Fast Track Recruitment

Recruitment Genealogy

Posted by Mitch on 8th November 2016


I see so much sales rhetoric that’s clearly been passed down by generations of agency recruiters. I know this because much of it I first heard 26 years ago, when I first stumbled into the recruitment industry.

Much of this sales rhetoric has since formed the basis of how many recruitment agencies think and act. An inner core of an onion that, over the past couple of decades, has grown several new layers.

What do I mean by sales rhetoric?

It’s the things recruiters say about the industry, their employer or their service, when trying to sell to potential clients and candidates.

Many of them haven’t stood the test of time.

Here’s a few examples;

“The best talent aren’t looking at job adverts.” – Some of them are, sometimes. Do these special “best talent” people get their job openings hand-delivered by Richard Branson? Or do they use Google like everyone else? Hang on, I’ve got it! They’re waiting for a call from you, right?

“We are experts in your field.” – But are you experts in your field? You know, recruitment?

“We will only source passive candidates.” – Actually, you probably won’t.

“We need the names and numbers of two previous managers for references.” – Are you seriously trying to tell me that a company would entrust you, an agency that has a vested financial interest in those references being positive, to take new employee references? Or are you just looking for sales leads?

“My client…” – They’re not just your client though, are they?

“…is a dynamic market leader…” – They’re not really that either, are they? Just because their newly promoted sales manager who gave you the vacancy said they are, doesn’t mean they actually are.

Much of this rhetoric originated in a time when white collar recruitment agencies were relatively new and this stuff, for the most part, worked.

It worked because most of the people doing the listening didn’t know any better.

But times have changed. Now more people have more experience of recruitment agencies. Now they do know better.

In just 10 minutes, they can see how good an agency’s external comms are, what their staff turnover is like, the kinds of people they hire and go to LinkedIn and read shared negative experiences of agency practice from similar people to themselves. Before the Internet, that would have taken about a month.

Many recruitment agencies are still partying like it’s 1999.

If you’re a recruitment agency, it’s time to pull back the wizard’s curtain and be more transparent about how you work and how you sell yourselves.

It’s time to start being honest about what you do, how you do it and how good at it you are. Preferably backed-up with some numbers.

Tell hiring companies and candidates the truth, even if it’s not what you think they want to hear. Many will see this truth as insight.

Here are some examples of truths you might not normally share;

“Mr Client, there’s around a 20% chance that I’m going to fill this job. Are you happy with those odds?”

“The types of candidates you’re looking for probably aren’t going to respond to the types of job ads you put out.”

“The profile of the target candidate is much narrower than all of the other people in your business doing this same job. Why is that?”

When it comes to hiring, some clients are dicks. Part of your job is to stop them being a dick.

You can do that by convincing them to give you ownership of their recruiting problem, so you can help fix it. Because you’re the recruiter.

And because you’re not the recruiter who is prepared to be a dick by being one of 5 agencies all trying to talk to the same candidates about the same job with the same company.

Tell them how much your service is going to cost them. And then explain what you’ll actually do to earn that money and what particular expertise you’ll bring to the process.

Recruiting, Headhunting, Sourcing; whatever you want to call it, is no longer considered a dark art, if it ever was.

That smoke and mirrors bullshit from the 80s and 90s doesn’t work anymore.

That’s because people who have used agencies; both as candidates and clients, are sharing their experiences online and much of it isn’t tallying with what agency recruiters are saying.

If you need any practical guidance on how to change this, stop working with recruitment trainers who haven’t filled a job in 10 or 15 years.

Because all most of them are doing is embedding the same out-of-date shit they themselves learnt, before deciding that training recruiters was easier than filling jobs.

If you don’t adapt your service offering to the rapidly evolving and fragmented market conditions, it’s just going to get more and more difficult.

Then, before you know it, you’re going to be earning your living pimping keyword-rich CVs to people who don’t respect you.

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