Recruiters…Tied Up, or free the shackles…

I’m back at work this week after a refreshing 3 week break – if you can call driving 4,500km’s from one end of Australia to the other, with a 2 & 4 year old in the back seat a refreshing break…

‘Are we there yet?’

‘Can we stop at McDonalds?’

‘Are we there yet?’

‘I’ve got to go to the toilet…’

‘Are we there yet?’ I’m sure you get the general idea….

Anyway, back at work I was tucking into my chicken salad sandwich and bottle of water in the food court – yes New Year’s Resolution still going strong 20 something days in! – and I noticed a phenomena that until now had completely passed me by…. Men were not wearing ties!

That’s right! Men… Were… Not… Wearing… Ties!! Before you ask, yes – this food court is in the middle of the corporate business district, and no it wasn’t a hot day. 

I was so taken aback that I began counting the number of businessmen wearing ties and those who were not.  Final tally – with ties 17, without ties 74! (To the statistically minded that’s 82% not wearing ties).

As I walked back to the office I noticed more and more businessmen not wearing ties and it kind of got me thinking – why are city based male recruiters expected to wear ties?

Those in the Pro column may say it represents our corporate professionalism, it reflects our clients’ expectations, it demonstrates to our competitors that we are serious… Blah, Blah, Blah

Let’s be honest, the only thing ties are, is bloody uncomfortable! Does a tie really demonstrate professionalism?  Does a tie really give you that vital edge over your competitor?  My answer is an adamant No!

Look, there are some situations where a tie is absolutely appropriate: weddings, formal parties and yes, some clients meetings.  You know, the stuffy ones where the client judges people on how they dress, where they went to school and what Masonic lodge chapter one belongs to…


 Apart from neck discomfort – often resulting in a nasty rash – there are a number of reasons why a tie is more of a hindrance than a help…

  1. You always spill your food on them.  Some see this as a positive as it can act as a bib replacement, but on the whole, if you are required by work to wear a tie, you spill food (or coffee) on it – and have no spare in the office – you look like a hobo. Plus, you will be judged even more harshly by our good friend the stuffy client – and worse, ties have to be dry cleaned… Think of the cost!
  2. You have to match them with your shirt.  If you haven’t got a girlfriend/boyfriend/wife or mother with an eye for fashion you are screwed!
  3. Speaking of fashion. Ties and their various designs go in and out of fashion more often than the yo-yo.  In the mid 90’s I bought 7 Looney Tune and Simpsons themed ties.  I was able to wear them for a total of six months, before they went horribly out of fashion.  What am I supposed to do with them now?  Seriously, they have no other discernable use, do I just keep them in my closet, hoping they will come back in fashion, or post them on Ebay as a group lot with no reserve?
  4. Friday Night Drinks.  On multiple occasions I have been turned away from bars on a Friday night simply because I was wearing a tie, or so the Bouncers will have me believe.
  5. What knot? Not only do you have to match the tie with your shirt, keep the food off it and match the tie with the prevailing fashion – which bloody knot are you supposed to tie? According to the internet there are over a dozen ways to tie ties!!!! The ‘Four-in-Hand’, the ‘Half Windsor, Full Windsor, or Double Windsor’ the ‘Classic School Boy’ – the list goes on and on….. and on…

So, I say to you – think very carefully before you impose or enforce a Tie Policy in the recruitment workplace.  A tie does not impair, or enhance our ability to efficiently work with your clients and candidates.  A tie is not a status symbol, and a tie is certainly not comfortable… What a tie is…. Is superfluous to needs… much like a third nipple.

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An open invitation to ALL British Recruiters…

I got up early this morning to watch the Chelsea-City game live from Stamford Bridge.  It was 7am here in Melbourne, but it had been light for over an hour and it was already fairly warm… Oh, and it’s going to be 33°C (92°F) later in the week….

The football was engrossing, no doubt about it… and the result was… ummm…  exactly what I was after, (says he with an ever so smug smile on his face)…. Oh, and before you hang me for jumping aboard the Chelski train, I was a fan and member way back in the dark old days of the early/mid nineties.

