Fast Track Recruitment

Being A Recruiter - Part 1

Posted by Mitch on 10th October 2012

This is the first of a three-parter.

In each of them, I want to pass on some career advice to recruiters who are probably in their 30s – because this is normally the time when they realise the things that were important in their 20s simply aren’t anymore.

That’s because they start to do things like settle down, maybe start a family and begin to question if they really want to be doing exactly the same job 10 years on. I’ll try to do this as quickly and as entertainingly as I can.

preinternet photo Googlefrombeforetheinternet_zpscfe4c677.jpg

I wish I’d had the advice I’m just about to give to you when I was your age.

Instead, I had to work this stuff out for myself, whilst doing all those other things we do as adults; like get married, have kids, move to another country, move back again, get divorced, watch England keep missing penalties and drinking a tiny bit too much.

Being a recruiter used to be a relatively simple job.

There was more government regulation, no Internet, very few advertising channels and a greater propensity for clients to recruit people with transferable skills. The last two were probably related in some way.

We’d constantly be advertising for candidates, meeting them and getting on the phone to sell the best to companies that had given us job vacancies to work on.

It was more about selling in those days.

Recruitment agencies were still a relatively new phenomena back in the late 80s and many companies had to be sold on why it was in their best interests to use us. They also had to be sold on the idea of paying 20% of salary if we happened to find the right candidate.

Such was the strong sales culture that if you were ever seen walking towards the fax machine with CVs in your hand, you were derided as being an effete pen-pusher. At least that’s what the stream of profane ad-hominems really meant.

It wasn’t quite Glengarry Glen Ross but it was getting there.

The market was wide open, the market sectors broader and simpler to define and recruiters basically fell into 4 categories.

1. High Street
2. Specialist Contingency
3. Advertised Search
4. Headhunters

The High Street recruiters we’d sneeringly call the “smile and dial merchants”.

The Advertised Search people we’d aspire to be more like because they ran much better ads than us – so good that their clients paid for them. Most of these guys had real clients who trusted them and secretly we wished we had some of that too.

Then there were the Headhunters. We thought they were men with grey hair, big black books, lots of business knowledge and little appetite for hard work.

I worked in the 2nd category, placing sales people/managers for between 20-25% of salary. Or 15% if the client was better at selling than us. I was pretty good at it – but also hated it a bit too often to be healthy.

I hated the lack of innovation, thought the objection handling techniques were horseshit and narrowed my eyes every time my manager wandered over to “have a chat”. I especially hated the fact that agency placed candidates seemed to stay in their jobs for less time than candidates sourced via other channels. The fact we did it quickly didn’t offer much consolation.

What I’m saying is, I saw through the smoke and mirrors about 3 years in.

It only started becoming fun around 4 years in when I started working for myself, moved into Advertised Search and started to use what modicum of ability I had in copywriting and creating display advertising. It became more fun because I started to develop a skill that many other recruiters weren’t developing and that gave me something to sell that I could believe in.

Having something to believe in started to become really important. No more selling candidates I hardly knew because I hadn’t interviewed them properly. No more pitching clients on the benefits of not having to pay me if I didn’t find the right candidate.

I’d turned a corner.

Creative recruitment advertising became the channel through which I generated placement fees.

I’d become one of those Advertised Search recruiters I used to secretly admire. I was having fun, felt good about what I did and made good money.

Then the Internet happened.

Part 2 next week.

Or the week after if I get busy with other stuff.


By Robert Wright on Friday, 12 October 2012

“Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired”

By Rob Lipscombe on Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Part 2 please Mitch!

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