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Recruitment’s shift away from employing ‘outdated’ 360-degree consultants is potentially the most important transformation the industry will face, according to an advisor.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

From Shortlist 30 August 2018

Recruitment agency leaders are meticulous around developing budgets and financial plans, as well as measuring consultant activity, but more work is needed to improve performance across all areas of the business, new research shows.

The Recruitment Industry Business Confidence Index survey (RIBCIX), run by Navigator Consulting MD Tony Hall, reveals many leaders are falling short in implementing marketing, quality assurance, exit strategy and operations plans.


Source: Navigator Consulting

The RIBCIX survey is still collecting data for the current half-year, and recruitment companies are invited to participate here to receive the full report.

By Tony Hall, Managing Director, Navigator Consulting

Great recruiters who bill well and stay for many years are now rare as hen’s teeth. They are unlikely to move from a profitable and happy desk which they probably built themselves over considerable time. Next step for them is promotion into a director role or starting their own business so they can enjoy a higher percentage of the fruits of their labour.

Industry demand for recruitment consultants is huge, with over 1958 jobs currently advertised on Seek. Every agency is after the perfect recruiter who is good at selling, admin, resourcing and recruiting. Furthermore, they must be resilient, persistent, communicate well and bring a network with them and of course fit your current team culture.

It seems absurd that any one person has all these attributes – yet that is what many recruitment firms are still looking for – hen’s teeth. Firms insist the people they hire have all of the above and bill 3-4 times their salary in the first year. Again – impossible. The only source of experienced consultant supply is from industry staff turnover which continues to push 50% due to a suspected combination of poor hiring, training and development. It is time to think differently about business growth and look at alternative strategies for bringing on new talent.

Solution #1Break up the highly complex recruitment process into admin, resourcing, recruitment and sales as it is much easier to find people good at one (not all) of these activities. They can be sourced from within or outside the recruitment industry. A quality recruitment process will have around 50 steps which requires specialist expertise at each stage. It is unique to the recruitment industry in Europe/Australasia that we persist with the 360 model of trying to find consultants who can sell, resource and perform accurate admin despite the proven benefits of the US model which separates sales, recruitment and admin processes.

Solution #2Offshore low-level admin and sourcing tasks to save money and free up your senior staff to spend more time in front of clients and candidates where the real action (and revenue) happens. Our clients who have taken on experienced offshore resourcers have benefited from considerable improvements in client, candidate and staff satisfaction with the added bonus of significant cost reductions and revenue increases.

Solution #3Free up your senior managers to spend much more time in front of clients and candidates. They are much more credible and will find the sales process easier and faster. Forcing inexperienced, junior recruiters to cold call or visit clients can actually damage brand and industry reputation if they are not well trained, knowledgably or have specialist networks. Senior decision makers will always buy more from other senior decision makers and often find it insulting if a poorly trained junior is sent in their place. Also, your senior managers are paid way too much to be stuck in the office running unproductive meetings or administration tasks. Get them out generating revenue and building your brand instead – the return on investment will be so much higher.

Solution #4Appoint your managing director as chief sales officer. He or she will find it easier to secure meetings, easier to close complex sales and will be revered by the team for bringing in large pieces of new business. Great recruiters who are not suited to sales will be happy to fill these new roles and are more likely to stay longer and enjoy higher job satisfaction if they are not forced to do activities they are not good at. It makes no sense for a MD or CEO earning big money to be stuck in the office day in day out performing low level admin tasks and pointless meetings. The real money (and fun) happens out in the market in front of senior prospects, clients and candidates. This additional sales activity will translate to pure profit small, medium or large companies alike.

Solution #5 Hire biller leaders instead of unproven consultants – I believe you will receive a much bigger return on investment with lower risk by hiring proven leaders who can quickly attract clients and staff rather than unproven recruiters with a limited network and track record of success. Leaders with 6 years or more experience are much more likely to grow the business and cover their costs faster.

