Recruiters – Are we all the same?

by Lucy Watts on August 9, 2012


The other half and I recently visited the bank to discuss mortgage options after deciding the time was right to buy our first home together, or as he so romantically put it “the market conditions are right for us to consolidate” (Yep, I’m a lucky lady, Ana Steele eat your heart out!) and I was asked the question I used to dread….what I did for a living….so with nothing to lose, I told him, after all, he was a banker!

For those who have only ever had the candidate experience of a recruiter, the atypical response to this is “Oh so you find people jobs”, the tone dictated by whether or not they had a positive experience, however for those who have been on the receiving end of a recruitment sales pitch, the reaction is somewhat different.

So what makes potential clients audibly gag when they hear the words “personnel” or “recruitment” as they realise one of us has slipped passed the gatekeeper? One reason could be that they believe the common misconception that recruiters provide a valueless middle-man service used only by lazy employers (currently the UK Recruitment industry is valued at c£25bn #justsaying). The reality is that most recruitment consultants out there aren’t “consultants” at all; they’re salespeople who quite simply promise prospects the earth and more, with no preparation and no prior knowledge of the organisation they’re targeting, at a cheaper price than they are currently paying which the caller hasn’t actually identified!

In candid chats with prospects when trying to obtain feedback on the performance of my direct sales team, many remarked that the statements below instantly turn them off from any cold-caller;

“We’re different.” (to what? What is your genuine USP?)

“We understand your business” (How? This is the first time we’ve spoken, you might know a bit about my industry, but not my business)

“We can do it cheaper than your current supplier” (This is the best…you don’t know what I’m paying or what I get for my money so good luck quoting!)

“We specialise in Technical/IT/Management/Sales/Brain surgeons *use as appropriate for whoever you’re targeting! (Jack of all trades, master of none, one quick look at your website will tell me what you’re really all about!)

These were only a selection of the trite and cringe worthy statements stacked with meaningless hyperbole that my peers (and most certainly me at some point) use.  However, in a recent REC survey when asked to compare recruitment consultants with other occupations in terms of their perceived professionalism, over 1000 working-age individuals ranked recruiters more highly than;

  • Journalists (32%)…thank the lord given recent scandals,
  • Politicians (34%)…ditto and then some
  • Estate agents (39%)…result!

So some of us must be doing something right somewhere (again, I refer you to the c£25bn!)…during the same feedback sessions I asked clients and prospects what they like to hear from good recruiters and what makes them seriously consider any would-be supplier and they only too happily responded with;

  • Don’t be over familiar, at this stage I’m not looking for a mate, I’m looking for a professional – All too often recruiters let themselves down and reinforce the recruitment wide-boy stereotypes on the phone by feigning enthusiasm about the personal wellbeing or the weekend antics of the person on the end of they have never met before…this style negates anything worthwhile you actually might have to say!
  • Demonstrate to me that you know something relevant about my business right now – Google alerts, business pages online, website at the very least will tell you something salient and will make you stand out from the other 10 callers that day.
  • If you haven’t got a genuinely good reason to pick up the phone, don’t do it! – Key direction I give my teams, if you cannot present something on a call that the prospect (not you!) thinks has some value, meaning or relevance to them then save your energy and find something. KIT calls and catch ups leave the caller at best indifferent to you or at worst cause you damage and do not kid yourself that 12 months’ worth of KIT calls is a “relationship”
  • Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it – If you agree to stay in contact on a monthly basis, just do that, respect what the prospect is telling you. If get so far on a call where you agree some follow up actions, just do them, on time, as agreed. Simples.

Now I am by no means saying that these things are the key to 100% success rates on cold calling, but keep these golden rules in mind as you prep for a day’s canvassing and you’ll soon see faster results and your own level of credibility will grow. Happy Canvassing!

Lucy Watts

Lucy Watts is the Sales and Contracts Manager at Stafforce Personnel, leading the company on sales strategy and new business development across the Stafforce family of brands, including Stafforce Recruitment, Relay Recruitment, TEK Personnel Consultants, Nicholas Associates, Action 4 Business and CenFRA (Centre for Robotics and Automation) Follow Lucy on Twitter, read the Stafforce blog and connect to Lucy via LinkedIn.


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