Break even… or leave.

24 Apr

It will be a short post today… for 2 reasons.

  1. I’m flying solo in the office this week… Luke’s enjoying some time back in the UK & honeymooning in Crete, whilst Jen is over in Perth… showing off her bubba belly to friends & family (am I allowed to say that?)
  2. I wrote a blog last night that I thought was pretty good! It made sense and it was all ready to go with it this morning… then… when I re-read it I realised that it was almost the same as the one Luke posted last week… he’s always telling me I should take more notice of him… point taken.

Soooo… I thought I would look at a topic I have touched on in the past. (Not the same way that I almost touched on Luke’s blog, but we have covered it in some way nonetheless).

breakeven2I met a candidate last week… let’s call him Dudley ‘Booger’ Dawson… Booger had been an IT Recruitment Consultant working a hybrid desk, in the contingent – mainly PSA – space for the past 4.5 years. All at the same employer. On paper he’s looking pretty damn good.

‘So, tell me Booger…’ I asked. ‘What are your billings like?’

Booger smiled smugly and said, ‘I billed $47k last quarter and have been averaging about $15k months.’

‘OK…’ I replied. ‘And what salary are you looking for in your next role?’

Cue Booger. I knew what he was about to say before he said it… I had heard it a million times… Don’t get me wrong… I hoped he’d be different… hoped.

‘I’m currently on a package of $80k… One of the reasons I’m leaving is I haven’t had a pay increase in almost 2 years, so I’d want at least a $5k increase for my next role… oh… and under the commission structure at my current employer I’m not currently earning any commission…’

‘No shit Sherlock…’ I whispered… clearly not quietly enough.

‘What?’ Booger asked…

Let’s leave the interview there… I certainly wrapped it up pretty quickly.

Listen Consultants… I need you to understand something. Your bosses are in business to make a profit. They will (in most cases) gladly share that profit with you in the form of commissions, but you have to break even first!

I’ll make it easy for you & let’s use Booger as an example…

breakeven1In business there is a very simple formula that most companies look for in revenue producing employees… You need to bill 3x your salary package to be profitable… How does this work?

Well Booger is on a package of $80k per annum. That includes his base salary, tax & on costs (in Australia this includes superannuation).

Great… you think. That means once Booger has billed $6,666.66 in a month ($80k / 12 months) he has broken even… wrong.

What about the cost of you being in the business?

  • Insurance
  • Rent
  • Computer
  • Business taxes
  • Support Staff
  • Utilities
  • Phone
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Etc. Etc. Etc.

Usually this adds up to around the same as an individual’s salary package.

You with me? I see you nodding your heads… you’re now 1 step ahead and saying… ‘That means once Booger has billed $13,333.33 per month ($80k x 2 / 12 months) he has broken even… wrong.

Businesses need funds to strategically grow. Launch new offerings, buy new technology, invest in consulting… and the owner/s need to be paid as well.

This equates to… you guessed it… about the same as an individual’s salary.

So… Booger needs to bill $20k per month ($80k x 3 / 12 months) to break even. Get it?

Our friend Booger was billing $15k per month, meaning he was costing his current employer $60k a year in losses. If you owned a business would you carry an employee like that?

It’s simple guys… and girls. Work out what your monthly break even point is… and don’t forget the simple formula…

Your Annual Salary Package x 3… then divided by 12 (months).

If you are billing below that… do something about it.

Craig Watson

Recruitment is now a level playing field…for some.

17 Apr

There was an article doing the rounds on LinkedIn yesterday that showcased four examples of businesses with top talent brands…. a fancy way of saying they did recruitment well. And looking at the companies involved you would have expected them to be good at it. I mean, if Google, cannot attract talent then something is seriously wrong in their recruitment department!

On the surface of it, Google’s story, similar to most other massive global brands, is not very relevant to us in recruitment agency land. None of us have the resources and money they have to spend, and none of us are as big or sexy – although some recruiters seem to think they are the sexiest thing since suspenders, Barry White and an early night!!! But, we can all take something from what they, and similar companies are doing. Because a lot of the tools that are behind their success are the same tools that are available to us all…regardless of how small or poor you may be.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you are going to be able to achieve the same impact as a Google, just because you are on LinkedIn and Twitter. But it does mean you can do an awful lot more for your business than you probably have been able to do before…. and you can probably do it as well, or better than your competitors (regardless of their size).

