When YOU Make the Hiring Decisions: What It’s Like to Be a Recruiter


Here on the AfterCollege Blog, we spend a lot of time trying to help you get hired. But what if you’d like to be the one doing the hiring? We thought you might wonder what it’s like to be a recruiter. How does it feel to sit on the other side of the table and make the hiring decisions about candidates or usher them through the recruitment process?

Guest writer Melissa Nguyen caught up with tech recruiter James Nguyen (no relation) to find out what recruiters do, how you can follow this path, and the biggest misconceptions about the job.


We’ve all stared them in the eye as they asked what our greatest strengths and weaknesses are, but have you ever wondered what obstacles recruiters have had to overcome to land their jobs? James Nguyen is a recruiter for a global employment agency; he finds talent in the tech industry. We asked him just what it is that recruiters are looking for in candidates, and how he ended up with a seat on the other side of the interview table.

What is your job title?

My title is Technical Recruiter and I work at a large global employment agency.

What are your responsibilities and day-to-day tasks?

I perform full life-cycle recruiting, meaning I am with candidates during the entire process, including gathering and writing requirements, sourcing, interviewing, testing, candidate selection, and managing the interview, offer, and the on-boarding process. I also maintain talent-retention through activities such as reviews, increases, coaching and mentoring, lunches, quarterly happy hours, referral bonuses, and recognition of accomplishments.

And, I inform and educate team members of latest advancements in technology trends to simplify job processes and help better understand client needs.

What college did you go to and what did you study? How did this prepare you for your job now?

I graduated from the University of Houston, majoring in Information Systems Technology with a minor in Business Administration. My strong foundation in technology and IT consulting helped me better understand the types of questions to ask our clients and understand our scope for sourcing talent. It also gave me the ability to have normal conversations with Technologists when I am recruiting.

What was your career path leading up to your current role?

When I graduated from college, I was working at the Apple store and was selected to be in the first batch of “Geniuses” to train at a Houston, Texas location. From there, I was recruited to be a QA Test Engineer. I later left to be an IT Consultant/Systems Engineer at a Windows enterprise environment and then went on to be a third-party Apple Systems Engineer, exploring consulting in the Apple space. While I was interviewing with other companies after that, one of the recruiters was impressed with my technical skills and how personable I was during the interview. He suggested and sparked the idea of recruiting in my mind—and the rest is history.

What was your interview process like and how did you land this current position?

I got in touch with a recruiter from my company and told him that I was interested in recruiting. He knew my potential and pitched me to his director. We scheduled a lunch interview, and I was offered the job a few days later.

What characteristics does a recruiter need?

Strong people and communication skills; patience; ability to build relationships, display confidence, listen, and multi-task with strong time management; work in a fast-paced environment; and be target-driven to attain goals.

What advice would you give someone looking to get into recruiting?

You don’t have to have a recruiting background to get into it. It’s the type of person you are that will determine if you succeed. You must be comfortable cold-calling people and selling them the jobs. Having the drive and staying “hungry” will also help you succeed as a recruiter.

Can you give us an insider tip as to what recruiters look for in potential candidates?

What I look for is their ability to do the job that the client is requesting. Many people come from different backgrounds—my job is to map their work history and judge if they have the tools to succeed and grow in their environment and potential role. Having candidates that have a passion to develop themselves professionally is important as well.

What would you say is a huge misconception folks have about recruiters?

That they are all liars and consider candidates as just a “meal ticket.” Recruiters involved in the full life-cycle of the recruiting process show compassion and care toward the professional development of talent throughout their career.

What do you enjoy most about being a recruiter?

I enjoy speaking with and meeting new people every day. Being able to successfully place people and offer them the position is always the exciting part. Although I cannot place every single person that I interview, I offer my expertise to assist them however I can—whether it’s with their résumé, mock interviews, suggestions on technologies, or skills to learn to help make them more marketable.

Homework time! If you haven’t already, you might consider meeting with a recruiter in your desired industry. He or she may be able to give you some tips on your résumé and interview techniques, and maybe even help you land a job!

Melissa Nguyen has met her fair share of recruiters but often feels the pangs of unrequited love. Find her freelance writing at writingsbymelissanguyen.wordpress.com.


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