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Show me the money…

October 12, 2010

So you have got the job offer, you have celebrated with your friends, the new role seems to have everything you want, better prospects, better salary, even a desk with a sea view.  All you have left to do is write the letter and hand in your notice.

The irrational fear kicks in, handing in your notice can be terrifying The last time I did it I managed to recreate my line manager in my mind to being a cross between The Gruffalo and Predator, instead of the perfectly lovely lady I had worked side by side with for four years.

But when you finally get the nerve to enter the office and say the infamous line ‘can I have a word please; in private’ to your manager and share the news that you are heading off to pastures new it can be a real spanner in the works when they suddenly offer you more money to stay.

 Counter offers are delightfully flattering and often extremely tempting; and from a recruiters perspective a right pain in the backside.  However as a recruiter I have seen some great candidates accept counter offers to only appear back on the market 3 to 6 months later as nothing else barr their salary has changed.

 Not many of us would work for free, however money tends not to be our main motivating factor.  Should you find yourself in the fortunate position of having a new job and your employer offering more money to stay then consider the following:

Why were you looking for a new role initially? Was it salary driven or because of a desire to progress, new challenge, or plain old boredom…. 

Why did you have to “throw your toys out” by handing in your notice in order for your manager to increase your salary?

 Will your new salary effectively price you out of the market, so if you return to the job hunt in a few months will your earnings be so inflated they can’t be matched by a new employer for your level of role?

 Does your current role satisfy you in the way you hope your new role will?

 Can you put a price on job satisfaction?

 Only accept a counter offer if the reason you are leaving has been corrected if not you could find yourself a few quid better off but not necessarily any happier….

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Sleeping with the enemy

September 14, 2010

I had a bad case of bloggers block today, so I threw it out to my twitter colleagues and asked what people wanted to read from a recruiter.  One comment back was…

’why should recruiters network with their peers?’

What!?!?!

A recruiter talk to another recruiter?

Go to a networking event consisting only of recruiters?

But then I started to see the benefits,

By speaking to other recruiters and networking with them I can then gain access to their clients and their contacts on different social media platforms and poach them and then they will recruit from me and me alone and I can run off into the distance clutching my wads of cash in each of my greedy little palms.

You may laugh (I am taking a gamble here and hoping you realise that I am joking) but many a recruiter has approached me in the past asking if I know how to protect their linked in contacts as they don’t want the competition seeing who they are dealing with.  I have also seen recruiters completely ignore each other at networking events as they are focused (and targeted on) gaining new prey for their cold calls.  I once approached an IT recruiter at a network event as I was looking for an IT contractor to work with the recruitment company I work in and we were having a chat when he said ‘Well I’d love to keep talking but we are no use to each other so do you want to work one side of the room and me the other?’  He didn’t get my business and even worse he didn’t know he had missed it!

Since my small steps in social media recruiting I have been lucky enough to find a network of peers, both agency recruiters and in house recruiters, and when they are not off pitching tents, surfing and drinking Sambuca they have provided me with fantastic tips for social media, outstanding industry news and have improved my skills as a recruiter.  I even network daily with a recruiter who could be seen as a competitor and so far he has proven to be my biggest help and advocate as I continue to try and learn the different ways one can use social media as a business tool.

For all it is worth I think recruiters should network with their peers for a massive variety of reasons.  We can learn skills from each other and help improve our market reputation from the inside out.  For me it is a huge benefit to be able to tap into the expertise of other recruiters and can only serve as a means for me to become better at what I do.   As an agency recruiter networking with in-house recruiters allows the obvious to potentially happen, but also both sides can add value to a recruitment process by discussing industry trends, recruitment styles that work and market knowledge.  The recruiters I network with frequently offline have helped me build a desk through client sharing and I have a network of people I can refer candidates to when the roles I am working on aren’t suitable for them.   Together we can share best practice trends that can in turn create a better recruitment industry.

On a final note, another reason to network with your peers in this role is misery loves company, when I have had ‘one of those’ days, only a recruiter can offer appropriate commiseration and I know they are speaking the truth when they said they have been there too!  It’s a tough job at times.

So I hope I have answered the question well enough, for anyone else who wants to read about something different from a recruitment consultant please leave a comment and I will do my best! 

May have to change my blog name to Challenge Blackmore Blog…

Do we blame the recruiter, the training or the client?

September 5, 2010

I spend a lot of time bleating on about how I feel the recruitment market is a little down trodden to say the least. In fact this week when I introduced myself and my profession to someone they had the good nature to respond “recruiter eh? You guys are normally the spawn of the devil.”.

Nice – and me a lady as well!