That’s the thing with social media… it can be a great leveller.

Traditionally, those that had the bigger recruitment budget and resources behind them had the upper hand. If you had someone in your business that would put together a nice looking advert for you and make sure it appeared in the weekend’s press alongside ten other of your colleagues adverts you had a distinct advantage over the one man band operator who simply could not achieve the same impact. I have worked in agencies where the extent of their marketing was to have you hand out stupid fliers to shoppers in the hope they might be interested in a job…. whilst my mate was entertaining clients in the hospitality boxes at Man Utd (these days that might be a disadvantage!).

But then the recruitment Gods above got together and made the playing field a bit more even for us all. They gave us social media…. and suddenly we all had access to these awesome tools that were cheap or  free, and made us all into DIY marketers and Don Drapers. It didn’t matter who you worked for and how deep or shallow their pockets were…the playing field was level. And we all lived happily ever after….

Yeh right !

Social media can be a great leveller. A boutique with a clear strategy that they follow through on can definitely have a bigger impact than a larger agency doing it badly. The same goes on an individual basis. A recruiter who is really using social media well can do better operating solo from their kitchen table, than a recruiter with a big brand behind them whose extent of using social media is to have a LinkedIn profile and post dodgy drunk selfies on Facebook.

As someone who works in a small business that sometimes has not had a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of, social media has been not just a leveller but also a game changer. I may be biased, and having just launched a new business that trains and consults to agencies around this sort of stuff, you would probably be right. But it is because I have seen it work… and if you can get it to work for you, then you don’t need to worry about how big your marketing budget is or what the competition is doing… especially if they are not doing it as well as you (and they are probably not).

An example of an agency putting some effort into their social media strategy is Kingfisher recruitment who are this weeks Agency in Focus…check out their story here….


Luke Collard 



HR is from Mars… and Recruiters are from Venus…

10 Apr

*Disclaimer… This blog is NOT about ‘in house’ recruitment teams… they are from Uran… I mean… Neptune…

recruiting-hrI’m serious. Corporate HR departments and Agency Recruiters have about as much in common as Lance Armstrong & organic, preservative free orange juice… no sorry, that was a bit low… they have about as much in common as Tiger Woods & fidelity… that’s a bit unfair too… they have about as much in common as… ummm… night & day… there that won’t offend anyone.

For years these two camps have tip toed around each other. The agency recruitment industry has been too scared to say what they really think for fear of biting the very hand that feeds them… whilst members of the HR fraternity have developed a bad case of telephonobia (it’s real… look it up on Wikipedia). Too afraid to pick up their desk phone in case it’s another stinkin’ recruiter trying to sell them people they don’t need… for a role they don’t know… in a company they don’t understand…

I’m part of a weekly Twitter™ forum called #ozrec. (Thanks for the invite Hassanah). Last week’s topic was around the HR/Recruiter relationship. What became pretty clear to me is that Recruiters resent HR & HR resents Recruiters… all to the detriment of the candidate.

Olympics Day 11 - Boxing‘Ladies & Gentlemen… In the red corner… weighing in at 160 pounds and weighed down by KPI’s, bureaucratic red tape & 27 pages of dotted i’s and crossed t’s… we have The Master of the Matrix, The Prince of Process, The Earl of Engagement… The HR Kid… Lionel FitzTheSpec… And in the blue corner… also weighing in at 160 pounds (funny that), and weighed down by Manager’s expectations, financial targets & candidates with 5 opportunities on the go… we have The Sultan of Speed… The Overseer of Opportunity… The Duke of Drive… The Guru of Recruitment… Iva Candidate… Let’s have a fair fight… no low blows…Ding Ding!’

It’s not quite that bad… or is it?… but let’s face it neither side would overly grieve if the other disappeared from the face of the earth… forever.

