fill, so they can guide and support them through the process; how to search for relevant candidates, and how to speak to them.

Recruitment and the Pandemic

There are a few industries that thrived in the pandemic, but recruitment wasn’t one of them.

During the pandemic the majority of industries and business halted their recruitment: And despite not suffering as adversely as other industries, digital marketing was no exception. This has led to digital agencies increasing their recruitment efforts to catch up on lost time.

This means it’s a great time to be a recruiter; and a recruiter working in the digital marketing industry even moreso. But how the pandemic affected the area of recruitment you will be entering is something you should find out, either in the interview, or for your own research before you apply.

Remote or hybrid working have become a perk enjoyed by many recruiters since the pandemic. At Herd our recruiters continued to provide a quality service in unprecedented times, and so our recruiters still enjoy working from home if they choose.

This is just one example of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the way in which recruiters work: And this is something to be aware of when you’re joining a business. How did the company navigate and adapt to the pandemic?

Asking questions like this will show you what the business does when faced with hardship, and give you valuable information about the area you’ll be recruiting in. A growing and healthy market, and a work environment that will support you means more deals and more commission for you.

The Pros & Cons of Working in Recruitment

But before you dive headfirst into a career in the wonderful world of recruitment, there’s plenty of pros & cons to consider.

“I think you’ve just got to be honest with yourself from the outset: About what your strengths are and if you’d be successful in this role. Because it’s not an easy job, but it’s a rewarding one.”

Tom Kehoe: Graduate Recruitment Consultant, Dynamic Search Solutions


  • The commission. The biggest incentive to a career in recruitment is the massive earning potential. You will have the possibility of outstripping your peers quickly and substantially depending on your ability, dedication and commitment.
  • You will have the opportunity to change people’s lives. This may sound dramatic, we know. To some people, a new job is just that: But to others it’s a huge, life changing decision that you will be a huge part of.
  • Recruitment is a career where the more you put in, the more you get out: Commission, promotions and holiday incentives are all dependent on the hard work you put in.


  • Starting a career is always a challenge, and recruitment is no exception. Your first year working in recruitment will have serious highs and lows. Sometimes all you’ll face is rejection and nothing seems to be working, and sometimes a flurry of deals will come in, meaning big commissions for you.
  • Sometimes you can do everything right, and a deal will still fall through. A candidate can accept an offer and still pull out for reasons out of your control, or a client stops hiring for a position because they can no longer afford to expand their business.
  • The long working hours. Given the nature of the business, you need to be available when your candidates are. But when you stay late to talk to that candidate who’s on the fence? You’re working for yourself, because it’s your commission on the line.

Working in recruitment can be a dynamic, fun and rewarding environment. While it’s not for everyone, it’s a great career for graduates to not just earn more than anyone else at that stage in their career, but to learn valuable skills that will serve them throughout their life.

If you’re considering a career in recruitment, read here to see what our team have to say about working at Herd Digital, or if your mind is made up, apply here and start getting rewarded for your hard work.

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