But the weather?????  My wife was flitting in and out of the kitchen, making breakfast and getting the kids ready for the day, whilst I lay on the couch transfixed by the beautiful game.

‘Is it snowing there?’ She asked as she passed through the room.

‘Don’t think so,’ I replied without looking at her, ‘It might be sleet?’

‘Look at that dude,’ she laughed pointing at Roberto Mancini, his overcoat drenched and his usually immaculate Johnny Depp hairstyle drooping over his eyes and making him look more like a sodden English sheep dog (no disrespect Roberto).  ‘He looks absolutely freezing.  Why would anyone put up with weather like that?…’

And, she’s right….

So, my question is…  Where are you? Right now while you read this article?  Maybe browsing through your Ipad, stuck on the District Line Tube, or travelling past Clapham Common on the Number 37 Bus?  It doesn’t really matter where you are – London, Manchester, Painswick – but I bet it’s cold… and bleak…

Australia has just entered summer.  The weather is amazing, and the career outlook within commercial recruitment is extremely strong.

The economy is set to increase by 4.5% over 2012, to be the leader in developed economies – the economy in Western Australia grew by over 8% in the last quarter alone.

Almost all Recruitment agencies in Australia are looking for additional staff, and anyone with at least 2-3 years commercial recruitment agency experience and a demonstrated history of billings has currency as a candidate in the Australian market.

The process of emigrating to Oz is a relatively easy one.  Most recruiters qualify under a 457 visa arrangement where their host employer sponsors their stay until permanent residency is attained. To se if you qualify for 457 visa status follow this link

There are heaps of British Ex-Pats living in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth, and the lifestyle is fantastic! (And you probably have at least another 5 years of Ashes bragging rights to look forward to!).

Seriously though, if you are considering a change of lifestyle, culture, opportunity and….. weather, with the current European economic woes and the wealth of opportunities here – this might be that one perfect storm that allows you to pursue your dreams.

For any further information please don’t hesitate to contact me on

Oh, and enjoy the festive season and all it has to offer… Me, I’ll be having a barbecue on the beach, a cool drink and a dip in the sea…  Come join us!

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Recruiters… I want YOUR exclusivity…

Those of you who have read past posts will know that I am a Rec2Rec…  I source, and place the best recruiters in the market into reputable agency brands… Tough job I’ve got – no seriously, I have a tough job. 

My candidates are recruiters and my clients are recruiters – oh, and I’m a recruiter also…

And, guess what?… The majority of you reading this article are recruiters as well.

For the most part we, (that’s you and I), speak the same language, want the same things and know how the game works… One of the most important, no essential, parts of our day–to-day roles is gaining candidate exclusivity – so why won’t you give me yours???

When I see a new candidate one of the first questions I ask is ‘What else are you doing? Who have you met with? Who have you applied to?’ OK that’s 3 questions, but please don’t judge me…

‘Oh… I’ve met with ABC Rec2Rec, and I’m going to see DEF Rec2Rec after this meeting…’   Why? That’s right WHY???

The way I see it elite recruiters, should identify with elite athletes… You are successful, have a great deal of currency in the market and your time is a very valuable commodity.  Like elite athletes who focus solely on being the best by training and competing, you too should be focused on what makes you the best: working within your networks, sense of urgency and superior knowledge of your market.  Not only that, just like elite athletes, your personal brand needs to be protected.

You can probably see where I am going with this, but if not let me subtly get to my point… Elite Athletes have only ONE Agent doing all of this work for them.  One Agent to represent them to their market, One Agent to understand their needs and motivators and find them the right home….

So, why do recruiters engage multiple Rec2Recs? You dilute your ability to control the process, you risk confidentiality and discretion in the market, and most importantly, you diminish your personal brand

I never speak to clients without the express permission of my candidates, but that is not necessarily a rule followed by some of my peers in the industry.  Here’s an example of a recent telephone conversation with a client… (remembering my candidate gave me permission to represent them to this client)…

‘Hi John, its Craig here. I’m just following up on the profile of Rex Citizen I sent through to you after our phone conversation this morning.’