Solution #6 Develop a graduate program. Here is your chance to shape your own high performing recruiters before they develop bad habits and dangerous short-cuts. It does take time to break-even on a graduate, but time flies and before you know it your best graduates are building and running their own teams. Graduates will require a strong training program and well mapped-out career plan. With such a shortage of recruiters this is an important strategy to mentor and grow your own talent.

Solution #7 – Regularly train the skills you require of great recruiters. Even the most experienced consultants will fall into bad habits and need refresher training. Inclusive training brings your team together, sharpens their skills and allows senior people to help pass on knowledge to rising stars. One of the biggest recruitment company turnarounds I worked on was hugely successful almost solely due to the implementation of a well-run weekly interactive team training session.

Solution #8 Attend a big conference in the US. You will pick up so many new ideas and techniques from recruiters in the highly competitive US market. They are famous for owning their specialties, building very close relationships with their local communities and using a sales driven account management approach to secure new business and grow existing customer bases. For over 10 years the Americans have also perfected offshore resourcing in India and particularly the Philippines. There is a massive well educated and trained recruitment resourcing market in Manilla keen to move out of the US night shift to work for Australian companies in a similar time zone.

Solution #9 Stop micro managing and start quarterly goal setting and planning. Sit with your people, determine their strengths and weaknesses and make sure you are not forcing them to perform tasks they hate and/or are not good at. Instead of confronting old-school performance appraisals, consider individual quarterly business plans that clearly define goals, targets and activities required for success. Staff will own this plan if they feel involved in mutually setting goals and will work harder to achieve results if they feel supported and listened to. Set simple activity targets that will eventually lead to a placement every week – for example 4 unique client/candidate interviews. Nobody likes micro-management (MM), yet many firms still persist in this activity as a misguided form of risk management which counter-actively results in staff dissatisfaction, turnover and poor employee attraction when MM word gets around.

Solution #10 Support the great people you already have. Most managers end up spending all their time trying to turn around under-performers then are shocked when one of their best people resigns. Contrary to instinct, managers must spend most of their time supporting their best performers who are a big loss if they leave and are much more likely to increase performance year on year than the marginal low performers who typically shout out for more attention and cause everyone the most grief.

Solution #11 Establish a commission/bonus plan that is simple, regularly celebrate and reward people who make an additional effort to do more than the job they are paid a salary for. Pay incentives for new business, innovation, efficiencies, cost savings or activities that are over and above what is required by an average performer – even for junior support staff. Avoid over or double paying incentives for work brought in by senior managers or sales people and then filled by non-client facing staff. Incentives should be paid for extra effort and contributions to the over-all business.

Solution #12 Consider part-time and work from home options for proven performers. Experienced high billing recruiters are so hard to find that it is worth providing flexible work alternatives so long as they are productive, have agreed goals and don’t disproportionately draw on company resources. Several recruitment firms have built highly profitable businesses around experienced part-time working mothers job sharing.

For more ideas on business growth advisory, recruitment industry staffing solutions, remuneration structures, offshore resourcing or business and performance planning please make contact anytime.

Tony Hall, Managing Director, Navigator Consulting, E: th@navigatorconsult.com

From Shortlist, Wednesday 22 August 2018
Agency leadership, Research, analysis & reports

Recruitment leaders across the board are reporting record financial results, with staffing challenges the primary obstacle to realising further growth predictions, new research shows.

Some 76% of agencies expect to grow net revenue (after temp and contractor costs) by at least 10–20% in the December half, compared to June, according to the Recruitment Industry Business Confidence Index survey (RIBCIX), run by Navigator Consulting MD Tony Hall.

Participate in the RIBCIX Survey Here

The RIBCIX survey, based on responses from more than 100 recruitment businesses around Australia so far, shows 66% of companies are forecasting net profit (before tax) growth of 10–20% or more for the quarter.

“Many managing directors I’ve been speaking to have said they’ve had one of the best financial years on record, and therefore it’s no surprise their forecast for the next quarter is going to be quite strong,” says Hall.

