Like Life There Are No Guarantees In Recruitment

A professional recruitment consultant exposes the hard truth behind recruitment today.

Professional Recruitment Consulting is an unusual profession, it has a very low barrier to entry, a huge attrition rate, and to succeed you only need the most basic of academic qualifications. But these aren’t the problems recruiters face. The big issues faced by recruiters run deeper. Recruiters, business, and candidates all play a role in the problem and the solution which are integrity, accountability, and transparency. So where does one begin when tackling the recruitment problem. Let’s start with the basics.

Recruitment requires a strong personality, an extremely high intellect combined with the ability to be compassionate and empathetic when relating to people from all walks of life. Recruitment will richly present those who stick with it with more than a job. It will expose you to many cultures, build strength of character, and stretch you through challenges few outside the industry could appreciate.

One of my earliest mentors, James McHugh at K2Partners, said it best. “Recruitment is not rocket science. But you need to be a rocket scientist to be a good recruiter.”

I believe what James was trying to tell me at the time was that recruiters have to understand and manage many variables at once and balance them all with precision and skill to influence others to come to an agreement, often when they have conflicting agendas. Anyone who has negotiated a contract settlement or has been involved in litigation can appreciate the nuances associated with juggling the wants and needs of all the stakeholders.

To make a crude comparison, a rocket scientist has to think about; payload, velocity, fuel, acceleration, aerodynamics, rolls, pitch, air pressure and the thousands of little details that affect a mission outcome. In comparison, a recruiter has to take into account; technical, plus personality, skills and attributes, requirement objectives, culture, organisational fit, personality matching, environment, personal needs and wants, opportunity and progression, and like a rocket scientist, the list goes on and on.

Recruitment is not rocket science. But you need to be a rocket scientist to be a good recruiter.

To be absolutely honest, I think it might be easier to be a rocket scientist or a lawyer; at least the laws of the universe are fixed for a scientist and a lawyer has the laws of the land to guide them. For a recruiter managing key players and trying to come to consensus and make a decision, very often logic is simply tossed out the window. With everyone competing for the best deal, when things do go south the recruiter is left holding the bag.

In theory, it is a recruiter’s job to source a candidate, then manage the employer and candidate to a final decision, which is either to exit the process or realise an offer and acceptance. Simple, right? But the problem that often arises is that an external recruiter will often find themselves becoming involved in the employer’s ongoing business rather than just simply sourcing them talent as they need it. The process could not be further from simple, and because of over involvement in the business, everyone ends up blaming the recruiter when things go wrong and would rather pull out their own teeth than pay the fees they deserve for the work that they’ve done.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not the fault of the employer, or the candidate, or as I know many recruiters would like to think – Human Resources. I believe that it has simply been an organic evolution – a series of events that over the years have forced the profession to source new ways to justify value and remain competitive. This has taken the focus away from what we really do which is, source, introduce, and manage people and opportunity together. As a result all sorts of silly things have accrued, for example: 3 / 6 / 12 or 24 month recruiter guarantees. WOW! What a valuable promise. I personally have never offered a guarantee, no matter how long the period.

How can a recruiter take ownership over something they have absolutely no control. The decision to hire is exclusively in the hands of the employer. The recruiter plays no part whatsoever in the ongoing management of the employee so how can the recruiter be responsible for retention? It’s a vicious circle that when actioned only burns relationships. Therefore, at some point the employers and applicants have to take some accountability for their decisions.

I’ve always worked by the simple rule, that I will never approach an employee I have placed about new roles, while the company I placed them in continues to employ them. Further, should that person approach me to help them find a new job or role, no matter how long they have been with my client company, my primary objective has always been to attempt to retain them with that business through careful consultation.

On the flip side of the equation, I’m also an employer and so I understand the challenges faced by both recruiters and employers. For example, I know as an employer, if a recruiter came to me to represent an employee I wanted to retain and told me there was an issue, that they’ve consulted the employee to resolve it and briefed me on what I need to do to either retain or smooth the exit then I would be happy to pay the recruiter for that service. To me, that service is a more logical and valuable extension of the recruitment consultant rather than placing guarantees on what you have no control over.

I say it’s time to get back to what you do best, source, manage and introduce people and opportunity. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Instead, think of new services and ways you can interact with clients that actually add value. But as a professional recruiter, demand respect for what you do, hold your clients/employers and candidates accountable for the decisions they make. Above all, be transparent with everyone to ensure that you are really working towards a mutually beneficial solution with everyone’s best interest at heart.

If you can think of any other way we can change problems in the industry, please contribute to the conversation.

Happy hunting K.

Abstract Transformations is a Melbourne-based company helping graduates and professionals with Employment and Migration Solutions. Get in touch with our team today at or give us a call at +61 416 943 396. Our team of experts and Career Advocates help direct your career on the right track with solutions that are specifically curated to your needs.