‘Oh, yes Craig….Umm… I was going to call you.’ Immediately you know…. Don’t you… ‘I received Rex’s resume from one of your competitors this morning as well. He seems to be fairly active in the market – doesn’t he?’

I know you have all probably faced exactly the same situation recruiting in your market.  Immediately, the candidate’s personal brand is diluted, and you are left feeling…. well… betrayed.

So, if you want your Rec2rec to represent you to the best of their ability, have some skin in the game.  Give them your exclusivity, even if it is only for 2 weeks.  Believe in them, and be honest and transparent.  Give them the same professional courtesy you expect from your candidates, and don’t punish them for the indiscretions of your candidates.  When you peel away the layers – we are just like you….   (What?… Too Much…. Do I need to turn down the self-pity meter a notch, or 2?)

PS.  Feel free to use the Elite Athlete/Agent analogy with your candidates when asking them for exclusivity – it does work… Sometimes…

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Linked In Whore… Or, ‘Welcome to the 500+ club…’

So, you open up your email and find this waiting for you…



Norman Timbuktu has indicated you are a fellow group member of The Recruiter Network – #1 Group for Recruiters

I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

– Norman Timbuktu

Hmmmmm… There it is right there…. Should I accept?  I’ll quickly check his profile… Ok, he’s a Masters Graduate (Computer Applications) from University of Panjab, Chandigarh… He has 3 years experience with Zcdf Computer Networking Systems in Chandigarh, India – as a Linux Programmer… He is looking to emigrate to Australia or the US… I am an Accounting & Finance Recruiter… Hmmmmm… I have 496 Linked In connections… Do I accept?

Don’t pretend you all haven’t been in this exact situation.  The lure of that magical number… The thrill of your name coming up in Linked In searches across the globe reading…

Connections                      500+ connections

The freedom to write in your headline – Craig Watson (322,650+ connections)   even if the reality is you only have 502 – is extremely tempting…. But at what cost?

I guess it is the age old question of quality versus quantity.  What’s more important to you as an individual, and what’s important to your broader network?  And, my opinion is pretty simple.  If you wouldn’t add this person to your work based database, why would you add them to your Linked In network?

Don’t get me wrong, I love building my numbers, Linked In, Twitter – PS.  If you like the blog please follow me on Twitter @recguruoz – It’s just that I also like to have focused, engaged and relevant network.

I was recently at a client meeting picking up a job order for an IT Recruitment Consultant…

‘So John, how do you measure your consultants outside of their billings?’ I asked.

‘Well Craig, they will have to make 20 telemarketing calls a week, interview 5 new candidates, and make 15 client introductions/referrals.  We also have introduced a really innovative KPI in line with our cutting edge social media strategy…’ I lean forward, hoping against hope to be inspired by a truly original measurement matrix… ‘Yes, we ask our consultants to grow their Linked In network by at least 100 connections a quarter…’

Really? I sit back – a little disappointed in what promised to be one of those rare recruitment epiphanies…

 ‘So, how do you check their new connections?’ I asked..Still holding on to a small glimmer of possibility that there was a quality check in place…

‘Well Craig, it’s pretty simple really.  At the end of each quarter when we have our formal review we ask for the consultants to log in to their Linked In home page in front of us, and we can see their total number.  Then we compare it to the last quarter’s figure…’  He spread his arms with a smile on his face, as if he had explained to me the meaning of life – hang on, there was more. ‘But I’ll have to swear you to secrecy,’ picture him giving me a conspirator’s wink, ‘We really don’t want our competitors getting wind of this – it keeps us ahead in the game’… 

This is one example of how recruiters are encouraged to cheapen the quality of their Linked In network by increasing their numbers.  Another, possibly more disturbing example below occurred during a telephone call with one of my clients…

‘Hi John, It’s Craig form Scott Recruitment here.  I was just following up on the candidate I sent through to you for your Engineering Resourcer role…’

‘Yes, Craig we are not going to proceed with Jack, we don’t think he is sufficiently experienced, or networked enough…’ What does he mean?? Jack has 3 years solid resourcing experience in the local market at one of their key competitors, with an enviable record of success!!!!