Any recruiter reading this will tell you that we hear ‘you are all the same’ and ‘you all say that’ more times that there is brimstone in hell.  So how have we generated our reputation? Is it completely our fault?

A lot of the time yes.

The industry tends to recruit cheap young go getters who will work long hours and sell, sell, sell. Training tends to consist of sessions on how to sell and generate business and it also tends to be short-lived and very intense. 

Where most (but not all) recruitment companies let themselves down is they create people who can sell but can’t recruit. It is fantastic if someone can go out, pitch the business, blind the client with USPs and return back to the office with an exclusive assignment; however it all goes pear shaped if they haven’t worked on the job spec with the client, managed expectations, created a timeline and most importantly understood the business and the type of individual needed. 

Let me give you an example.  In my first few months in recruitment I sold aggressively and could convince clients to give me exclusive roles and their commitment however as I didn’t understand business (hey I was only a youngster) I failed to add any value when it came to doing the role itself – I couldn’t find the right people as I didn’t know what I was looking for.  I was trained to sell but not to understand people, motivations and most crucially the business world.  As I have spoken about before I didn’t start off as a great recruiter but now I am comfortable with my ability to work together with a business to find people who fit their culture.  The salesperson in me has become much quieter but a better consultant has emerged. (Well I think so – my clients hopefully agree)

On the flip side…..

I do feel recruiters get a bad rep when often clients look to put unrealistic expectations upon us.  I am often asked for my best 3 CV’s by the close of play that day.  This is not giving a client any value for money, my best CV’s that day may pale in comparison to the people I can source if the client gives time to the process and makes me work for every penny.  Recruitment is not cheap (ask any client or in house recruiter) so as a business recruiting I would advise that you pay for the service you receive rather than the expectation of the candidates. 

Make your recruiters work for their fee, make them interview on your behalf, ask them  if they do use competency based structures, work with them to ensure they understand your business so minimal time is wasted.  Yet importantly give them time to do their job well – it’s an oldie but a goodie ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day!’ 

A good recruiter should be working all angles to find their client’s good people by using traditional means and also our new channels, twitter, linked in, etc.  Social media allows us lucky recruitment consultants to find people quickly but the interview process remains the same and that takes time. 

Hmmm today’s blog seems to have ended up with my size sevens firmly planted on my soapbox again, in summary if you are a client using several agencies to try and find one candidate I would argue that you are either looking for the invisible man or you have not found an agency you can trust yet.  Likewise if you are a recruiter who is wowing clients at first meeting but failing to deliver go back to the start – look at the job and the business you are recruiting for, do you understand it and them?

Thanks for reading, any comments welcome…..

The art of interviewing and candidate briefing

August 30, 2010

When you have worked in recruitment for far too long it becomes easy to become complacent about what you think is obvious to others. By this I mean it becomes easy to assume that people know what they are doing in an interview. When I was in my younger days although I was less skilled as a recruiter I was blooming brilliant at briefing applicants for interviews as I presumed that everyone knew nothing. However I imagine some candidates left my interviews feeling very patronised as their experience far outweighed my own.

Now after interviewing approx three and a half thousand people I can occasionally be accused of offering little advice to help people as the way I recruit now means I ask all candidates to prepare and research the role they have applied for before we meet and the way they come across in the interview will help me decide whether they go forward to my client. I also know after interviewing such a great volume of people that it is easy to spot when someone is ‘winging it’ and when someone has really prepared for the meeting.

With this in mind there is a fine line between helping a candidate prepare for an interview and briefing the living daylights out of them. I remember once going for an interview and a Rec2Rec agent sending me a list of things that I had to say in the interview to get the job. (I didn’t say them and didn’t get the job either!) I have clients who are very wary about the info they give to recruiters re: the interview stages in case they spoon feed their candidates in order to get a fee. For me I want my candidates to do well in their interviews but most importantly I want both the client and the candidate to be right for each other and for it to be a long term career match, hence increasing my chances of getting repeat business and retaining a strong relationship with the candidate. Over briefing a candidate can ensure a fantastic interview and a very quick rebate.

I met an excellent sales candidate recently who had a great CV, and was thoroughly charming but rubbish at competency interviewing. We spoke about this at length and he was utterly candid and said as he had only had two roles in his career interviews terrified him and his least favourite style of interviewing was competency interviews. So to anyone on the job market right now I offer the following advice:

 • Dress to impress – but leave the flashy ties at home. Plain shirt, smart suit – make the lasting memory be of you not something odd that you were wearing.

• Treat a recruiter like a business – we don’t like hearing the phrase ‘well you are only the agency’.

 • Research the client, the competitors’, find their social media history and read their linked in profiles.