About 58% of companies will grow their consulting headcount by 10–20% or more, and 42% intend to increase the size of their resourcing teams by the same amount.

The key challenge these businesses will have is finding and adding staff to manage growing workloads, as a marked shortage of quality recruitment talent persists and, Hall says, “the good people simply won’t move”.

As a result, more recruitment leaders are looking at alternative strategies to hiring from within the industry, such as offshore resourcing and hiring graduates, and an increasing number are hiring professionals from the industries in which they recruit, says Hall.

These latter professionals tend to have deeper knowledge of the industries they’re recruiting for and can communicate “at a much higher level with their clients and candidates, with more credibility”, he adds.

Staff training spend is also increasing, although not quite in line with revenue and staff growth forecasts, with 42% of business leaders saying they will increase their investment in that area by 10–20% or more.

And more than half predict spending more on technology, yet 50% of companies expect no change in operating costs, “which is a little unusual because you would think you’ve got to increase costs and [add] staff, and it takes some time for those new staff to become productive”, Hall says.

Temp and perm forecasts on an even keel
The RIBCIX shows a similar proportion of companies expecting to grow their temp/contracting (58%) and permanent (57%) revenue.

Hall says this is unusual – the market usually favours one or the other – and the main conclusion to draw is simply indicates “very positive market conditions”.

The RIBCIX survey is still collecting data for the current half-year, and recruitment companies are invited to participate here in order to receive the full report.

Participate in the RIBCIX Survey Here

From Shortlist Wednesday 25 July 2018

The biggest threat to the recruitment industry is the increasing number of employers bringing recruitment in-house, and emerging technology is the additional impetus for making agencies the second option, an industry advisor says.

At a recent Captain’s Table event, chaired by Navigator Consulting CEO Tony Hall, agency leaders gathered to discuss the biggest threats to the industry, and what to do about them.

Several key themes emerged as attendees discussed what the industry should be doing to counteract the growing number of clients that are bringing recruitment functions in-house.

The first step is to build stronger relationships with clients, Hall says, “so we as recruitment agencies are the first port of call, as opposed to the last port of call, when it gets too hard for them”.

Agencies should also be working better together to solve client and candidate requirements, to ensure the industry thrives, he adds. “If we’re not filling roles that we say we can fill, then we’re providing even more ammunition for companies to say ‘we might as well do this ourselves than pay recruitment fees to companies that aren’t delivering’.”

Filling more jobs is absolutely critical in encouraging companies to use agencies more, the leaders agree.

Leveraging technology well enables better recruitment service delivery, Hall says, and points the way to adding more value for clients, “so we can justify the high margins that we would all like to have”.

Transparency builds stronger relationships
Painting a fuller picture of exactly what it is that agencies do and the effort required to fill a role is also vital, as is communicating that effectively to clients, says Hall.

“Are we articulating how much work goes into a recruitment assignment?” he asks.

This should start in client proposal documents that outline all client services at beginning of an assignment, and be reiterated through detailed invoices that provide a list of services involved, line by line. “That’s just absolute gold,” Hall says.

Hall urged recruiters not to send invoices that simply say, “recruitment fee, $35,000”.

Getting out and meeting clients face-to-face to build relationships is the optimal way to get their buy-in.

“I wonder how much consulting we actually do these days, as recruiters,” says JobAdder CEO Brett Iredale. “All day every day we’re walking around recruitment floors, the pods are all full, and everyone is there tapping away and not out talking to people.”

“Recruitment consultants now are relying on email, phone, LinkedIn, whatever, way too much, at the detriment of relationships, perhaps,” Hall adds.

Collaboration is better than competition
A more organised approach to industry collaboration – rather than purely focusing on competition – is more beneficial to recruiters, says Elias Recruitment CEO Jason Elias.

Efforts to win work on an exclusive basis are a better driver of competition than fighting over the same vacancies simultaneously. “It’s great for job boards [but] candidates get confused when we all fight over the same people,” he says.

