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What is it like working as a recruitment consultant? (Part 2)

Welcome to part two of my three-part article on working as a recruitment consultant. In this article, I hope to address some of the mistruths and misconceptions working with recruitment companies. The first point, which is pretty controversial is about the fees charged; is recruitment overpriced?

Part 2 – The Mistruths and misconceptions working with recruitment companies   


In short, it depends! The first question I will ask my client is how serious are you about placing this role and how crucial is this role to the success of the business? If the answer is that is very important, I will advise them not to cut any corners. The main problem working with recruitment companies is the fees are a representation of all of the times that they have worked for free and need to cover costs. If recruitment consultant companies could place every role, I doubt the fees would be higher than 10% of the annual packages of candidates.

The solution is not simple but in essence, as a client you are paying for time, if you retain my services then you have my undivided attention, if you don’t there is a limit to the time I can spend on an assignment. I will sit with my clients and explain step by step how I can solve their hiring challenge and if this is something that they want I explain my fees. If the client asks for discounts, I try to work with them to understand why my fees are set at the level they are. A great thing about working at a smaller boutique recruitment consultant company is I can be more flexible to my client’s needs so things like credit terms, split payments, etc. can all be negotiated.

If a client is not willing to work in partnership with me and just wants me to serve their need then the level of service will of course be different. The risk associated with the business is, I may not place this role, so I then need to work on roles with more chances of success, which means I need to spend more time on the road meeting my clients. This is turn means I have less time to conduct my search.

Should a client want 4 profiles by the end of the day and you provide them to the client and that’s it then recruitment is very overpriced but that is not often the case. Sometimes clients forget how much work goes into a recruitment assignment, the number of times you have contact with a candidate, the admin, the organization of meetings, interviews, the sensitivity of handling candidate emotions surrounding resignation and the list goes on. If the recruitment consultant handles a process from A to Z, Z being the successful passing of probation then the fee is fair.

Expertise and Specialism

Speaking about expertise now, I would say that if a recruiter is a specialist in their field, they should be able to explain very clearly what the market is like at any given moment. Being a specialist doesn’t mean that a recruiter can give you a shortlist in 48 hours of the best candidates but they should be able to tell you who they are targeting. Here are a few facts:

  1. In life relationships take time to build; recruitment is no different
  2. The best talent will not move easily
  3. It takes time to convince and persuade the best to consider a move
  4. Sometimes candidates are very happy at their company

I will always be honest with my clients, if I think I can solve their recruitment challenge quickly I will say so, If I think it will take longer, I will explain why. There are many recruiters who say that they are specialists but in reality, there aren’t that many.

Recruiters don’t care about clients just the fees

This couldn’t be further from the truth. The feeling that a client will be disappointed in the work that I produce used to keep me awake at night. I am proud to be a recruiter!! When I walk into a corporate building to meet one of the company’s leaders I always think of where I started as a simple working-class man from Liverpool. I appreciate every assignment I work on and the relationships I develop with my clients.

I love solving complex hiring challenges. I treat every assignment like a jigsaw puzzle, how can I find the pieces that fit the gap well. Sometimes the best candidate is not the best candidate for a specific role. Sometimes the more experienced candidate can be trumped by potential. Sometimes the cheapest candidate is the strongest option. Sometimes you have to negotiate your pants off to get the best person. You always need to think of plans A, B, C, D, and E. This care and attention take a lot of energy and if a client understands me well, they can see the effort I put into helping them.

Recruitment Consultants always “ghost” candidates

This does unfortunately happen and there are many reasons why this happens. In my opinion, there are 2 main factors:

  1. A recruitment consultant has a very high financial target and often they are behind that target, therefore they are always working to find that next candidate to fit their role; they simply forget.
  2. The client has ghosted the recruitment consultant, the recruiter has no news and doesn’t want to disappoint the candidate.

It is important to always inform your candidates of a process. If the client is considering candidates from another recruitment company, tell your candidate. As a recruitment consultant, I am representing my candidate and if I treat this candidate poorly on one assignment then they will not trust me on the next one. Relationships with candidates are equally as important as the relationships with clients.

Recruiters only do half a job

Some do but the ones that do don’t last very long in the business; it is not a 9-5 role to be a recruitment consultant. I often have to spend my evenings and weekends talking to people, answering emails, and finalizing projects and I do not get paid more to do this. Overtime in recruitment is life! If you are not willing to go that extra mile you will not place the job; it really is that simple.

Recruitment is easy

This annoys me so much when I hear this. A recruitment consultant is one of the most complex roles that you can do. Not only do you need to understand a business that you do not work in day to day, but you also need to learn the cultural sensitivities of an organization. Then you must not only match a candidate’s skill set against the role but you must understand if that person is a good fit for the company. You must be conscious of internal politics between leadership and HR and work with both parties to find solutions. You must then balance many plates to ensure the deal happens whilst ultimately not having control of the final outcome. It can be very stressful when it goes wrong and it often does.


In part 3, I will explain, in my opinion, how clients and candidates can work better with recruiters.