We lost some 60% of the industry during the GFC and many experienced recruiters either left the industry or were made redundant. As a result, the industry is now extremely talent short. This is further evidenced by the rec to rec agencies refusing to take on any more jobs and the unbelievable amount of headhunting currently going on in the industry.
Many of my clients are telling me that they are struggling to find promising talent for their businesses which prompted me to reflect on my recruitment journey over the last 22 or so years and the mistakes I made and saw made by others. So if you want to not only survive but do really well in this business, then learn from the following mistakes.
1. Not Learning the basics first
My youngest son is 17 and plays ice hockey at an elite level. Amazing, considering that he put on his first pair of ice skates when he was 14. How did he do it? He perfected the basics first. He learned to skate forward first, then when he had perfected that skill, he added skating forward and stopping. Once that was perfected he learnt to sprint on the ice. Every week he added another basic skill to his tool kit and practiced until it was perfected.
Same with recruitment. Break down each task and practice it until you can do it without thinking. For example, consider the cold call. Start with perfecting a script, then practice it until you don't need to read it, then add objection handling, then closing and so on. Practice until it becomes second nature. Then work on another skill until it is perfected and so on.
I remember clearly the frustration that I felt when I made mistakes or lost placements because I wanted to run before I could walk.
2. Not getting proper training
One of the main reasons that new recruiters fail, is that they don't get proper training. Some agencies have a robust induction process and in my view they are giving their new recruits the best chance of success. Others however, have a policy of no training until probation is over. Educate yourself as to what is available in the marketplace and ensure that you train with industry accredited trainers (like me!) At the very least, ensure that you are reading all the material that is readily available on blogs like this. Find a mentor within your new organization, watch, listen and learn from the experienced and successful. It's how I and many industry veterans learned.
I was lucky enough to work for Geoff Morgan and Andrew Banks setting up the Alectus Personnel brand some years ago. My biggest learning whilst there was to move from a contingent recruiter to a retained recruiter, selling client paid advertising and working less jobs for a greater result. Much of my training workshops are based on what I learned whilst in that environment.
3. Forget that candidates are as important as clients
Our industry is renowned for it's poor treatment of candidates. Don't fall into the trap of believing that your clients are more important. Treat every person you meet as you would like to be treated and never, never become complacent as far as candidate care is concerned. Take your candidate's calls, return messages and e-mails from your candidates and work hard to meet their needs. Remember that your candidates are your best and cheapest advertisement.
I remember when I worked for Recruitment Solutions under Greg Savage during the mid 1990's this lesson was learned as we were KPI'd on candidate care and we had a rule that all candidate messages must be returned before we left for the day. Great habit to get into early in my recruitment career.
4. Offer discounts
My view is and always has been that I am worth every cent I charge. Very rarely did I have to resort to discounting during my career and on reflection, that's because I honestly believe that I provided a great service. When I first started in the business in the late 1980's, discounting was unheard of. That's because recruiters of my day didn't hide behind technology. We had "relationships" with our clients. My clients expected to see me during the recruitment process and as a result, most of my work was exclusive and at full fee. It's really hard once you have set a precedent to go back to charging full fee so start the way you mean to carry on. It's too easily to allow your clients to take control by dictating what they will pay. Look at it is way, you wouldn't go into a restaurant and start negotiating the prices of the meals would you? So why discount your service?
5. Become negative
Geoff and Andrew went to a lot of trouble finding glass half full recruiters. In fact, from memory, I did a full day of personality profiling and psych testing to even be considered as an M&B recruiter. If your profile was 10% higher or lower than the template they had created, regardless of how good you were, you didn't get an offer of employment. This created a culture of winners and many recruiters during that time aspired to work for M&B. Since then, I have studied much on the brain and how it affects our behavior and therefore our success. It is now scientifically proven that you create what you think about. That being the case, you will find that the most successful among us are also the most positive and optimistic. Look for the positive in every situation, and remember that mistakes are just things you haven't learned properly yet.
Being positive has ensured my success in recruitment as well as training and coaching. Negative thoughts cause call reluctance, which can be a killer for recruiters. As Monty Python says "always look on the bright side of life".
Finally, be the best you can be. Hold your head high and be proud of being a recruitment professional.