6 Months in Recruitment – 6 Thoughts

Reflecting on my first 6 months in recruitment I have seen so much change from Day 1 to Day 110 approx. On a weekly basis I took notes and learning points to identify development points. With this in mind I have outlined the recurring development points.

There is more than one way to skin a cat.

Coming in as a qualified accountant with no prior recruitment experience, the team in here very generously allowed me to sit in during meetings to observe and learn how best to interact and work with the people. From the offset it became clear there isn’t one right approach to this.

In this regard I think the approach the consultant uses depends on the candidate –

  • Are they comfortable talking through their c.v without prodding?
  • Do they need leading questions?
  • Are they sure of what they want?
  • Do they like the idea of a more commercial role without understanding what it entails?

It became evident that all candidates need the truth. Sometimes that can be tough for them to hear. Adapting your approach to delivering the narrative is important. As a consultant you know that changing roles is a massive decision for any candidate. Where some candidates need to be eased into the process and made feel comfortable others require blunt honesty. Being transparent and honest with the candidates is the number one priority, how you deliver it needs to be tailored to the environment.

The structure and flow of a meeting changes with every candidate. Some candidates will thrive with the frank – no b/s type of questioning or discussion. Others need the psychologist to listen to their thoughts or concerns and allay their fears. Tailoring the approach brings me to my next point…

All people are not equal

In theory placing people in a role sounds very simple;

  • On one side there is the person with relevant skills searching for a role.
  • On the other there is a role which has all the requirements the person is looking for.
  • Match both and your job is done.

Sadly, this is not the case. On paper everything can be perfect – strong academics, the desired background required for a role and the interest in the role you are looking to fill. This is why it’s important to meet the potential candidate and not just machine gun spec’s over to them before firing them out to every client under the sun. People are all different and very rarely does the LinkedIn profile or CV give an exact insight.

As alluded to previously, people require individual tailored approaches. The perfect C.V might have a shy person or a person who has over-stated their ability or is over-confident in their own capabilities. Being a qualified accountant, I know it is important to ask the right questions to get as clear a picture as possible of what the persons capabilities are and where they would be best suited.

With a shy candidate it can be a case that they just need to be comfortable with people before they can express themselves. This can be a more drawn out process and requires our support constantly. With a person who over-estimates their ability or worth they will ultimately get a reality check when they aren’t getting the roles that they expect to get. In this scenario it’s important to provide honest feedback to the candidate and also manage their expectations. Accountants are human after all so any criticism or negative feedback is always easier to take with some positives or another opportunity on the horizon.

Ultimately all candidates need to be met and understood before they can meet clients. Clients want to know about whats not on the C.V;

  • Are they good inter-personally?
  • How do they deal with tricky staff?
  • How will they adapt to the role in question?
  • How do they present themselves?
  • Are they a potential flight risk in 6 months?

If people can be realistic in expectations, they will find the role matching their ambition and ability.

“Hope can drive a man insane/Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things”

Shawshank Redemption – 1994

 The dream scenario – excellent person, a perfect fit for the role you currently have. They are interested in the role, the client is keen. Interview goes well, an offer is made. The person accepts, all is well in the world.

Hope as alluded to in Shawshank Redemption can drive a man insane whilst also being a good thing. In my first 6 months in recruitment I have thought about this a lot.

It starts with the call from the client “Hi we need x, can you help us find it” – instantly there is hope. “I have 3 perfect candidates who are looking for this exact role, I have met them all and know they are a perfect fit”

Let’s assume it goes sailing. No issues, job filled in less than a week – Hope is maybe the best of things.

Reality can look a lot different. There are so many variables to recruitment. In the example above it can be sliced and diced multiple different ways;

  • Person gets offered, accepts. Change of mind and decides to go elsewhere, client let down?
  • Candidates are all super, no arguments. Turns out another recruiter has an even better person who gets the role, client now places more faith in other recruiter?

In both cases above the answer isn’t necessarily yes the client is let down or that they place more faith in another recruiter. The mindset has to be hope for the next placement. Hope that the next role you have is filled by the right person. This isn’t necessarily whimsical. Certain things are beyond the control of the recruiter.

In theory a recruiter can do everything right from the first touch point to the offer after interview. A person can pull out of a process at any stage. Realising that it’s nothing personal can be tough at first. The bigger picture has to be that if you treat people right it will come back to you.

