Recruiting

Agency recruiters are susceptible to pretty harsh reviews sometimes.

This week I attended a Q & A session with social media expert and million-dollar business builder, Gary Vaynerchuk. He talked about success factors; work ethic, believing in yourself, persisting, having patience and well, you get the point. One thing that really stuck out to me was his take on misconceptions, and dealing with things that are out of your control. That includes dealing with falsities that he has little power over. He talked about his competitors stealing his ideas and advice, repackaging it and selling it back to his fans, who buy it. Frustrating stuff. Does he care? Not really; he seemed super confident that truths would come out eventually.

It got me thinking about the bad reputation and rumours that hard-working, honest and passionate recruiters have to deal with. I guess every industry has it’s generalisations and stereotypes. Real Estate Agents? Slimy. Journalists? Nosy. Actors? Self-obsessed. Teachers? Bossy. You get it.

In all of these cases, it’s largely a matter of a some bad eggs ruining the public’s perception of everybody else in their line of work. Agency recruiters aren’t exempt from being generalised, and tend to cop it pretty badly. For a bunch of professionals who, at the end of the day are trying to help people realise their dreams and find work, some get a pretty bad reputation. I know there are some absolute slime balls out there, but it’s just a fact of life that these types of people will pop up in every corner of the globe, irrespective of industry.  I believe there are several misconceptions about people working in agency recruitment. So, let’s set a few things straight.

Every Tom, Dick & Harry could not do the job

Not just anyone can be a successful recruitment consultant on agency side. It is true that a lot of people do just ‘fall’ into recruitment. A lot of people come from completely contrasting careers to give it a go. Sure, you can study HR or Business Management at university, but there isn’t a Bachelor’s Degree in Recruitment on offer. Why? Because there is no rigid set of requirements to what it takes to be a great recruiter. The recipe for success in recruitment is made up of a mix of organisation, people skills and determination. Recruitment tends to operate on an open-door policy; if you want to give it a go, the option will be out there for you. But that doesn’t mean you’ll stick at it and be great, there’s a lot more to it than a lot of people think, and some people just aren’t cut out for the challenge.

In regards to why there is an open door policy, it’s not just to let every man and his dog in for number’s sake.  More than 100,000 people work in the recruitment industry in the UK alone, but there is  still a genuine talent shortage in recruitment, and competitiveness among firms. One of the biggest struggles agencies face is hiring and retaining top talent. Considering the variety of backgrounds great recruiters could come from, it makes sense for managers to give eager people a go, and a chance to succeed. Whether they’ll actually make it or not is another matter altogether.

Recruiters are not serial liars

I feel like there’s always talk about recruiters just telling people what they want to hear. I’v heard people hold the viewpoint, “Oh, they will just say whatever it takes to make the placement, whether its unethical, immoral and goes against the best interests of client and/or candidate”. I just don’t agree. Agency recruiters operate on a consultative basis where their reputation is everything and referrals are the make-or-breakers of their career, on both the candidate and client side. Lies eventually come out and bad recruitment decisions attributed to the recruiter involved will only damage their career. Recruiters have to think of their long term strategy, and lying isn’t conducive to longevity in the industry.

What I do believe, however, is that recruiters are excellent sales people. They have to be because at the end of the day, recruitment is a career in sales, where people are not only the purchasers, but the product too. Any sales person has to be persuasive and clever-talking, knowing what to say at the right times. Anyone working in a business setting knows they have to carefully craft what comes out of their mouth in order to get people on board with their company, vision, product or idea. Being persuasive is called ‘doing your job’ and being successful.

Everyone in the industry is not making it rain

It would be great if this was the case, but it’s just not true. A lot of recruiters make great money, there’s no doubt about that. It’s certainly a lucrative industry and there’s no denying that either. The UK turnover in 2015 was £31.5billion. Apparently the average annual sales for a consultant is around £96k. When you team statistics like that with testimonials of high billers dressing to perfection, going out for expensive dinners, driving super speedy cars and holidaying at the world’s best locations, it’s easy to assume everyone is well off in recruitment.

The thing is, recruitment is full of extremely high highs and really low lows. Some people have nailed the consistency, but a lot of consultants will make it rain for months, then simply won’t bill for two consecutive quarters. And then there are consultants who do what they can, but work on much smaller margins and are subject to less generous commission schemes. Yes, you can make a lot of money in recruitment, but everyone doing it isn’t high-rolling all of the time.

It is not only about the money

First of all, let’s wind this one back a little bit. I agree that this is a HUGE reason why people are in recruitment. What I don’t understand is why it’s so wrong. I’m pretty sure cleaners don’t clean for fun – it’s for the money. A lot of bankers would probably prefer to babysit puppies all day, but instead they choose to slave over reports and other strenuous tasks. Work, at some point, has to be about money. People need to eat and get their hair done. Yes, work should be about enjoying what you do, making a positive impact on the world and all of that other lovely, wonderful stuff. But work is called work for a reason. You work. You get paid. It has to be about money. So why is it so wrong for recruiters to be in it for the money?

Secondly, a lot of recruiters love the work they do more than you could ever know. They live and breathe it. They love the networking, the human interaction, the satisfaction of helping people, the challenge that comes with filling a client brief, the consultative role they play, the numbers, the sales, the chase. They love what they do and they are passionate, loyal and lively people. This is why it’s terribly inaccurate to slap a ‘money hungry and that’s all’ stamp over recruiters’ foreheads. That is such an insult to all of the genuinely dedicated and determined recruitment experts out there!

Image: Shutterstock


About Phoebe Spinks

Phoebe is the editor of Undercover Recruiter & Senior Account Executive at Link Humans.

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