Youth Vs Life Experience in Recruitment

There’s a low barrier to entry in recruitment. You don’t need an entrance exam, nor any pre-requisite education. The sector’s generally seen as one for younger people, and yet ironically ‘life experience’ can be a real advantage. 

You could be a 22 year old Consultant (with two years’ experience and great billings) with more proven capability than a 45 year old just starting their first recruitment job. And this situation isn’t hypothetical.

I’ve worked with examples of both. However, which consultant do you think most clients and candidates would prefer to deal with? I’d wager, based on first impressions, almost universally the 45 year old.

Old Man Newspaper

Life Experience

The reason for this, is perception. Life experience is invaluable.

There’s an inherent bias against younger Recruiters. They may have no idea what life’s like outside of the walls they’re currently recruiting in. Therefore they’ll have less context. A smaller network. Fewer life experiences, therefore their opinion is worth less. And ultimately, because of that, less time is afforded to them.

Now there are, fairly obviously, a number of reasons why this isn’t quite an exact science.

Having just one conversation with your senile, mildly fascist Grandfather will tell you that.

Life experience isn’t something you can hack either. You’ll become (for some reason) more credible the older you get. The advice you’re giving may not alter too much, but people just start to listen more.

The Good News

Luckily, there are ways of being able to level the playing field. As most Recruiters will admit, the actual competency of Recruitment isn’t a tough one to learn. You can probably become proficient within 12 months. Yes, it takes a while to finesse your practice, but the actual skill set, shouldn’t take long to attain. This is true whether you’re in an office support temp agency or an Executive Search firm.

To compete with Recruiters who have tons more life experience you have to prove yourself.

And the first way to do this, is to simply do a great job.

You might not know everything about every company out there. Or other industries. But you know very well how to recruit. And hopefully, specifically for the placement at hand. It’s important to become a sciolist with your technology to bridge the initial skill gap.

Then, over time, set about learning everything you possibly can. 

We’re in the most amazing time for information that’s ever been. Whatever you want to know, you can find out. Normally within seconds.

So find out.

Your confidence will shoot up, along with, non-coincidentally, your billings.

Man Writing Floor

It gets Easier

Whether you’re a Recruiter who’s come out of education and started hitting the phones, or a late joiner to the recruitment industry after 20 years in work… you have a great opportunity.

You can become an absolute expert in your area as soon as you want to.

You don’t have to wait until for someone to hand you the reins. Nor, do you have to rely on another person for success.

Everything you’ve ever wanted to achieve, is incredibly attainable in this industry.

What’s more? Things get easier the longer you do them, and this is especially true in recruitment. It gets easier to win business; buy-in from your network and ultimately better billings. In contract recruitment, most people will agree that the first ten contractors are tough. Then, it becomes easier to build on them.

Just like on a permanent desk. The first few clients who come back to you, may be tough to win. But after you’ve hit that milestone, others follow. Your billings chart will oft be a curved graph.

Pendulum Swing

Recruitment’s not only crucial to worldwide industry, but it’s evolving too. There are benefits of this.

Firstly, the future average age in the recruitment industry should rise.

As the options for Recruiters multiply and the sector diversifies into its many different branches, there’ll be more opportunities to stay and flourish.

Just because someone doesn’t like 360 on the sales floor, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t love a strategic Research role, for example.

Equally, the standards in the industry should also rise. 

The longer you stay in one specialism, the more the pendulum will swing in your favour. One of the best things you can do is learn. And never stop.

Life experience will come. In the mean time. Get as much specialist knowledge of your niche you can. Network. Chat. Meet people. Invite people to connect on LinkedIn. Call them to talk about things other than recruitment. Read. Listen to podcasts. Watch TED talks.

The result will be, you’ll have a more valuable life experience than someone who’s jumped around without ever specialising.

And your age will become irrelevant.