If you’ve ever seen any of my content, you’ll know I’m pretty honest. I like to call it how it is.
We used to joke in my last team that we could write a book with all of the stories we’ve collected over the years. Which, when you meet new people every day and speak to people on the phone all day long, is a LOT of stories.
But, I’m not sure that anyone wants to read a book about the recruitment industry (!?!), so after more than a decade of conversations and anecdotes about the industry I love, I thought I’d pen this little piece.
If you’ve ever worked with a recruiter - as a hiring manager or a candidate - some of this will be familiar. But even if that is the case, I reckon some of it could surprise you. Here goes.
Fun fact #1: Most recruiters ‘fell into’ recruitment.
I love chatting with fellow recruiters about how they came to work in the industry. Everyone has a story about how they came to be a recruiter - but I’ve never met anyone whose story goes:
“I woke up one day and decided I wanted to help people build great careers and great teams so I became a recruiter”.
Most recruiters had another career before they came to recruitment. Some worked in sales, customer service, business development or real estate. Some worked as a specialist in the field they now recruit for (ie lawyers, teachers, engineers). Others worked in HR and transitioned into recruitment. Some joined a recruitment business as a graduate - but even those people probably didn’t set out to build a career in recruitment.
All of these paths are fine and each brings a unique set of skills to the recruitment process.
As a 14-year veteran of the industry who had a career in corporate communications and PR before I ‘fell’ into recruitment (yes, me too!), I've always had an interest in people and what motivates them.
Early in my career, I was the person people asked for advice on their resume, and how to write cover letters and selection criteria. I was the person people asked for advice about interviews and how to make decisions about job offers and their career.
So while I did ‘fall’ in to recruitment - it did really make sense to me - from day one.
I love this industry because it’s the human part of business.
It’s still business - there are commercial objectives and challenges and a job to be done - but recruitment is the part of business that's all about people.
Yet somehow, ironically, this can be lost in the recruitment process.
Recruiters (internal and external) are often guilty of treating people as ‘another CV’ or ‘another applicant’. I even had a client once refer to the recruitment process as a ‘procurement process’. Um, I’m sorry, Mr Client, you can’t ‘procure’ a human being.
So how did the people business lose it’s focus on people?
Fun fact #2: Recruitment is not for the faint-hearted
When you come to start your career in recruitment, you’re coming into a highly-competitive, fast-paced commercial industry. There are KPIs and targets and a focus on driving results.
You are (typically) expected to build (or grow) a business within a business (ie your ‘desk) - and it takes a lot of hard work, drive and pure grit to make this happen.
There may not be blood, but I can guarantee you there is sweat - and for those recruiters who really care about what they do - there’s tears. Trust me. Some ‘happy’ tears, some not-so-happy.
It’s bloody hard work. The ‘product’ is people - and people are unpredictable. Like it or not, people are emotional first - and rational second. They have lives and families and sh*t going on - and their job and career is just one ‘piece’ of their life.
As an agency recruiter, you are typically expected to generate at least three times your salary in fees each quarter. That’s the bottom line.
And the traditional, contingent recruitment model means you only invoice a fee if you successfully fill a role, the candidate you place is suitable - and stays.
Here’s the way it typically goes: If you’re working on 4 jobs, 1 of them will turn in to a placement. Maybe 1 in 3 if you’re very good at what you do - and a little bit lucky.
Fun fact #3: Up to 75% of hours worked as a recruiter do not directly result in revenue.
In which other business-to-business professional service industry would that be the ‘norm’?
I'm not a big fan of fun fact #3. But this isn’t the main reason I think the traditional recruitment model needs a shake up.
The traditional recruitment model needs a shake up because it doesn’t empower recruiters to approach their job in a way that puts people first.
Putting people first? Yes, really.
Recruitment is the people business.
It’s about helping people build their careers and helping leaders build their teams.
It’s also - first and foremost - about communication. Storytelling.
Fun fact #4: Recruitment IS marketing - and communication - and storytelling
I'll admit, this is more opinion than ‘fact’ - but stay with me...
Effective client and candidate service is about clear, timely, honest communication.
Representing a candidate to a client is about telling the story of what that person can bring to the role and organisation.
Supporting a client with their recruitment is about taking an opportunity to the best talent in the market - and communicating what that role and opportunity might provide for them and their career.
The truth about recruitment is this.
It’s about MUCH more than ads on job boards.
It’s about going BEYOND the CV and the job description.
It's about attracting and engaging the best people to your team and organisation.
It’s NOT about ticking boxes (or putting people in boxes).
It shouldn’t be a painful process.
It shouldn’t be a numbers game.
It shouldn’t be characterised by terrible candidate experience (aka recruitment horror stories).
It SHOULD put people front and centre.
People and their careers. What they do for 40+ hours a week. How they pay their bills. Their sense of identity.
Leaders and their teams. Finding the best people is crucial to achieve organisational objectives.
When we get this right ie find the best people for a team and the best employer for an individual - everyone thrives. People are happy, engaged and can achieve great things.
This is #recruitmentdoneright
It’s a people business. If we put people first, the rest will follow.