New to this forum and relatively new to recruiting. I am a recruiter in the US Army and have been for about 5 months just north of Atlanta, GA. I am looking to get out of the Army after this tour is up. A buddy of mine and myself are thinking about starting to do some civilian recruiting and make some extra money/get our names out there for when we get out in just over 2.5 years. There is no way civilian recruiting can be as hard as recruiting for the Army when you have thousands of regulations you must abide by. 

We know the military side of recruiting, but how do civilian recruiters start out? Being still in the Army, that takes priority, but where could we start on the side to make some extra money and connections?

I have yet to find any decent books on civilian recruiting/being a headhunter. Any recommendations? Any good websites (besides this one of course :)

By the way, what is the difference in all the different types of recruiting (agency, corporate, human resources, etc...)

Thanks in advance as I am sure there will be more follow on questions as these get answered.

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Eric, Firstly thank you for your service and for landing here to get some info. We'll push this out to the community for you over the next few days and I am sure you will get some great advice. Recruiting anywhere is not easy. Circumstances may be different but to build any form of staying power in the industry will require very specific skills. 

The site here is full of help. Welcome aboard.

Hi Eric, and welcome to Recruiting Blogs.  

Ryan sent me the link to your post/question in the hope that I would provide 'input'.  Guess he knows me well, 'cos here goes...

To use your terms - Civilian Recruiting and Military Recruiting are no different - both face the same challenges [hardness] -  selling, sourcing, attraction, attention, engagement, interaction, acceptance, rejection, assessment, evaluation, educating, testing, checking, verifying  validating, referring, recommending, selling [again], interviewing [competence, situational, behavioral, historical], documentation, background checking, etc...  See no difference.

Having spent my last 3 years in the Military dedicated to Recruitment, and previously 4 years Leading team re-engineering and training - I thought I knew everything there was to know about recruiting in civvie street - as saying goes - Eyes Wide Shut.  After only a very short period post service - I realized the need for me to apply all my military training and experience and learn how 'civvies' think and operate [there is lots of regulations and rules and expectations for them] so that I could get on board and succeed.  Either side of the industry fence [Civvie or Military] requires you to learn and apply new methods, approaches and ways to deliver.

In your post, you pose numerous questions - The primary one [not the first one] is: 'What is the difference in types of recruiting - agency, corporate, HR'?  

Agency Recruiters or 3rd Party Firms focus on: Staffing (placing temporary or contract people as the primary source of income), Recruitment (search and placement of permanent people into companies), Executive Search (most often retained by a corporation or company and deals with Snr Mgmt Level people), Niche Firms (handle both contract and permanent staffing and recruitment in 1 narrow skill or discipline vertical).

Corporate Recruiters: these are people who sole purpose is to recruit employees (temporary and/or permanent for that company - You are a Corporate Recruiter for the US Army) 

Human Resources (HR):  recruitment makes up just one component of the roles and duties, and they are involved in the strategic aspect of the business and operational execution of the human capital (talent) part of the business plan.

One you have not mentioned: Sourcer: check out this link to explain a little further - and this could be a good way for you to start connecting in Civvie Street - Sourcer v Recruiter 

To help you, here are some names and links for you to check out, follow, and connect with:  Bill Vick, Peter Leffkowitz, Peter Weddle, Otis Collier - Atlanta based, Glen Cathy, Airs

Eric,  I wish you 'good hunting' and you have started your journey in a great place, and the contributors and members are always willing to help and support.

Regard, John

Hi Eric! What a great discussion, and I think I would be thrilled to toss in my two or three cents! If you have more questions, feel free to contact me directly. 

My first suggestion to anyone thinking of recruiting is to recruit in what you know and love. Find a niche that inspires you. Think about the industries you have come in contact with throughout your life and with whom you have a lot of personal relationships. That way you have somewhere to start. For example, if you have a lot of contacts with certain industries like law enforcement, gas and oil,technology, medical, etc.

Having worked with recruiting contracts for the federal government myself, I would highly recommend that someone with your background consider using those relationships you may already have for finding civilian recruits for federal agencies. Be sure to get yourself certified as a veteran owned business and make good relationships with your local SBA. (Small Business Association.) to find out as much as you can about programs you would qualify for. You may qualify as an 8A company and can get a lot of preference in bidding for recruiting civilians for the government. I'm guessing that all of those regulations you have had to use would come in handy with this! 

Also in regards to those regulations you've had during your time recruiting for the Army; keep the ones that can reasonably apply! The biggest challenge for a new recruiter is discipline, and consistency in their process. While no one is forcing an independent recruiter to follow regulations and a standardized process, the ones that don't rarely survive the first year or make an income that they want. 

Lastly, to answer your question about the types of recruiting. Agency recruiters typically refer to a third party that recruits based on a fee they charge for services to a company that needs extra resources, or a "head hunter" if you will, to find a specific skill set for a key position. Sometimes a small firm or an individual working on their own will call themselves an Independent recruiter because they are not associated with a large "agency" like say MRI...Management Recruiters International, or Deloitte, or similar. Usually the company will still refer to this independent recruiter as an "agency recruiter" because they don't work in-house. Corporate Recruiters usually work for a company as a person assigned specifically to recruiting tasks for one company and are paid directly by that company to work for them. Finally, a Human Resources Recruiter, usually does recruiting duties while supporting human resources duties within the company as well. They usually wear a few different hats, but ultimately are employed by the company as part of a human resource team.

