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

Guide to #job hunting: 4 key factors for successful recruitment

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Whether you are an employer wanting to employ a new senior manager, or an experienced senior manager looking for your next career move, how do you decide on which Recruitment Consultant will be able to deliver on your expectations?

 1.  Credentials

How long have they been active in your specific business area? Do they have references from similar clients or candidates? How did they perform in the past?

This should not relate to the organisation you are dealing with, but the individual consultant. It doesn’t mean that, because the recruitment company has been recognised with accolades, the consultant you are dealing with is automatically qualified or successful. Winning business awards often depends on putting forward a business case. Getting personal recognition depends on service levels and delivery. These will only be meted out on request and is a real indication of the efficiency and ability of your consultant, and therefore their ability to provide you with a successful outcome.

2. Objectivity

Realism and objectivity are two key requirements for success in recruitment. A recruiter who makes upfront assumptions is prone not to listen and will therefore get a subjective understanding of the brief or candidate expectation. I have often seen this tendency in consultants who previously worked in industry. Sure, a past track record in a particular market gives a recruiter a real insight but it also creates a hypothetical, internal understanding that they should know all the answers. Each employer and each candidate is different, even if they work with exactly the same services or products in exact markets. A consultant who lacks objectivity, or views himself to be in the decision making position (How often have we heard about the “perfect candidate” or the “dream job”?) is unlikely to deliver efficient solutions.

A recruiter who asks questions, listens, processes information and asks again to measure his understanding will be far more likely to succeed for both employer and candidate.

3.  Market knowledge – Generalist vs Specialist

This speaks for itself. A recruiter who works in a vertical market in a specific sector is most likely to have a finger on its pulse, and can therefore be more consultative. This makes for a more proactive approach. A generalist is likely to have broader knowledge and therefore able to give wider advice rather than specific factual solutions.

 4. Commitment – Retained vs Contingency

There is a lot to be said for a fee paid up front. This is contentious, especially in middle management level positions where there is competition from a lot of candidates and many agencies might have potentially suitable candidates. The current employer market is highly risk averse and paying a consultancy fee in advance seems to be a very risky move. The reality is that it actually reduces risk in the recruitment process.

A consultant who is confident enough of his own abilities to take a proportion of the fee in advance in return for increased service levels and a guaranteed result is in fact sharing the risk with the client. This in turn, benefits the candidate. Consultants can only work on small number of retained assignments at once, so there is a higher degree of quality in their output. Candidates are assured of an exclusive, managed process where they are fully informed all the time, and the trust relationships developed in this business context for all 3 parties are more open and communicative.

Conclusion

If these 4 elements are in place, it brings the likelihood of success in any recruitment assignment because it manages risk.

Unfortunately, the UK Recruitment market operates on a predominant no win, no fee basis that totally shifts the risk onto the employer and candidate, with the consultant purely acting as a facilitator. This business model works very well in lower level positions where volumes of candidates are required in order to find the necessary combination of skills, experience and potential. In mid to senior level management recruitment, it makes for dissatisfaction amongst specialist candidates and employers expecting certain levels of service for the increased fees.

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