How many people say “I was a recruiter for a bit once”? It’s definitely far more than those who say “I’ve been a recruiter for 10 years and counting”. Why?

Why do so many try it and leave it after a relatively short period of time? There’s certainly not many with 5+ years of experience out there who aren’t agency directors or started up their own businesses. So when it comes to placing them (looking at myself as an example) if I wanted to try to place myself or someone similar to me I’m not sure I would know where to start.

So what happens? Do people burn out? Do opportunities disappear? Is it cheaper to hire and train at a junior level? What are the elements of being a recruiter that sees so few collecting a five years (or longer) service award in recruitment? The commonly cited statistic is that 80% of people who enter this industry fail in the first 2 years, leave, and are never sighted again. I don’t know the answer but here are some of the core challenges facing a recruiter:

Sales

It involves sales. Sales is not for everyone. However, there are very few roles that are broader than “just jobs” than aren’t. The difference with recruitment is your product – your candidate has an opinion, a life that can change and a say: the final say no less. The consideration of a counter offer never considers the time and effort spent matching the candidate with the client, developing the spec and convincing the client. If the decision is to one to stay put then the deal falls through. You still did a great job but there is no reward – just a fall through.

No one remembers the other candidates – only the appointed. There is no second place, and recognition and reward is a massive part of what makes people feel successful and gives us job satisfaction. Working hard and doing your best when it results in achievement is awesome, working hard and doing your best but not reaching your placement goal at no fault of your own can be soul destroying. There is often no lessons to be learnt, with nothing you could do differently, it’s just “one of those things” which could well be the corrosive factor that grinds people down and the grass starts to look greener.

People like to be liked and recruitment has a poor reputation for integrity and service. When you say you’re a recruiter people can reel off a list of bad experiences best voiced with disappointment, at worst loaded with hatred. Recruiters who don’t listen, don’t return calls, to those who tell out and out lies – the sector is poorly perceived. I have always found this an opportunity to be different and a background that allows me to excel. However being unable to find a way of being proud of what you do can really eat away at the bedrock of feeling successful.

As a role that involves sales when it’s good, it’s very good and I don’t just mean the fees! It’s far from trivial – jobs, careers, whole lives are interwoven and a recruiter is integral to big life changing stuff that makes a difference to where people spent most of their time and how they live their lives – whether they move house, have children, go on holiday (not what soft drink they have with lunch!)

In any other transaction one party is likely to feel they got a great deal but in order to get that the other party is likely to feel compromised. In recruitment when it all comes together its fantastic – happy candidate, happy client, happy recruiter!

Conclusion

Bottom line is recruitment is a flipping hard job that demands serious hard work to be put in – and the rewards will come.  If you are even a little bit work-shy then forget it: you and recruitment won’t make the distance. Graft, focus and place that focus on the cumulative big picture and you will be rewarded with a lucrative, satisfying long term career.

So what are your thoughts, what sorts the men from the boys and the wheat from the chaff?

photo by: [puamelia]

Lysha Holmes

Lysha Holmes is founding director of Qui Recruitment established in 2005 to completely challenge the traditionally poorly perceived service offered by other Rec 2 Rec providers. Lysha and Qui Recruitment are dedicated to representing the best talent to the best suited roles, focussing on placing recruiters of all levels.