Hope this helps you! Feel free to connect with me here if you want to talk further on the subject.

Amy McDonald

Hey Eric,

   M name is Dean Da Costa. Thank you for your service. I am prior military and have made that transition. I would be more than happy to help you. Please feel free to contact me at 253-50-3305 or, and I will do what I can to help.

Hey there Eric and welcome. I was a military recruiter myself and made the transition to civilian sector. Before you call it easy, there are other factors (among many) that you have to consider.  It may be easier or it may not. That all depends on you. 

1. Personality Fit - This is a factor that military recruiters don't need to deal with and quite frankly don't care. As a military recruiter, I didn't care about personality, because you can either do the job, or you can't. Personality is irrelevant. There aren't the military "personality corrections" that you can implement out here. There are no "wall to wall counselings," you can't make him search for chem light batteries or a box of grid squares, (for you FA guys out there) no boom-checks, and you can't make PT them until the walls sweat (am I bringing back any memories?).  

2. Candidate Supply- "Some will, some won't, so what."  There is an endless supply of candidates for the military, you just have to get in front of them and talk to them.  What happens when you have to find one of those purple squirrels where your candidate supply is less than 100 candidates?  Great example- Find an N2 licensed operator in New Jersey with less than 5yrs experience willing to work shift work for 45K.  Possible to recruit for, but more difficult.  

3. Hiring Managers- Believe it or not, there are decision makers out there who fail to make decisions, or change the requirements for every candidate you put in front of them, and when you assess the situation they are all over the place.  Military recruiters can somewhat identify with this especially USAREC and mission boxes, but still a different approach that lends a little bit of experience to number 2 above. Military recruiters (good ones) sell the service and the branch, not the job. Here you have to sell the job even when the job is a tough sell; or just don't take the request.

You are absolutely right when you see it from your eyes. Civilian recruiters won't ever know the pains of having to break  a stars and stripes heart and explain to a candidate that wanted to be infantry all his life, that he is color blind and now has to be an Air Traffic Controller (nothing wrong with that job but you have been there).

They will never know the mental exhaustion of barreling through an Enlistment Criteria Manual (ECM), getting up at 3:30am to get your applicant to MEPS before the cut off, waiver packets, last minute medical disqualifications (the applicant miraculously has developed asthma 30 minutes before he goes to the Doc.), or finally enlisting someone only to find that three years later he is KIA in the sand box.  We as military recruiters have.

They don't know those kinds of pain, but it's absolutely doable. If you can successfully and ethically recruit for the military and you are coach-able  then it's too easy. If you want some strategies, advice, or tips to lean forward on prior to your ETS call me, I'd be more than willing to help. Thank you for what you do, and good hunting .  I look forward to hearing from you.


Thank you very much for everyone's replies. You have no idea how much insight into the civilian world of recruiting in few posts the have already been posted. I am going to have to spend the next few days looking into all the links and information everyone has shared (good thing I am on vacation next week).

I did think of another question. How would you guys (and girls) recommend meeting other recruiters/mentors/people to do business with in my local area. Should I just go "cold knock" them or try and connect with them through internet or social media (linkedin for example). 

Thanks again. 

Eric I left USAREC a little over a year ago... earned the gold ring... but would've never thought to pursue it until I got out.

The pay is much better (if you are good at producing and influencing others) in the civilian world.

I work longer hours now then I ever did as an Army Recruiter...

if you have questions feel free to strike up a convo sometime:



Eric Kenney said:

Thank you very much for everyone's replies. You have no idea how much insight into the civilian world of recruiting in few posts the have already been posted. I am going to have to spend the next few days looking into all the links and information everyone has shared (good thing I am on vacation next week).

I did think of another question. How would you guys (and girls) recommend meeting other recruiters/mentors/people to do business with in my local area. Should I just go "cold knock" them or try and connect with them through internet or social media (linkedin for example). 

Thanks again. 


Great question and good for you!  Thanks for your service, too.

I have not been a military recruiter so my experience is coming from someone who's worked for large recruiting company and now has my own.  While the skills are technically the same, it's a whole different ball park when you're working in this field. Like someone mentioned earlier, there is 'personality' involved here, and changes from the manager, indecision on the candidate side, etc.  It's a great industry, but not an 'easy' job.

My advice would be to get your feet wet in a recruiting company where you will get solid training on negotiation skills, how to talk to candidates, working with HR departments, etc.  Once you are comfortable doing that, find your niche and go out on your own!

Good luck to you!

Thanks for the replies everyone!


You asked about a good book... Check out Headhunters: Matchmaking in the Labor Market by William Finlay & James E. Coverdill. I got my copy off Amazon. They are Professors of Sociology at UGA. I really enjoyed reading it. You have to keep in mind that it is written by researchers, but they really do a good job highlighting the profession and interviewing lots of agencies and headhunters. 


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