Recruitment Consultants & Recruitment Managers… Someone is fibbing…

Interesting isn’t it? You survey two different groups within the industry and get two very, very different sets of data…

I talk with recruiters all day long. Consultants, Managers and Business Owners. Some may say I’m a masochist… even I think I’m crazy sometimes.

liar1You see, on one hand I have my clients. And their favourite line is…

‘Craig… I need you to find me someone with 3-5 years experience, billing $400k plus annually… oh, and no job-hoppers…’

My thoughts? Even if I sent Indiana Jones on a quest with camels, freshly cut sandwiches and a LinkedIn Premium account, he may take a number of years – and a hundred false starts – to uncover a treasure like that…

On the other hand I have my Consultant candidates. And they tell me that whilst activity is up, billings are flat – based on decreased hiring intentions and margin pressure. Sounds plausiblish… (Oh come on spellcheck – surely plausiblish is a real word?).

So, it got me thinking. What does a Recruitment Consultant really look like? Not in the brown eyes, dark hair 6’2” kind of a way… More in the billing vs experience vs tenure type of information…

It led me to set up a simple anonymous online survey targeted at Recruitment Consultants… The number of respondents was phenomenal  – 1,110. That’s right 1,110 Consultants completed the survey. The data was very interesting and raised more questions than answers.

I ruminated (I’ve been dying to use that word in a blog for months!), for awhile about how I should present this data to the industry, how I could sense check it against existing industry beliefs, what it all really means, and – most importantly – how I could package the data to launch my consulting career, when I had a ‘light bulb’ moment…

‘Why not,’ I thought, ‘create a similar online, anonymous survey for Recruitment Managers and Owners?’

Brilliant… right? Basically I would have 2 sets of data, which hopefully franked each other and we could use to pin point challenges in the industry and commit to solutions… So, I dutifully launched the Recruitment Manager/Owner survey, and I had 112 respondents.

Rubbing my hands with glee I analysed the results… and they basically couldn’t be more different if I’d staged them!!!

See (very brief) summary below

liar21.  Years of experience.

  • 66.87% of Consultants said that they had 3 years or less industry experience.
  • 73.21% of Managers/Owners said that their Consultants had 3 years or more industry experience.


2.  Years with Current Employer.

  • 82.03% of Consultants said that they had been with their current employer for 2 years or less.
  • 92.73% of Managers/Owners said that their Consultants had been with their business for 2 years or more.


3.  Billing.

  • 58.11% of Consultants said that they were billing $20k or less per month.
  • 77.77% of Managers/Owners said that their Consultants were billing $20k or more per month.



There seems to be a huge disconnect between expectation and reality – and… which group do we believe?

I will be presenting a more detailed analysis of the results and how they may help your strategic development at the RCSA International Conference in August.

If you want access to the filtered data relevant to your business – contact me. *WARNING – it will cost you… after all I’ve been in the industry almost 20 years, and in my current business for almost 4. If I were to believe the Managers and Business owners out there I need to bill $45-50k per month… better get on it…

Craig Watson


6 thoughts on “Recruitment Consultants & Recruitment Managers… Someone is fibbing…

  1. Darren Ledger on Reply

    I can’t wait to see what actual conclusions you draw from the detailed data. I suppose it will however be hard to really ascertain any true answers primarily because we and probably you don’t actually know what your anonymous audience consisted of, where they were drawn from and how they were encouraged or enticed to engage in the original surveys.

    This is of course one of the major issues with anonymous surveys, you can’t really quantify or take account of major anomalies that could skew everything because you don’t know they are there.

    For example I’m sure that a genuine survey response from the CEO of Hays Plc would present a very different picture to that from a embryonic company 2-3yrs old with significantly less staff and turnover.

    Another thing to consider is that many people in the industry with more than 2-3yrs experience don’t fall into or consider themselves to be ‘consultants’ anymore. They are themselves team leaders, managers, heads of and as such fall between both your survey targets.

    Interesting all the same though.

    1. Craig Watson rec-to-rec on Reply

      Hi Darren,
      I can ascertain the demographic of the client response particularly as all but 3 responses came from our database of clients. I can also filter by size of business, so that further enhances the data.
      From the consultant’s perspective – a respondent rate of over 1100 will neutralise any anomalies in the results.
      This data is very clean Darren – and very real…


  2. jamesspencerphoto on Reply

    I think there’s a definite line between consultants and managers but the majority of manager’s were consultants themselves once. I’d be more inclined to go with the consultants answers as they’re more on the ground, in the thick of it so to speak.

  3. David Pickavance on Reply

    Not sure why you’re surprised, Craig. On one hand, Consultants (who probably know the correct answer) and are under pressure can develop cynical tendencies – strange thought, but true!. On the other hand, corporate managers and owners can have an opposing view, but based on either “lackofknowledgism” or sometimes “bulls**tism” (both words I gift to you for the Craig Watson Book of Business English!).

  4. Lucian Amarandei on Reply

    well, as long as you do not have any information regarding the fact answering managers are direct managers to answering consultants, the relevance will tend to zero.
    Me as a manager, let’s say, I have 4 consultants with more than 2 years experience and with billing more than 20k$.
    4 consultants from another company answered that their experience is less than 2 years and billing less than 20k$.
    Both affirmations are true, cause there is no link between them.
    So, if you conclude one of them are laying, you are pretty closed to a syllogism.

    Something like:

    Grass is green,
    Violet are blue,
    Therefore roses are red 🙂

    Anyway, if the survey was made comparing the answers from the same company, disregard my comment.
    Also, excuse my English.

Leave a Reply