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Leaving recruitment - Where to go next

By JAMES COAKES Published 11th Nov 2014
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For many people in the recruitment industry it seems difficult, if not impossible, to imagine working anywhere else. There's no doubt that it's a hard, sometimes frustrating, and sometimes thankless job, but it can also be an immensely satisfying and rewarding one. It's not so much the nature of the work that has prompted many to leave the industry over the last several years, so much as it is the fact that the industry suffered through a temporary downturn as a result of the global financial crisis.

For some recruiting is a temporary job, a springboard for a career in another industry. So what kind of jobs are people doing after they leave recruiting, and what kinds of jobs are former recruiters uniquely qualified for?

Internal recruiting

This seems like a natural transition to make, but in reality jobs of this kind are fairly limited in terms of availability, since a company needs to be of a certain size before they even need internal recruitment staff, and all but the largest companies will have only small hiring teams.

Welfare-to-work industry

This is a growth industry in the UK, especially following the financial crisis that lead to a huge rise in unemployment. Although unemployment levels are again approaching normal, there will always be a need for an industry sector dedicated to helping people return to work. There are numerous not-for-profit and private agencies that are involved in various different elements of governmental welfare-to-work schemes, including many that work with specific groups of people, such as young people entering the job market, families, and people with disabilities. It's a chance to use your skills in a familiar but uniquely rewarding way that allows you to see first-hand how your work impacts and benefits the people you help.

Project management

If you've left the recruitment industry with good organisation and management skills, for example; budgeting, staff management, and resource management your skills may lend themselves well to a role in contract-based or permanent project management work. Contact work can be particularly interesting, since it offers the opportunity to travel and to work in new industry sectors.

Event management & publishing

Previous work as a recruiter may also put you in a good position to transition to a job in event management. Skills like networking and effective management of people and interpersonal relationships are essential in the events industry, particularly in the area of industry conferences and networking. Publishing companies will always be interested in someone with proven sales skills and a good contact book.


When you get right down to it, recruitment is all about sales; selling candidates and companies to each other is the name of the game. A good recruiter is a skilled salesperson, and sales of any kind are a natural transition from the recruitment industry.


Many people in the recruitment industry leave with a set of skills that would serve them well in their own start-up. Popular areas to get into include training and career or life coaching, or consultancy. If you've been in the recruitment industry a while, you likely have a huge network of contacts to draw on, and this can provide a huge advantage if you choose to set up your own company.

Increasingly employers look at social media when employing people, particularly in sales jobs. If you have built up a good LinkedIn profile and have Twitter followers in an industry specific niche then you will be viewed as a good prospect. Recruiting is a competitive, results-driven industry in which the quick-witted have the advantage, so there should be no shortage of opportunities for recruiters who are looking for a change.

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