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Why is it so difficult to Recruit/Hire and Retain Recruitment Consultants?

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The Uk Recruitment Industry is worth 1 Billion a year, with the biggest 3 Agencies taking a significant slice of the pie. I believe to date, there are just fewer than 40,000 Registered Recruitment Companies in the UK, ranging from one-man bands to the large Global Corporates. So, without a doubt, the Recruitment Industry in the UK is a serious business that is still growing!

Clients always tell me that Agencies brag about the fantastic Candidates they have exclusive to their Agency’s and that they are confident that they can fill all their positions with excellent Candidates. I too have been guilty of doing the same thing on occasions! I do not doubt that regardless if the Requirement is Senior or Junior, Perm, Temp or Contract, the right Agency will fill any given position. For the Client, it is about engaging with the right Agencies, and of course, engaging with the right Consultant. There is, after all, so much choice!

With such unquestionable skill in placing candidates into the right companies, how bizarre that all agencies seem to have one thing in common. That one position that none of us like to work on and none of us seem to master, whether a small agency or a large corporate organisation. The hiring of a Recruitment Consultant. It doesn’t seem to matter if we are looking for trainees or graduates, or Senior Consultants, the consensus seems to be that you have better odds to win the lottery! So, what is going on…? What exactly is the problem? This is a question we will look to tackle within this blog!

Why is it so Difficult?

  • Lack of candidates
  • Not a  Natural Career choice
  • Successful Consultants often set up on their own
  • Trainees or Grads tend to move on within 2 years

What are the perceived issues?

  • Long hours
  • Cold calling
  • Targets and KPI’s
  • Poor management
  • Lack of training/career development
  • Undervalued/appreciated

What is the Impact?

  • Time spent on recruitment
  • Cost spent on recruitment and training Staff
  • Can affect the working environment if attrition is high
  • Growth- this is the key- if you cannot recruit and retain staff you cannot grow /expand!
  •         To test attrition, ask yourself how many of your current consultants have been in the business for more than 2 years?

So why do we do it?

  • Successful Consultants can expect great rewards- Salary Commission- great Consultants can make a six-figure salary!
  • Opportunity to travel. For example, throughout my own career, I have had the opportunities to work in Europe / Australia / America and Dubai!
  • Great incentives - Travel-Financial-Activities that you may never have dreamed of doing
  • Camaraderie when faced with adversity, colleagues will often form great friendships- some of my best friends today I have met and worked side by side in Recruitment
  • A sense of achievement- whether winning a new Client or placing someone into a new Position, managing a career- giving advice is very fulfilling and rewarding.

Possible Solutions:

  • Removal of Financial Targets?
  • Training + Career Development
  • Work-Life Balance (reduce working hours)
  • Employees to feel valued
  • Package and salary to be on par with industry

We could certainly keep adding to that list, however, I’m curious- if we were to take away the Financial Targets that a Recruitment Consultant must hit every Month/ QRT/ Year, would that make a difference in terms of attracting and employing staff?  It is a controversial idea as of course, companies must make a profit – so by definition, Consultants must pay for their desk. However, if the core of the workforce were contributing but not hitting their Financial Targets – and the rest, maybe super Consultants, were hitting or exceeding their financial targets  – would that work? The majority could carry out all the duties of a recruitment consultant, yet may not hit their financial targets, whilst a smaller number will generally go on to exceed their financial targets. As it stands if you do not hit your financial targets you are usually put on a Performance Plan or will be asked to attend a series of one on one meetings with a Manager, and the stress starts to build. Taking the financial target away and subsequently not feeling a failure if you miss your target, may completely change how potential candidates view the Industry?

Truth is I do not know what the solution is. However, I would like to invite you to give me your thoughts on this. Is my idea completely off limits, or could it work? Perhaps you feel that we would be best off simply continuing as we are. Or, are there other ways that you feel would be successful in attracting and retaining staff within the Recruitment Industry. Whatever your thoughts are, leave a comment and let me know!

Tony Wight

Consultant at CPI Selection






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