A Consultant or a Recruiter

Two female colleagues in office working together

Recruiting is generally a very busy time for all involved whether it is for the internal team running multiple recruits across an organisation, the external recruitment consultant providing extended support, or the candidate juggling their work with interviews. Recruiting can be a highly sensitive, pressured and a volatile experience for all with many factors to take into consideration.

I have been a recruitment professional for 14 years and I have seen one common rinse and repeat cycle in this profession which to my practical mind, continues to baffle me. I’ll explain…

If you think about the methodology of business practices, recruitment really isn’t any different. Identifying needs, understanding issues, agreeing objectives, executing a plan and managing risk.

I’m still flabbergasted that I get calls from prospective candidates or clients asking me what jobs or candidates I have on my books. Surely doesn’t that terminology create a different tone or basis to a conversation. Should we be conducting our business down at the racetrack???

Over the years, I have concluded that there are two types in this profession, a recruiter and a recruitment consultant.

Without a doubt there is a misconstrued perception out there that both are the same hence we are tarnished with the same brush. I’d like to educate a little on this.

Consultant -v- Recruiter, is there really any difference?

A recruiter whose primary focus is to recruit to volume generally works on the methodology of turning around a quick placement with minimal effort in between. The more volume of roles they work, the higher percentage of a placement. It is a very tiring numbers game, driven by unrealistic KPIs designed by averages. To achieve these targets, something gives, and it does. Generally, the candidate will be screened quickly only to be covered off on the role to be submitted before any other agency engages in conversation. Time isn’t taken to do a detail screen or meet with candidates or much else after that. The motivation is to get a CV across. In fact, sometimes there isn’t even a mandate to work the role at all. The candidate and job itself are worked opportunistically.

I’ve worked like this early in my career and believe me, with these KPIs in place, I understand completely how things start to fall through the cracks!

What Candidates say about Recruiters:

  • I’ve been approached by another recruiter about that position but, they didn’t give me as much information as you, could I ask you some more questions please about that company/position?
  • I have been put forward to a role that sounds very similar to this, but my recruiter didn’t share the name of the business with me.
  • I’ve never met my recruiter.
  • I was approached by another recruiter but never heard anything back at all so I’m not sure if my CV was ever sent.
  • I didn’t receive a job brief.
  • I’ve been to interviews and it was clear immediately that I wasn’t the right person for the job and that the recruiter didn’t understand the requirements of the role. It was a waste of my time.
  • My CV was sent without my consent.
  • Do you have a mandate to work this role or are you just fishing?

Recruiting in-house, a recruitment consultant operates on achieving a portfolio of relationships and repeat business, generally nurturing and adding to that pipeline of clients over time. They will work contingently but generally do and prefer to work in a more efficient and tailored way.

The foundation of what they do is based on core values, nurturing candidate connectivity and relationships, undertaking recruitment practices in sustainable, well thought out and consultative ways. Offering expertise, market knowledge and an educated approach to a recruitment process, imbedding oneself into a client’s business as a trusted and extended arm of that business.

This creates over time deep knowledge and insight, to confidently advocate a role based on one’s understanding, giving all parties an ability to make fully informed decisions and opening up honest lines of communication, helping both to manage expectations and manage any risk along the way.

Awareness is key and is the first step to change. I’ve always been passionate about changing the general perception of what we do. Can I say at this point that what we do is not easy and certainly at times severely underestimated? Those who are passionate about working in recruitment really are at the heart of every recruit and are ultimately invested in helping people to shape their careers and businesses to achieve successful outcomes.

What Candidates say about Recruitment Consultants:

  • I really enjoyed that conversation, it was great to hear more about the opportunity and I’d love to be put forward.
  • What I have heard really does give me good insight however, I have a few more questions I’d like answered if you could please get me some additional information.
  • Yes, I’d love to meet, I haven’t met any other recruiters.
  • That job really isn’t right for me but I’d love to meet to discuss my future job search so you can fully understand what I am looking for.
  • This is a different experience to that which I have had with other recruiters.
  • Thank you for all your help, advice and information throughout this recruit, it has been such a positive experience.
  • You are the only person who has ever taken the time to really understand my job search.
  • That job isn’t quite right for me but, I know someone who would be great for this. Would you mind if I passed on your contact details so he/she can contact you?
  • Thank you so much for helping me with my job search. Although you didn’t place me, I’m thankful for all you did, and I won’t hesitate to recommend your services once I’ve settled in.

In closing, here are some takeaways to consider:

  • Is an internal recruitment team an enabler? Does a two year PSL arrangement become so binding that star candidates who are presented off PSL don’t even make it to the Hiring Manager’s desk only to learn that candidate was hired by a competitor.
  • How well do you really know your agency working for your organisation? Apply a stringent screening / meeting process, get to know your agency and understand what sets them apart. Review this and meet with them regularly.
  • Does an internal recruitment team really understand the brief? Ensure information is effectively translated through to your agency and don’t wait for the recruit to go wrong before realising this hasn’t happened.
  • Has your agency met or spoken to the Hiring Manager in charge of a team’s recruit? Make sure your agency knows everything there is to know to help them with the recruit even if it means setting up a conversation with the Hiring Manager to create this understanding.
  • What is an agency’s approach to a recruit? Ask your agency to detail the steps they put in place to ensure successful outcomes to any hire. Agree time frames and be realistic about this. Great candidates need to be uncovered and won’t materialise in 48 hours.
  • Does an agency demonstrate knowledge of the market they are recruiting in? Ask your agency to give evidence of their experience and expertise and what sets them apart. This might surprise you.
  • Does an agency meet their candidates? Can an agency provide evidence of this by giving detailed information about the candidate?
  • Are you working with recruitment experts? generalists -v- experts. There may be many agencies recruiting to specific industries but only for a percentage of their time. How deeply connected and invested is your agency in their chosen markets. Does their connectivity create an additional layer to their capabilities?
  • Do you ask candidates in interviews what their impression is of their representative agency? This is vital feedback not to be missed. If you are paying recruitment fees why wouldn’t you want to know you got the full service!
  • Ask your agency for information about retained and exclusive recruits and how this may best support your hiring process particularly for hard to fill or niche positions.
  • Don’t feel that more is best. Engaging multiple agencies will often create competitive recruiting and often not yield the desired result. Engage the best.

I welcome an opportunity to speak to you about your in-house recruitment and how we can best partner with your organisation. Please do not hesitate to reach out at donna.rosenberg@jamesonlegal.com.