I meet with a number of Recruitment Consultants every week who are looking to move on from their current position, or step up to their next opportunity…  I probably speak with a further 10, or more on the phone….

 And, to be perfectly honest I’m lucky if I meet with one a week who I consider a good, old fashioned ‘A’ Candidate

It’s not to say that these candidates are not fantastic on paper… On paper most of these candidates look great…. On paper most of these candidates would walk into roles with the best agencies…. On paper most of these candidates lead me to squeal with delight (not like a little girl, but squeal with delight and dignity), and jump straight on the phone…

But, as you all know – what often looks good on paper has the tendency to bite you on the bum and inject you with a reality hit.


Unfortunately, it seems some Consultants (and I do stress some), believe their own hype to the point of hilarity.  If they were a lollipop I’m sure they would enjoy giving themselves a jolly good licking… The difference between expectation and reality in the market sometimes really is quite amazing.


You would expect that most Recruitment Consultants have a good understanding of what is required to be successful and what the market is looking for – you really would expect that…wouldn’t you?

Regrettably this doesn’t seem to be the case…


So what I have outlined below – in no particular order, and for those who live in a make believe land of Fairy Floss, Oompa Loompa’s and Talking (HR PufnStuf kinda) Trees - are 5 very basic Recruitment Career Killers.


  1. ‘I don’t want to do any sales’   Excuse me?…. Did I hear you correctly?  Don’t want to do Sales???  This is becoming a more and more common demand when speaking with prospective candidates.  The truth is Recruitment is a sales based industry.  If you don’t like it I suggest you find a role outside of the industry.  Sure, there are candidate only roles, but the ceiling for career advancement is very low.  And yes, there are the occasional Account Management roles, but these are very rare and believe me – you will still have to sell to hiring managers and organically grow the Account.
  2. ‘I’d like an Internal or In-house role’ Picture me burying my face in my hands and letting out a deep and guttural wail… I have nothing at all against internal roles, but Recruitment Consultants should be aware of these facts.
    1. If you wish to make the migration to an internal environment, do it when the world economy is more stable.  During times of economic uncertainty Corporates tend to downsize their internal recruitment function and outsource to agencies – so instead of this being a burgeoning market, in the current economic state of play it is shrinking…
    2. A desire to move to an internal/in-house environment is often perceived by the market as a gesture of a ‘burnt out’ Consultant.
    3. Internal Recruitment is not that easy!  You are measured on placement success, time to placement and you can not hide from your clients – ever!
    4. If you migrate to Internal/In-house and then look to return to agency recruitment at a later date, you will probably find that the agency world is not all that welcoming. A stint in-house does not necessarily look good on your cv.
  3. Short stints at many Agencies. Oh sure, there are always reasons for your short tenure – made redundant during GFC, management issues, the role wasn’t what was presented to me during interview, I moved for family reasons, blah, blah, blah…. And sure, our industry is notorious for turnover – I’ve often said that 1 year in recruitment roughly equates to the same as dogs’ years. So 2 years with the same employer is about 14 years of loyal service in most other industries….  Unfortunately, clients don’t see it the same way and may forgive 1, possibly even 2 strikes – but 3?
  4. ‘I will need to use a colleague as a referee.’  This one is probably more relevant to Consultants who have been in the industry for a number of years.  It both surprises and dismays me as to how often I come up against this one.  From a client’s perspective there is really no excuse for not being able to come up with 2 credible referees – and by that I mean managers you reported directly to, or clients you had a commercial relationship with.
  5. ‘I’m on $65,000 now, so I’ll want $80,000 to move.Wow!  You want a $15k increase in salary to move roles….  Let me ask you a question… Why do you deserve a 20% increase in your base salary, and are you really aware of what the market is paying?  The simple facts are that yes, there was a time pre- mid 2008 when a substantial increase in base salaries to move roles within recruitment was par for the course.  Agencies learnt a lot from the GFC and one of the most valuable lessons was that base salaries were over-inflated.  Consultants should be looking at their ability to earn and OTE, rather than base salary alone.


Recruitment is a very strange profession – no-one goes to school with the intention of being a recruiter when they grow up… And we really are setting the rules as we go along.  But to be honest it’s really not that difficult… Think about what you expect from your candidates – the transparency, honesty, realistic expectations, and understanding of their market.  Then, if you engage a rec-to-rec to help you secure your next opportunity, offer them the same courtesy…

Views: 1895

Comment by Cora Mae Lengeman on November 8, 2011 at 11:11am
I like this post. Hilarious that recruiters (or wanna be recruiters) really could be stupid enough to say - or even think - these things!
Comment by Tim Spagnola on November 8, 2011 at 2:58pm

I agree with you Cora. #3 is so true! I see it daily. Thanks for sharing Craig. I always enjoy reading your blog.

Comment by Darryl Dioso on November 9, 2011 at 10:27am

Recruitment is Sales - even "in-house" so #1 is shocking when you hear it.

Comment by FREYJA P. on November 9, 2011 at 10:35am

Thank God you didn't mention the one I always got - I want to be a Recruiter because I love working with people - sigh...

Comment by Melissa Zentgraf on November 9, 2011 at 10:36am

Wow....don't want to do sales in recruiting?  How do you think you are getting your candidate to leave their position?  Sales isn't my favorite thing either, but I've managed to make myself more comfortable with the process over time.  

Comment by Brian K. Johnston on November 9, 2011 at 10:37am

I enJOYed this post... Thanks for sharing... Annual salary (65k) looks like "monthly income" for some.... :)

Comment by Scott Gregor on November 9, 2011 at 1:44pm

I appreciate the posts by Craig and the comments above. All hold water and true as the day is long. I've worked on both sides of the fence before and couldn't agree more.....


Comment by Tracy TC on November 9, 2011 at 3:06pm

Definitely do NOT appreciate the "squeal like a little girl" comment.

Comment by Craig Watson on November 9, 2011 at 3:34pm

@Tracey - sorry If I offended Tracey, it wasn't my intention. Please take everything I say a little 'tongue in cheek'

Comment by Sandra McCartt on November 9, 2011 at 4:02pm

Oh come on Tracy, if Craig had said, "squeal like a little girl who just found a spider in her lunch box"  would you have squealed?  If you don't think little girls squeal i'll loan you some 8 year olds.  Maybe he should have said "squeal like a baby piglet".  Trust me it's the same sound.


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