‘What do you mean, Jack has 3 years of very solid resourcing experience in the local market at one of your key competitors?  He has an enviable record of success and his salary expectations are below what you are willing to offer…’

‘Craig, his record is very good, and on paper he reads very well, but…’  But what??? That’s right but WHAT?  This had better be very good… ‘But, we had a look at his Linked In profile and he only has 387 connections.  Our policy is that all new employees must have at least 500 connections…’

So, where does that leave us?  Do we cheapen our personal and professional brand by whoring our Linked In profile all over the net, trawling for easy connections?  Perhaps catching all sorts of viruses from  profiles we don’t know? Do we leave ourselves open to the solicitation of the wider, and less scrupulous operators out there, littering you ‘Updates Stream’ with comment after mind numbingly boring comment that means nothing to you? 

Ask yourself this.  Does it improve your professional network by adding Dwayne, the recent high school drop out from Minnesota, whose only role has been flipping burgers at McDonalds for the past 3 months.  Dwayne may be very relevant to your professional network, and if he is – connect, but if he is not – why add him?

Or… Do we take control of our Linked In network and use it effectively?  Add people to your network that mean something to you as a client, candidate, prospect, mentor, advisor, business associate, supplier etc.?

My advice is be patient and strategic.  You will get your 500+ connections that are relevant to your profession.  It may take a little longer, but it will be far more meaningful…..

As a postscript, why not follow me on twitter @recguruoz  Craig, stop whoring your twitter attributes… Whoops did I say that out loud?…

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5 Recruitment Career Killers…

I meet with a number of Recruitment Consultants every week who are looking to move on from their current position, or step up to their next opportunity… I probably speak with a further 10, or more on the phone….
And, to be perfectly honest I’m lucky if I meet with one a week who I consider a good, old fashioned ‘A’ Candidate
It’s not to say that these candidates are not fantastic on paper… On paper most of these candidates look great…. On paper most of these candidates would walk into roles with the best agencies…. On paper most of these candidates lead me to squeal with delight (not like a little girl, but squeal with delight and dignity), and jump straight on the phone…
But, as you all know – what often looks good on paper has the tendency to bite you on the bum and inject you with a reality hit.

Unfortunately, it seems some Consultants (and I do stress some), believe their own hype to the point of hilarity. If they were a lollipop I’m sure they would enjoy giving themselves a jolly good licking… The difference between expectation and reality in the market sometimes really is quite amazing.

You would expect that most Recruitment Consultants have a good understanding of what is required to be successful and what the market is looking for – you really would expect that…wouldn’t you?
Regrettably this doesn’t seem to be the case…

So what I have outlined below – in no particular order, and for those who live in a make believe land of Fairy Floss, Oompa Loompa’s and Talking (HR PufnStuf kinda) Trees – are 5 very basic Recruitment Career Killers.

1. ‘I don’t want to do any sales’ Excuse me?…. Did I hear you correctly? Don’t want to do Sales??? This is becoming a more and more common demand when speaking with prospective candidates. The truth is Recruitment is a sales based industry. If you don’t like it I suggest you find a role outside of the industry. Sure, there are candidate only roles, but the ceiling for career advancement is very low. And yes, there are the occasional Account Management roles, but these are very rare and believe me – you will still have to sell to hiring managers and organically grow the Account.

