From Shortlist: Thursday 04 October 2018 2:47pm

Recruitment’s shift away from employing ‘outdated’ 360-degree consultants is potentially the most important transformation the industry will face, according to an advisor.

The 360 model is broken, and has been for some time, says Navigator Consulting MD Tony Hall. “It’s really time to start looking at different options.”

Good 360 recruiters are as rare as hen’s teeth, he says, and he suggests the pressure on recruiters to fit the model is one of the biggest contributors to high staff turnover. “It’s so rare for someone to have all the different skills required to be a high-performing 360 recruitment consultant.”

Agencies are increasingly deconstructing the 360 model, breaking the process into admin, resourcing, recruitment and sales roles, though with varying degrees of success to date, he notes.

Many labour hire companies have been operating in this way for years – “they have business development managers that understand the industry really well… and they might even be from the industry they are selling into, so they’ve got a lot of credibility” – while larger agencies are more likely to succeed with dedicated business development managers, following the US blueprint.

For smaller firms, Hall recommends the most senior people spend their time out in front of clients, and avoid putting junior consultants into “difficult sales situations that are way over their head”.

Small companies should be hiring people into resourcing or account management roles, to start, while senior leaders outsource their resourcing so they are freed up to do the sales part of the 360 process.

(Hall is a big advocate of offshoring, particularly for “very administrative and repetitive tasks”, such as market mapping, database building, database maintenance, and even sourcing. “I think offshoring is one of the success secrets of reducing staff turnover in the recruitment industry,” he says.)

Building the right commission structure

“If there’s no sales responsibility for a recruitment consultant, then their commission structure should be at a lower level than a recruitment consultant that’s required to bring in the business and fill the role as well,” Hall says.

He suggests recruiters on “relatively high wages” are already incentivised to fill jobs. “So you might have more of a bonus structure than a commission structure for people that are not actually selling.”

That said, Hall agrees the 50/50 commission structure adopted by some agencies including Aquent will promote team work – provided leaders monitor placement ratios. “Managing efficiency is really important, because a great salesperson might bring in multiple roles, but if they’re not filled by the recruiter, then the company is paying wages for both… and not getting any return on investment.”

Hall also advises hiring biller leaders with a track record of success (a minimum six years’ experience), rather than looking for potential high performers to train up into sales-focused roles. “Young stars are hard to find,” he says. “[Graduate programs] are so hit and miss.”

It’s certainly unlikely the one graduate will have the 20 or so attributes required of a 360 recruiter, Hall says. “It’s relatively easy to find people that start off their career resourcing, and the good ones can be promoted into… senior recruitment or senior sales streams, or leadership, depending on their attributes.”

Breaking out the recruitment process also provides career progression, which Hall says is sadly lacking in the industry. Then focusing on supporting high performers, rather than underachievers, will keep them performing and encourage them to stay.

Part of this includes regular training, both formal and informal. “Short and regular training can make a massive difference, in terms of business profitability and reduced staff turnover.”

He suggests regular weekly sessions, even for 30 minutes, will bring the team together, foster communication, and upskill even the most seasoned recruiter. “It’s an absolute critical success factor.”

Hall is facilitating discussions on the “obsolete” 360 model, and its alternatives, at upcoming Captain’s Table events in Melbourne (30 October) and Sydney (31 October) for agency owners and leaders.