Simply The Best?…What Makes a Great Recruiter

Years ago I worked in sales recruitment. Every Friday we finished at 5pm and then sat in a circle and took it in turns to review our week. We gave ourselves a score out of 10 and then we each voted for our ‘Consultant of the Week’. Inevitably the most votes always went to the consultant who had made the most fees. Very occasionally the group would recognise the closing of a particularly difficult assignment, or the winning of a retainer against the odds, but those occasions were rare.

The biggest biller was always the best recruiter.

If someone said ‘he’s a good recruiter’ you knew they meant ‘he’s a big biller’

Times change…my sales recruitment experience was before e-mail, job boards, unprecedented boom and bust, and social media… so now I wonder

What makes a good recruiter in 2010?

Maybe it’s still the biggest biller? Other recruiters, managers and directors will still recognise the bottom line, the recruiter that not just hits their targets but surpasses them. During my years in recruitment to recruitment I often heard these people referred to as ‘billing machines’. I always found this an odd description, somehow dehumanised as if great recruiters are mechanical without compassion or emotion.

How about the most contacts or the biggest network…the Largest Community? Making placements historically pays the bills, but moving forward might we need to find other ways to monetise our networks? Great recruiters should build great relationships and it may well be that focusing on closing individual deals somehow turns attention away from the value of the wider network. A lot of effort goes in to developing relationships that may or may not result in a deal…information, knowledge, ideas, networking, introductions and referrals. If we cling to the traditional billing model are we in danger of giving away what we should monetize and trying to monetize what we should give away?

Perhaps it will be the best feedback, which should give rise to the most referrals? I’ve written at length how I am rewarded on feedback, and it would appear that a number of other recruitment businesses are adopting an element of client/candidate feedback in their incentive schemes. There’s little doubt that giving a consultative, positively different experience to candidates and clients, transparent and honest, managing expectations and delivering what you promise to the timescale you agreed, will result in recommendations and referrals…and there is no better client or candidate than one that has been recommended to you.

So who would you now salute now as being a great recruiter…?

The big biller….

The networking community builder….

The deliverer who gets the best referrals and recommendations…

There are those who would say that all 3 go together, that big billers will automatically be good networkers and deliverers, but I’m not so sure. During my time working in recruitment, especially when placing recruiters, I have met and worked with quite a few contingency ‘big billers’ and I have to say that often they aren’t the most engaging of people. Usually they are motivated by the deal, the commission, and their methodology can be quite transactional…many times I have referenced someone to be told that their relationship skills are somewhat lacking but they display a determination that pulls them through, often to the detriment of colleagues.

Interestingly, the recruiters who make the best matches, whose candidates succeed most in their new roles, aren’t always the biggest billers precisely because their placements stick. They get recommendations and referrals but their success often negates recurring business.

My view is that networking, community building and reputation will drive success in the future, as the traditional transactional sales model gets squeezed. For now, we still monetise what we do in the same way we always have however I believe that this will change.

Let me know what you think? Shoot me down or give me your own view…as recruiters and HR professional one thing I know we aren’t is shy!!

(This post originally appeared on RecruitingBlogs)

2 thoughts on “Simply The Best?…What Makes a Great Recruiter

  1. I agree with you.

    I feel its those that have the skills to network, nurture relationships and can increase their own brand awareness (and their companies) often have the most leads, referals of GOOD candidates and profitable relationships.

    Billing is important, and I think most companies use this as a initial tool to see who is going to be succesful, but its just one dimension of a recruiter and not the be all and end all of a Great one!


    1. Thanks for the comment Natalie, I certainly agree with you. Problem is the vast majority of recruitment businesses only reward on billings, hence this is where their consultants’ efforts are focused. The performance tables also tend to be based on billings. Guess it won’t change until there are different ways of rewarding and recognizing different behaviours.

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