2. ‘I’d like an Internal or In-house role’ Picture me burying my face in my hands and letting out a deep and guttural wail… I have nothing at all against internal roles, but Recruitment Consultants should be aware of these facts.
a. If you wish to make the migration to an internal environment, do it when the world economy is more stable. During times of economic uncertainty Corporates tend to downsize their internal recruitment function and outsource to agencies – so instead of this being a burgeoning market, in the current economic state of play it is shrinking…
b. A desire to move to an internal/in-house environment is often perceived by the market as a gesture of a ‘burnt out’ Consultant.
c. Internal Recruitment is not that easy! You are measured on placement success, time to placement and you can not hide from your clients – ever!
d. If you migrate to Internal/In-house and then look to return to agency recruitment at a later date, you will probably find that the agency world is not all that welcoming. A stint in-house does not necessarily look good on your cv.

3. Short stints at many Agencies. Oh sure, there are always reasons for your short tenure – made redundant during GFC, management issues, the role wasn’t what was presented to me during interview, I moved for family reasons, blah, blah, blah…. And sure, our industry is notorious for turnover – I’ve often said that 1 year in recruitment roughly equates to the same as dogs’ years. So 2 years with the same employer is about 14 years of loyal service in most other industries…. Unfortunately, clients don’t see it the same way and may forgive 1, possibly even 2 strikes – but 3?

4. ‘I will need to use a colleague as a referee.’ This one is probably more relevant to Consultants who have been in the industry for a number of years. It both surprises and dismays me as to how often I come up against this one. From a client’s perspective there is really no excuse for not being able to come up with 2 credible referees – and by that I mean managers you reported directly to, or clients you had a commercial relationship with.

5. ‘I’m on $65,000 now, so I’ll want $80,000 to move.’ Wow! You want a $15k increase in salary to move roles…. Let me ask you a question… Why do you deserve a 20% increase in your base salary, and are you really aware of what the market is paying? The simple facts are that yes, there was a time pre- mid 2008 when a substantial increase in base salaries to move roles within recruitment was par for the course. Agencies learnt a lot from the GFC and one of the most valuable lessons was that base salaries were over-inflated. Consultants should be looking at their ability to earn and OTE, rather than base salary alone.

Recruitment is a very strange profession – no-one goes to school with the intention of being a recruiter when they grow up… And we really are setting the rules as we go along. But to be honest it’s really not that difficult… Think about what you expect from your candidates – the transparency, honesty, realistic expectations, and understanding of their market. Then, if you engage a rec-to-rec to help you secure your next opportunity, offer them the same courtesy…

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Ego is not a dirty word… or is it?

Let’s be honest, to be successful in recruitment you need a combination of hard work, industry knowledge, deep networks, hunting instincts, a little luck and a healthy dose of ego…..
Unfortunately, there are no doctors in recruitment – believe me, not a single doctor specializing in recruitment… I know, I typed Recruitment Doctor into Google and all I got was a list of medical recruitment agencies. So then I tried – no website, but you can buy the domain name for $1095.00…
I guess my point is…. If there are no doctors in our industry, how do we know what a healthy dose of ego really is???
We are living in an age of amazing and instantaneous reach. With the proliferation of social and professional networking everyone is closer . You have a thought you tweet it. You have an idea you blog it. You have an event you facebook it… I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture…
There are very few cogs in the recruitment machine that we as individuals have a lot of control over – our personal brand, or how we present ourselves in the virtual world is one…. Which brings me right back to my original point – what is ‘a healthy dose of ego’?….
No-one among us wants to come across as a ‘knob jockey’, ‘tool’, ‘dickhead’, ‘plonker’, ‘jerk’ etc… Unfortunately though, many of us are doing just that, by posting the most annoying, self righteous know-it-all comments that start with best intentions, and finish with you looking like a narcissistic Donald Trump wannabe…
Let’s look at an example shall we? Twitter is the perfect vehicle to get a message, observation or thought across instantaneously to your group of followers, who may engage in banter, or retweet to their followers and so on…. That in mind, following is a selection of recent tweets from a well known recruitment business owner… (All names are changed here to protect the stupid…)

