Let me share a recent conversation with a potential new client that totally sums up the glaring and growing gap between some recruitment bosses mindsets and those actually recruiting on the front line today.
Client: "Tara I really need a good Recruiter, someone really salesly that can smash the phones. Can you help me?"
Me: "Yes sure, why don't I just get in my time machine and pop back to the 90's for you?"
Client: "erm" ....(nervous laugh)
Me: "Oh....you're actually serious"
Yes. It was a little awkward to say the least, but if anything demonstrates the stand off in view points between some recruitment bosses (not all!) and modern Recruiters it's this!
Never has the market been so confused. The market is buoyant, business is booming and job flow is incredible for most sectors the number of new jobs in recruitment are incredible. Almost every client we know is expanding, building out teams and new specialisms and all of them are struggling to find staff.
BUT... many companies are suffering shrinking productivity. Most companies are turning over staff too frequently and most companies struggle to engage new potential employees beyond a first initial interview. This is why... they're not talking the same language.
I can tell you now that a lot of recruitment bosses are feeling bewildered and while they totally mean well and want success for their team and business they are becoming more and more out of touch with the realities of recruiting in today's world. In some cases they are literally talking a different language to their staff. In fact, you might be one of them reading this right now. Market is booming, right? Consultants should be happy, right? Consultants should be banging your door down to come and work for you, yes?
Hmmm...so why is that?
Well I hate to tell you this but you're probably out of touch with the newest generation of Recruitment Consultants. Whether you like it or not recruitment today does NOT look like it did when you started out in recruitment. If it's been a while since you were on a desk then get back on one - even just for a month! It will teach you more about your business than anything else ever will. It will give you much a clearer insight into what your clients, candidates and teams need and will immediately tell you where your processes, training and systems need to improve.
Sounds better than staring at spreadsheets wondering where all the KPIs and fees are, right? So, before you start hyperventilating about going back on a desk, let me tell you what's really going on and what to expect.
Recruitment has changed. Yes we can all argue that the essence of interacting with people remains the same. Jobseekers have the same fears and employers have the same goals as they did years ago and if you want to dust off your old training packs from the 90's you will find that a lot of the old features and benefits of using a recruiter are the same but I can tell you now that the working day of a MODERN and SUCCESSFUL Recruiter is vastly different today.
To be successful, and more importantly profitable, in today's market you have to be specialist. Desks have to be more niche than before to really survive the evolution of technologies and also protect profits - those agencies that aren't specialist will tell you that every year their profits and margins are eroding. If you are the lower end of the market or operating a generalist desk you have a very short term future as you try to argue your value when companies can find these people themselves through job boards for very little expense.
So you have to be niche. But that's just the first step. To really make money today you can't expect to post jobs on job boards and place people from the responses, you have to operate a far more sophisticated model of working. Neither can you expect to generate vacancies by just making lots of blind cold calls.
To be successful and profitable and maintain a longterm future in recruitment you have to be a true specialist. You have a brand. A voice of authority. True understanding of your market. You have to have an opinion. You have to be a connector of people, the "go to person". When people say it's not what you know it's who you know, they should think of you.
Unfortunately these qualities can only be developed, and communicated, by totally immersing yourself in your niche. This means networking online and in person. This means learning to master social media. It also means aligning yourself with talent whether they are looking for a new role today or not.
It means the end of cold calls and only warm calls (if you think any clients tolerates cold calls any more you are kidding yourself).
It means blogging, tweeting and more. It means gaining a reputation and credibility so that when a good candidate in your market wants to make a career move it's you they come to. It means when a client starts to think about bringing in a new team member they come to you for advice. Working in this way will enable you to operate in the sweet spot. Working with candidates BEFORE they make career search decisions and with clients before a vacancy is public knowledge means EXCLUSIVITY.
But to gain exclusivity you need trust and respect and this has to be earnt.
So recruitment bosses don't just take my word for it - get yourselves back on a desk for a few weeks. Try the old way, the way you used to recruit by making cold calls all morning and filling jobs all afternoon - and yes, while it will feel comfortable because it's what you know, take a look around you. Can you achieve the very KPI targets you place on the shoulders of your staff? Could you do it week in and week out? Is it sustainable? How does it feel? How do your clients and candidates feel?
Now try a month of blogging, tweeting, sharing content, networking on LinkedIn, contributing to forums and discussions, meeting with really talented people, building a pipeline, sharing potential talent with local business leaders. Talking to people in a persuasive way about relevant options. Contacting clients about just one or two really good candidates and speculatively making introductions. Whittle down those 100 job leads to 2 or 3 qualified and exclusive roles and work those alone. Now how do you feel? What results did you get? What do you enjoy more?
And here's the crucial question....If you were a Recruiter today can you do all these things and keep your manager and KPI targets off your back?
BINGO - there you go. Here's the disconnect in your business.
Trust me if you invest in evolving your business to work in a more sophisticated way and can learn to trust your Consultant to do things other than "smash the phones" you will radically change your company or team for the better. In the short term results will be slightly slower but I can guarantee you in the long term there are higher profits and a more sustainable future.
So come on Recruiter Bosses - hop back on a desk. Have a look at what works.
Just try it.
Start talking the same language as your staff. Re-connect with your business.
Start looking for different qualities in your new hires it's 2014....let the 90's go.