What stops recruiters being successful?

After 23 years of working in the recruitment space, I can give you my top 10 reasons recruiters become or remain unsuccessful.


Undervaluing the time it takes new recruiters to get up to speed.  It can easily be a year, not 3 months, to get a recruiter’s desk established.


Employer apathy towards the services offered by recruiters.  They no longer want to hear you are different from all other recruiters!


Lack of candidates for the job they have to resource. Yep – no matter what the market niche, there are never enough of the candidates to go round, be that rare skills markets or markets with volume where quality (or tuning up each day) counts.


Inability to see online marketing as more than putting adverts on job boards.  Recruitment marketing is not done just because you advertise on job boards; for all the good the job board sector has done, the same can be said for how much bad they have done.  Recruiters 20 years ago had to go out and find candidates – now their work begins and ends, in some cases, with putting the job on a job board.


Buying recruitment software that lacks the ability to mine client data and predict recruitment events from candidate CV data that passes through the system daily.


Lack of investment in training and/or buying training for recruiters they do not know the full content of, so creating barriers to the use of the new knowledge back at the recruiter’s desk.


If you always do what you always did (approach to working hours, number of sales calls to be made), the result is you always get what you always got, which is a high burnout rate of staff due to impossible and in some cases impractical workloads.


Lack of invention for services, approaches to clients and candidates alike.  What is really new and innovative servicewise in the last 20 years?


Lack of unity as an industry: you can’t have price fixing or cartels by law, but when a new management consulting firm comes along and says to Tesco’s you can pay agencies 7% margin instead of 10% then walk away as a PSL, draw a line on the sand. Good service has to be funded somehow.


Cash is King. You may be profitable, but having the cash needed to pay for your company while you wait for the client to pay you is a serious business.  James Caan used to say to me, “Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity, but cash is always King.”

Darren Revell