‘Is it just me, or is the HR dept at ABC Company inept and archaic?’
Way to get clients onside buddy…
‘@Johnnysmith. If your business wants to compete with me on price good luck. 10% just became 8%’
Ooooh, now not only are you airing your dirty laundry, you’re also revealing your pricing… Great move!
‘Watch me tonight on channel DEF give a masterclass on social networking for recruitment. 7.30pm’
This one’s not too bad in isolation, but then…
‘@Johnnysmith. They wanted the best, so who else would they ask but me?’
Not a hint of self-deprecation…anywhere.
‘You’d think Asian taxi drivers would know their way around Chinatown’
Now we’re playing the race card…
‘@Johnnysmith. Your business lacks one thing to make it successful. Me’
That one takes the cake….

Do you get my point? The clearest point of differentiation we have is our personal brand, and everyone in the recruitment game should be doing their damnedest to project their personal brand in a positive manner. You can’t hide from your brand anymore, and people do form opinions from your posts of 140 or less characters…
There are BIG personalities in recruitment, and then there are pompous, self-important egotists… Choose your path – and choose it wisely…

If you enjoyed this blog – please consider following me on Twitter – recguruoz – Promise I won’t be too egotistical…

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If I could turn back time…or recreate history…

Conjures up images of Cher and that song – that charted at number 1 in Australia and Norway, number 3 in the United States and number 6 in the United Kingdom.
And that music video set on the USS Missouri with Cher straddling a cannon, and wearing a fishnet body stocking…. But that’s not what I want to talk about…

I was representing a candidate to the market last week. A candidate that I thought was very strong… You know the type: a walking placement, an A+.

I gained his permission to represent him to 3 of my clients, dutifully completed a thorough profile based on our in depth interview and his resume, and sent his details over… Within 3 minutes the phone rang (picture me rubbing my hands with glee).

‘Hi Craig it’s John here over at ABC Recruitment,’ Pardon my lack of creativity in regards to the name and sorry if you own, or work for the real ABC Recruitment… ‘You just sent me over a profile for Jack Frost.’
‘Yes John that’s right.’ And you love him – don’t you? ‘I think he would be a great addition to your Forensics desk.’
‘Yes Craig…. You see the trouble is… ummm… someone here has worked with Jack in the past at XYZ Recruitment, and… ummm…. It doesn’t seem to be on his resume. You might want to take it up with him directly.’
I didn’t hear the rest of the conversation over the sound of my tyres deflating.

Anyway, I called the candidate and his version was that he was only with the company for 3 weeks. One of those poor career choices that he didn’t want held against him. After admonishing him for not being truthful with me I gave him the benefit of the doubt and organised a meeting for him with another client – which went well – very well.

Fast forward a couple of days and I received another phonecall…
‘Hi Craig this is Max X from LMN Consulting,’ Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think I’m getting much better at making up names of people and companies – just saying… ‘I understand that Jack Frost has registered with you as a candidate…’

Max went on to inform me that Jack had in fact been with his company for over 6 months, told them he was going overseas at short notice for a family emergency – and needed to take immediate leave, and then showed up a couple of days later working at a competitor only a couple of blocks away…
Aarrgghh!!! I double checked with a couple of sources and confirmed Max’s version. We were left with no alternative then to inform Jack we were unable to represent him to the market, and share what we knew with the client looking to progress with Jack.

What’s the lesson? I don’t know…. maybe treat every candidate with a level of cynicism?….maybe take references up front?…
It is a very dangerous practice to recreate history. We all leave a pretty visible footprint of our past via Linked In, not to mention the colleagues we meet, and let’s face it – the recruitment industry employs a lot of people, but it’s a small family. Sooner, or later you will get found out…
If you have legitimate reasons for hiccups in your work history share them with your recruiter – trying to hide them, or worse – change them into something else – is a disaster waiting to happen.
Speaking of disasters waiting to happen I invite you search you tube for Cher – If I can turn back time. I’m tipping that’s one she left off her Linked In profile and resume…

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But…. will it make the boat go faster?

I was in an interesting Client meeting last week, getting feedback on a candidate who had been through 2 interviews and had 3 reference checks taken.

