Dear Timmy: How Do I Get Into Talent Acquisition?

I get asked a ton of questions via email. Some are from college students who ask a variety of things. Here’s a recent one:

Dear Timmy,

I’m a college student majoring in communications (editor’s note: why do college kids major in communications? Like 80% of college kids want to major in communications. You know there aren’t real jobs in communications, right!?) and I’m looking to get into human resources, more specifically I would like to work in talent acquisition.  What suggestions, or steps, do you suggest to help me get a position in corporate talent acquisition?


Communication major because apparently I’m an idiot (just kidding, she didn’t sign it that way!)

Here is my response:

If you want to get into straight HR you’ll need to graduate with a degree in HR. As I don’t know of an organization that hires entry level HR pros with non-HR degrees. If you want to get into talent acquisition follow these steps –

Step 1 – Graduate

Step 2– Apply for ‘agency’ entry level recruiting roles.

Step 3 – Do your time in the agency world, at least a year, maybe a bit more.

Step 4 – Apply for corporate Talent Acquisition openings

Here’s my reasoning for the steps above.

In talent acquisition no one cares which college degree you have, they only care that you can recruit. The reality is they shouldn’t even care if you go to college, but most corporate recruiter jobs will require it. Corporate TA departments rarely hire entry level recruiters because they don’t have the knowledge, processes, and capacity to train recruiters, which is why you need to get experience on the agency side of recruiting.

Agency recruiting is known to be very cut-throat and high burnout rate, but I’m only talking about a year or so. Anyone can handle that, and it will give you valuable experience. You might like agency recruiting and you can make a ton of money, but it’s high stress. Corporate TA is mid-level money, with no growth, but virtually no stress in comparison.

Once you get your experience in the agency world, even only a year, you’ll actually be considered pretty valuable on the corporate side of TA. Think of your agency time as your TA internship. You know there’s an endpoint, then you get into the job you want.

When interviewing for agency positions you should never mention that your goal is to get into corporate TA. They won’t hire you if they feel you’re just going to leave. Also, when you interview, most agency folks are only looking to hire two things: high energy, highly money motivated. So, drink three Red Bulls before you interview, and talk constantly about how much money you want to make. You’ll get hired by 99% of the agencies that interview you.

I might be joking a little, but only a little, that’s fairly close to reality. I mean agencies are also known to hire pretty people, so it wouldn’t hurt to be good looking.


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