A Day In The Life Of A Recruiter

“If it was an easy job, everybody would do it.” That observation has been used around my office many, many, many times. Although recruiting professionally can be very rewarding it can also be very challenging, frustrating, and difficult.

A couple of months back we discussed recruiting in general terms (Sourcing Opportunities (Demystifying Recruiters)) and gave some ideas on how to best work with both corporate and third party recruiters.  In order to shed more light and what recruiters actually do we have enlisted a few friends to talk about what their average day entails.


Scott Boren is a Sr. Technical Recruiter with Compuware in their Raleigh/Durham, NC office and he concentrates on finding top level technology talent. To connect with Scott you can check out his LinkedIn profile at www.linkedin.com/in/scottboren.

I spent many years as an agency recruiter/headhunter and during that time I focused almost entirely on permanent placement of IT professionals. I learned the business running a full desk and had to find my candidates and find the clients who wanted them. I had no PC, job boards, or social media as defined by today’s standards. We used the phone, local newspapers, and field publications. I wrote candidate and client data on 3X5 and 5X8 cards. Exciting, huh?

In 2005 I joined Compuware as in internal recruiter. The things that made me successful as an agency recruiter have extended to my job at Compuware. Now I only source, recruit and qualify candidates. Sales is handled a separate team that I have to work very closely with.

In any given day I will complete a number of tasks. I will try to address them all here, in no particular order. As in most jobs things happen in a certain order, but once you are rolling, I may spend a half day doing only two or three of these things.

I meet with our sales team to discuss specific openings and needs as well as projects they may be about to close. Based on those needs I have a “target audience” to go after. Sourcing the candidates any company needs is the true beginning. I can find candidates in a number of ways. I do use LinkedIn to conduct searches. I not only find specific people with a certain skill set, but this also shows me where they work. If there is one person there are more (a little like ants in your house). I will ask other people in my network who they know.

A referral is generally the best lead, if it comes from a trusted person. My network is online but also every candidate I have had a meaningful conversation with. Of course employee referrals are a great source too. Many times I have to simply make some phone calls into companies and get to the right people. In our business we lovingly refer to this as “cold calling”. If I have an entire day planned out simply to source for one or two specific skills sets, I might make 50 to 100 calls in a single day. Of course I will use job/resume boards (DICE, Monster) as needed. You will notice I listed this last.

As I speak to each of these people we can quickly ascertain whether what my company has to offer to them will fit their needs. It is a two way street. Yes in these economic times candidates may be more flexible, but we want to hire smart, motivated, talented people who want to work for us. It’s not only about skills. Think of all the things you consider when taking a job. Location. Specific role. The Team. Salary. Benefits. Company history. Each of us puts different weight on every item. This means I might have to talk to 10 or 20 or 30 people to find one or two really good people who will work within our culture.

Once I have completed a thorough phone interview and we both feel comfortable we should move ahead, I have to get the candidate technically qualified. This can be done by having them talk to one of our senior employees or through online testing. That is followed up by a hiring manager reviewing the resume and my comments. And of course an in person interview.

I do get candidates from posting our openings on our website Careers page. A certain number of people apply by conducting their own research. How many resumes I see in any given day is influenced by the economy, the specific skill set and location. It can run from 5 a day to 50.

Naturally I also conduct references, negotiate salary, get offers to candidates (all electronic now) and make sure they are ready for their first day with us. I attend local networking events every month (LinkedIn Live, user groups, and business meetings) in order to stay in touch with people and get our name out there.


Scott Fernandez is a Senior Technical Recruiter with Zycron in Nashville, TN and most of the positions he works on are IT related (Project Management, Business Analyst, Developers, Network Engineers, Architects and Quality Assurance). To connect with Scott you can log onto http://www.linkedin.com/in/scottfernandez.

A typical day in my world is working on up to three positions at any given time, with all being in various stages of the process. One may be new and on others I may have submitted résumés and am awaiting feedback. Also, I have to review the résumés that may come in from job-board postings I have on the positions I am working.

My sources for résumés are CareerBuilder, Dice, LinkedIn and our in house database. When searching for candidates I am usually looking for key words mentioned in the job description and will call and email any candidates whose résumés that appear to be a good fit for the position. If I am lucky I catch them on the first call but most of the time I end up leaving a voice mail and then sending an email as well.


Laura Paddock is a Sr. Nuclear Recruiting Program Manager with the Tennessee Valley Authority in Chattanooga, TN. You can check out Laura’s LinkedIn profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/laurapaddock

I’ve been called many things in my life in reference to my career: recruiter, head hunter, people finder, etc.  While most of these descriptions encompass the general description of being a recruiter, they fall short in providing a true sense of what recruiters do every day. 

So what is a day in the life of a corporate recruiter like? In short, it’s different every day.  Early in my career, a former boss told me that recruiting was a series of peaks and valleys and it didn’t take long for me to figure out how true that statement was. 

Why? Because you are dealing with a resource that is made up of people.  They bring to the table their own individual personalities, expectations, perceptions, habits, demands, and forms of communication that are rarely in sync with your own.  One hiring manager may give you a vague description of his ideal candidate while another may be extremely precise in what skill set she is seeking.  Combine that with the word “fit” and you the recruiter are left with either a loose or tight set of search parameters that may all be moot in the end if the hiring manager or candidate do not feel, post interview, that there is a good “fit”.  Suffice to say, this is no 8:00 – 5:00 job. 

