Life on the dark side (or is that the light?)

For many years I have worked for a mixture of large corporate or mid tier organisations.  More recently I have been more involved in supporting those corporate organisations whilst offering direct services to SME’s in the form of business coaching.  Last week I returned to the corporate world.

I am not sure if that is the dark or the light? From the recruitment industry perspective if the light is agency then the dark must be the client side?

So why the return?

Well as they say it was something I couldn’t say no to.  The perfect combination of an assignment that is a mix of ‘recruit now as we have a lot to do and it has been quiet for the last year’, the opportunity to develop the candidate experience, create a compelling employment proposition and above all create a direct model that works.  That direct model needs to deliver the best that commercially driven recruitment organisations bring whilst understanding there are budget constraints and challenges around having to say yes to a business looking to grow. 

I know it has been done before but this is a bigger challenge than you would imagine and I guess a fundamental difference between external or in-house roles and something external recruiters should remember.

As an external recruiter you can pick and choose the roles you want to work with, typically prioritised by fee, how easy it is to find candidates and how easy it is to place people in that organisation based on relationship and/or speed to hire.  Internally we cannot say no, we have to prioritise roles based on business priority.  In a sales led organisation such as the one I am working for the priority is for excellent sales people who we can interview quickly, who understand why they should work for us and we can get them into the business quickly and efficiently.  In the main we get there, needing to polish the process rather than reinvent but the undeniable conclusion is that something isn’t quite right with some of the external recruitment organisations.

Those ‘favourite’ roles we have are saturated with CV’s from agencies only too keen to help whilst more challenging roles are left to one side.  This is partly where I step in to expedite those roles with agencies or to be frank find someone who is interested.  I am keen to work with organisations that are keen to work with us, honest and can genuinely deliver.  Actually add consistent to that.  In return I will do the same.

This is my 2nd week, I am sorry boys and girls I do not believe any of you that claim to be the best!  It was fun for the first few days taking recruitment cold calls and I have gone along with the programme but they need to stop.  No wonder so many recruitment managers hide behind voicemail and email.  I’m not going to do that but I know how they feel.

I guess once more I am surprised how poor the commercial skills of an average recruiter are.  Maybe I have been lucky coming into recruitment after a successful sales driven commercial career, developing good sales skills, people management capability as well as the ability to listen to what my clients actually want. 

For external recruitment consultants to win more business I’m afraid you will have to enter the dark side.  Not to work for your client but to do something that helps you to understand the pressure they are under.  Get creative, deliver something the others don’t. Deliver exceptional service, deliver a candidate experience that supports the values of your client.  This is what is it like on the dark side.  This is what we crave.  Think about the volume challenge we face, managing a complex multi-applicant route of agency, website and internal referral.  I know most recruitment companies do this too but unless you are true global brand the volumes you experience are minuscule when compared to us. (Fact not boasting).

If this sounds like I am having a downer on the industry I’m not. I know how tough it is to recruit successfully.   But next time you pick up the phone to do your pitch to me or my in-house colleagues take an extra 10 minutes to think about what you are going to say, innovation will be welcomed by sympathetic ears.

Over the next few weeks I am going to write some better blogs based on my experience.  We can all learn from a return to the dark side.


2010 is going to be another tough year, I believe we are out of the worst of it but it is by no means a done deal yet.  If you want my help with your recruitment strategy, from inception to delivery, help in the creation of a 3 year business vision or practical on-site recruitment support then contact me, Martin Dangerfield on 0161.408.4005.

As well as being a Regional Director for the IRP, Martin is Director of the innovative recruitment business mckinleyresource, a freelance people consultant specialising in talent attraction, assessment and recruitment and a provider of business coaching for high growth entrepreneurial organisations.

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