‘Craig,’ the client began, ‘We’re not going to proceed with John….. We just don’t believe he makes the boat go faster…’

Did he just say what I thought he’d said? Make the boat go faster?? Last time I looked John was neither a Mercury 150hp outboard, nor an America’s Cup sailing want-to-be….

My obvious confusion must have been pretty… well… obvious. He continued.

‘It’s sort of become a motto around here to make sure we are moving towards continual improvement. Every time we look to make a strategic decision we ask ourselves – Will it make the boat go faster?…’

OK – I’m no Einstein, and certainly no Captain Jack Sparrow… My experience with water is limited to the occasional bath and the ‘slip ‘n’ slide’ I had in the back yard as a kid…. Remember those? ‘slip ‘n’ slides’?? And sprinklers for that matter??? Life pre-water restrictions was pretty sweet! Anyway, I digress…

The client went on to relate the following story to me… Sir Matthew Pinsent is an elite rower from England who competed in four consecutive Olympics, from 1992-2004, winning four gold medals. In the 2003 World Championships Pinsett finished a disappointing 4th. Pinsent and his crew questioned whether they wanted to continue and aim for a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics. They were aware of the extraordinary commitment they would need to make and all agreed that they wanted to go for it.

They needed to come up with a way of focusing their efforts towards achieving the single goal of winning a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics. All decisions and efforts had to be channeled to meet this challenge. They came up with a simple, but powerful, question that had to be answered every time a decision or action needed to be taken – ‘Will it make the boat go faster?’ If it didn’t make the boat go faster, it was quickly discarded; if it did, it was implemented.

The beauty of this approach was in its simplicity. The team was basically saying if we can make the boat go faster we can win a gold medal. They defined and refined everything that they believed would make the boat faster. They changed their collective mindsets, their approach and training and took absolute responsibility for their actions and behaviours. They also changed the result from 2003 – they won the Olympic gold medal in 2004.

OK, Recruitment Businesses – it’s pretty safe to say – aren’t boats, but the premise makes sense. My job is to find the best talent in the recruitment industry and present that talent to my clients.

Every one of my clients will have a business plan in place with goals, objectives and milestones laid out for their next financial year – including headcount.

So, for the sake of the metaphor, let’s assume that Recruitment Agencies are boats. Their primary goal is to win the race (increase market share, improved profit and productivity etc.).

As a candidate what skills can you offer them? How can you help them to achieve their goals, objectives and milestones. And…. Most importantly – will YOU make their boat go faster?

As always, I invite comment and contribution.

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I like long walks and foreign films……

I’ve been in recruitment for a long time, a helluva long time……. Not quite as long as it’s been since a Tigers premiership, but a long time nonetheless… (apologies here to any interstate, or international readers, but it is AFL finals and I needed to vent of behalf of downtrodden and anguished Richmond supporter base….).
I don’t know the accurate stats, but let’s say that the number of interviews I’ve conducted during my time in recruitment runs into the thousands. I consider myself to be a strong ‘gut feel’ recruiter, and when you back this up with behavioural interviewing techniques, I would like to think that I know motivators – and can predict behaviours of my candidates……. Hmmmm…… I’d like to think that…
The trouble with recruitment is that we are all operating in a market jam packed with competitors, and we are trying to sell our clients the most unreliable product in the world – PEOPLE.
It’s not like we are selling screws…. Think how easy it would be if our clients ordered screws…. Yes Craig, I’d like 4 screws – Galvanised 50mm in length and a thread size of 3mm… Easy right? Screws don’t ‘no-show’ to interviews. Screws don’t get counter-offered. And screws definitely don’t need to fly home to the UK for a family emergency…. No screws are reliable. Screws are emotionally stable and screws are predictable… In short, screws…..are boring!
So next time you complain about the unpredictability and unreliability of your candidates. The next time a candidate completely ‘does your head in’ by making you seem like an absolute, second rate muppet in your clients’ eyes. And the next time you are absolutely flabbergasted and flummoxed by the excuse left on your answer phone at 4:30 in the morning, or the long winded email with at least 6 contradictions punctuated throughout (Isn’t that the third time your candidate has attended their Grandmother’s funeral in the last 18 months???)… Be thankful.
That’s right – be thankful… Think about the feeling you get when you make that difficult placement – you know the one, when you overcome hard to reach referees, you negotiate past the counter-offer and you massage slow moving clients back from the precipice. Remember that first beer, or bubbles in celebration. Remember that commission you made…. And remember, you will do it all over again next month – and the one after that!!
Someone once described recruitment to me as the ‘Champagne or Razor blades Roller Coaster’… I think that description is both apt and eloquent…. But hey…… If you don’t like it you can always chuck it all in and get a job at Bunnings… selling screws……
As always I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments…

