Talent Acquisition

Time for a Change in Recruitment Sales?

I’ve got a secret.

When I left university, I didn’t know what to do with my career, so I became a recruitment consultant. I’d only turned up to register for temporary work and they offered me a job which my student overdraft couldn’t turn down. When I joined this large recruitment firm, which shall remain nameless, I was sent on a week’s training course.

I had naively assumed that becoming a recruitment consultant would be all about helping people find work, helping them with their CV and matching engaging employers with excited potential employees (as well as some actual consulting). After five days of intensive sales training I was slightly more clued up.

I was taught that the receptionist was my enemy. How to lie to get to speak to the person you wanted to talk too, and how the key to success is all about making phone calls. Lots and lots of phone calls. All you had to do was ask for the meeting, ask for the vacancy and it shall be given. I’m not a natural sales person, so it wasn’t long before the world of telephone recruitment sales and I parted, with very little regret on both sides.

Without disclosing my age here, let’s just say this was quite some time ago, certainly more than a decade. So why are so many recruitment consultants still ringing me up using the same techniques I was taught all those years ago?

Same old same old

A few weeks ago, what sounded like an eager new recruit happened to catch me at my desk. ‘Do you use agencies?’ said he. ‘Yes we do, we have a PSL etc.’ said I wearily. ‘I am really pleased to hear that you use agencies, he replied, this means you understand the benefit that recruitment agencies can bring your business’. I am sure that this stuff does work sometimes; typewriters and monkeys and all that, but it’s not intelligent.

I’m also surprised by the amount of speculative CVs I receive, especially when they are candidates that are nothing to do with our industry, roles we are recruiting for or even in areas where we actually have offices. And yes, I still get CVs in the post – in 2012!

My final moan is when agencies ring and say that they are representing a candidate who specifically wants to work at our company. Am I really your only phone call of the day then?

Good stuff

This mild rant might sound like I have a downer on all recruitment consultants. Not so. Over the years I have worked with some great recruitment consultants (consultants, not agencies), and still do. I have consultants that I can ring up, and they know exactly what I need and who is going to fit into my business, that I can have frank and open conversations with and I trust totally. They are absolutely part of our recruitment strategy, even though we put a lot of effort into our direct hire model (which is working great, thanks for asking).

I would just like some agencies out there to do something different with their sales approach, and embrace the way that business and technology is changing. There are some agencies out there doing really good stuff in social media. If I wanted a job tomorrow then I know who I would call and it would be one of those consultants with a great profile who are active in promoting their personal and agency brand.

They tweet and post interesting stuff, not just the roles they are hiring for. They run seminars on things that interest me without a big sales push. And they don’t bombard me with sales calls from 1989. There just aren’t enough of them.

I’d like to ask……….

So my requests to agencies: stop cold calling me when you know nothing about my business. Stop starting your conversations by telling me you are in the area next week and would like to come and see me to tell me what you can do for my business. Like most HR people, I just don’t have time to meet people speculatively.

Use LinkedIn properly. Don’t just post to everyone in your network saying how great your candidates are when they are irrelevant to most of your contacts. When I highlight a role in my team I am hiring for on LinkedIn or Twitter, don’t ring me and ask me if you can work on it, like I just didn’t think if it myself. Don’t send a spec CV.

And finally

Update your scripts and don’t tell my receptionist that it is a ‘personal’ call to get through to me and then tell me it is about ‘personnel’ when I pick up the phone. I learnt that one on my recruitment consultant training course.

Related: Do You Expect Too Much from Recruitment Agencies?

By Gemma Reucroft

Gemma Reucroft is a HR professional specialising in recruitment and employee relations, with a passion for coaching. She tweets as @HR_Gem.