A non-trainer’s guide to recruitment training

There are many benefits to running your own recruitment business and hiring your own team – but what can you do to make sure you are successful?

Setting up your own recruitment business is exciting but you need to stay organised. Alongside running day-to-day business operations and strategy, in order to successfully scale up, you also need to hire people that fit your company ethos. This guide explores some of the considerations you need to make when training your recruitment staff an experienced recruiter but an inexperienced trainer.

Rob Barklamb, International Franchise Operations Manager at Reed Franchise Partnerships, gives his insight on the process.

The training challenge - Reed article

The training challenge

As recruiters, we sell a service which is hard to define to demanding clients; we deal with candidates who walk, talk and have minds of their own. Therefore, training someone to become skilled, proficient and knowledgeable at recruitment can be rather challenging.

To start, consider doing the following exercise:

1. Write down all the steps in the recruitment process from first prospecting for clients through to placement and aftercare. Add all the systems and tools a recruiter will need to use through this process, alongside any market or sector knowledge which may be required. 

2. Following this, write down all the things which can go wrong during that process on the client and candidate side, factoring internal (e.g. a hiring freeze) and external (e.g. a global pandemic) issues for the client, and personal (e.g. illness) and professional (e.g. a promotion) issues for the candidate.  

3. Finally, consider and record all the training you will need to do to achieve all the things listed in point one, considering any of the elements in point two that could derail that process and the training that would be required to minimise the risk of those derailments.

Who you hire and the training they will require - Reed article

Who you hire and the training they will require

Your new appointee may be someone who...

  • Has recruitment experience, alongside experience in the sector in which they are planning to recruit.
  • Has recruitment experience but no work experience in the sector in which they are planning to recruit.
  • No recruitment experience but has work experience in the sector in which they are planning to recruit.
  • No recruitment experience and no sector experience.

Having been involved in recruitment for a long time, hiring from the top bullet point is always the most preferable option.

However, this is also going to be the costliest option, commanding a high salary. As a start-up, your budget may only extend to those in the last bullet point – these potential employees will cause less of a strain on your budget from a salary point of view but have the greatest training needs.

Therefore, when hiring, consider the training your new hire may need and how you are going to meet that need.

Training options - Reed article

Training options

For many years, much of the recruitment industry did what might be described as ‘training by osmosis’. This theory involves putting new starters in a room surrounded by intelligent, experienced people and hoping that they will pick up how to do the job – as if skills and knowledge can be transferred by a process of osmosis.

The truth is they can’t. In order to build a successful recruitment business, you are going to have train your people properly.

So, what are your options?

Do it yourself - Reed article

Do it yourself 

It may be that you have a natural aptitude and/or passion for training, and if so, do-it-yourself (DIY) could be a good option for you. It’s certainly less expensive, however, as a non-trainer, you may not realise that for every hour you spend delivering training, you’ll spend at least three hours preparing. There’s research to be conducted, as well as the ‘thinking’ time, writing up the slides and creating any workbooks and materials to be used during training.

As a billing owner-manager, that all adds up to lost opportunity cost – the time you spend training is time you are not spending billing. If you consider building and delivering a one-week induction course (and you would be hard pressed to induct any new starter in less time than that), it will take up to a month to design and deliver it. In cost terms, that’s a month’s billings lost.

Send them on an external training course

The advantage here is that you will save time and they will get trained by an experienced recruitment trainer. The downside is that this can be a rather expensive option (particularly if you factor in travel and accommodation), and dates and venue may not be convenient. Finally, any training of this nature is going to be a “one size fits all” approach, so you really need to ask yourself ‘how well does the training meet my approach to the market?’

Buy an online training product

This can be a relatively inexpensive option which will save you time in design and delivery. However, the challenge is how well the online product meets your needs. Can it be tailored or made bespoke to suit you?

Hire an in-house trainer

Hiring an in-house trainer gives you control over content and availability for training, making the process seamless and straightforward. But due to its sizeable cost, it’s only a realistic consideration once you get to a headcount of at least 20 employees.

Partner with an external trainer

It varies from country to country, but there are some good recruitment trainers out there who partner with recruitment businesses to deliver quality training. This could be a good option for you as it will save you time. The price aspect is rather tricky – one-to-one training can prove costly, the ROI may only improve once you have a larger headcount, and the trainer may charge by the class or by delegate numbers.

It may take you time to find a trainer who fits your business, but overall this kind of partnering could be a good option.

What to consider when 'doing it yourself' - Reed article

What to consider when ‘doing it yourself’

Assuming that, as a start-up, you decide to ‘do it yourself’ for your first few hires, here are some things to consider:

What are you actually training?

It could be said that performance in any role is down to a combination of skills, knowledge and behaviours (which can be broken down further into effort and attitude). It’s hard to train behaviours – you hire people who display the right behaviours; you can motivate and manage around behaviours and coach to improve them, but you can’t ‘train’ behaviours such as energy or positive attitude.

