When Recruiters say “I’m going back to basics”

Expert AdviceWe have all faced it.

As a good consultant it can be difficult having a tough month. If it stretches further then some serious questions have to be asked.

What is the cause of this?

How can I correct it?

Here is what is happening in most cases. The recruiter has had success because they followed, most likely, some very basic rules to make themself successful.

1.  Put the effort in (hours and energy)

2.  Made sure they fully understood their clients recruiting criteria and the client felt that they were fully understood because of the quality of questions

3.  The Recruiter also made sure that they fully understood their candidates underlying drivers and motivations as well as their fit for the content of the role.

4.  After achieving this, he did a great job of presenting highly qualified candidates as a solution to the problem creating peace of mind in the buyer and confidence in the shortlist presented.

Sale closed, job filled, next please!

The issue this recruiter faces, whether they like admitting it or not, is they have become complacent in their ability and assumptive in the way they qualify either (or both) their clients and candidates.

The more jobs a recruiter takes in, the more they have “heard it before”. There comes a temptation to prove to the client that you are a knowledge worker or a specialist and you end up writing the specification for the client. For example:

Client: “Hello, we’re looking to recruit into our development team. We need a good Java developer…”

Recruiter: “OK, so would you prefer to see someone from Financial Services given you are a banking institution?”

Client: “Yeah, that sounds great! Could you do that?”

Recruiter: “Sure. What kind of salary did you have in mind? 35k?”

Client: “Yes, sounds good..”

Recruiter: “Graduate? Perhaps a scientific degree, mathematics??”

Client: “Yeah, this sounds great…can you find someone like that?”

Recruiter: “It will be a challenge though I think I should be able to find a couple of people”

Can you see what is happening?? The recruiter is trying to demonstrate some market knowledge and is already presuming they know what the client wants. The client is agreeing because it sounds desirable! In the end, this recruiter could end up missing the right person as they have written the spec instead of the client doing it. It happens to us all, yet some never get out of this trap and it damages their ability to succeed. The same thing can happen with candidates and suddenly we get more turn downs or counter offer acceptances. On occasion, the recruiter blames the client’s impossible spec, or writes the candidate off as a flake.

The test to see if you have, or those you have worked with have, suffered this ailment is easy. You hear the immortal phrase of the experienced consultant who has seen the light. They say, quite often quite proudly:

“I’m going back to basics”

Heard that before? The truth is this: the basics should never have been left behind. If the basics are qualifying clients and candidates using template forms (to ensure nothing is missed) or with crib sheets to remind you of the key questions then you never should have stopped doing them. How many of you that drive consider yourself to be a good driver?? Try taking your driving test again and soon you’ll see how many bad habits have crept in without you knowing. Most recruiters are not consciously aware of their bad habits and corner-cuts. Sometimes it takes the wheels to fall off before you do the necessary review.

Related Articles:

How to work smarter, not harder, as a Recruiter

How to Succeed at Sales

The 7 Deadly Sins of Recruiters


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3 Responses

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  1. For me, getting a recruiter to go back to basics, means asking him/her to pick up the bleedin’ phone, and do their bloody job. Their job being one that entails paying attention to detail, and not skipping steps in the recruitment process.
    When having a tough time, recruiters can find themselves looking for quick fees, and subsequently cutting the very corners that can stop them getting a fee at all. This is the quick way to alienate clients and candidates, as well as your boss.
    More than a few times, I’ve had to stop everything I was doing (as it wasn’t working) and get back to basics. That meant starting afresh with new clients, possibly in a new sector, and meticulously following the proven recruitment steps, and adding a dash of lateral thinking. It may take a few weeks to get a pipeline of placement prospects going, but it’s a worthwhile investment, if done properly.

    Stephen O'Donnell 10 May 2010 at 11:53 pm Permalink
  2. Let’s not forget one thing that is also often the case for a ‘slump’……PLANNING! Recruiters often peak and trough when they do not plan far enough ahead or they are purely reacting to the market and not proactively doing something about it before ‘it’ happens. We have to ask ourselves also, do all recruitment companies give their people the basic tools and how often are these skills refreshed – in a nutshell, training. And something else before I sign off, the recruiters state of mind can be impacted by a number of things, yes complacency of course (particularly after a great month/quarter)but alos how they are treated, recognised by their bosses, supported and given reasonable targets that are stretching but not totally unachievable and therefore demotivational.

    Alan Clarke 11 May 2010 at 7:51 am Permalink
  3. Bang on Alan. We all know that most man hours are usually taken up in the very early stages of searching for candidates for a new vacancy. However, many recruiters can find themselves in a position where several assignments are coming to a conclusion at once, and they consequently dwell on them, even though not much time is required, and neglect to find and commence new assignments.
    The upshot of this, is that the recruiter has to start from scratch, with nothing in the pipeline. This can be very demotivating, and managers should see this coming in order to prevent such a scenario.

    Stephen O'Donnell 13 May 2010 at 5:29 pm Permalink

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