The world and beyond – Surviving in the economic jungle

Advice, tips and tricks on how to engage with the UK jobs market and commercial environment, from a female executive's perspective

Slaying Goliath

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This last week was a very interesting one to me – I am beginning to realise more and more that the slightly right wing views I have of the recruitment industry are actually not that far off pitch.

A few weeks ago, a new client responded to some marketing information I sent out. They are a smallish Tier 1 supplier to the automotive industry, looking to recruit a new Sales Director for a rather niche and complex product.

Now usually, I prefer not to get too involved in the bun fight that is contingency recruitment. I work on my own and I simply don’t have the resources (I believe) to compete with the large contingency recruitment businesses. And I’ve been around long enough to know that a lot of effort can go into very little return, that I can’t afford to be thruthful. Everything I do has to show ROI if I want my business to be successful.

Anyway, I agreed to accept the vacancy and they agreed, without quibble, to my standard contingency fee. 

I don’t have a very large candidate database. My candidate access is made up of a network of contacts and WOM referrals, people I have worked with for a long time and senior managers looking for a potential move but not terribly active in the market. So in a fit of lapsed confidence, I approached a previous employer (Big brand tehcnical recruitment company) to see if they would care to share.

Well of course they would! But unfortunately, they were already working on this role and had been for some weeks. As it appears, have the rest of the tehcnical recruitment world. Talk about saturation!

So, having already accepted the vacancy, I decided to do my best and then move on to the next job. I submitted 5 candidates, all of whom I fel confident were good and appropriate, but I know that the larger agencies were going all out at sourcing loads of candidates.

In total, the client received over 100 CV’s. I did ask the question whether it really was the best use of a CEO’s time to screen through so many, but they were already committed to the process. I honestly didn’t think I would stand a chance, with so many candidates in the mix!

Out of the 100 + CV’s, the client decided to interview 15 people. Out of my 5 submissions, I got 4 interviews.

Out of the 15 interviews, he called 3 candidates for second. 2 of those were mine!

Unfortunately, one of my candidates got offered a directorship elsewhere and had to withdraw. Lo and behold: The standby candidate was mine too!

SO out of my 5 submissions, 4 got to interview and 3 were shortlisted. Overall, I thought this was a very positive outcome.

I nearly fell off my chair when the client called to say that the third candidate had pulled out. The only 2 people left in the final interview stage, where both my candidates!

I am absolutely delighted. I know luck plays a part in recruitment. And that the numbers game sometimes pays off for recruiters who spray as much as they can in the hope that something will stick. But for me, this truly signifies the role of the independent recruiter: A slick, targeted, direct service delivered with intelligence and quality rather than quantity and desperation.

The final interviews take place next week and I know full well that a lot can still go wrong. But, as a small SME working in a very competitive market and aiming to do something really different in recruitment, I feel that I have truly achieved a coup. And I have a client for life, whether this role goes to offer or not.

David slayed Goliath regardless (or maybe because of) their difference in size. I think I might be doing the same!

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