Recruitment… Gangnam Style

Hands up if you think Psy’s epic hit Gangnam Style is a one hit wonder? Keep your hand up if you are at an absolute, and complete loss in understanding just how this song and dance craze became so big so quickly… Finally, while your hand is up in the air, wave it round a little bit and hop/jog from side to side… there… feels better doesn’t it? (Most of you actually looked around to see if anyone was watching and tried it… didn’t you?… Be honest).

If nothing else, Gangnam Style proves that a not-so-talented dude from South Korea, with a not-so-brilliant song can have a massive impact in his existing – and then wider – market. Question is… is this success sustainable?

Here are 2 examples of Gangnam Style like success situations within our very own Recruitment Industry.Sustainable? You be the judge…

  1. The seasoned recruiter who changes roles…I have seen this one time and time again. You have your experienced recruiter who knows their market, has an existing network of both Clients and Candidates and decides it’s time to look for a new opportunity… They take their time and meet with multiple agencies before making their decision. Nine times out of ten this recruiter will have a fantastic first quarter, and then – much like my predictions around our South Korean friend – they will taper off and fail to match the lofty heights of their first few months… Why? Well it’s combination of things really…
    1. The recruiter has often disengaged a couple of months early when they make the decision to leave an employer. They often sand bag roles and sand bag candidates in preparation for their new gig.
    2. Renewed energy. People are energised and rediscover their mojo when taking on a new challenge… Unfortunately, sometimes this can be short lived.
    3. You spend a lot of time contacting clients and candidates in the first period of a new role, (and we all know that increased activity drives better results).


The main reason that performance often drops off over the following quarter, or 2 is because the new hire runs out of network, and runs out of energy – coupled with the fact that the new boss sees the initial success and leaves the consultant to it. My advice is stay close to new hires, even if they are demonstrating fantastic early results. Put a plan in place to make sure the consultant remains engaged and the success is sustained


  1. Have I Got a Deal For You!! This one both frustrates and shocks me. Over the last month, or so (surprisingly, about the same time that Gangnam Style jumped up and punched us in the face), I have seen recruiters posting ‘offers… but only for a limited time’on Linked In… Deals like…
    1. 25% off your next placement if made before Christmas… Seriously, how is this sustainable? Making offers of discounts for a limited time is fraught with danger. Do you really think that clients won’t hold you to the offered discount outside of the time frame given? Or – worse still – that they won’t desert you as soon as the offer expires… or worse worse still (double worse, pretty bad…) your offer doesn’t present as cheap, nasty and desperate?
    2. The ever-changing referral scheme… I’m all for a valid referral scheme. We have one and it’s been unchanged for the past couple of years. Our Candidate network knows how it works and it has been very, very successful. But what about the ones that say… New Ipad, for all successful referrals this week… or, Double referral paid this month… or, Christmas special – $500 voucher for all Candidates referrals that are placed this year… Desperate, desperate, desperate… and, more importantly – unsustainable.


My message this week is a simple one. Set up your business, your practice and your desk for sustained success. Plan for now – and for the future. Support and nurture your talent and don’t – under any circumstances – cheapen your brand by offering short-term deals to get quick runs on the board.

We, in the recruitment industry have been experiencing a period of trying conditions. Take more of a U2 or Beatles method – as opposed to the Psy approach – in the way you operate. Believe me, you will be around for a lot longer…

Craig Watson


3 thoughts on “Recruitment… Gangnam Style

  1. Leah Athanasiadis on Reply

    Hi Craig,

    Great advice – thank you for a great article as always.

    It is very easy to slip into the “discounting” hole, however you make very valid points around ensuring the business is sustainable long term. It’s all about making decisions based on long term goals, and most certainly discounting does under value our service as an industry and can de-value a brand very quickly.

    Thanks again
    Leah Athanasiadis

  2. Barbara on Reply

    Totally agree. Anytime you start to “discount” yourself, it does nothing but portray desperation. Also, if you give a “deal” to a client (especially a prospect), you will get the business on a short-term basis, but not long-term. Don’t be a recruiting “ho”!

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