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Time to join the 21st century!

A recent conversation with a client went something like this…..
‘Craig, I need someone now! We’ve just picked up a major PSA client with volume roles. At the moment I’m working the desk and it’s taking me away from what I need to do…’ Note the tone of desperation in this Manager’s voice…..
‘Sure, John, we’ll get on it straight away. It may take a while to find the right person. Would you consider a Contractor to help you out in the meantime?’ There I said it… the dreaded ‘c’ word….
‘Um…. No…. We don’t really do Contractors Craig. I’ll muddle through until we find someone permanently.’
‘Are you sure John? I’ve got someone who can start on Monday and will be able to give you six months? They have 18 months experience, but are committed to going to university next March…’
‘No….No… We really want someone permanently. Contractors leave whenever something better comes along, they will probably take our database with them, and it’s just not worth the effort…’

We ‘to and fro’ for a few more minutes, I won’t bore you with the details – bottom line is the Recruitment Industry is……. Contractorist!
That’s right ‘Contractorist’ (Contractoristadj. Describing a person or institution who discriminates against Contractors.) – OK, I made that word up, but you get the general idea….
Let’s look at the main arguments against contracting in agency recruitment:
1. Continuity and Tenure – Most contracts are 3-6 months. This doesn’t allow effective relationship building within accounts
2. IP – The recruitment industry is a Sales industry where client and candidate data is the most important asset of any business. Contractors may take this information to their next employer.
3. Training Time – Teaching process, database etc. would take too long
Now…… Let’s look at the facts….
Fact 1 – The average tenure of a Consultant in an agency recruitment in Melbourne is……… wait for it…….. 13 months!!!! That’s right 13 months. I know many recruitment owners/managers may say their retention rates are much higher, but you can’t argue with the stats. We randomly selected 82 resumes from our recruitment consultant database to put that data together.
Fact 2 – 17% of Contractors in the IT industry ‘go perm’ after accepting a 6 month contract. And a further 62% have their contracts extended for (at least) another 6 months. (IPro data 2009). Yes, I understand the IT Industry has little in common with agency recruitment, but this stat shows that at least 79% of all contractors within the IT industry remain with their employer for longer than 12 months… So, if we accept the premise that 79% of all contractors remain with their employer for over 12 months, and the average tenure of a full time ‘permanent’ Agency Recruitment Consultant in Melbourne is 13 months we begin to see the arguments against using contractors beginning to lose their allure…
Fact 3 – I don’t care who you are, or what you say – it can not be productive, efficient or cost effective to have a Manager sitting on a desk to the detriment of their other duties, (which may include running their own desk).
Fact 4 – Permanent Employees pose as great a risk to your IP as Contractors. They have the same access to sensitive data – and, as shown they will probably stay in your business for a similar length of time….

Contractors do have a place in Agency Recruitment. Whether they be on a project basis, or as a stop gap whilst you make your next strategic hire.
It really is time to practice what we preach to our own clients, and open up this important pool of talent to our industry.

Have a comment? Agree or disagree? My goal is to promote discussion on relevant issues facing our industry, and I would love you to throw your 2 cents in!

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