Firstly, think about the skills you want your people to have. For example, you might want to train people in the following skills:

  • Qualifying
  • Interviewing
  • Negotiating
  • Closing
  • Listening

It’s important to spend time breaking down your recruitment process, listing all the skills involved and, once in a position to do so, making sure your training gives the essential skills to your new hirers.

Knowledge is more straightforward – what knowledge do you want your people to have about the recruitment market? What systems knowledge do they need? What about the tools they use, such as LinkedIn? Ensure your training helps people to build their knowledge so they can be successful.


You may have reached a stage in your career where you can set up on your own – you have the financial resources based on your performance and you have some clients who will probably follow you.

As a recruiter, try to understand that there will be things which come very naturally and instinctively to you which your trainee may struggle to grasp. Don’t assume they will master the role straight away. You may need to develop layers of patience and practice which may not come naturally to you.


As a trainee in the past, you may have attended a half-day training course. In reality, it didn’t take half a day – it took a lot longer than that.

The course is the visible 10% at the top of the iceberg – there is an additional 90% of work behind the course you never saw. The course had to be developed – ideas, research, reading, slides, notes, workbooks had to be turned into course material.

Before conducting training, make sure you are clear on the time commitment required.

Learning styles – it’s about more than just writing slides

There are four main learning styles, also known as the VARK model. This means that your trainees may not learn in the style you have found to be the most accessible and impactful. Your training should cater to all four learning styles:

  • Visual – a visual learner is going to respond best to content which is presented graphically.

  • Auditory – sometimes referred to as ‘aural’ learners, auditory learners prefer listening to information that is presented to them vocally.

  • Reading and writing – focusing on the written word, reading and writing learners succeed with written information on worksheets, presentations, and other text-heavy resources.

  • Kinaesthetic – those who learn by doing; these are the people who are going to respond well to role plays and exercises.

Make sure you take all styles into consideration when building up your training content.

Retention of training

Regardless of the preparation you put into your course, most of your trainees are going to forget a lot of what they’ve learned in a short time frame. That’s not because they are bad trainees or that you are a poor trainer – it’s simply how the human brain works.

According to American educator Edgar Dale, humans remember:

  • 10% of what we read
  • 20% of what we hear
  • 30% of what we see
  • 50% of what we see and hear

With this in mind, the importance of mixing your approach to training will boost retention rates considerably. However, Dale observed that the real boosts in retention of information comes when we start getting active, stating that we remember:

  • 70% of what we discuss with others
  • 80% of what we personally experience
  • 95% of what we teach others

Ensure your trainees discuss points that will improve retention. Teaching others may not be possible with new recruits but setting ‘homework’ where a trainee might have to present on their experiences and/or learnings may be useful.

Role play is your friend

It’s highly advisable to weave role playing into your training classes. Don’t just walk people through how to interview – set up interview role plays; don’t teach objection handling techniques – run drills at morning meetings. It’s all about going beyond just listing techniques: get your trainees to practice with their peers; as a manager, your task is to coach on the job and help people to learn by doing.

Also, allow for mistakes to be made – people learn from mistakes. Remove judgement from the role- play process and try to make it as fun and energetic as possible.

Review and refresh

It’s important to review your training. Around four-to-six weeks after your induction course, it’s recommended that you sit down with your trainees and assess their development. Talk about their performance, what they find easy or hard, and what extra support they need.

In induction courses, we tend to overwhelm people and expect them to remember every piece of learning. Try running refresher sessions focusing on the key points of your induction; this can be hugely beneficial to trainees.

Conclusion a non-trainer's guide to recruitment training - Reed article


As we know, there’s a lot more to training than simply devising a few PowerPoint slides and running an hour session on ‘qualifying opportunities’ on a Friday afternoon.

Effective training is a mixture of art (delivery and presentation) and science. The crisp and branded presentation deck should be backed up by a mountain of research and time devoted to understanding and catering for a variety of learning styles. To train staff effectively, it takes a lot of time and proper investment.

The big question is how are you going to balance being a billing owner-manager of a recently established recruitment business alongside training your team?

Here at Reed Franchise Partnerships, we have over 60 years’ experience of recruitment and recruitment training, providing the best-in-class solutions to help take your business to the next level.

As a franchise partner, you get access to our ‘plug in and play’ model, utilising Reed’s huge training infrastructure, alongside the materials, courses, training professionals and webinars needed to help you thrive.

Our dedicated team can be on hand to offer best practice peer-to-peer sessions, as well as systems training and a learning management system (LMS) to allow you to deliver and monitor bespoke recruitment training.

For more information about how our learning and development offer can help upskill your new hires, simply fill out the contact form below!

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