And why? It’s simple really. Recruiters and HR are looking for the same outcomes… but with totally competing pressures.

During the #ozrec Twitter™ forum there was one tweet that defined the gulf between HR & Recruiters…

‘…I dont like fast track recruitment. I want people who want to work for my company not just a job. said person will wait for process.’

There was an almost audible ‘WTF?!’ from the agency recruitment universe. I’m lucky. I don’t have to deal with HR too often in my niche, so I’ll take one for the team here…

Bottom line is: Recruiters are dealing with candidates who are often entertaining multiple opportunities (well the good ones are anyway). Recruiters need to move quickly. Managing the candidate is often akin to controlling a 7 year old’s sugar addiction in Willy Wonka’s Factory.

HR (and remember I’m not talking about inhouse recruitment teams) – on the other hand – is driven by process. There’s often more stages than the Tour De France & and at the end of the day HR is happy (that’s right happy), to miss out on the best candidate if they don’t fit in with the process.

It’s laughable really.

In my opinion HR & recruitment are pre-determined by genetics to be unable to work effectively together… in my opinion HR should have nothing (or very little) to do with the recruitment process if their business is prepared to engage a third party recruiter. Recruiters should deal directly with the Line Manager. The person who knows who the best candidate for the role will be, and has the pain of needing the best candidate quickly.

Don’t get me wrong. HR has a huge role… A huge role in engagement, retention, defining values, training, performance management… the list goes on… but not recruitment. And particularly not when the process is set up to miss out on the best candidates… but then again that’s how they do things on Mars I hear…

Craig Watson

This social media thingy doesn’t work (….said the recruiter)

3 Apr

social notworkingOne of the first calls I had after launching our new business this week was from a guy I know who manages a fairly big agency. He was bemoaning how social media was a waste of time for his business. ….

“We jumped on board with this whole social media thing last year but so far I cannot see what we have got from it. We have a Facebook page, everyone uses LinkedIn and more than half of us are pretty active on Twitter. But so far we have not had one candidate come from social media. All our candidates come from traditional sources, like Seek or referrals…in fact our own website generates more candidates.” …. this was the general gist of it anyway…we don’t record all our phone calls to be used at a later date for this blog !!!!

I don’t imagine he is alone in his thinking. It can seem that the amount of noise constantly being made about how important social media is all just a load of hype…and the reality is that it’s not actually that useful at all.

But, if you are only judging the effectiveness of social media by how many direct applications you get from Facebook Twitter, etc.….I think you are missing the point.

Think about it this way…when you go into a supermarket you tend to pick up the products that you are familiar with. Even if you haven’t bought it before, you will have seen the brand advertised, probably in more than one place. You will know a little about it.  You might have spoken about it with friends who have recommended it. And all these things have contributed to you now picking that product off the shelf…. as opposed to the brand that you have never seen. I think they call this marketing 101……..

And the same works in recruitment. For most, it is probably unlikely that an ace candidate will randomly send you a message on Twitter asking you to find them their dream job. However, it is far more likely that the same person will respond to your headhunting call, apply to a job you have posted, or refer someone to you if they already know you. You can call it subliminal messaging… the point is that a bit of familiarity goes a long way.

It may be that the majority, or all, of your applications continue to come from job boards. But how many of them would have applied if they had just seen your advert once on Seek? It is far more likely that someone will engage after seeing a job mentioned numerous times on their LinkedIn stream, and again on Twitter, having also been told about it by a friend who saw it on Facebook. Similarly, if they already know who you are (because they see you, and possibly talk to you on one of these sites), they are far more likely to notice your opportunity….  before the thousand other jobs being listed by recruiters they have never heard of.  Of course, all you see is that the person applied from Seek….but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

People will talk about return on investment and needing to measure results…but I would be more inclined to take a Coca-Cola approach. Stick yourself out there as much as possible and don’t be the brand that is stuck on the back of the shelf collecting dust.

