The Most Common Career Transitions for Recruiters

August 5, 2020

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In the wake of COVID-19, many recruiters are in a tough position. “When you aren’t hiring, recruiting tends to be the first on the chopping block,” says Jason Silver, a recruiter who was recently let go from Airbnb and started his own consultancy. 

While demand for talent is down overall, demand for recruiters has fallen 10x more than average, according to new LinkedIn data. It’s a challenging time to find (and hold) a job in talent acquisition.  

There are, however, other opportunities for recruiters beyond recruiting. “A recruiter’s skillset is so diverse that they can do mostly anything that they strive for,” says Jason. “If you’re good at hunting for top talent, you’ll have success hunting for your own next opportunity.” 

Still, making the next move isn’t an easy choice. With so many in the recruiting community looking for work, we wanted to help out by surfacing the most common jobs that recruiters move into — along with a few other roles that are surprisingly well-suited to recruiters’ skillsets. 

What types of jobs recruiters typically move into (and one increasingly popular path)

Four out of ten recruiters transition into an HR role, making it the most popular function by far. Sales and business development are also popular landing spots.

Looking closer, we can see the specific job titles held by former recruiters. Since so many move into HR roles, we’ve broken down our list of the most popular job titles into two categories: 

Talent acquisition teams are often deeply embedded into HR departments, so it’s a natural progression for many recruiters. 

That’s the path Megan Weir took. After being a recruiter for years, she moved into an HR Business Partner role back in 2017. “I always developed close relationships with my candidates,” she says. “But once they joined, my ability to impact their success lessened. I was really curious about how the candidate experience connected to the employee experience.”

Megan made the move to HR Business Partner while staying at the same company — a path that’s becoming increasingly common. 

Internal mobility has grown significantly since the outbreak of COVID-19, especially for recruiters. Over 30% of all job changes made by recruiters in recent months were internal transitions. In April and May 2020, there was a 25% increase in the proportion of recruiters making internal transitions compared to the previous year.

For recruiters still working but considering an internal move, Megan offers a couple key pieces of advice on how to make it happen:

  • Build out your network internally and externally. “When I first started my career in recruiting, I only knew other recruiters,” she says. Breaking through that barrier was a major step. Megan went out of her way to talk to people in other HR roles — grabbing coffee and picking their brains to pick up advice. 
  • Look for opportunities to collaborate with people in your desired role. Megan sought out opportunities to work with HR Business Partners. “That really helped me understand what this nebulous role was all about,” she says. “I was able to start building my skill set horizontally, and it validated my interest in the role.” 

For those currently out of work, Megan recommends volunteering and community involvement as a way to gain experience and contacts. For example, she’s done pro bono HR consulting work to help the World Health Organization build a COVID-19 app.

Recruiting skills that transfer well to other roles 

Both Jason and Megan pointed to a number of skills that recruiters already have that can help them get new jobs — whether in HR or in other popular functions like sales, business development, or operations. 

“The skills that you develop as a recruiter — the interpersonal communication skills, the negotiation skills, the ability to influence and manage, to evaluate and discern — those are powerful, critical skills that easily apply to those other roles,” says Jason. 

Megan points to three key recruiting skills that have been assets in her newer role as HR Business Partner: relationship building, strategic thinking, and especially data analysis. 

“There were multiple times as a recruiter that I used data to help influence change,” she says. “In HR, you might be looking at different numbers — exit trends, diversity metrics, employee engagement — but you’re still using data to identify themes and make recommendations.” 

Final thoughts

Despite the turmoil of recent months, Jason is encouraged by the support and care shown by recruiters. “You're seeing the recruiting community come together to really communicate, share best practices, give each other leads, and help refer people,” he says. 

Describing himself as an eternal optimist, Jason maintains that the long-term future for recruiters is still bright. “There will be a recovery,” he says. “Some sectors will come roaring back, some will come limping, but recruiters will be back no matter what. Recruiting is such an integral part to building businesses, and a fundamentally human function at its core.” 

Co-authored by Gopika Maya Santhosh

Methodology 

This analysis looked at aggregated LinkedIn member data to identify the most common roles that recruiters transitioned to. The analysis excluded transitions to ‘recruiter’ roles to identify other cohorts of roles that recruiters usually move to. Any transition made within the same company is defined as an internal transition. 

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