9 common misconceptions recruiters have….about recruiters

myths-factsjpegThere are a lot of misconceptions about recruiters from ‘the outside world’. But there are also quite a lot of misconceptions from within the industry….things I hear and read about which bare little resemblance to the actual reality of recruitment today. Here are some of the more common ones:

Employing more ‘sales’ type people will mean you make more money. It might mean you have a better chance of bringing in more roles to work on and increasing the contacts on the database…..but sales does not equal ‘money in the door’ in recruitment. We still have to do the bit where we fill the job….which is the bit clients normally pay us for. And if you can’t do that very well, it doesn’t really matter how many sales people you employ….even if they are good (which quite often they aren’t!)

Experience is the most important thing to look for when hiring a new recruiter. In my experience, ‘experience’ by itself isn’t all that, and is certainly no guarantee of success. It’s often hard to determine how valuable any experience is …… and it often turns out to be the sort of experience you wish they didn’t have when it has been gained from a bad agency…..”They may as well have never recruited for all the good their experience is in here.’

Sales skills are the most important part of being a recruiter. Yes, if their job is just to win new clients and pick up roles. But it means very little if the recruiter is not very good at the recruiting bit. There are a lot of very different factors that go into making someone a good recruiter – sales is certainly one of them but I’d argue not as important as ….ooo….I don’t know….finding candidates that your clients want for example?

Resourcing is a junior / entry level role and should be paid accordingly. It’s a good place for someone to start their recruitment career, but it’s also a good place for someone to continue and end their career. Resourcing should never be seen as purely the home of the junior or the poor cousin to the more glamorous client facing and billing stuff. I would pay at least the same, and happily more, to someone who was a real whiz at sourcing really good candidates…and I would be very happy for them to stay doing that for as long as they wanted to without ever making a sales call. Why wouldn’t I?

“We will have doubled our team in the next year” (…or some equally grand promise about growing an agency).  Any plan that relies on having to find X number of recruiters remains only a plan until you actually have those people in place….and there is absolutely no guarantee that it will happen, as much as your business plan might need it to! The number of times I hear agencies proudly announcing that “next year we will double our income by hiring another 10 recruiters” and then twelve months later they have only managed to hire a couple, and they were not very good. It’s hard to find good recruiters – don’t rely on the fact you will.

Internal recruitment is easier / better / less stressful …than agency recruitment. From what people who have been on both sides of the fence tell me, nothing could be further from the truth. It seems that you are often swapping the challenge of billing targets and everything that comes with that, with the challenges of fill-rate targets, time-to-hire targets, demographic targets, and all the time your client is sitting down the corridor giving you daggers because they don’t get why you just can’t get them someone.

Agency recruiters have to be motivated by money. The idea that you cannot be successful in agency recruitment unless you are some money hungry Justin Belfort wannabe isn’t true. In fact, those who are onlymotivated by money are often the ones who justifiably get the bad wrap. Financial rewards are offered by most agencies to encourage performance, so you probably should be motivated by money to some degree….but there are many very good and very successful recruiters who are more motivated by a lot more…like being a really good recruiter and doing a great job for their clients and candidates…because they probably know their money will come if they do that.

The biggest billers make the best managers. Sometimes they do. But it is far from guaranteed. The traits that make someone a big biller have very little to do with what makes a great manager (which is why often the biggest billers don’t want to manage).

Successful recruiters will always be successful and vice-versa. There are a number of different factors that can make someone successful or not – the brand they have behind them; how they fit in to the culture; what is going on in their personal lives; the way they are managed;….one size does not fit all. I’ve essentially been sacked twice for poor performance in my career ..but I’m doing ok now!

I fully expect that a lot of agencies that I speak to will continue to demand “5 years experience”; “everyone has to do cold calling”;  or “won’t consider someone who only ever wants to be a resourcer”. They will continue to assume that they will be able to find the number and qulaity of recruiters they need, and they will use billings as the only factor in deciding promotion. I fully expect candidates will continue to assume internal recruitment is the answer to all their frustrations, and some will think that because they billed a million dollars managing a large PSA for a big global brand with a team of resources that they can repeat that anywhere.

Anyone brave enough to think a little differently, might find it helps a little.

Luke Collard


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