Luke Collard


And now for something completely different…

1 Apr


After months of planning, weeks of running around like headless chooks, days of arguing over content (and there was some robust arguments… believe me), hours of pretending we know how to code a website, minutes of searching for funky social media buttons and seconds of second guessing… we have launched our new business… and we haven’t been this excited since pubs started providing free wi-fi…

Watson Collard… like the name? We do… took us ages to come up with… but in the end we just used our surnames… genius.

webhomeimage1What are we all about?

Well, for too long rec2rec has been a much-maligned part of the recruitment industry. It has probably been seen more as a necessary evil by many and tolerated, rather than preferred. That’s what many of you have been saying anyway.

So we thought it was about time for something new…

Yes we are still doing recruitment, but we are approaching it in a different way that firstly addresses the basic problem of finding good recruiters – we have access to at least 30% more recruiters than our clients or competitors – and secondly a way to share the risk with our clients through a different way of charging.

And on top of that we are offering training and consulting services. Why? Well, we believe that there is a gap in agencies ability to access up to date and relevant advice and training around important – business critical – tools like social media presence, remuneration modelling, benchmarking, blogging and much, much more! We know the recruitment industry is continuing to change and we all need to adapt. And we know what is working out there & what is not  – after all we spend all our days speaking and working with recruiters and agencies.

So there you have it…. We are a recruitment company that trains, a training company that consults and a consulting company that recruits.

craig, megan, jennifer, luke

craig, megan, jennifer, luke

We are not going to claim that we are about to change the world and make it all perfect. But it is about offering something more than just recruitment, done the same old way it has always been done. Something that actually addresses the changes and challenges that our industry faces.

We are not going to go on and on here…. we don’t want to be rude and we know you come here more for a giggle than a sales pitch…and we will do that in our regular blog … posted on our regular day… featuring the regular borderline intelligence and humour. But please check out our new website, or even better give us a call.

Thanks for your ongoing support and we’ll see you again on Thursday…


Craig Watson & Luke Collard

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

27 Mar

three monkeysMy mother told me never to tell fibs. And it is a lesson well served in recruitment.  Don’t get me wrong; I am certainly no angel. But apart from the fact that I am no good at fibbing – I go red and sweaty (not a good look!) – it ultimately makes little sense in this game. Leaving stuff off your candidate’s resume, fiddling dates of employment to hide gaps or just generally making out they are something they are not (usually with a bunch of meaningless superlatives) is likely to come back and bite you in the backside at some point.  Sure, you might get your candidate a job with this approach; you might even get a fee, but in the bigger scheme of things it is likely to do far more damage.

I think most recruiters would agree with this principal. Even if you have the morals of a politician with an unlimited credit card and penchant for ladies of ill repute, the majority of us get that lying is not good for business.  There is, of course, that slightly grey area ….not lying exactly…just being a bit economical with the truth.  You know the sort of thing…you hear on the grapevine that a candidate you are about to place was arrested last Friday for indecent exposure and you decide that your client doesn’t need to know this, and ‘ignore’ that you actually heard it.   Sure we are all guilty of something like this at some point in our careers… but I generally go with a mantra that has served me well  – if you focus on doing the right thing your money will come.

There is a flip side to all this…when companies and agencies lie / are economical with the truth when pitching an opportunity to candidates.  Again, we are not talking big obvious lies, such as your salary. But it is not uncommon to see crucial things about an opportunity be inflated to sound more attractive than they are. The “very warm desk” that you were told about at interview turns out to have no clients at all…just happens to be positioned next to the heater. The opportunity to “build a team around you” is actually nothing more than just a hollow promise that may or may not happen at some point depending on a thousand different things out of your control. Or the PSA account that you are being brought on to work, turns out not to exist and you end up in a sales role.

It happens…it happens a lot. In fact it seems to me that in recruitment it has come an accepted norm to hold back some of the more unglamorous bits a job description, or sugar coat an opportunity with a sprinkling of bull$hit. And sometimes a whole truckload of it!

So at the same time as us all being correctly sceptical of everything a candidate tells us before we have qualified it, we should also be sceptical about career opportunities that are being pitched to us.