On the flip-side people can get their hopes up too high only to be deflated. The case and point is the person who is elated for 3 different roles they are interviewing for.

  • They get their hopes up only to be pipped for the first one by somebody more experienced.
  • Not to worry they are equally enthusiastic for the second role which ends up being filled internally.
  • Now at this stage the candidate is looking in the mirror after going 0 for 2 in interview for jobs they are keen on. The third job slides by for whatever reason.

At this stage the person’s optimism is in doubt and maybe they think “maybe I’ll stay put another 6 months or a year where I am”. Being successful in a process is a culmination of multiple variables coming together at the right time for the person. People too often believe once they interview that a role will be theirs. The disconnect between expectations and reality occurs regularly it can only be managed.

Similarly hope is good as long as expectations are managed.

Empower people

The role of the recruiter isn’t just to find people for roles, fill them and collect a reward for doing so. (That would be the role of a bounty hunter looking for outlaws.)

The primary role of the recruiter is to manage both sides of the deal and provide as much information as possible to make an informed decision. The recruiter has to step back and see the bigger picture. The job isn’t simply to place people and get paid. The job is to help guide people through a significant moment in their career. Through my own experience moving from practice into industry I know how the recruiter plays a crucial role in this transition.

Information is the most important currency in this transaction. The candidate needs to be prepped. They need to know about the role;

  • Is it something they want?
  • Is it something they can do?
  • Does this role fall in line with their expectations?
  • Is there scope for progression?

A recruiter can’t force someone to take a role. Similarly, you can’t force the client to someone. People need to be sure that this role is the next step in their career where they can see themselves in the next 18 months to 2 years. The candidate needs to know that the decision is in their hands. When the candidate has all the salient information the recruiter can step back and give the candidate time to ensure they are happy with whatever decision they make. The bottom line is the decision to move or not is the candidates. It is the recruiter’s role to help them through that process and provide them a platform to make that decision.

Invest your time

Over the first 6 months the varied length of processes is something that has opened my eyes. Some people can be placed within a week. Others have taken 5 months to get placed. Some are still on the search. It’s important to be cognizant of the fact that the whilst the client is keen to find the right person, they need to have the resources available to interview and the approval to make an offer.

Even with approval to offer they might not have the capacity to train up a person for another while. All these variables can delay the decision-making process. When this process is delayed clients can miss out on the people they want or visa-versa. This is where it’s important to identify how urgent is the hire. If it is something they are looking to fill immediately obviously expedite the role. If it is something they are looking to tease out it is important to work on this but not to devote all resources to this role where they have been vague on timelines.

People want to be treated fairly and want to see that you care. Coming out of practice after I qualified, I was very wary of finding the right recruiter who understood the market and my skills. I always try to put myself in those shoes when thinking about what someone’s concerns might be. Sometimes that can mean staying on the phone an extra few minutes to hear their issues or taking the time to have a catch-up coffee. Initially I was conscious about not wasting time. I felt it was important not to invest time into things that don’t visibly add value. This is not necessarily correct. Processes and people take time.

It might be a case that someone was looking for a role, didn’t get it and steps away from the search process. Treating that person right is where the rewards can be reaped long term. It may be just a touch point but keep that line of communication open means when someone has had poor experiences elsewhere or feels they’re ready to re-enter the search process, they can rest assured that the person they deal with has made the time and effort with them. What might be a nuisance or inconvenience when you’re running out the door is the difference between getting a successful placement and not. Being in here 6 months and watching Niall and Mark invest time into people it has become clear how important that focus is.

“Your best ability is your availability”

As alluded to already no candidates are the same. They can however appear the same. They can have almost identical C.Vs and experiences. They can have similar personalities and have similar interests. What can differentiate people is their enthusiasm for a role. I am not suggesting that one needs to be jumping up and down knocking at the door for a role. Simply making yourself available to put yourself in the shop window.

In 6 months one of the things that puzzled me initially was people who were keen on roles not making themselves available for interview or hesitating. If someone wants a role they need to show that they are willing to get themselves out to whatever location it is in, at any hour of the day to show that they are serious. People can trip themselves up very easily by not being available for interview or deferring last minute. It’s not rocket science it is a simple task to show your intention to get the role.

We all know that getting out of work can be tedious at times but needs must!!

Candidates who put themselves in the shop window and show the right attitude to get in front of people tend to succeed in getting the role they desire.

I’ll report back in 6 months with a smattering of new thoughts…


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