Here’s another recruitment myth that needs to be punched in the face
Posted by Mitch on 30th September 2014
It’s kind of funny that recruiters are often considered to be “too salesy”.
I suspect what people mean when they describe agency recruiters this way is that they act like salespeople. That they display all of the hackneyed stereotypes that are associated with salespeople – or more accurately, bad salespeople.
Great salespeople don’t display these characteristics, because of the very fact that they are great salespeople. The chances are they’re great salespeople because they follow a tried and tested sales method.
Recruiters are probably amongst some of the worst salespeople out there – despite many of them having the basic attributes necessary to become very good at sales.
A big part of the problem is that 99% of agency recruiters don’t have anything to actually sell.
If we accept the premise that something is only sold when money has changed hands, then recruiters actually have surprisingly little direct effect on an agency’s revenue. And before you start chucking your toys out of pram, please note my use of the word ‘direct’.
The vast majority of recruiters don’t get their customers (aka hiring companies) to commit to spending any money upfront. Most are happy (or resigned) to be one of several sources the customer may buy something from. The customer is in charge, not the agency. The only time when the customer does commit to spending money is when they decide to make a job offer – and it could be argued that the candidate had a lot more to do with that decision being made than the agency.
To me, that looks more like retailing than it does selling.
Imagine you walk into a clothes shop looking to buy a suit. The shop assistant finds out what kind of suit you’re looking for and, rather than have you trawl the city for a shop that might have the right suit, offers to source this suit for you. All you have to do is come back in a few days where the shop assistant will present you a choice of suits that match your spec, size and budget. Would you pay a deposit to have that shop assistant deliver that service to you, or would you rather visit lots of other clothes shops yourself in the hope of finding what you’re looking for?
Agencies seem to have accepted that their job is really just to get people to walk into their shop. Then, maybe, get them to try something on. If they’re lucky, something will get bought. 80% of the time, nothing does.
So if we can’t use ‘salespeople’ to describe agency recruiters, what word could we use?
I’m going to go for ‘shopkeepers’. I think this is a more accurate word that encapsulates what most recruitment agencies actually do.
Agency recruiters are, for the most part, the retailers of the sales world.