I am waiting for the first big legal case when a justifiably pi$$ed off recruiter turns to their new employer and says “This isn’t what I signed up for – see you in court”

(….and talking of pitching opportunities, please check out the details of a retained role we are currently recruiting, especially if you are a recruiter looking for their first genuine management role….pretty sure I am safe in not being hypocritical!!!!)


Luke Collard

If I had a dollar for every time a candidate said…

20 Mar

You know it… you’ve been in recruitment long enough to have heard it all before right? In fact, absolutely nothing surprises you anymore… not even when the candidate tells you that their house burnt down… just as they were leaving to go to interview with your client… and they will have to cancel… only to see them check in on Facebook™ 37 minutes later at a beach 2 hours out of town. You shake your head with a frustrated mix of contempt and jealousy. After all, it’s stinking hot outside and you wish you were at the beach, instead of having to call your client who has flown in specifically to meet with your candidate… Ahhhhh a day in the life of a recruiter!

dollar1But… what about those excuses, justifications and outright lies that keep on repeating themselves? You know, the ones that you have heard ad nauseam… weekly… since you began your illustrious career in the most noble of professions… The ones where – no doubt – your candidate is smugly high fiving him or herself, nodding in the mirror and whispering ‘God I’m good… I’ve fooled them with that one!’

Well… ummmm… you’re not actually that good. You’re actually a twat who doesn’t have the decency to be honest with the person trying to source you the next step in your career. You’re actually an A-grade flog who has just been blacklisted by your recruiter for being wasting their time and making them look stupid in the eyes of their client. You are really just a selfish bastard that doesn’t value anyone’s time but your own and probably believes the world owes you a living… Yep… that little rant makes me feel a whole lot better…

I have noticed – as I’m sure you have – that there are a few of these reasons excuses that are very common. And for the benefit of those new to our industry I think it’s worthwhile to list a few of them here… so here goes…

  1. The Family Funeral – ‘Ok…’ I hear you say, ‘hold on there a minute Craig. Don’t disrespect candidates for having to attend a family funeral. That’s just not fair.’ Well… I take your admonishment on board… I really do… but ask yourself this question. Why does this reason excuse always seem to present itself half an hour before the interview, or when they have already missed the interview and you are following up? Wouldn’t the candidate have known… 1… even 2 days beforehand? If you are telling the truth, let the recruiter know in advance… please. I had a candidate once who… over a 3 year period… attended his grand mother’s funeral 5 times… now there’s a woman with amazing powers of recovery.
  2. The Cancelled Train – Totally unacceptable and I’ll tell you why. If you are serious about attending an interview you build travel problems into the equation. No recruiter… no possible employer… no-one should accept that as a reason for not attending an interview. It smacks of irresponsibility…
  3. The Sick Child – Really? You inform us half an hour before an interview that you can’t come because your child is sick and you have no-one to care for them? It happens…child illness… I know… I have children… but it just doesn’t happen 30 minutes before your interview… or if it does, not as often as it is being used as a reason excuse.

dollar2Above are just some of the excuses candidates use when they have no intention of attending an interview. It makes me angry (as you’ve probably worked out), because there are genuine candidates out there, who have real reasons for not being able to attend an interview. Reasons that we should empathise with and support them through. Unfortunately, the selfish liars out there add to our mounting levels of cynicism and leave recruiters feeling wary.

By far the worst example is The No-Show… who avoids phone calls and emails when we look for answers… but don’t even get me started about them… no don’t… I’m warning you…

If you’ve got examples of repeat-offender excuses we’d love to hear them. Maybe we can get them published as part of every new recruiter’s induction program?

In the meantime, we are 2 weeks away from announcing some very, very exciting news! Well for us anyway… make sure you look out for it!

Craig Watson

Are you getting your piece of the pie?

13 Mar

ImageRecruitment is largely seen as a sales role, and similar to any sales role commission and bonuses typically make up a large part of a recruiters package. Now, you can agree or disagree with this principal, and some would question whether in fact this is the right approach or is actually the thing that drives bad operators and poor service (ever thought it was a bit of a conflict of interest for a recruiter to have a vested personal financial interest in the outcome?).  But commission and bonuses are, and will continue to be a big part of recruitment.