• Prepare questions and take them into the interview – make them intelligent and relevant.

• Don’t smoke, eat garlic, or put anything in your mouth that can lead to offensive breath.

• Stand up to greet the interviewer and give a firm handshake.

• Ensure your social media profile is up to date – it will be checked.

 • Don’t lie on your CV or in the interview.

• Tell the employer you are interested in the role and why.

• For competency based interviews remember the following

o S – situation – describe what is asked of you?

o T – Task – Explain the task you had to undertake?

 o A – Action – what did you do?

 o R – results – what did you achieve?

• Keep your answers concise – if you can’t remember the question you are probably rambling.

• Try to smile and relax – an interview is just a conversation about you.

The recruiter is a link in the chain to getting the job. When you are interviewed by an agency act as if you would in front of their client as this is the only way they will put you forward. It is fine for a recruiter to share advice and tips but if you need to direct your candidate and start giving them interview answers they are probably not right for the role.

Again for people not interested in recruitment at all but find yourself on this blog, I made a lovely blackberry and pear crumble today all from pears and blackberries picked by children’s hands; should you wish to know the recipe do exactly as I did and Google it! Plus when I say ‘I made’ what I should say is I got the recipe and husband and children followed it to a tee.

The Honest Truth

August 26, 2010

I had a baby recently; with that in mind I may have gained a few extra pounds which has taken me out of my normal clothing size into one I would rather not divulge at this time.  Recently I saw a top online and tried to order it via the phone, the very kind and brutally honest saleswoman explained that it does not come in such a large size and she couldn’t help me (serves me right for trying to buy designer when I should stick with the high street).  Although the message was delivered slightly harder than needed what I liked about this lady is she didn’t do any of the following:

  • Take up 10 minutes of my life trying to tell me the top would never fit in a subtle way
  • Tell me she would check to see if they had it in my size and call me back (then not bother)
  • Pretend she had my size and then never send it

I hope you see where I am going with this, candidate service is at the core of what we do as recruiters and most candidates just want to know the truth and quickly; most are big enough to deal with rejection if that is the case.  If the feedback isn’t good news all a recruiter does by delaying it is create false hope which quite frankly is mean.  I have heard and seen so many poor recruiters promise they will call back when a candidate has called in regarding a role and then never do so. I also know when of the main reasons our industry has such a poor reputation is for the way it treats people on the market and even more so through the recession.

So the fact is as recruiters we can’t help everyone, in a candidate heavy market as we have currently it makes it nigh on impossible to send a personal email to everyone that applies for a role.  Some of the roles I have dealt with in the last year have invited over 500 applicants, now I promise you I read every CV that hits my inbox but I have to make my decision from the CV so my advice to the jobseeker is make yourself stand out, then we can talk and then we can meet. 

For my industry I throw out the challenge:

  • Take calls if people take the time to call you
  • Tell people if you can’t help them – the truth may smart but people will prefer to know
  • Give feedback when you get it, for most people the waiting is more painful than knowing they have not been successful
  • Offer advice to both those you can and can’t help – you are a consultant, so consult.
  • If you can’t acknowledge every CV individually then create a useful automated response which stands out.

It’s that old famous line that your mum drummed into you – ‘treat others as you would want to be treated yourself!’

Blackmore’s final thought:

A friend of mine proofed this for me and asked if I was worried about competitors reading it and picking up tips.  In my opinion nothing I have spoken about is anything more than common courtesy and if more recruiters did the more my career choice would be respected and I could finally say the promised words with head held high:

“My name is Jane and I am a recruitment consultant”

Anyway I am climbing down off my soap box to go cuddle the baby the cause of my excess weight and this blog! Just so you know she is worth every extra pound (ahhhhhhhhh)

Why do we have a bad rep?

August 23, 2010

It always makes me happier when I am at networking group or out for the night if there is an estate agent present, (apologies to any estate agents reading) however their reputation is pretty much as bad as ours!  In saying that a dear friend of mine is an estate agent and when we first met he asked me if I had failed in a career as an estate agent and then turned to recruitment.   (I didn’t by the way, I used to work with autistic kids before I got this gig but that’s a whole different blog)

However following years of being a recruiter and after knowing a few estate agents I feel confident saying that both industries probably deserve their poor reputation but as always there are a significant amount of good recruiters and good estate agents.  Plus I have a confession to make.  I wasn’t always an ethical recruiter; I was once a really naive recruiter. 

When I graduated armed with my degree in American Literature I discovered that there are no jobs in American Literature so I turned to recruitment as being a rubbish cook meant I couldn’t pursue a career as a chef either. I am ashamed to say that I didn’t even know recruitment was in some parts a sales role and didn’t have a clue what OTE meant.  After a 2 day intensive training course I hit the phones and here I must apologize.

