It is often called the “dark side” of recruitment; it tends to polarise recruiters, and to anyone outside of recruitment, it baffles and confuses people as to what we actually do. Rec to Rec aka R2R aka Rec2Rec (hereonin known as R2R) is a sector I have been part of from its early inception. It started to gain momentum by 2003/4 as a “sector in its own right” and I was lucky enough to move into the sector in 2003- by default at the time for a previous employer.
In order to dispel some misconceptions about R2R “all being the same” and “tarred with the same brush” in the same way you could state about ANY recruitment market specialism, I would like to explain the R2R market to you, (I will assume you understand the recruitment consultant role); and my explanation is answered in how I think a good R2R should operate and conduct themselves, as oppose to how your experience may have been as a client or candidate.
The R2R market operates in a very candidate driven model. There have been few economic times where it hasn’t been; I stipulate this as having worked through 2008-9, this wasn’t the case for a period of time and it shook up the R2R market I think more than any other.
Let me start actually with clients/ hiring recruitment businesses. I can remember in my first couple of years in R2R, there were plenty of recruitment companies whom you would “cold call” to that had a “no R2R policy”. Nowadays, these companies are the absolute rarity and unless they employ a superior internal recruiter who has a deep network spanning years, or employ experts from their actual sector (for example, property hiring ex surveyors, technology hiring ex graphics or programmers etc) I would argue that this policy is fraught with problems…
Client relationships are at the crux
Client relationships are actually what defines you as a good R2R. In my opinion, the main benefit of trusting an R2R for candidates, is you are using that R2R’s knowledge to find the right employer for your next move. Knowing which companies are in growth mode, ensuring due diligence at the financial stability of a company, getting under the skin of their culture: all of these elements are vital to any discerning candidate wanting to move to the right role, surely? It should be how the job is done regardless of your sector or market, anyway!
Selling not spamming
It is important to have a portfolio that is diverse so that you can offer great solutions to your candidates who approach you. The R2R client portfolio should have plenty of options but equally not pitched that candidates are basically marketed in a way that they get spammed to any “IT” recruitment company in “London” (insert whatever sector or location you wish here) in a LONG list style.
Which leads me nicely onto the candidate element of being a R2R. I have aforementioned that R2R is candidate-driven. Absolutely it is, however, I must maintain that the client ultimately pays the fee so despite it being a candidate-short market, we must respect and be proactive for our clients too. I refuse to let any candidate bamboozle or put a client over a barrel at offer stage. A lot of this assessment is applicable to all candidate experiences, and even more so when dealing with fellow recruiters who experience the job day-to-day themselves!
Candidate or customer?
As far as I am concerned, the candidate experience should be as professional as the client experience— met in person to gauge skills, culture, motivators: in order to build trust. Obviously this is not always practical but with Facetime, Skype and other video apps, there is no excuse anymore not to have a virtual meeting if in person is not practical. I have always maintained that your candidate is your customer just as your client is. The difference is, your candidate is not the one paying for the result. Bear this in mind all the way through a process.
Treat your candidate with the utmost respect and confidentiality is the key: the R2R should maintain a high level of discretion about a persons application and ensure by proxy that their clients also adhere to this.
It’s a saturated market
The R2R market is also saturated, when I started Qui Recruitment in 2005, I had about 2 competitors: over a decade later and make that 32 and counting 🙂
So what makes a good R2R?
A solid network and reputation. Check their endorsements by clients and candidates equally. Are candidates they placed still in their roles? Have they got longevity in the market? If not, will they have the connections and the candidates needed to introduce them to the right firms? Will they have a strong enough network (and I don’t just mean LinkedIn!) to find talent for their clients?
Are you cut out to be a R2R?
If you think you are cut out to be a R2R, ask yourself what motivates you. If it is purely money, I would argue that you will find it a rather frustrating job, as R2R ultimately is a longterm desk and you cannot chase fees. If you want quick money, you may get lucky exhausting your initial first tier contacts, but then after that, your legacy will be harder to predict as you enter the very competitive arena of established players. The biggest threat is always going to be people going directly through friends, ex colleagues and referrals!
Be in it for the long haul
If you enjoy marketing candidates rather than trying to fill jobs, enjoy building long lasting long term relationships and you are passionate about recruitment, then R2R is definitely the most rewarding sector there is. It is also the toughest in my opinion: the no-shows, last minute cancellations and counter offers all still happen in R2R, and trust me, they all hurt more when the person doing it to you, knows exactly how it makes you feel at the receiving end.
The rewarding life of an R2R
R2R is a wonderful sector and one I am so proud to represent and hopefully be at the forefront of. R2R is a wonderful sector and one I am so proud to represent and hopefully be at the forefront of: It is no mean feat to get a candidate network of almost 100% referrals and to have an interview to placement ratio of 1:1.17- that is down to hard work, longevity in the market, and always always doing the right thing by everyone and without my own personal gain as my motivator. I would recommend every recruiter and hiring employer to engage with an R2R with a longterm view in mind; don’t be promiscuous and have loads of conversations; use a recommendation before you trust them with your requirements, whether thats finding your next role, or hiring your staff.
As a client, a good R2R acts as your radar in the market. I like to call myself my clients brand ambassadors when I next meet someone I think is right for them. As a candidate, treat your R2R as you would want your candidate to treat you. Communicate, be honest, have integrity and be honest (yes double honesty please – the most important thing.
I hope this blog assists anyone who is considering engaging with a R2R. Choose a local R2R to you as they will know their local market best.