Recruiting is a highly competitive sport. All external recruiters reach for the top, hoping to become finally recognized as a Gold Recruiter.

Recruiting is probably not much of a team sport, based on my observations from a corporate HR desk. Perhaps it is a function of the general reward system, with commissions linked to placement. Perform well and you get paid well.

The competition suggests there are a lot of recruiters. Entry levels are relatively low. This is evident from the varied background, which I don’t believe is necessarily a bad thing. Though I do wonder sometimes about the core competency, which I would see as assessment skills, rather than sales skills.

So what makes you a Gold Recruiter?

Using our sport analogy, it may be worthwhile to apply an Olympics ranking. For clarification purposes, this ranking refers to your relationship with a specific company, rather than your overall rating, which may be determined by your client base, your track record, your size of business and various other factors.

Qualifier: You are a contingent recruiter, chasing jobs and trying to match candidates with companies. Often at this level you are getting the tough assignments as companies may test your ability to fill difficult roles. There is a lot of churn at this level. From a sport perspective, this is the equivalent of racewalking. Everyone thinks they can do it, but it is hard work.

Bronze: You have started a relationship with a company and have a retained assignment. Once you have done a few placements you may move up to the next level. But you are only as good as your last assignment. As you are running a marathon, you need to run from water point to water point, making sure you pace yourself.

Silver: You are a trusted advisor and are regarded as a preferred supplier. Though you may be on a panel, you tend to be used for specific functional roles e.g. Sales, IT or Finance. You get regular business from the client. Racing is much faster and harder, as you try and improve your times for the one-mile.

Gold: Well done. You are the only external recruiter in the business. The model could be an outsourced service provider, or you have finally succeeded to be the only external recruiter in the business. No more sales calls, just serious business as you source great talent for your client. And you are running the prime 100 meter race in record time!

A few observations.

I am always amazed why any company would play lotto with the important function of recruitment. Imagine you are telling the MD: “We decided to buy your travel ticket over the Internet and you are flying to the Olympics on this unknown airline, but we have no idea whether you will get there on time”. Talk about a career-limiting move!

There is a huge business cost in dealing with a large number of recruiters. In one of my previous companies, we were dealing with more than twenty recruiting companies! Every week I would meet with a recruiter, either updating them on the business, or worse, having to explain the business to a new recruiter. Only one recruiter was willing to invest a full day to travel to some manufacturing sites to see how we make carpet.

Every recruiter should strive for at least one Gold medal, and if you are really competitive, once you have achieved the top, you will treasure the satisfaction of being truly a business partner, working hard to achieve your next Gold!

Views: 127

Comment by Hassan Rizwan on October 16, 2009 at 7:44am
Couldn't be a better explanation to this game of recruitment. Yes all the cost that is invested counts. Its better to put your money once and in the right channel. The two principles that determine the quality of the recruiters are:
1. How well they understand the business?
2. How quickly and promptly can they produce results.
Remember, it is a marathon and recruiters need to be at least experts to serve their clients.
Comment by Charles Van Heerden on October 16, 2009 at 6:00pm
Thanks Sandra, we would make great music! And Hassan, save $$$ in the process. Looking forward to a better economy and better business models.
Comment by Andrew Hermiston on October 20, 2009 at 12:16pm
Can you please speak to all the IT clients in Canada and ask them to forget about "Vendor Managed Services" and multiple vendor's lists? Seriously, I hate the practice of sending requirements to more than 3 vendors. What a huge waste of time for all involved! We pass on these and only work towards the gold relationships you have outlined. Couldn't agree more with your post! Well said!!!
Comment by Charles Van Heerden on October 20, 2009 at 5:58pm
Andrew, the sad reality is many clients don't know better and it will be the difficult job of recruiters like you to show them the light. Having worked in IT for many years in New Zealand, I wonder if "open source" is not taken too far! Recruiting is a relationship business and many companies will eventually realize it is not just another service. Good luck with building gold relationships.


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