Costly mistakes consultants are making

By James Caan

As we approach the halfway point of the year it’s a good opportunity to reflect on the objectives and career goals you’ve set your consultants to consider how likely it is that they will succeed in their ambitions for 2016. Objectives that are too far out of reach and unlikely to be met in the second half of the year can demoralise the team and this is especially true for new recruits.

The summer months are always a good time to check in and ensure your team aren’t making any obvious mistakes which could be holding them back from achieving their billings potential. Over the years there are a few I’ve come across which can be managed well and turn someone who’s dispirited and struggling, into a top biller:

  1. It’s too hard and no ones ever going to give me a brief!

If you’ve hired a new batch of rookies this year, hopefully by now they’ve had a few solid months of resourcing or cold calling for new business. If by this point these calls are not coming to fruition or bringing in any briefs, it can be frustrating for both you and the newbie that their efforts are not being rewarded. It’s at this important stage you have to remind them not to judge the business too soon. Recruitment is not an easy job, but it really does get easier over time. Cold calls become warm calls eventually and the proliferation of social media means that eventually they’ll catch someone at just the right time, but they must persist and keep their finger on the pulse. The first few months of cold calling are tough but give it time and the role becomes much more satisfying. Hard work does pay off in this sector and it’s mportant to remind them of this, or risk losing them early on to another career choice.

  1. Knowing your market time trap

As you should already know, step one in the recrutiment methodology is to ‘know your market’. This is where Recruitment Guide, my upcoming recruitment training hub starts the journey and it’s an important foundation to any succesful career in recruitment. However, consistent ‘internet research’, frequent attendance at trade shows and seminars, booking a client visit in the middle of the day means your consultants are spending prime selling time on anything but selling. You get the picture of where I’m going with this but ultimately there’s no substitute for actual hard work despite the research element of the role as a recruiter. These tasks serve a purpose and, in the long run, help generate fee income. But if you spend too much time on research in the hope of knowing your market a bit better but not actually having any roles to fill then they will significantly damage your chances of success.

  1. Using prewritten scripts and ignoring the warning signs

When starting out most resourcers and rookie recruiters will use scripts and there’s no doubt this is helpful in the beginning, but this shouldn’t be relied upon after a few months in. By month three, recruiters should develop their own style. If you’ve spotted that the early stages of the recruitment process (taking a brief, sourcing candidates etc) are still a struggle for someone who’s been with you a few months then it may be time to reasses their role or invest in further training for them.  Equally, no returned calls once is no real issue, twice could be a problem. Ensure that your consultants can recognise warning signs from candidates that their interest has peaked. They must all be reminded regularly that they should never stop moving forward in the recruitment process, if there are changes, check them and overcome them.

  1. Not planning

Every consultant knows that they have to make a certain number of calls, take a number of referrals and set up interviews to lead to a succesful placement. Focusing resources on your prime ‘selling time’ will help consultants to hit the objectives they’ve been set. Therefore consultants must prioritise their tasks efficiently. Planning is the most important task in a recruiters day so this must be established early on as a priority and fundamental part of a new recruits induction process.

  1. Do not avoid the tough questions

Even your perfect candidate is susceptible to a counter-offer and it’s important for all consultants at every level to prepare for these types of issues. Consultants that become top billers and reach manager level and beyond are adept at asking the tough questions, listening to the answers and overcoming each issue that comes their way. If you follow the recrutiment process strictly you should never move forward onto the next step until all the actions on the existing one have been completed. You cannot rely on a lucky placement and I always tell recruiters in my own firms to never assume. For the sake of an embarrassing or difficult question you could lose a fee. Spot which consultants need extra support in this area because it does come easier to some than others. It is also the easiest way to iron out bumps in the road towards successful placements.

Ulitamtely, if you have an in depth and detailed induction and training programme for new recuits your recruitment firm should be able to avoid all of the challenges above. Don’t let your rookies become one of the 25% that become complacent and leave the sector every year. This huge churn of consultants who leave the industry do so because they may only be able to perform around 50% of the job well, because of inadequate training.

It’s important to rise above the noise and stand out by following the recruitment process meticulously and offering impeccable service to your clients and candidates at every stage, from taking the brief, sourcing candidates, all the way through to managing the offer, referencing and aftercare. That only starts with good quality training.

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The British Institute of Recruiters is the Professional Body operating The Recruitment Certification Scheme

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