Ed Hunter: Six Reasons You Need a Degree For Recruitment

Many of you will have read my two most recent posts which told the enchanting story of my struggle with a graduate assessment day. There were seven lambs to this particular slaughter, and all of them were university graduates. Which I’ll be honest, made me think.

My first thought?

“How did I end up here?!”

But after I’d calmed down I thought… “What are they teaching in Universities these days?!”

Well, I’ll tell you what they’re not teaching in Universities these days, Recruitment. Mainly because there’s no such course.

So why then, do so many recruitment companies insist on a degree as a prerequisite for employment? ‘Cause if last week’s anything to go by, a degree proves nothing. Not intelligence, common sense, lateral thinking, rapport building or on any real scale, brain activity.

I think I’ve worked out why many request it. Because, aside from your actual studies you learn things at University that offer real life lessons.

Here are those lessons.

1. Negotiation

I’m by no means rich. But equally I no longer have to blow any pig’s houses down at weekends just to bring home the bacon. And if there’s ever a wolf at my own door, he’ll probably know who I am and do me a solid. But, just imagine now, having to live off a student loan.

The first day of the loan landing in your bank is like you’ve won the lottery. You dine out. You buy things you don’t need. You definitely go ‘out out’ at least six days out of seven. You laugh in the face of a part time job and sneer at any suggestion you should save any of your new found wealth.

The second week… reality bites and you’ll negotiate over the price of a mars bar.

Got the support of rich parents and still don’t think you can negotiate?

Try doing an exit examination of your trashed university house with the owner looking for any excuse they can find to not pay your money back. You know you don’t deserve anything, and they know it too. They present hard evidence and you counter with well thought out arguments. If you get anything back at all, even a penny, you’ll make top biller.

2. Persuasion

Don’t think you’re very good at persuasion?

Try attempting to impress someone of the opposite sex at a bar with £3.62 in your pocket.

Waking up the next morning will prove two things. One, you are pretty good at negotiation. And two, if you’re able to persuade a new recruit to enter the cesspit you call home, you’ll probably make a pretty decent Recruiter.

3. Research

The beginner’s guide to research is without doubt an unofficial university module. Any Recruiter or University goer will be able to digitally stalk pretty much anyone on the planet with the smallest tidbit of information.

At University this is used to find out everything you can about a potential romantic partner.

“Oh hey, how was Greece?”

“Sorry, do I know you?”

“No, sorry, I’m Ed. I’m in your ethics class. I’m also in the ‘Lord of the Rings Fans’ group on Facebook and was hoping I’d see you here from your marked ‘attendance’ six weeks ago… Wait what? Ahh I’ve said too much haven’t I? Is it over between us? It’s a shame, your dog would have loved me.”

In recruitment, this level of snooping will put money on the board. 

Client: “What are the chances of meeting a Recruiter on a cruise who works the exact market for which I need 35 contractors next month?”

Me: *Inner thought* ‘Well, I regularly take your PA for dinner. Plus you’ve been hinting about a trip like this for 18 months on Pinterest and your Instagram post last September was a pretty good indication I’d find you on this exact boat.

Also me: “I know, what are the odds. Fancy a beer?”

4. Building Rapport

Have you ever seen a days-old bird learn to fly on a wildlife documentary? The ‘loving’ parent of the young chick will nudge them out of the nest to certain death in the hope they reach the water before being gobbled up by a fox stalking the undergrowth below. This is exactly how it feels to be ‘dropped off’ at University on your first day.

You glare back at your nearest and dearest with tears in your eyes and wonder what ever you did to p*ss them off. But then, just as your fifth beer sinks in… you realise you’re flying. You’ve worked out who the cool kids are, and may just survive the next few years.

After you’ve attended university you’re familiar with this experience.

And it’s the same feeling you get walking into a recruitment office as a fresh Graduate. You’ll be judged. Instantly. Someone will have taken a bet on the length of your tenure within seconds, and if you don’t start flying sharpish, predators are there to give you the chop.

If you never went to University, you might feel pressure to be overly confident, bordering on brash to impress your new inmates. If you did go to University… you know all it takes to build a rapport is one night in the pub.

You never truly know someone until you’ve both been drunk, and crucially, hungover together.

As soon as this hurdle’s been jumped, rapport built! Just don’t overdo it.

5. Holding Composure

There are times in life, when you have to be sober, and you’re definitely not sober. 

This happens no more frequently than when you’re at university and are turned away at a bar for being ‘too merry’.

“How many drinks have you had mate?”

*Inner thought* ‘Pick an answer that seems realistic but not too many’ “Urrm, vodka?”

“Yeah not tonight pal”

Sooner or later you’ll get really good at this. It’s normally started by a friend passing on some life changing advice, minutes before you hit the front of the queue, like “Act sober for God’s sake!”

In recruitment, one client might be thrilled with you and take you out for a boozy lunch. You’ve done a great job and it’s good to celebrate. You’ll know doing this will cement your relationship further too. But, getting back to the office, you can’t be drunk.

The aim is being able to hold it together so you’re (at worse) labelled a scamp, rather than a drunken reprobate, not to be trusted with new business. 

Luckily every drunken morning lecture, bar-behaviour inquiry or police interrogation will have prepared you for this moment.

6. Objection Handling

Whatever level you finished your schooling, there will have been a time you didn’t do a piece of work for no good reason. And the question that followed will probably have been the best preparation for objection handling.

“Why shouldn’t I fail you?” Your Teacher will have probed, as if you’re going to be able to justify in a sentence your personal decency and aptitude.

Well, you probably did justify it somehow. And you’d better get used to justifying things that are difficult to justify. Because, for some reason in recruitment, people will not only ask your rate. But they’ll also ask you to justify it.

“I’ll try really hard from now on, I promise” might have worked in semester two of your first year. When you’re trying to justify a 40% margin on a 12 month contract when the other agency’s candidate is a lot cheaper… good luck!

Basically, you simply won’t last unless you’re good and able to justify why people should work with you.


For anyone reading this who didn’t go to University, well done on not having to pay a sizeable chunk of your commission to The Student Loan Company every single month for years after graduating. Despite ending up in the exact same job as those that did go to University.

To continue your recruitment ‘education’, here are some other classic articles.