I am sorry numerous M.D’s and S.D’s of companies of all shapes and sizes for inundating you with cold calls, I sincerely apologize for presuming to know your business when quite frankly I didn’t have a clue.  I didn’t even have the internet so really didn’t have a clue what your company did.  My only redemption is my harsh induction into recruitment forced me to realize that there must be a better way to do my job and  that calling 80 companies a day wasn’t consulting it was harassment.

Our industry has evolved but still not to the level it needs to, we need to be regulated to have guidelines to prevent poorly educated recruiters falling onto the phones.  We need to focus on the consultant part of the recruiter rather than selling all the time.

For those of you reading grimacing thinking you may have been victim to one of my awful cold calls 10 years ago take comfort in the fact that I received this call this morning:

Me: ‘hello’

Headhunter (we have spoken before she calls me about every 2 months, I don’t think she remembers the calls): Morning Jane, I have a cracking opportunity to speak to you about, perfect for your background and a great company to for you’

(I am excited at this point – sounds good doesn’t it!)

 Headhunter: The role is for a recruitment consultant to run an engineering desk for a leading company in the city, its long hours but excellent OTE with good prospects for management in a couple of years and a really social company who work hard play hard (and then she actually said) sounds good doesn’t it!

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, I have a profile on LinkedIn, a twitter page, a blurb about me on my company homepage,  but to keep it brief I did engineering recruitment for 4 months in 1998, I work locally in Berkshire because I have 3 children and because of said 3 children my play hard days unfortunately seem to have fallen away a little.  Plus I have been managing for a good few years now!

So I think this recruiter exists to remind me of my days as a bad recruiter and she is my punishment!

And I think I have answered my own question as to why recruiters have a bad rep!

Yet with social media making such an impact will this force the industry to raise their game?  It only takes a tweet to comment on an agencies poor practice and it is recorded forever in our online history.  I am intrigued to watch this develop it can only lead to good things as the recruitment worlds is forced to raise their game.

Again if you have no interest in recruitment but keen to know how my cooking skills are developing take note of this tip.  When baking Yorkshire puddings use at least 3-4 eggs – makes those beauties rise like no ones business!

Hello world – here we go

August 18, 2010

Here goes, I am reaching my toe into this blogging stream as part of my continuing journey into social media.  I should tell you first and foremost I am a recruiter, (I am also a mum, runner, northerner and excellent lemon posset maker) but most people seem to get stuck on the recruiter bit. 

However don’t panic; by reading my blog you don’t sign up for endless cold calls, I dislike doing them as much as you like getting them so I tend not to do it.  Nor do you sign up for lots of irrelevant calls about irrelevant jobs, I like to get to know people before I make an assumption about their career choices.

I am however quite passionate about all that I do and that includes the recruiter part, and I would love to get my industry to have a reputation that would enable me to proudly say ‘My name is Jane and I am a recruiter’ – but lets move on one blog at a time.

So why I have chosen to join the social media world?  It fascinates me, sites like twitter, facebook, linked in represent the future for many industries including my own, and hence I would like to evolve albeit this could be a tough one for a massive technophobe such as me.  My first recruitment role involved a desk, a phone and Yellow Pages.  No PC’s for this consultant and monster was still a scary thing that lurks under children’s bed,  Twitter was something birds did and facebook – well that wasn’t even a word.  I could only find candidates via adverts in Job Opportunities and word of mouth and I kept their notes in a folder under my desk. 

Clearly the world has shifted in the last ten years and from both a professional viewpoint and a personal one I am keen to see where this journey in social media will lead us.  I have also been a quiet fan of sites like Twitter but have only recently started to fully explore its capabilities and I am very open to hints and tips, my followers would probably say I am in desperate need of them.

Already by 7am most mornings I am more informed on what is going on in the world I have picked up fantastic industry news and tips from leading experts and I have met some great people both in my marketplace and outside of it.  The only downside is my husband is threatening to leave me after her DM me asking what was for tea in order to get a response.  Whether twitter ever leads directly to a business deal is irrelevant as I am already better at my job just for the information I have at my finger tips, I can consult my clients more effectively as I have more of a finger on the pulse.

Yesterday showed me the real power of twitter, did 17 year old James Cunningham wake up yesterday morning thinking that today he would be having a direct twitter conversation with Stephen Fry regarding his 3% twifficiency score?

So in short I am blogging because I am excited to be part of this and I hope this blog will be of interest somewhere down the line, but be patient I am still learning……..

Now for those who don’t care about the recruiter part but are fascinated to hear more about my lemon posset please DM for the recipe.

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