September 30, 2014 3:35 pm

10 Things I Live by as a Recruiter today

I realised the other day I have been a Recruiter for 23 years. It was supposed to be a 6 month stint, just something I’d do for a break from hospitality management… and more than two decades later (that makes me feel old!) I’m still recruiting. But I wouldn’t change a thing!

Although I could write a book about the things that have happened both to me and across the recruitment industry in that time, I find the most valuable thing I can do to help other upcoming Recruiters is provide them with insight and advice – try and short cut their pathway so that they don’t necessarily need to make the mistakes I made.

I find that in general, too many long term Recruiters talk theoretically about how to recruit, and it might be really motivating at the time but when you get back to your desk there is very little in terms of practical elements that you can implement.

I am actively ‘on a desk’ today, just like I was back at the very beginning in 1991, and whilst the recruitment industry has evolved, some aspects of what I’ve learnt over the years, and what I would call my key ingredients that made me successful – apply now more than ever. So here are 10 things that I live by as a Recruiter today (in no particular order):

1. You can tell a Recruiter by the way they answer the phone – I have always believed this. When I call a Recruiter and they meekly squeak “hello”, I am tempted to hang up. A great Recruiter has energy in their voice. They answer the phone as if it’s the first call they have received all day. You get the sense that your call is important – after all that call could be an opportunity knocking!

2. If in doubt, don’t – We have a rule at Norris & Partners, if you would not work for the client, or hire the candidate yourself, then don’t represent them. Whenever I have disregarded the golden rule of “if in doubt don’t” it has always ended in tears, my tears. Don’t make the mistake of presenting someone or doing something that will only benefit you short term. Recruitment is a small world and you need to think big picture.

3. If it’s easy, something is wrong – Maybe I have grown far too sceptical over the years, but if the recruitment process for any candidate is too easy, something is wrong – someone is not telling you the full story, be it the client or candidate, so probe at every chance you get. A client once told me that they did not hire “lazy questioners”, people that showed no curiosity when interviewing or speaking to a candidate. So don’t take what you are being told on face value ie I might ask “so are you interested in the role?” and the candidate might say “yes”. Then ask them “why are you interested in role?” etc.

4. Sell and send – I have always worked like this! You meet a great candidate and you ring your client and “Sell and Send”. It works for many reasons: often you can get the candidate an interview prior to sending the CV; sometimes some candidates just don’t sell themselves on paper so by calling the client prior to sending the CV, you get the client excited about the candidate prior to them receiving the CV and possibly rejecting the CV (a waste of your time); if the role has been filled you will find out prior to spending the time to format the CV and write a candidate summary; and you can often uncover other roles as the client will sometimes say “they don’t sound quite right for x role but we were thinking we needed a y person so maybe they could do that”.

5. Never allow a candidate to go direct during the offer process – It is very rare in my entire career, that if a candidate works with a client directly during the offer process it won’t go pear shaped or at the very least there will not be some form of miscommunication, the simplest, and most common being, the candidate thought the client was speaking a base salary amount and the client was talking package. Or the client under offers and leaves the candidate, who in the heat of the moment panics and accepts, feeling offended and the shine is suddenly taken off that potential new role/business.

6. If you have to go to the candidate, you want it more than they do – A good Recruiter will demonstrate good recruitment qualities throughout the process of interviewing for their own next career opportunity – so if they don’t return your call, or you have to chase them constantly, then you want them to take your role more than they do.

7. It’s not over till the fat lady sings – All good Recruiters know this, anything can happen on the lead up to a candidate start date, I’ve had it all. Counter offers, disappearing acts that even Houdini would be proud of, I even had a retained search assignment that had taken months to fill to then receive a call from the candidate a day prior to their commencement to say they met their future husband online the weekend before and now MUST fly to Hong Kong to meet him – not only did they not start, but could I pick up their cat from the airport and give it a good home – true story! And as we know, even when they start it’s still not over, so manage the recruitment process tightly, not just up to start date but through your guarantee period as well.

8. Champagne and razor blades – Recruitment is probably one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. I have had a wonderful career working both here and overseas, I have earned a lot of money (before rec2rec!) and I have had a very solid professional career. But on the downside, seeing your product is a person, again anything can happen and when you are target driven, if you have a candidate “fallout” it is often very hard to replace the person quickly (or sometimes at all) as no two people are ever the same. So learn to dust yourself off quickly and move on. Good Recruiters are resilient.

9. Duty of care – Back when I was in London it was common practice to leave candidates in interview rooms while we ran around trying to get them client meetings straight away. We would also encourage a candidate to cancel any meetings with other Recruiters if we thought they were a “walking placement”. I find these days I don’t agree with that approach. When you have been given the privilege of assisting someone in their job search, you are dealing with their career and to stop them looking at other appropriate opportunities, I don’t think we have a right to ask! This happened to me only the other day, one of my competitors convinced a candidate not to come and see me after they met them the same day we had scheduled a coffee. Most rec2recs have similar clients, but we also have unique opportunities so that Recruiter was definitely not thinking of their candidate’s best interests, let alone their duty of care to them.

10. Never burn a bridge – Recruitment is a very small world and you never know where people will end up – for example I would never have thought staff I previously managed, and bosses I worked for, would one day be my clients and I would be ringing them and asking if they would use me as a rec2rec to support their business. You need to have credibility in your market so you can build effective networks. That’s how agency Recruiters continue to survive. I read a statistic once that stuck with me – that a person generally will tell 4 other people if something positive has happened to them, but will tell 11 other people when something negative has happened to them. You need people saying positive things about you to remain a consistent, successful Recruiter.

What do you live by as a Recruiter? I’d love to hear from you your ‘key ingredients’ to add to the mix. And remember please Like us on Facebook and Follow Us on LinkedIn so we can keep communicating and sharing experiences.

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