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The critical period in a consultant’s first 12 months – will they stay or will they go?

By Hannah Keep – Expert Recruitment Trainer

We have all had the conversation ‘they started so well, they were great in the interview, they had so much potential, what happened to them?’

Well what did happen to the consultants that left, that you spent so much money hiring and then training? Was it really that recruitment wasn’t for them, or that they couldn’t handle the job? What about those who are still in your business, working hard but really getting nowhere very fast? Those that had and still have so much potential which hasn’t yet turned into revenue?

This is a classic in the industry today and it is the critical time period in a consultant’s journey – the 6-12 month mark. This time period will dictate the recruiter they will become. It would be easy to assume that by then they are fully trained and that they ‘should’ be able to do the job. Especially if they have had some early success. It is also easy to assume that they are doing the right things when you can hear one side of their conversations and to you they sound brilliant on the phone.

If you look at KPIs and can see high activity in areas like phone times, candidate calls, CV’s sent, new managers contacted you could assume that the quantity of activity is high and therefore the results will come…. Soon…. These are dangerous assumptions. The 6-12 month mark is when you want to spend most of your time with them. The training part is easy, the developing part takes more time and a lot of patience.

A consultant will potentially go through 4 stages in their life as a recruiter –

  1. Trainee
  2. New Performer
  3. Experienced performer and
  4. Top performer (hopefully!).

At each stage they will have different learning needs which require a different management approach from you. In order to support them from a new performer to an experienced performer who can produce consistent results, you need to spend time mentoring. This involves call listening sessions at their desk every week where you can hear both sides of the conversation and spot any missed opportunities.

This also involves getting them to record their calls, analyse them and discussing with you their analysis. The purpose of desk coaching is to look at what people are doing and how they are doing it. If you are only looking at KPIs and hearing one sided conversations, then you are only looking at half of the story.

Here are some signs that you could have potential in your business that is slowly wasting away:


• Working hard, great KPIs – but no results e.g interviews, placements (they will leave soon if that hard work doesn’t soon produce commission)

• Excuses about their market or any parts of the job

• Avoidance of certain activities e.g business development, head hunting

• Covering up their avoidance of activities by going through the motions (I know someone who clocked up 2 hours of phone time by speaking to voice mails and being left on hold – scary!)

• Running every decision past you

• Asking lots of questions either from a lack of self belief or a diversion for actually doing something

• Skipping from activity to activity without any purpose or direction

• Doing only half of the job eg having a BD list of 100 managers but only one contact in each client, making lots of calls to HR and very few decision makers.

And the list could go on. If you want to really maximise the potential of the people you have hired, take time out of your busy week for 2 hours every week, to sit beside them doing the job until they have proved they can be consistent.

I promise this time will be well spent, not only will they develop quicker but you will be able to spend less time in the future because your team will be confident, self reliant and most importantly know what to do on their desk that will make money.

Don’t just delegate this activity to any trainers or desk coaches you have, make sure you get involved as well. Only you will really know from a jobs/candidate/client perspective where the missed revenue is.

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