“As an industry, we shouldn’t be like seagulls going for little chips,” says Elias.

 

 

Unemployment Down – Job Vacancies Up = Staff Shortages

Australia’s unemployment rate is close to a 10 year low of 5.4%. It is often argued we are actually close to full employment because a large portion of this group choose to remain unemployed for many reasons. Over the past 12 months, there have now been 239,373 jobs created, in seasonally adjusted terms, at an annual growth rate of 2% – up from 0.9% in February.

A quick look at seek.com.au shows a whopping 168,173 job openings Australia-wide.

Growth Sectors are:

Engineering, construction, mining/resources, energy, infrastructure, ICT, healthcare, manufacturing, transport logistics and trades.

If you are supplying to these sectors it is prudent to stand out from your competitors and maximise new business efforts while the market is strong.

Declining Sectors are:

Retail and consumer

Retail is under considerable pressure due to the convenience and low price of online shopping, with weakness in this sector unlikely to improve.

By state:

While NSW and Victoria continue to dominate, QLD remains strong and double digit recoveries in job advertising were reported in WA and SA.

Sourcing Of Staff

For firms looking to source staff, the market is now competitive as many previous economic boom times. Growth is likely to become restricted by the lack of supply of talent with specific skills in new business development.

Typical methods of sourcing staff are:

1. Advertising  – fast and low cost but patchy responses and only attracts candidates actively looking for a new job.

2. Headhunting – slow and expensive but allows firms to cherry pick high performers on competitor companies

3. Word of mouth referrals – slow and but the source of strong performers

4. Recruiters – costly but not so if they save you significant time and deliver hard to find talent to grow your business

Action

The only way to profitably grow any business is to maintain operational efficiency and add high performing staff. Staff turnover is inevitable in such a strong market which makes new hiring activity and even higher priority.

For ideas on attracting high performing staff into your business, please email me anytime on th@navigatorconsult.com

Tony Hall is Managing Director of business growth consulting firm Navigator Consulting.

Please contact us for more information on:

– Sourcing high performing sales and recruitment leaders

– low lost, highly efficient, offshore resourcers, researchers and admin staff

– standing out from competitors and winning new business with Recruitment Industry Best Practice Certification

 

Captain’s Table Sydney – Wednesday, 30 August 12-2pm

Venue: Gumtree Australia, Level 18, 1 York St Sydney

Great Value – only $50 including lunch.

– Industry round table for astute owners and leaders of quality recruitment companies.

BOOK EARLY – ONLY 25 Places available – Book HERE Via Eventbrite

Please join us @Gumtree Australia for a powerful discussion with industry M&A specialist Andrew Cassin who shares his insights into building your recruitment business into a valuable asset.

People start their own recruitment company for many reasons – dissatisfaction with a current employer, wanting to try a new way or the desire to build their own company. Many also start one with the aim to build an asset to sell later and retire early. That goal is in reach of every recruitment company but many fail to take the necessary steps to achieve it. The company you started becomes just another job with with so much administration and little time to work on the business itself.

Industry growth consultant , Andrew Cassin will share his practical knowledge gained over many years of experience into how you can transform your company into a powerful asset.

The highly interactive session will cover:

– What are the attributes of a high performing asset
– Why preparing for sale or succession with a buyer’s mindset is so critical
– Where business owners invariably fail to prepare effectively and how to avoid it
– How to apply product development and marketing strategies to succession or exit preparation
– Please book in quickly to gain the knowledge, insights and practical tips to grow your business.

All attendees will receive a FREE copy of Andrew Cassins book “On Your Terms: 101 ways to prepare a business for sale or succession.”

Agenda
12:00 – Arrive, networking and lunch

12:30 – Guest Speaker: Andrew Cassin

13:45 – Q&A and Networking time

14:00 – Close

About Andrew Cassin

Andrew commenced his consulting career in 1993. Since establising Acquisiti, he has been retained as a consultant by dozens of business principals, completed business sales & capital raisings and facilitated mergers & acquisitions for SME clients.

