When I first stepped (or more accurately fell) into recruitment 10 years ago, the agency that employed me said they were impressed with my sales background and that is why they hired me. I thought that was odd because recruitment is all about interviewing, matching candidates to clients and helping people find a job...isn't it?
I went on their induction course and it was full of people similar to me with no recruitment experience that had worked in telesales or had proven their ability to 'flog ice to the Eskimos'. The course was supposed to teach a rookie everything that they needed to know about recruitment, "Recruitment 101" if you will. But after 4 days, all that had been spoken about was selling - how to do it and how much you needed to do to become a great recruiter. I remember feeling a bit disappointed; if this was all there was to recruitment what was really different from wearing a headphone in a call centre selling credit cards.
Before I go further let me set my stall out on where I sit on this topic. I loathe sales people who do not have any quality to what they do, and that goes the same for recruitment. If I am buying a house I want the estate agents to help me, not just throw enough options at me and hope one of them sticks. In the same way, a 'sales gun' who does not deliver is not a proper recruiter, just a sales person working in recruitment. That being said, building relationships is absolutely crucial to being a good recruiter and every relationship starts with some sort of pitch. Someone who is not prepared to pick up the phone or introduce themselves at a networking event is as ineffective as the 'sales gun'. The obvious answer, and nothing ground breaking here, is that a good recruiter is a combination of a lot of different things.
Fast forward 10 years. After working for agencies that include the good, the bad and the ugly (and reinventing myself a few times along the way), I am now working in Rec2Rec. I have a front row view of our industry and often get an alternative insight than the corporate blurb that a company’s website offers, or the positive press releases and social media updates that are put out. One thing that I am finding is that the desire for 'a sales gun' remains very much at the top of an agencies wish list of requirements in a new hire. Nothing wrong with that, other than this is sometimes the only requirement and the interview process does little more than explore their ability to sell.
It is obvious that the recruitment industry has gone a long way over time to improve its image. The message to clients and candidates is now far more focused on delivering quality and adding value than it used to be. But whilst this is the public message that we all sing in chorus, is this genuinely at the heart of what drives some agencies? I am afraid that some agencies are still essentially sales driven cultures disguised with a bit of trimming for image.
Quiz time : If you were presented with 2 candidates, one a 'sales gun' and one a 'service gun', with all other things being equal, which one would you go for?
Answers on a postcard....