Get off my case!
Why working in recruitment needs to change
Picture the scene. You’re an experienced consultant working in recruitment at a firm that operates in a ‘traditional’ way. It’s the final week of the month and you’ve comfortably hit your target with days to spare. Despite this, rather than being thanked and left to your own devices, your boss reminds you of your recruitment KPIs. You know that if you don’t take action before the month is out—hitting the phones or firing out CVs—you’ll be reprimanded.
This approach creates unnecessary pressure that stifles consultants’ effectiveness. Sadly, it’s still common and is causing many consultants to leave the industry. On this page, we’ll argue that there is another way. When consultants are empowered to work autonomously, they can build successful and rewarding careers. This is beneficial not only for consultants, but also the clients and candidates they serve.
The boom period of recruitment, the last 25 years or so, has coincided with the biggest changes the world of work has seen since the industrial revolution. Unfortunately, many recruitment consultancies are stuck in the dark ages. During the recent heatwave, some firms refused to relax dress codes, insisting employees wear suits in spite of the extreme temperatures.
Dragging firms into the 21st century isn’t easy, but many of the necessary changes are simple. For starters, treat all employees the same, whether they’re a top biller or new recruit: favouritism is bad for morale. Reduce working hours so people can have a life: happy employees are more productive. And judge consultants on the quality of their work, not the number of phone calls they make (recruitment KPIs).
People don’t work in recruitment because they enjoy stress. They are attracted by the financial rewards, and the opportunity for swift career progression in a meritocratic environment. Forward-thinking consultancies like Saxton Leigh take these ambitions seriously. For example, by making it possible for high-achieving consultants to reach director level in five years. Rapid promotion in a dynamic, people-focused setting — for those with the right qualities, recruitment is an exciting career choice.
Work smarter, not harder
Recruitment is not a nine-to-five job, simply because candidates are not always available during office time. Technologies like CRM systems, mobile apps, and LinkedIn help consultants manage these requirements by enabling remote and flexible working. They shouldn’t be used to force consultants to work ever longer hours. Enlightened firms like Saxton Leigh understand the demands of the job and therefore do not expect consultants to spend 11 or 12 hours in the office each day.
Compliance Professionals’ approach to fairer, more flexible working includes the following:
• Consultants can work from home up to two days per month
• The office is closed for Christmas
• Monday to Thursday hours: 9.00am – 5.30pm
• 4pm finish on Fridays
• Time off for hitting targets
Recruitment consultants are human beings (believe it or not), and they cannot give their all relentlessly. To improve the experience of working in recruitment, the industry must adopt a more laid-back approach that focuses on quality over quantity. Let’s face it, 20 days’ holiday isn’t enough. Saxton Leigh provides 25 days’ annual leave as standard, and this increases to 30 days with experience. Work-life balance isn’t pie in the sky, it’s an achievable goal.
Modern recruitment versus the old-fashioned kind
Let’s compare modern, holistic recruitment practices with the outdated approach still used by some firms. The truth about working in recruitment in old-fashioned consultancies is that pressure is high while the level of support for consultants is low. The sales ‘strategy’ consists of hurling CVs at clients till one sticks. The addiction to recruitment KPIs is corrosive. Underhand sales tactics including, in the worst cases, lying to receptionists, are not uncommon. There’s little care for candidates and their ambitions. In an industry that faces mounting challenges, including companies taking recruitment in house, this approach is simply not sustainable.
Increasingly, businesses want to build long-term partnerships with recruiters; to work with experienced industry experts who they know and trust. Recruitment firms must ditch the old ways if they are to meet these expectations. Adopting an improved approach to working in recruitment also extends to the consideration given to candidates. The best recruitment firms encourage consultants to get to know candidates personally, increasing the likelihood of a happy marriage between individual and opportunity.
Experienced consultants draw on a broad range of skills to do their jobs, but it’s unfair to expect them to have all the answers all the time. To help consultants progress in their careers working in recruitment, it’s imperative that firms provide the right training and support. There’s no place for the sink-or-swim model anymore. At Saxton Leigh, our consultants benefit from both external and internal coaching. The two joint MDs have more than 40 years’ combined experience. They still actively recruit and understand the demands of the current market.
In summary, recruitment firms that want to succeed must adapt. When considering the next step in your recruitment career, be sure to look for firms that understand and act on this truth. Here at Saxton Leigh, we’ve embraced change and made many improvements in recent years. It’s an ongoing process, the latest stage of which is our office move to a new space with a table tennis table, break-out areas and a great location next to Bank station. There are no plans to install a slide (yet), but we are committed to helping all our consultants climb the ladder.
Get in touch today to find out more about opportunities at Saxton Leigh.Back to industry news