What Is a Recruiter?

Written by Coursera • Updated on

A recruiter works to match qualified individuals with open positions at companies and other organizations. Learn about the skills, salary, and requirements associated with being a recruiter.

[Featured image] A recruiter speaks with two job candidates in an office.

A recruiter is a professional that works to match qualified individuals with specific open positions at an organization. It’s a recruiter’s job to review a candidate’s job experiences, negotiate salaries, and work with the hiring employers to make sure the fit works well for both parties. It’s also a recruiter’s job to stay on top of job trends, industry outlooks, and what qualities and skills companies are on the lookout for when hiring new employees.

What is recruiting?

Recruiting is the process of trying to enlist someone to take on a job or a particular set of responsibilities. A recruiter will work to find candidates for positions that need to be filled by appropriately skilled and talented employees. Recruiters help find job applicants and source candidates to fill in-demand positions in industries such as technology, finance, retail, professional services, education, government, and nonprofits. 

These were the positions that recruiters worked to fill most, according to a 2018 LinkedIn report [1]:

  • Business analyst

  • Cloud architect

  • Data scientist

  • DevOps engineer

  • Enterprise account executive

  • Front-end engineer

  • Sales development rep 

  • Senior brand manager

  • Senior financial analyst

  • Senior software engineer

  • Senior tax associate

  • System administrator 

How much do recruiters make?

According to Glassdoor, the national average base pay for a recruiter in the United States is $75,322 a year [2].

The outlook for recruiting jobs is bright. According to LinkedIn, the demand for recruiters grew by 63 percent between 2016 and 2019, and the trend is expected to continue. The growth of the recruiting industry can be influenced and affected by the strength of the economy, unemployment rates, and online recruiting processes [3].

Tasks and responsibilities of a recruiter

A recruiter’s tasks and responsibilities can vary depending on the company they work for and individuals that need to be matched. Some typical tasks and responsibilities of a recruiter include:

  • Writing and posting job openings

  • Finding and contacting potential job candidates

  • Pre-screening job candidates

  • Helping candidates write resumes

  • Presenting a candidate to an employer or hiring manager

  • Setting up interviews between candidates and employers

  • Negotiating salaries, responsibilities, and titles

There are also different types of recruiters that work in various settings. These include:

  • In-house or corporate recruiters work for one company on staff, typically in human resources, and are responsible for filling open jobs at the company. In-house recruiters may also collaborate with outside agency recruiters.

  • Agency recruiters work at a recruiting agency and work with various companies to fill open roles.

  • Executive recruiters work at an executive search firm to fill high-level executive positions—generally at the C-level or higher—at various companies.

  • Outplacement agency recruiters assist displaced workers who may have been downsized or laid off and who need help to polish their resumes and skills.

  • Temp agency recruiters work for staffing agencies to fill the short-term needs of various companies. The needs can range from lower-level to higher-level positions that need to be filled. Sometimes the candidates are employees of the temp or staffing agency who are dispatched to various companies.

Skills needed to become a recruiter

You may be naturally curious and inquisitive about a person’s background and love to help people figure out their talents and where they can apply them. Being a recruiter will put those people skills front and center. It’ll also be a good idea to have the following skills as a recruiter:

Interviewing skills are critical because a recruiter needs to conduct phone and in-person interviews with prospective employees for jobs. 

Negotiating skills are important because a recruiter needs to be able to work with both the hiring manager and the potential candidate for a fair salary, job title, and job responsibilities. 

Persuasive skills are necessary for a recruiter to convince a candidate to consider an opening or an offer. A recruiter often has to persuade a hiring manager to interview a potential candidate for a job opening as well.

Human resource knowledge includes a broad scope of valuable skills, such as knowing how to manage, onboard, and incentivize employees, and give performance appraisals.

How to become a recruiter

When you work as a recruiter, you’ll be connecting people to jobs that fit their interests and passions, and helping companies find employees to help achieve their goals. You’ll have the chance to meet people from all walks of life and get an inside look into several different industries.

If this sounds like a good fit for you, here's how to get started:

Recruiter qualifications

A bachelor’s degree will generally make you more competitive for recruiter positions. Though there’s no coursework requirement, majoring in communications, psychology, business, or the humanities can prepare you to work in an environment where you’ll constantly be in contact with many different types of people.

Can I be a recruiter without a college degree?

Though a bachelor’s degree can make you stand out against other candidates, it’s not a requirement. Some employers can waive a college degree requirement if you have a few years’ work experience in a related field. Look for entry-level recruiter openings or related office roles like administrative assistants to get your foot in the door.


Recruiter career path

Being a recruiter exposes you to numerous careers and industries, and can familiarize you with human resources issues. You'll also sharpen your communication and people skills, which can set you up to make career transitions to marketing or other human resource positions—both of which are among the most common jobs for former recruiters to transition into, LinkedIn reports [4]. An experienced recruiter who has established contacts might also choose to start an independent recruiting consultancy or business as well.

Getting started as a recruiter

If you are passionate about helping people find fitting jobs, keeping on top of industry and job trends, and learning how various organizations operate, take the next step into a new career as a recruiter. Learn more about finding and hiring the right people with Recruiting, Hiring, and Onboarding Employees from the University of Minnesota. Upon completion, you'll have a sharable certificate for your resume.



Recruiting, Hiring, and Onboarding Employees

Finding and hiring the right people is often cited as the number one concern of businesses today. It seems we are all competing for the best and brightest ...


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Onboarding, Recruiting, Human Resources (HR), Recruitment

Glossary of recruiting terms

Many terms are pertinent to recruitment work. Below you will find some frequent terms to help you become familiar with the terminology used throughout a recruiter’s career.

Active candidate: Someone who is actively seeking a new job

ATS: Applicant Tracking System, an automated technology solution that allows companies to keep track of a multitude of candidates and their applications through metrics and keyword searches

Blind screening: When the name and gender of an applicant is removed from an application when it’s screened for an opening

Candidate pipeline: A database a recruiter keeps of qualified candidates for various positions

C-level suite: Executive-level managers that have titles that mostly begin with “C,” such as chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), chief information officer (CIO), and chief operating officer (COO)

HR generalist: A human resources manager in a company that handles many of the employee experiences and needs, such as training, onboarding, and employee relations

Job description: A listing of the responsibilities and duties of a role

Job posting: A public announcement or ad for an open position or job written to attract potential candidates.

Requisition load: A formal document from an organization or department manager that outlines the justification for a new employee.

Talent: A skilled candidate for a job

Related articles

Article sources

1. LinkedIn. “The 33 Most Recruited Jobs https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/recruiter-salary-SRCH_KO0,9.htm.” Accessed December 7, 2021.

2. Glassdoor. “Recruiter Salaries, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/recruiter-salary-SRCH_KO0,9.htm.” Accessed March 22, 2022.

3. LinkedIn. “7 Predictions on How Recruiting Will Be Different in 2025. Talent Blog https://www.linkedin.com/business/talent/blog/talent-strategy/predictions-on-how-recruiting-will-be-different-in-2025.” Accessed December 8, 2021.

4. LinkedIn. “The Most Common Career Transitions for Recruiters, https://www.linkedin.com/business/talent/blog/talent-strategy/most-common-career-transitions-for-recruiters.” Accessed December 8, 2021. 

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