Industry sectors in which Andrew has valuable experience include recruitment, marketing/communications, Information Technology, liquor, not for profit, healthcare and financial services. Andrew’s clients’ requirements have taken him to Hong Kong, Singapore, the USA and the UK to complement his primary base of knowledge in Australia.

About Captain’s Table

Captain’s Table is a professionally-facilitated forum for owners and leaders of recruitment businesses. Attendees are encouraged to share experiences and engage in discussions. As an industry knowledge group session, the attendees help shape these monthly meetings and content is developed in-line with the feedback of the attendees to ensure that the events are topical, interesting and meaningful for attendees.

Brought to you by: Gumtree Australia, Job Adder and Navigator Consulting

(To help cover the costs of organisation, marketing, catering and guest speakers we now charge a nominal $50 to attend. Rest assured you will always receive very good value for money and many ideas to help build a high performing recruitment company.)

***Only 25 seats available so please BOOK EARLY  Book HERE Via Eventbrite***

Captain's_Table Good Quality

As discussed at Captain’s Table Sydney, Hyatt Regency Hotel, 1 August 2017

People leave companies for many reasons. Conversely there are many reasons people stay. We have researched numerous HR articles from around the globe to provide a summary list of the best ways to retain great people.

1. Competitive remuneration
– If you pay below market your people are more likely to look around
– Pay slightly higher than the marker and you are more likelky to attract and retain good people
– Money is not everything but nobody wants to be underpaid

2. Clear Career Path
– People want to know they will progress
– Do you have a clear career path for all staff?
– So often the reason for leaving is lack of career progression

3. Learning & Development
– Rarely will people leave if they are learning and growing
– Without professional development, staff will feel they need to move on the learn more and progress their careers
– L&D is a great way to upskill and retain quality people

4. Clear Expectations and Goals
– Often leaders to do not share goals and target expectations with staff
– People can feel uncertain as to what is expected of them and default to lower levels of performance
– Most people respond well to clear guidelines, goals and well-delivered feedback

5. Freedom & Flexibility
– Provided clear performance measures are in place, workplace freedom and flexibility can help people juggle their work and home commitments and still get the job done
– If people do not feel trusted, or feel they are micro-managed they will soon seek out a more open and flexible workplace

6. Recognition & Reward
– Both cash and non-cash rewards can make people feel valued and less likely to leave
– Almost everyone responds well to recognition and praise for a job well done

7. Variety
– Many jobs can get highly repetitive and dull
– Ensure you people are given a variety of tasks to complete that are a combination of process, people, interaction, team and individual so they don’t feel their job is too repetitive
– Break up the day, week and month with interesting team and individual activites so that people are motivated to return to the same workplace every day
– People often leave simply because they are bored

8. Spend Time With Your Best People
– Too often are time is taken up coaching and managing poor performers when it is the best performers who should deserve the most attention
– High performers are too valuable to ignore and can stray from their goals if they are left to their own devices
– An investment in time with your best performers will yield higher returns in terms of outcomes and staff retention
– Consider providing your best people low cost offshore support to further boost their ability to grow additional revenues

9. Lead From The Front
– Your leaders must be prepared to set a good example to the rest of the team
– Join your staff for client meetings, staff sessions, team activities etc to demonstrate their value as part of an inclusive culture
– Staff will follow the examples set by owners and leaders – often behaviours which are not beneficial to a high performing business
– People will leave companies with poor leaders who do not lead from the front and support their people in the field or workplace

10. Communication
The single most important determinant of staff retention
– If staff feel regularly updated and trusted with company plans, goals, issues and expectations – they are much more likely to feel engaged and valued
– Ask for regular feedback and new ideas to make the business even more successful and involve your people in the process
– Ensure reporting and communication lines are clear and adhered to.

What else is important?
Knowledge is only power if we do something with it!

Navigator Consulting helps recruitment businesses to rapidly improve performance and increase profitability through a combination of advisory consulting, succession planning and events. www.navigatorconsult.com Tony Hall th@navigatorconsult.com

 

Staff Turnover Now 50%!

