From recruiter to manager – how to do it well



Can you be a great recruiter and transition to a great recruitment manager? Louise Reilly, General Manager at Parker Bridge – winner of the 2015 SARA Excellence in Candidate Management award – shares her advice and personal experience.


Someone recently sat me down and asked decidedly pointed questions about who and what makes a great recruitment manager. It got me thinking about my own experiences and how I have successfully made the transition. It’s fair to say I’m well-respected in the role.

The questions made me consider what I love about recruitment and what a good manager should bring to the table.

I’m a ‘career recruiter’ and I’ve always loved everything about it – from the carousel of candidates and forging and nurturing relationships with clients, to the mantra of striving to exceed expectations and the ever-changing recruitment market that keeps me on my toes. I don’t even mind the hours, lack of sleep and stress because the ultimate satisfaction for me comes from the following formula:

A dedicated recruiter + great candidates + great roles in great organisations = mutually beneficial results for everyone.

So why take the step up to management?


Suddenly, you’re not only responsible for the performance of individuals, but also the overarching planning, delegating, staffing and other strategic decision-making. It’s your own bottom line on the line now.

Personally, I did it because it was an opportunity to stretch myself; to take on a leadership role where I was directly accountable not only for myself, but for a team of recruiters. It was a chance to challenge myself beyond my comfort zone (which is the top-ranking career driver for most people). I wanted to go where others have gone, armed with both good and bad experiences from previous managers and do it my way.

11 things I learnt transitioning to recruitment manager


Here’s what I have learned through the highs and lows of transitioning from recruiter to manager:

  1. Make no mistake, you don’t become JUST a manager. You are still a recruiter, and a manager on top. You take on two jobs instead of one, with higher expectations and the same amount of time to achieve double the results.

  2. To make sure you can do the above, never stop being a recruiter that actively recruits. It’s almost impossible to lead from the front when you’re not even in the race.

  3. Always challenge the status quo. If it’s the norm, it can be done better.

  4. Do it right. Learn to delegate effectively by choosing the right tasks to delegate to the right people.

  5. Make sure you have the respect of your peers and colleagues before you step up to management. It’s incredibly difficult to lead a team of people who have no regard for you and your ability, or have not seen you succeed and/or overachieve.

  6. Don’t be afraid to play devil’s advocate with your team. Testing ownership of ideas by initiating conversations result in stronger relationships and better outcomes.

  7. Surround yourself with success. You should have the autonomy to hire your own people, so make sure you employ the same rigorous protocols you use when sourcing for your clients.

  8. Adjust your communication style, because we are not all created equal. Your life will be so much easier if you can pitch your communication at the right level with each and every one of your team.

  9. Use your experience to guide and mentor your recruiters, but avoid micro-managing at all costs. There is nothing worse than a recruiter who needs reassurance for every move they make.

  10. Draw a line in the sand. As American leadership expert John C. Maxwell says, “Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough away to motivate them.”

  11. Don’t be a shrinking violet. Be seen and be heard. Clients, candidates and staff all need to see you taking responsibility for the performance of your organisation. From client service checks and performance reviews to candidate feedback — it all plays a critical role in your success as a manager.




Submissions for the 2016 SEEK Annual Recruitment Awards (SARAs) will open 9 June.

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About the author

Louise Reilly

Parker Bridge

General Manager

Louise Reilly, General Manager at New Zealand recruitment firm Parker Bridge, is an experienced and highly successful recruiter. She continues to recruit some of the best and brightest talent in the Wellington, New Zealand, market.

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LinkedIn : louisereilly1