Diamonds in the Rough - Not Candidates - Recruiters!!

I want to hear from you - really I do.  I want honest, blunt and clever feedback.


I am the Director of a smallish recruitment agency with major accounts and jobs rolling in the door - but that's not success. 


Success is:

a) FINDING great consultants and;

b) KEEPING them


I take responsibility for (b) and by and large we don't lose high performing consultants because we value them so highly - but we are small and I would love some fresh ideas on how to attract the right consultants in an overheated market.

To our way of thinking the right consultants are; persistent, honest, diligent, creative, energetic and like a glass of wine and a laugh on Friday afternoon.  We offer clarity on what market we serve, transparent and traceable bonus system, monthly RDO's, great client list and a collegiate working environment (amongst other tangibles).  But recruitment agencies basically do the same sort of work and I struggle with a unique employment value proposition that stands out from the crowd.


So over to you - I would love what hear what you look for in an agency employer and what makes one stand out from others.  Have you seen a company do something different and unique (and followed through)?  Have you worked with clients who have attraction strategies you have admired? 

Views: 382

Comment by Luke Collard on September 16, 2011 at 2:12am

Hi Petra - as a R2R I might be able to offer some help here. Firstly, it seems as though you have got the basics right in creating a good environment; but like you point out that is not necessarily a USP to attract consultants. My advice would be to look at these areas:

1. Create a job that is built around the individual . Not every consultant wants to do a 360 role. Some prefer to focus on service and others on sales. If it is possible to be flexible with individual responsibilities (and I appreciate in a smaller team it may not be) then you will attract consultants who want to focus on what they like and are good at.

2.Flexible packages. Similar to above, not everyone wil be attracted by the same things. Funnily enough money is not the key factor in a lot of recruiters I meet. If you can build a unique package based on what the individual wants, not just assume they want, then this will help. For example, if someone wants to study why not include an element of their package or bonus to pay for this.

3.Variety. It is difficult to offer much variety in recruitment because the service we offer is, in general, so generic (pardon the bad English there!). But if you can offer consultants the chance to be involved in projects or gain some wider commercial experience outside of their core job this will be an attractive proposition.

4. Look outside of the industry for talent. It is extremely difficult to poach consultants and often those that are on the market are there for a reason (ie they are not the best!). I would argue that an enthusiastic and intelligent individual with no recruitment experience will make a good consultant within 6 months (especially if your environment is as you say).

5. Attration strategy. Maybe as a smallish agency you are just not getting your message out toi a wide enough audience.The use of social media to build your brand may help as will engaging a good R2R who can represent your brand in the market.


Just some ideas that my clients have used to great effect in building their teams. Happy to discuss further if you want to drop me an email anytime -

Thanks - Luke




Comment by Betsy Park on September 16, 2011 at 11:42am

Hi Petra,

I have worked in this industry for over 7 years now, FOR ONE COMPANY...sounds crazy, right?? I can only offer you insight as to why I have stayed, what has worked for me with my organization. Firstly, I subscribe to the belief that, for the most part, all agencies do the same type of work, so if I am compensated fairly, treated well, and motivated by my organization, why would I leave to do the same thing, somehwhere else. That may be where I differ from most...

But, some reasons why I have stayed so long:

1. Flexibility with our Staffing- when I started here, we did quite a bit of Staffing in the Construction Industry, as the Market changed, we went to our GM and made a case for moving to Healthcare, he agreed and we have forged ahead and become a premier Healthcare Staffing Company for our Market. We have been given the tools to be successful and learn new industries as they become more prominent in our market.

2. Work Flexibility - Life gets in the way sometimes..appointments and such are not counted against our time. We are all salaried employees. If we have an appointment, we get internal approval (ie: we will be covered), we go, come back and work our regular day. As long as this policy is not abused, it makes everyones lives a lot easier --and being a new mom..extremely helpful.

3. Compensation Plan. Our compensation plan is very transparent, the bulk of my compensation is on salary, with a decent bonus/commission plan. With that, my boss has been known to give cash bonuses, tickets to sporting events, or "spa days" - whatever motivates you- on a job or client accomplishment. We are appreciated. That is huge.

I have seen a lot of turnover in our environment and industry; for us, it is about finding people that have the same motivation, and appreciate each other. None of our tenured Recruiters (myself included) came from the industry. We all have come from some sort of Sales, but not from Recruitment/Staffing....I wish you the best of luck in building your team.


Comment by Jenna Beeson on September 16, 2011 at 1:04pm

Hi Petra,

Like Betsy, I have worked with the same staffing firm (IT) for a long time - going on TEN years!  And as tempted as I have been during times of frustration to pursue another opportunity, I have remained committed due to the following reasons:


1 - Management has hands-on experience in IT and recruitment so they truly understand the issues I face and can offer valuable advice based on their personal experience and knowledge. I respect their direction and decisions because they have "been there, done that" and remained successful for 18 yrs


2 - The company values, appreciates and supports my talents, ideas and efforts. I was able to work autonomously from the get-go and after proving myself as a dedicated, high-producer, I was continuously given compensation increases and opportunity for growth.  I moved to a Director role 3 years ago and they have been more than supportive as I have fumbled my way through learning to be an effective manager and grasping concepts around strategic and financial goals.


3 - Flexibility.  This is HUGE.  They have always allowed me as much flexibility as I needed because they focused more on what I produced, rather than how I got there.  The key to allowing this flexiblity with your recruiter, though, is knowing that they possess a strong work ethic and drive so they will give you 110%, regardless. It is never questioned if I need to leave the office at 3pm to pick up my sick son because they can rest assured that I will stay up until midnight finishing anything that was left on my plate that day. 


4 - Small company mobility.  You can really sell many benefits of joining a smaller company because there is so much more agility than with a large corporation and the recruiter can gain such a broader range of experience and exposure.  I love that I have been able to gain knowledge and experience in ALL aspects of the business and also have influence on change - which we are continuously able to do based on our size. We can try new things without it being a major production - if it doesn't work, it is not that difficult to regroup and change direction.  I think that salaries can also be higher than your competitors because you aren't limited by the structure of pay grades and high overhead.   I have been approached by several large firms to come work for them, but no one has even come close to being able to offer me the salary that I currently am paid.  


The short answer of what keeps me from jumping ship is pay and flexibilty. Those two factors will keep me staying put for a long time!


Best of luck!



Comment by Samantha Lacey on September 19, 2011 at 9:16am
A friend of mine worked for Eden Brown in Manchester UK and found them to be a great employer. They were very focussed on keeping staff happy so you got free gym membership and an extra long lunch if you were going to the gym. The theory there was, people who exercise regularly will stay healthy and not need sick days. I have been with my company 18 months, we're an RPO so it's slightly different to an agency but the boss here cares. He's taking us away for the weekend this weekend as we hit a target earlier in the year. Little touches matter too, making a bit of a fuss when someone makes a big placement or exceeds targets is always appreciated. It's so important to ensure you show you value your staff. Lastly, one thing I have heard lately is "People join companies but leave managers" make sure those who have man management responsibilities are doing it properly. A poor manager will drive people away. I don't know how applicable all this is, but hopefully some of it helps.
Comment by Jacob S. Madsen on September 19, 2011 at 10:15am
Many really good comments here, and fundamentally it is about doing what is said and teached in best practice personnel/HR people management. I would phrase it like this, stay really close with your people, never let workload or distance get in the way, show you CARE and do it with more than words. Take a true interest in their lives, value and welcome their inputs and comments, and never stop saying that you appreciate their work/efforts and listen to those things that they say but also to what they do not say.


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