What I Wish I Had Known on My First Day as a Recruiter


I love recruiting, despite the bad rap it gets.

It’s an extremely challenging yet rewarding role for any young professional. Here are the 18 things I wish someone had told me, when I was going into my first recruiting job at an education reform startup. 

1. You are going to learn a lot about the way people and organizations work. Recruiting is at the center of growth for organizations: enjoy the view from your front-row seat.

2. Start sourcing early. The sooner you realize that “top talent” is actively looking for very brief periods of time and majority of inbound resumes are effectively spam, the better. Carve out time for outbound sourcing, to engage candidates who aren’t actively looking but may be interested in your company. Create options in your candidate pool – don’t wait for the flood of resumes from Indeed to make you feel like you’re busy.

3. Some of the most brilliant minds of the company will be the worst hiring managers, and partnering with them will give you reoccurring nightmares. Be patient with them, but also establish the Rules of Engagement early. Hiring managers who ignore your emails and don’t pitch in for resume reviews to help you calibrate forfeit the right to complain about you not bringing in the right candidates.

4. If you weren’t a little OCD before, you are now.

5. You will make mistakes. You’ll be going so fast, scheduling interview panels at a breakneck speed, an error here or there is inevitable. Don’t beat yourself up, just learn from it.

6. Don’t be afraid to give your favorite candidates a helpful nudge. After connecting with an amazing candidate who gets you excited, trust your intuition.  Show them that you believe in them and set them up for success.

7. By the 30th phone screen or so, you’ll have picked up incredibly valuable knowledge about interviewing. After hearing the good, the bad, and the ugly of phone interviews, you will be equipped with skills that will come in handy for the rest of your career.

8. You’re going to be way more important to the company than your junior-level status would typically entail. Your function is mission-critical, and everyone will be watching your performance, even the CEO, even though you assumed she doesn’t even know your name.

9. At the same time, it’s kind of amazing to be such a central part of the company, one relied on by so many. The team needs you to not only to recruit effectively and help grow, but to also be an ambassador of the company and a pre-made friend to every new employee you helped hire.  

10. Recruiting tools are so bad, you will have multiple moments where you want to slam your face onto your keyboard because you’re forced to live in clunky ATS that makes you feel trapped in 1998. Nothing you can do about this one except wait patiently for Lever.


11. You will hate, and always continue to hate, rejections. Turning candidates down over the phone (and potentially breaking their hearts) is the absolute worst but a necessary part of the trade. At least it gets a little easier over time, though you’ll still dread every single one. 

12. At some point, a hiring manager will make you cry in the office. It’s okay.

13. Let go of your Excel-related anxieties and dive into reports and data ASAP. Data-driven recruiting has become a necessity, a skill that needs to be developed and practiced for anyone who wants to advance from being a good recruiter to a *great* one. 

14. Make friends and read up on recruiting industry news. It’s a space that’s evolving every day, and few best practices are out there. Ask for help. Find a mentor who is better at her job than you and has the experience to guide you.

15. Experiment. Fail early and often. It’s just as important to know what not to do as it is to know what do. Solicit feedback and implement it. Iterate constantly.

16. You will end up pulling off some of the silliest, almost-superhuman feats as a professional juggler/cat-herder. Play some epic scheduling tetris and schedule 10 on-sites in a single day. Help a out-of-town candidate find a hotel at 11 pm. Overcome weather disasters and rebook a candidate’s flight so that she can make her interview on time, while you’re on the phone closing another candidate. After that, realize you can kind of literally do anything.  

17. You’ll always remember the day of your first offer acceptance – the candidate you guided through the entire process, advocated for, and maybe even fought hard for: your very first hire. That moment when you hear the words, “OK, let’s do it, I’ll sign the offer letter!”  and start dancing in your chair, knowing that you’ve changed their career trajectory and life – that moment, will forever be imprinted in your brain and give you the motivation to move forward on tough days.   

18. Remember the impact you’ve had on the individuals and teams. Look around once in awhile and see the all the faces you helped bring in and what they’re now achieving. Don’t take it for granted.