When I first started in recruitment, commission structures were fairly standard across the industry. If you moved from one agency to another you could expect your commission structure not to change that dramatically. Nowadays however, we are seeing more and more weird and wonderful schemes. This is probably reflective of an industry that has continued to evolve and adapt…. although looking at some of the commission structures out there I suspect it is also reflective of some people having too much time on their hands and too much knowledge of Excel!

The myriad of different commission schemes out there now is a potential minefield for any recruiter. Being paid different commissions on existing business versus new business, or billings generated from a PSA versus a non-PSA account. Deficit models. Commission calculated on invoice or collections. Team bonus versus individual bonus. Discretionary bonus. Bonus payments on top of commissions. Paid monthly, quarterly or annually? Thresholds v no thresholds. Payments on placements made, not revenue. Different commission level depending on whether you are using a resourcer or not. No commission scheme.  Different commission level depending on if it is the second Thursday of the month, you are wearing pink socks and your client begins with a letter from the second half of the alphabet…and so on.

I appreciate that not one size fits all and different commission schemes need to exist depending on what type of recruitment you are involved in, the business you are working in etc. But, regardless of how you splice and dice it, I think there are a few very basic concepts that should be at the heart of any scheme:

It has to be simple to understand….the simpler the better. Yes, we are all intelligent enough folk, but some of the schemes I have seen are so bloody complicated that you need a Masters in Advanced Mathematics and a nuclear powered calculator to get your head around it.

It must genuinely want to reward. When you really break down some of these schemes you can tell that they are really designed not to reward that well. A sort of fool’s gold.

It needs to be consistent and fair across the business so that everyone has an equal opportunity to earn commission regardless of their desk.

Often what seems like a good thing on paper turns out to not to be quite such a good gig in reality. So, whether you are moving jobs and considering a new scheme, or just reviewing how your current set-up compares to other recruiters, make sure you really understand how it works…including the small print. !!!  A simple test is to ask yourself this question…if I bill $X this year what will I make in commission? If you cannot get an accurate answer then maybe it is not a great scheme.

And now for something different…

You may have noticed a new section of our blog, Agency in Focus. We have been asked by some agencies if they could somehow promote their agency and internal opportunities to the 2500+ recruiters who read this blog every week (thanks by the way). And we guessed that you wouldn’t mind hearing about them. So we are delighted to bring you the first of these, Kinetic Recruitment, who we are currently helping find a new Manager for their Melbourne office…check out what their Managing Director has to say here…. minus all the usual corporate bull.

Luke Collard

The Passive Candidate… Golden Goose… or Slippery Sucker?

6 Mar

I read a stat this week that gave me real pause for thought. Apparently 12% of the workforce is actively looking for a new role at any one time… interesting yes… but a stat that gave me pause for thought… no.

passiveI also read that another 73% of the labour market is passively in the market for a new role… 73%… wow! That means that 85% of the workforce would – for the right opportunity – change roles. But even that didn’t give me real pause for thought…

What did give me pause for thought was the fact that the average person blinks 10,000,000 times a year… you just blinked didn’t you?… and again.

Back to the issue at hand… You are a recruiter… You have a point of difference… Your point of difference goes a little something like this…

‘So, Craig I have access to job boards and I can even put a job ad up on LinkedIn. Why should I engage you at a vastly increased expense to do what I can already do?’ said Mr Kravitz. Prospective client.

‘Well Mr Kratviz.’ you smugly reply. ‘By placing your advert on job boards and Linked In, you are only speaking to 12% of the available candidate pool… If you engage me I can map the market, reach out to my network and target head hunt… and this will widen your coverage and give you access to a further 73% of qualified candidates…’ You open your arms wide to indicate the sheer size of the ocean of candidates you will expose your client to.

passive2Aside for the fact that you only learnt those statistics 2 paragraphs ago, it paints a fairly accurate picture of how a good recruiter can support their clients… it’s all about sourcing channels… Right?… Wrong…

It’s one thing to identify talent… and even speak with them… but to engage them – and turn them from passive to active – is harder than getting Justin Bieber to start a concert on time… and sometimes just as painful when you succeed. The passive candidate can be – and often is – far more trouble than they are worth… Let me break it down for you.

