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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Recruiters….. Consider your future

Two weeks ago the Spring Carnival in Melbourne wound down, and last night I attended the first of the season’s Christmas functions.
It was a recruitment industry event and most of the business owners I spoke with were bemoaning the lack of talent and their immediate need to increase headcount.
‘How are you finding the market?’ was the catch cry….
I responded that the good candidates seemed to be bedding down, riding out the year and would probably re-evaluate their careers with the inevitable New Years resolutions…Then I had a thought….. WHY?
If you are a fantastic and proven recruitment consultant who is hanging on until 2011 and then planning to look for your next opportunity – WHY NOT DO IT NOW???
You are smart, commercially savvy and know your market, so why would you wait until the market is saturated with possible competitors in mid-January?
Beat them to the punch and contact me now. Begin the process of finding your new home before Christmas with a start date in late Jan or Feb!
You and I both know it makes sense. There will be less people out there competing for the good roles, I can spend more time dedicated solely to your job search and you can get a headstart on your New Year’s resolution.
I am currently working on over 120 live roles in the Melbourne market, with varying degrees of experience, level of seniority and across all disciplines.
I look forward to speaking with you…… Soon….
0414 341 843

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Coming to Australia….

As the fight for talent deepens in the Australian recruitment industry consultancies are casting a wider net to attract the best people to their business.

Don’t get me wrong, the paperwork and bureacracy associated with securing a 457 visa is mind-boggling and time consuming, but as the market tightens more and more recruitment companies are looking abroad for successful and experienced career recruiters.

If you are looking to emigrate to Australia, have a successful recruitment career and not afraid of business development I welcome you to contact me asap.

craig@scottrecruit.com.au or 0414 341 843

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How to succeed in the post GFC recruitment industry

Ok, so we all know the landscape has changed.  Figures show that up to 50% of headcount in the Australian recruitment industry was shed during the downturn.

The vast majority were middle management, account managers, resourcers and under performing consultants.  Consultancies who lost staff via redundancies and natural attrition on the whole didn’t replace them, meaning existing staff bore the extra burden.

Well…. Things have changed.  Almost without exeception consultancies are hiring again.  The war for talent within the recruitment industry has never been more fierce.  Coupled with this consultancies are being very clear about what they expect from recruitment consultants.  So.  What do consultancies expect?

  • Proven history of billings
  • Established networks
  • True End-to-End focus

If you have the above your currency in today’s recruitment environment is very high.  The great thing is consultancies are willing to put together enticing packages to source the best staff.

If you want to know what opportunities are currently out there, what your current value in the market is, or who are the real employers of choice in the commercial recruitment industry please leave a comment, or call me 0414 341 843

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