A Recruiter’s Gotta Do What a Recruiter’s Gotta Do
A Recruiter’s Gotta Do What a Recruiter’s Gotta Do
So many times when I speak to recruiters, they tell me they would like to get more business development (BD) calls done, but they just don’t have time.
A key reason for not feeling able to find the time for BD calls is having lots of jobs on – ‘and you have to prioritise your existing customers, don’t you?’
The recruitment rollercoaster
Do you find that there are times when you have so many live vacancies that you don’t know how you’re going to cope with them all, and then a few weeks later it all goes quiet and you worry about how you’re going to hit your target?
I have seen consultants struggling with exactly this kind of problem time and again, and one of the things I often do with them is to ask some questions.
Where does their business come from?
Some recruiters ‘inherit’ their clients or are ‘given’ vacancies to work on by colleagues. In one way, this is incredibly lucky, as someone else has done the BD for you. In another way, however, this can be a disaster. You have no control over what business you are going to get, and your ability to hit your targets relies to a pretty large extent on someone else.
If you have relied on other people to do your business development up until now, have you considered taking back an element of control?
This is the perfect market to do just that. Every time you interview a superstar candidate who you might call (as we did when I started in recruitment over 20 years ago) a ‘walking placement’, why not pick up the phone and market that candidate to some prospect companies and generate your own business. Good people are in high demand and short supply. Make it a standard part of the candidate registration process.
When I first started working with a high street agency many years ago, it was compulsory to make five candidate marketing calls on EVERY candidate you registered, and for the star candidates, you were supposed to make ten. – Believe me, it works. Only making candidate marketing calls, I tripled my temp desk in just a few months when I worked for a London branch of a High Street recruiter.
Get some clients of your own, and don’t be reliant on someone else!
How many BD calls have they been making?
If a consultant is responsible for generating all their own business and has a desk that is in danger of developing tumbleweed, I look at how many BD calls they have been making, and when. Chances are, the reason their desk is quiet now is that this time a few weeks ago they weren’t making any BD calls ‘because they were too busy’.
Typically, when consultants have lots of vacancies, another excuse in addition to being too busy to make the calls is: “what’s the point of doing BD when I can’t cope with the number of vacancies I already have on? I don’t want any more jobs to work on right now”.
This doesn’t make sense to me.
You may not want any more jobs right now, but what about in a few weeks’ time? Realistically – how often do you make BD calls and pick up a job with every call? BD calls are about relationship building, information gathering, and positioning yourself as a trusted advisor in regular contact so that when the client has a need, you are the person they call.
And if you do pick up a vacancy, what’s the problem?
As recruiters, we need to qualify and prioritise our clients. If you are working lots of vacancies where you are one of many agencies, and have agreed discounted fees, a lot of the work you are doing could come to nothing. If you make a BD call and secure a vacancy at full fee, on an exclusive basis, are you honestly telling me you wouldn’t want that business?
The more business you have, the more you can ‘cherry pick’ your clients.
The more ‘high quality’ clients you have (working at a good fee, sole agency, highly engaged and responsive, treat you like a valued advisor), the more you can turn away less profitable business (working at low fees, using loads of agencies, takes ages to give feedback – if they give feedback at all, and treats you like a ‘necessary evil’).
You don’t have to work every vacancy, in exactly the same way as you don’t have to register every candidate. Choose to work with the best. BD gives you the power to make those kinds of decisions.
Making the ‘ride’ less bumpy
The graph above shows two lines.
The wavy line represents lots of consultants. The peaks are where they have loads of jobs on, often feel overwhelmed because they have so much to do, don’t make time for regular BD, and then find themselves a couple of weeks later panicking because the jobs have dried up, and they find themselves with nothing else to do but make BD calls (or pray for a miracle!).
The straight line represents the smart consultants. They do BD all the time, so they have a steady stream of business coming in. They cherry pick their clients, so they only work on profitable accounts with healthy client relationships. They don’t get overwhelmed because they prioritise, and sometimes they even turn business away.
“I don’t have time to do any BD calls today.”
If you’d like to be a smart consultant, but still feel that it’s impossible for you to find at least 30-60 minutes a day to make BD calls, here are a few things to think about:
Picture the scene…
You went for a lovely meal yesterday night, but this morning in the office, all is not right ‘in the toilet department’. We won’t go into detail, but you get the idea. Suddenly, you find yourself unable to leave the toilet for the foreseeable future.
Does your desk fall apart because you stop working those live jobs for 30 minutes?
Let’s say you get new jobs in – all urgent – but you have an off-site meeting scheduled with a potential big new client to pitch for their business, which will mean you are away from your desk for 90 minutes.
Do you cancel that meeting because you are now too busy?
You have a candidate scheduled to come in for interview prep. Do you cancel them because you have lots of jobs on?
So if each of those scenarios means you can stop working on live jobs for a short amount of time, you CAN make the time to do some BD calls.
The fact is that you should manage your desk, not let it manage you. Schedule BD in every day and don’t use working jobs as an excuse. (Especially not those jobs that are low fee, multiple agency, unresponsive clients!)
Think about the power and control that daily BD can give you.
Then remember – the only thing stopping you doing your BD is you.