A passive candidate can be:

  • Happy in their current role.
  • Happy to have their ego stroked.
  • Resistant to change.
  • More likely to accept counter-offer.
  • Afraid of resigning.

I hear you like stats, so cop this one… A passive candidate is 62% more likely to disengage during a recruitment process than an active candidate… that’s right 62%!

So… if you are going to make promises to clients about the magic pixie dust solution of sourcing passive candidates here are some tips:

  1. Opportunity – Is the opportunity you are presenting better than their current role? If the answer is no… you are kidding yourself… and your client.
  2. Motivation – Do you know what will motivate the candidate to change roles? If not, ask & listen… If motivation does not match opportunity… don’t go any further.
  3. Engagement – This is always a difficult one as you have approached the candidate. But if you can’t get them to do simple things like, present a cv, or commit to interview times, or gain detailed feedback… they will not accept a role… so move on.

The passive candidate can be that X-factor that allows you to demonstrate your value to clients and differentiate yourself from your competitors… but… it’s also double-edged sword.

If you don’t understand the passive candidate, learn how to… or leave them to someone who does. If you don’t you will be found out… And that stat my friends… is… 100% accurate.

Craig Watson

Success v success ….?

27 Feb

Image“So, tell me how successful have you been in your current role?” …

This is a question that I ask every recruiter who I meet.  It is also a question that all of my clients will ask when interviewing a potential new hire, and probably something that most recruiters would expect to be asked by other recruiters if they get chatting over a few beers. The answer that is nearly always given, in fact that is expected to be given, is the amount that they billed.  And I suppose, in an industry that defines success in terms of fees, this is no surprise.

Fair enough….to a point. But for me, judging a recruiter based purely on their billings is a bad habit that our industry has fallen into…..and we need to start thinking about it with a much wider viewpoint.

Some would argue that billings are the ultimate end goal for us all and so this is the only thing that is really important.  It doesn’t matter how you get there, as long as it ends up with money in the bank. People with this mindset can be very successful and fair enough – I am sure that when they are on their ‘big billers’ trip to Vegas, they are not thinking about the candidate they forgot to get back to or the client they ignored because they couldn’t fill their brief. I didn’t…..but at the same time I was being told how awesome I was because I billed the most. The chap I sat next to missed out on the trip because I had the ‘juicy’ account that was easy to make money from. He didn’t bill as much as me but he was a far far better recruiter than me…..he could take a better client brief, write a better ad, make a better headhunt approach, could negotiate and persuade better than me, was more thorough, worked harder, even made better cups of  tea….but according to our company league table he was half as good as me. Nonsense.

When you think about it, judging performance based purely on billings is a fairly ridiculous concept anyway, given the uneven playing field that different recruiters play in. You would expect a recruiter working at the senior end of the market to bill a lot more than someone recruiting office support roles for example. And you would expect a recruiter working for a big brand with lots of PSAs to bill more than someone in a start-up….or maybe you wouldn’t if the fees they were forced to work to were ridiculously low. See what I mean. Even in the same office, the biggest biller is not necessarily the best recruiter. It isn’t in our office (I am neither the biggest biller or the best recruiter in our office …which probably isn’t a great record in an office of three and a half!).

As an industry I think we need to move the conversation away from looking at success purely as the amount someone bills, and more about how good a recruiter someone is. In my opinion, the best recruiters do not always bill the most (dah dah dah …shock horror ….did he just say that OUT LOUD!)…so let’s stop thinking purely in those terms. I would like to see more agencies giving me briefs where the focus was on things other than simply ‘someone who has billed $X’, and I would like to hear different answers from candidates other than what they billed…. something that actually tells me you are a really good recruiter. Obviously no one can generate good fees if they are utter crap at recruiting.  However it is also possible to generate good billings but also leave a trial of unhappy clients and candidates behind…. is this success?

So, how are you being measured / how do you measure your recruiters. Is it just all about the money you make (or don’t) ?

Luke Collard

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