These were the words of an agency owner that I met recently. His business was relatively small, recruiting across a number of vertical specialist sectors, and he was looking for someone for his Accounting & Finance team.
On the one hand I applauded his flexibility to look outside of the tiny pool of recruiters currently operating in that sector, in his geographical region that had existing networks. This sort of brief, whilst I understand it, is limiting because the pool we are fishing in is so small. So, it was refreshing to have a brief that allowed us a bit more leeway.
“Not proper recruitment?” I asked
“Well, we are recruiting professionals and that is a whole different ball game to recruiting secretaries or kids doing customer service jobs. Whilst I can teach them about Accounting, I haven’t got the time to teach them how to recruit”
This took me back to early in my career when I ran an Office Support desk in a large multi-national. The company also had specialist divisions and it was very much pitched to us in the Office Support team that, if we work hard and were successful, one day we might be lucky enough to join one of the specialist teams!!!
There is no doubt that in some corners of the recruitment industry, Office Support recruitment is looked down on. For some, it is viewed as easy, where you might start your recruitment career before graduating to proper recruitment, or stay in the space if you are not particularly ambitious.
But take it from someone who has worked in Office Support – it isn’t easy. Sure there are some differences to what we class as specialised recruitment, and each have their unique set of challenges. But it is definitely not easy – and it is absolutely proper recruitment.
You still need to develop business (and the office support sector is probably more competitive than any other sector). You still need to take an accurate client brief. You still need to find hard to find candidates, because funnily enough good PAs do not grow on trees. So you need to map the market, network and build a talent pool. And you still need to interview well, shortlist accurately, manage the recruitment process, reference candidates properly, negotiate, persuade, deal with tough clients… oh, and of course bill! The fact that you may be dealing with a slightly different profile of candidate, who can be less career orientated just makes it more challenging.
So, to automatically assume that because a recruiter’s background is Office Support they won’t be able to recruit for a Finance Manager, or for that matter an IT Manager, Sales Manager or Engineer is wrong. Sure, not every consultant in Office Support will be able to make the transition, but then every Engineering recruiter won’t automatically be able to transfer to Finance for example. And what makes you think they want to move away from Office Support recruitment anyway?
Obviously I meet recruiters who run a variety of different desks but quite often the best ones, work in Office Support space. Sure they don’t bill as much as their counterparts in sectors where salaries and therefore fees are higher, but you have to compare apples with apples. Sure they probably won’t have the technical knowledge or networks that some speciality sectors understandably require. And I appreciate that moving straight from an Office Support desk to a pure retainer led, executive search desk might be a jump too far for many.
But to have a blanket rule to close your door to all Office Support recruiters…well I invite you to spend a week running an Office Desk and then see how you feel. At the moment, you are ignoring some of hardest working, most tenacious, commercially focused and skilled recruiters out there.