Recruitment firms are turning HALF half their team every year! Australian staffing companies with 21 to 40 employees are replacing almost half of their team every year, according to data released by RIBreport and APositive.

This is a staggering waste of money, time, resources and mental health for all involved. In 17 years of helping recruitment companies grow, I have never heard of staff turnover reaching these lofty levels. The reasons are many – huge demand for recruitment consultants (1,700 open jobs on Seek) means tight supply and increasingly risky hiring decisions. There is still a low investment in training and leadership development while many new starters are not given nearly enough support.

One of the best ways to grow a profitable recruitment business is to take on a smaller group of high quality people and support them with resourcers so they can spend more time in the market away from their screens and thereby make more placements. They will be more productive, feel better supported, earn more money and are less likely to leave.

If you are a owner or manager keen to explore offshore resourcing as a way of reducing staff turnover, making more placements and dramatically reducing cost – please send me a note and I can forward you a copy of our proven Business Case For Offshore Resourcing. 

Right now I am also working on a partnership model whereby quality private recruitment companies can work together to share costs, client opportunities, ideas and support to create better succession and potential exit value. This takes the pressure off growing too fast and wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on staff turnover. It means firms can concentrate on servicing their target market professionally and profitably while building more tangible business value. Please let me know if you would like more information.

Email Tony Hall, Navigator Consulting, th@navigatorconsult.com

Save the date – innovative and practical 2 day Recruitment Summit @ Sea aboard 4.5 -star Carnival Spirit 3-6 November 2017.

BY

darkside

For seven years I enjoyed the comfortable, predictable and somewhat steady life of an in-house recruiter, which, let’s face it, had its advantages.  Candidates came to me, positions just landed in my lap, and I actually got to interact with the hiring manager and internal stakeholders to inform and influence decisions.  Don’t forget I had a steady salary, benefits and great perks like “taco Tuesdays” that came along with being a part of the corporate world.It’s a good job, and while recruiting in-house can be challenging,  there are worse things to have to try to sell than jobs (if you’ve ever tried to develop business as an agency recruiter, you know exactly what I’m talking about).

Partnering with an agency is seen by most corporate recruiters as waiving the white flag.   Corporate recruiters see agency recruiters as evil, and even when they feel like they absolutely can’t do it alone, most in-house talent organizations still tend to view contingency counterparts with disdain and distrust. When I was a corporate recruiter, choosing a contingency recruiting firm admitted defeat.

While, to the rest of the world, we’re all recruiters, but to those of us on the talent front lines, both sides cling to an ‘us vs. them’ mentality, a seemingly impenetrable wall between two very different (yet strangely similar) worlds of work. Which is why I never thought I’d see the day when I decided to switch teams and go back to the proverbial dark side of agency recruiting, trading in a pretty cushy job for a life of cold calling and commissions.

Thing is, almost two years in agency recruiting,  I’m confident that I will never go back to a corporate recruiting job.  Ever. I get to work for the world’s best boss: me. Added bonus: no more having to dress up and drive into an office to sit behind a closed door sourcing and screening all day.

Most people wonder why the hell I did it, and frankly, some days I do a little bit, too. Let’s just say I have a lengthy list of rationales and reasons that I made the move. I’d like to tell you a story I think every recruiter needs to hear – and hopefully illustrate why I did what I did – and why it’s not as crazy as it might sound on the surface.

Corporate Recruiting Can Suck Sometimes.

AJT6JK Businessman about to set fire to a pile of documents

As I stated before, there are plenty of perks associated with working directly for an organization; besides knowing exactly what you’re going to make every month and having the piece of mind that you’ll be able to provide a decent lifestyle for your family, not to mention having benefits taken care of and taxes withheld by your employer.

You also have colleagues who inevitably become friends, and a brand that you’re not only representing, but that affiliation somehow seems to form some small part of your professional identity. I’ve been lucky enough to work for some of the world’s best organizations, and having a big name backing you makes your job a whole hell of a lot easier.

