What Is a Recruiter?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

A recruiter works to match qualified individuals with open positions at companies and other organisations. 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, also called a recruitment consultant, matches qualified individuals with specific open positions at an organisation. The recruiter reviews a candidate’s job experiences, negotiates salaries, and works with the hiring employers to ensure the fit works well for both parties. The recruiter also stays on top of job trends, industry outlooks, and what qualities and skills companies seek when hiring new employees.

What is recruiting?

Recruiting is enlisting 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 technology, finance, retail, professional services, education, government, and nonprofits. 

Some of the most in-demand positions to fill in the UK include those in the health care field, especially doctors and nurses, as well as positions in the food services industry, according to Statista [1]. LinkedIn's job adverts concur with these findings, noting that deli clerks, baristas, and hospice nurses are among the jobs with the fastest-growing demand based on job adverts globally as of the first quarter of 2024 [2]. LinkedIn further reports the most in-demand positions as of the same period include [2]:

  • 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 average annual base pay for a recruiter in the UK is £37,248 [2]. Recruiters also get paid a commission, which is generally 15 to 20 percent of the salary of each candidate they place [3]. This can amount to a lot of money, depending on the level and industry candidates are working in.

Glossary of recruiting terms

Many terms are pertinent to recruitment work. Below are 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


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 / C 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 organisation or department manager that outlines the justification for a new employee


A skilled candidate for a job

Tasks and responsibilities of a recruiter

A recruiter’s tasks and responsibilities can vary depending on the company and the 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 CVs

  • Presenting a candidate to an employer or hiring manager

  • Setting up interviews between candidates and employers

  • Negotiating salaries, responsibilities, and titles

Different types of recruiters work in various settings. These include:

  • In-house or corporate recruiters work for one company as a staff member, typically in human resources, and are responsible for filling open jobs. 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 at various companies—generally at the C-level or higher.

  • Outplacement agency recruiters assist displaced workers who may have been downsized or laid off and need help polishing their CVs 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. Sometimes, the candidates are employees of the temp or staffing agency who are dispatched to multiple companies.

Skills needed to become a recruiter

You may be naturally curious 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's skills front and centre. 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. 

A recruiter must have persuasive skills to convince candidates to consider an opening or an offer. For example, a recruiter must often persuade a hiring manager to interview a potential candidate for a job opening.

Human resource knowledge includes a broad scope of valuable skills, such as managing, onboarding, incentivising employees and giving performance appraisals.

How to become a recruiter

As a recruiter, you’ll connect people to jobs that fit their interests and passions and help 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 degree will generally make you more competitive for recruiter positions. Though there’s no specific subject requirement, a degree in communications, psychology, business, or the humanities can prepare you to work in an environment where you’ll constantly contact many different types of people.

Can I be a recruiter without a degree?

Although a degree can make you stand out against other candidates, it’s not always a requirement. Some employers can waive a degree requirement if you have a few years of 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

With experience and overall success as a recruiter, you may seek to advance to a management position, such as a recruitment manager, recruitment team leader, or recruitment director. However, being a recruiter also exposes you to numerous careers and industries and can familiarise you with human resources issues. You'll sharpen your communication and people skills, which can set you up to make career transitions to marketing or other human resource positions—among the most common jobs for former recruiters to transition into, LinkedIn reports [4]. An experienced recruiter with established contacts might start an independent recruiting consultancy or business.

Getting started as a recruiter

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

Article sources


Statista. “Number of job vacancies in the United Kingdom from June 2001 to March 2024, https://www.statista.com/statistics/283771/monthly-job-vacancies-in-the-united-kingdom-uk/.” Accessed May 10, 2024.

Keep reading

Updated on
Written by:

Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.