How to manage mental health as a recruiter

Posted on:

31st May 2023

We’re not going to shy away from the fact that recruiting can be a tough job! You’re often pulled in many directions, working hard to meet the needs of your clients and candidates all whilst juggling tight deadlines. It’s understandable that sometimes you may experience stress and burnout, which can have a negative impact on your mental health. 

Mental Health in Recruitment recently found that 9 out of 10 people in the industry, and 8.5 out of 10 leaders have suffered from work-related stress, anxiety or depression. So if you’ve felt this way, remember, you’re not alone! In fact, you’re in the majority. 

While the recruitment industry has faced some challenges related to work-related stress, anxiety, and depression, there is a growing recognition of the importance of addressing these issues and promoting mental health and wellbeing. By prioritising mental health, the recruitment industry can continue to attract and retain top talent and create a positive and inclusive workplace for everyone.

An article by Recruitment Juice, 'Let's talk about mental health in recruitment' listed several reasons for the high rates of adverse mental health within the recruitment industry. Here are some of the industry-specific challenges that people face relating to mental health:

  • KPI driven 

  • Competitive culture

  • Lack of control

  • Relationships

  • Work-life balance

Let’s take a look at the challenges Recruitment Juice highlighted as impacting mental health and explore ways to overcome them.

  • Dealing with KPIs

Having key performance indicators (KPIs) is an effective way to stay productive and achieve your goals. But sometimes the pressure to meet KPIs can lead to stress, anxiety, and burnout, especially if the targets are unrealistic.

Building a good relationship with your manager and team means you can work together to ensure the KPIs are realistic and achievable. You’ll be provided with the right support and resources, such as training and tech, so you can develop your skills to achieve your goals. It’s also worthwhile understanding how your work contributes to the overall success of the business as this will put your KPI into perspective. At Austin International, we have monthly meetings to review overall performance so you’ll easily be able to track progress. We believe it’s important to be part of a culture where successes and milestones are celebrated, no matter how big or small they are.

  • Thriving in a competitive industry

The recruitment industry is a dynamic and exciting field where you have the opportunity to connect talented candidates with their dream jobs whilst having an incredible recruitment career yourself - win win! Similarly to a sales role, recruitment can be competitive as every recruiter wants to secure the deal. A competitive culture may seem daunting, but it also means that there are endless opportunities for growth and development as we strive to be our best selves.

A competitive industry means that you’ll have to stay on top of the latest recruitment industry trends and technologies. By staying up-to-date, recruiters can remain competitive and provide better service to their clients and candidates.

Every recruiter has their own unique strengths, skills and market to look after. By emphasising what sets you apart from the competition, you can stand out and attract more clients and candidates.

Setting realistic goals can help you stay calm and collected as you navigate a competitive industry, allowing you to focus on what's important and avoid feeling overwhelmed or stressed. By breaking down large goals into smaller, achievable ones, you can maintain a sense of accomplishment and pride.

Research from Harvard Business School suggests that our brains are wired to thrive on progress. Recognising and acknowledging this progress can have a profound effect on our mental well-being by fostering a sense of accomplishment and boosting our self-esteem. By staying focused on your own goals and journey and celebrating your successes, you can maintain a positive attitude and avoid comparing yourself to others. This means by staying positive and prioritising your own journey, you can thrive in this exciting industry and make a meaningful difference in the lives of others!

  • Managing the lack of control

The recruitment industry can be unpredictable, and you may face challenges that are outside of your control, such as candidate decisions, market trends, and economic conditions. Understandably, you may find these situations frustrating and demotivating. But it's important to remember that while we may not have control over every aspect of the recruitment process, we can control how we respond to these situations. 

One of the most effective ways to respond to situations that are out of your control is to focus on your attitude. By cultivating a positive, growth mindset, you can approach challenges with a sense of curiosity and optimism, rather than fear or frustration. Additionally, it can be helpful to develop coping strategies to manage stress and anxiety. This might include techniques such as deep breathing, mindfulness meditation, or physical exercise. By taking a proactive approach to managing your response to challenges, you can build resilience and develop the recruitment skills needed to thrive!

  • Managing relationships

Building strong relationships is at the heart of the recruitment industry. As a recruiter, you collaborate with a diverse group of individuals and stakeholders to identify and hire the best talent.

However, it's important to be mindful of our mental health and wellbeing as we navigate these relationships. Firstly, it's essential to establish clear communication with clients, candidates, and colleagues from the outset. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and expectations are aligned. Secondly, you should prioritise your workload and set realistic goals for yourself. Overcommitting can lead to burnout and anxiety, which in turn can negatively affect our relationships. Thirdly, try to make time for self-care activities, such as exercise, meditation, and spending time with loved ones. This will help you stay energised, focused, and resilient.

  • Keeping a good work-life balance:

The recruitment industry is known for its fast-paced environment which can lead to getting caught up in the day-to-day hustle and bustle. However, it's important to prioritise our wellbeing and avoid overworking ourselves to the point of burnout. By taking time for ourselves, we can recharge and approach our work with renewed energy and focus. Working in a supportive environment that values work-life balance can also boost our morale and motivation, as we feel appreciated and respected. For example, at Austin International, we introduced our FlexAway and FlexAppeal policies to give our people the choice of where and when they work most productively, as well as unlimited holiday, so they can ensure they have a great work-life balance.

In conclusion, the recruitment industry presents its fair share of challenges, but it also offers opportunities for growth and personal development for recruiters. While the demands of the job can be intense at times, it's important to acknowledge that these experiences can help shape resilient and determined professionals.

There is a growing recognition of the importance of promoting mental health and well-being within the industry. By addressing the specific challenges of KPIs, a competitive industry, lack of control, managing relationships, and work-life balance, you can prioritise your mental health and create a positive and inclusive workplace. It's crucial to establish clear communication, set realistic goals, develop coping strategies, and take time for self-care to maintain their energy, focus, and resilience. By prioritising mental health, you can thrive in this dynamic industry and make a meaningful difference in the lives of others whilst having an incredible career yourself.


Mental Health in Recruitment has just launched a text-based support service. In partnership with SHOUTto provide 24/7 support to recruiters in the UK.