Even with all those factors working in favor of working in-house, I also found that there were a whole hell of a lot of downsides, too. First off, it didn’t matter if I was working on one open job or 40, I made the exact same amount of money, no matter what. Some weeks I could get away with clocking in for my 40 hours; others, though, it seemed like I slept in the office I was so busy, and there still weren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.

Since every company I recruited for was publicly held, my professional existence was determined by quarterly financials more than my individual performance. That my job depended completely on my employer’s quarterly performance, with a loss potentially portending my losing my job, consistently kept me and most of my colleagues on edge. But that’s one of the professional hazards in this business – you can be the world’s best recruiter, but no company needs you if they’re not hiring or have headcounts frozen.

It’s nerve racking, really, like living on a recurring three month contract in perpetuity with no guarantee of renewal, even for the most exceptional performers. People might be employers’ biggest asset, but the people responsible for finding those people are too often treated like a dispensable liability instead.

It’s also tilting at windmills to try to keep every one of your many hiring managers happy; if you’re a recruiter who thinks that every hiring manager you’ve ever worked with loved you, think again – you’re either delusional or haven’t been doing this for long, but I’m going to call bullshit.

Most of the time, this comes down to nothing more than a lack of chemistry or collaboration between both parties and has little to do with performance – certain hiring managers just work better with certain recruiters.

Contingency Planning

There’s little you can do to fix this other than learn to live with it and do your job. While recruiters generally want other people to like and respect them, the truth is that sometimes, you’re going to run into someone who hates you no matter what you do, and that’s OK. If you don’t have thick skin, you’re in the wrong business.  If you are getting in this business because you “like people”, run like hell because this is the wrong industry!

While working in-house, sometimes, escalations are inevitable – the bigger the company and the bigger your workload, the more difficult meeting even the most basic expectations can be. It’s hard to get ahead when you’re treading water trying not to drown in the deluge of paperwork, processes and procedures that so often preempt a busy recruiter’s ability to do anything but the bare minimum.

I know corporate recruiters want to be all things to all people – I certainly did, but realized that being everything to everybody gets you nowhere. It’s impossible.

Expectations are often unrealistic.   Hey, how hard is recruiting, really? It leaves us constantly overworked, overwhelmed and underappreciated. Every hiring manager and every candidate thinks that they’re the top priority, but the truth is, everything in recruiting is urgent, and it’s easy to lose focus when everyone demands your attention. This no-win recruiting reality pretty much sucks when it’s your reality. Really.

Man, that feels good to finally get off my chest.

4 Reasons to Choose Agency Recruiting Over Corporate

Ever since I’ve set up my own shop, I feel like I’ve given my career a second chance. When I close a candidate for a client, it gives me the kind of energy and enthusiasm for recruiting I hadn’t felt in all of the years as a corporate recruiter. I’ve had thousands of offers accepted since I started out in 1995, but frankly, those felt like a professional responsibility rather than a personal accomplishment.

When I made the change, I felt like being reborn as a recruiter, and at that moment, I knew I had made the right choice. Here are four reasons why I left corporate and decided to go to the “dark side” of contingency recruiting.

1. I can focus on delivering real help to clients who really need it.

It’s infinitely rewarding to work with people who actually WANT and NEED your services. Sure, there are people who think that third party recruiters are a pain in the ass (hell, I was one of them not too long ago), but there’s a ton of value in partnering with external recruiters. We serve as intermediaries in the process, partnering with both sides to ensure constant communication and timely feedback, and are able to approach roles without bias to client or candidate, allowing us to focus on finding the best fit for both sides without having to sell or sugarcoat the opportunity.

Sure, there are a few corporate recruiters who do this, but they have so much on their plate quality often takes a back seat to speed, and have so much on their plates that they often don’t have the time to give every candidate the attention they want and deserve. Bad candidate experience is a necessity largely borne from expediency and external expectations, not hubris or malice.

