How much would you pay for a silver bullet?

Expert Counsel

Warren Kemp | CEO of Recruitment Matters International



The recruitment industry first started in 1873: John Gabbitas opened up his education recruitment business three years before the telephone was invented. The recruitment sector now has more people employed in it than ever before. So why is it not a turnkey industry where formulaic processes guarantee results? After all, we have been honing our recruiter skills for more than 150 years.

One can look back at major changes over the years and seek answers. Or make excuses, depending on how you feel. World wars, legislation, the internet, the EU, job boards, Skype, the economy, LinkedIn, the list goes on. All of these can be labeled as disruption. Opportunity is disruption’s bedfellow of course, yet the hard fact is that very few recruiters bill significant amounts of revenue consistently for a sustained period.

The average permanent recruiter in the UK last year billed just £96,000. So, after 151 years of learning, that’s the benchmark for acceptability. Not exactly pushing up daisies, but it’s not setting the heather alight either.

So, do I have a silver bullet for you? Maybe not, although I do have a few very shiny and polished ones you could load up with.

1. Unless you work a very tight geographic, with a plethora of employers crammed into it, don’t be a generalist recruiter. Generalist recruiters are ten a penny and ‘ten a penny’ commands only ten percent fees. A one-in-ten chance to earn ten percent? You do the maths.

2. If you do see the value (maybe because of your reputation or the buoyancy of your geography) of being a generalist, focus on exclusivity. And that’s both clients and candidates.Whether you run a temp, perm or contractor desk/business, work for the placements that are yours to lose and not ones you have to fight to win.

3. Be a specialist. A real specialist. In fact, become a thought leader in your specialism. Heck, be a guru within your specialism. Give talks, write articles, publish white papers and prove to your world that you are the only person they need to know. Recruitment is a ‘vote for me’ campaign.

4. Stop talking and acting like a recruiter. I didn’t say don’t talk about recruitment, but I do mean stop doing what 80% of your competitors do. Get people to buy into your market knowledge and become a trusted advisor. Have two reasons for your call or email and let them know that upfront. Not only will you double your chances of success, but your contact will also feel they gained something from the time they spent with you.

5. Focus on fewer jobs at any one time and spend more time on each one. Deep work, not wide work.

6. Build multiple contacts into multiple relationships in every individual client and prospective Have multiple touch points over any given period of time. Remember that it’s a vote for me campaign. When six stakeholders are sitting in a room discussing recruitment issues and opportunities, you want to be the name that gets the show of hands.

7. Keep a proactive eye and take action on the big four. One: high demand & short supply roles. Two: niche & growing. Three: legislative and regulatory changes. Four: disruption.

8. Do the tasks you don’t like to the same standard as the ones you do like.

9. Work a four-day week, with the aim of achieving all your week’s goals by the end of day four. That leaves day five to mop up, catch up and get ahead.

10. The company in your sector/market/geographic that gives candidates a truly world class service from start to finish, no matter whether the finish is at the end of the first and only contact with them, will be the number one recruiter. The recruitment sector is ever changing. One thing that’s hasn’t changed since 1873 is that you cannot make a placement without the right candidate.



Warren Kemp
CEO of Recruitment Matters International
tel 07976 828637

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