When I arrive at my desk in the morning (commonly referred to as the “war room” because of my large dry erase board crammed full of data), I ensure that the plies of my trade are readily available: phone, blackberry, an assortment of pens and highlighters, Post-it notes, calendar, journal, large cup of coffee with extra shots, and a binder full of current candidate resumes. 

When I log in to my computer and hit the ‘Open Outlook’ button, I’m sure to see two things consistently – an inbox full of mail from candidates, managers, and HR, and calendar reminders that look something like a ‘to-do’ list. 

A couple of years ago, my firm transitioned Recruiting Assistants out of the department which means I am now responsible for tracking and sourcing all of my requisitions in my ATS.  My company receives over 400 applications a day. Ideally, I would like to think when candidates read a job description they pay attention to the minimum qualifications before clicking the ‘Apply Now’ button.  This is rarely ever the case. 

Therefore, a good portion of time is spent in the review of resumes that are either not qualified for the position applied for or potentially qualified for another opportunity in the company that they need to be rerouted to. Oftentimes, out of 150 candidates, only ten will meet the minimum threshold for consideration.  

Which brings me to the second aspect of my day: finding the candidates I really need.  In an ideal world, I think everyone would want to work for my company because it’s such a great place to work.  I realize, however, that not everyone knows about my business and it’s my job to track them down and sell them on why they should not wait one minute in resigning their current role, pack up their family, and move post-haste to work with me! 

Fortunately, with the advent of the internet, it has become easier to find the who’s who in a given company.  The more specialized the role, however, the more difficult to find the ideal candidate.  Sometimes it takes six calls to finally get through a gatekeeper and then to the voice mail of who I’m actually trying to reach. I rarely reach someone on the first try and leaving a voice mail is no guarantee someone will actually call me back. 

I might add that it is not exactly a hiring manager’s concern of how difficult said candidate may be to find, much less recruit away from their current company.  And waiting for me to send them a much-needed candidate is akin to my six year old’s impatience at wanting to know how close Christmas is when it’s still middle of summer. 

Oftentimes, I enlist the help of third-party recruiters or search firms that deal in the niche industry I recruit for.  This adds another set of contacts and interaction that must be managed daily as well. Once a candidate is identified, the process of interviewing begins.  Coordinating schedules, travel, and interview times often requires imagination and occasionally the offer to babysit a candidate’s child.  Whatever it takes. In an ideal world, the candidate is a perfect fit and the hire process runs as smooth as silk.  Unfortunately, this is not an ideal world so many times, the post-interview process prompts the start up of the entire process again – from scratch.  You get the idea. 

You may think this sounds like herding cats.  You may also wonder if there is an element of inherent insanity that would drive someone to this career.  I think there is perhaps a little truth to both of those statements. 

So why do I do it? For one, the rewards are sweet.  Helping people progress in their career is a wholly satisfying experience.  Secondly, helping my organization grow by finding the best and brightest brings a sense of personal satisfaction.  Being able to directly impact a company’s success by ensuring the right people are in place is an opportunity few other careers offer. 

Finally, the challenge of reworking your strategy and game plan in an ever-changing environment means that I never have the same work day twice. Working collaboratively with other like-minded recruiters (fellow “Type A’ers”) offers endless opportunities for me to grow professionally and personally as I hone my skills by learning from others on my team.  

When New Employee Orientation starts up on a Monday morning and I poke my head through the door and peer into the vast sea of wide-eyed “newbies”, I walk away with my head held a little higher knowing I played a key role in getting some of them in that seat.


A big thanks to Scott, Scott, and Laura for their willingness to share what they do on a day in, day out basis!! I hope it helps you understand how recruiters work and what the other side is experiencing.

Until next time, good hunting and good luck!


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12 responses to “A Day In The Life Of A Recruiter

  1. I had the privilege of working closely with a couple of recruiters in my last job, helping them develop better file-sharing business processes. I don’t remember any time of day that they were not being continuously interrupted and re-directed. The job must be as stressful as an air-traffic controller’s!

    Thanks for taking the time to give us “seekers” your insight!

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  3. I have a question: Is an internal recruiter officially considered part of the Human Resources Department? In earlier years, Human Resources would use recruiting agencies (as mentioned by Scott Boren in this post). Now that companies have internal recruiters, who do they report to?

    • Yes, they are usually part of the HR organization. Department names include Staffing, Selection, Talent Acquisition, etc.

  4. I never thought about what a recruiter goes through, although I have read recently that as a job seeker, I should be aware of what their job entails. This article gives an excellent insight. Thanks!

  5. I have always worked with the operations and it is good to know what people on the other side of the table go through.


  6. I have many recruiter friends being in the college Career Employment “business” with the University of West Georgia, yet I never really had an appreciation of “A Day in the Life.” Great information! Thanks!

  7. Thank you for sharing!

    I think that more people should be aware of the circumstances recruiters encounter.

  8. These may be examples of a day in the life of good, conscientious, scrupulous recruiters. The ones who are not would never answer this survey. In my experience, for every good one, there are ten in the stereotypical used car salesman vein. They’re not selling people, not selling positions, and not searching. They get notified of new openings automatically. In their minds, all they have to do is wait for the phone to ring, knowing they can depend on the desperation of potential employees to drive their multi-thousand-dollar commission.

  9. This is a good overview of my future job. I want to be a recruiter one day. I wonder how all of these great recruiters started out.

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