But as a third party recruiter, candidates aren’t commodities – they’re my clients as much as employers, and it’s my job to make sure they’re happy, because they don’t HAVE to work with me. Nor do my hiring managers, who use me because they respect my recruiting efficacy and chose to trust their open opportunities to me.

It’s not like in corporate recruiting, where you’re automatically assigned a recruiter – in this case, you have to actually actively seek one out. This is a much healthier foundation for a working relationship – and successful recruiting outcomes.

2. Gambling Is Fun.

casino, gambling, people and entertainment concept - close up of poker player with chips, money and personal stuff at green casino table

I love taking risks, and wouldn’t have bet the farm on going out on my own if I didn’t enjoy rolling the dice once in a while, even in a situation where I know the odds are overwhelmingly in my favor, since I’m confident in my recruiting acumen and abilities. Still, there’s no bigger rush than putting your cards on the table knowing that you could go bust, and the constant threat of failure is more exhilarating than frightening.

This year, I will do a number of contingent searches, and I know that these are really all or nothing propositions: if I don’t make a placement, I don’t make money. This, if anything, makes me want to work harder and recruit better than anyone else out there, since I have more to lose – and more invested – than anyone.

Everything is on the line, and I know that when I close a candidate, I’ve made a winning bet – and that’s the best feeling I’ve ever had in my professional career.

3. The chase becomes thrilling.

Wow. Turns out, agency recruiting is sales – no matter what anyone says. Not only that, it’s the hardest sales job conceivable. You don’t only have to find clients (and biz dev sucks), but you’ve got to convince them that, out of the hundreds of thousands of recruiters they could work with, they should work with you. That means being able to articulate your value proposition and what gives you a competitive advantage – a good job or a good company isn’t enough to open a req on this side of the aisle.

If you can get through to a hiring manager or recruiting stakeholder and actually successfully sell them on your services, then you’ve got to negotiate terms and conditions – contracts are no fun, and often are more archaic and unreadable than your average position description. But assuming you come to terms, then the hard part really starts: you’ve got to deliver candidates, and better ones than the company themselves is capable of finding, at that.

Once you find the right candidate, you’ve got to sell them not only on the role, but why they should work with you instead of just applying directly for the job or finding another recruiter to represent them, which means you’ve got to give them a great experience, no matter what, because if they’re not engaged and confident in you, then they don’t have to work with you. So it’s really all up to you, really.

Hiring takes a really long time, or at least longer than anyone involved probably would like, which means constant expectation setting, communications and leveling with both client and candidate, a delicate balancing act of keeping everyone happy while keeping the process moving.

Once that offer finally comes, the long and excruciating process still isn’t over – you’ve got to close them. This means working whatever magic it takes to get them to ignore the many offers and counter offers the most placeable candidates are almost always considering to choose your opportunity, and making sure that when they make that choice, they actually follow through and show up – and stick around for 90 days at that.

The process is painful, but the payout is worth it.

4. The Rewards Are Worth the Risk.

I get paid for finding and closing candidates. I love that. It’s a simple reward for a straightforward service – if I work my ass off to help your organization find the talent it needs to succeed, then I know any payment is easily worth the piece of mind it affords to my clients. This is why I don’t want to put a butt in a seat, I want to find key hires who will make a difference – not least because they are likely to give me business in the future, but also because it means that I’ve delivered as promised to both them and their new employer.

Having the right third party partner, I’ve found, is one of the biggest competitive advantages any employer has for catalyzing growth, finding the best talent on the market and having an objective expert committed to helping your organization succeed, which is mostly impossible without the right people. The best things in life aren’t free, but you get what you pay for – and I know if I can’t give my clients demonstrable recruiting ROI for that fee, then I have no reason being in business to begin with.

Speaking of selling: if you want to work with a third party recruiter who gets life on the inside, and can be on target every time, all the time, hit me up. Hey, now that I’m on the dark side, I’ve seen the light – and am loving every minute of it.

@willrecruits

 

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