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Why is recruitment such a hard game?

A lot of people who become recruiters do not last, and there are numerous reasons for this, from poor hiring and inadequate training to hard work / life balance cultures.

However there is another key reason so few people actually last in the pressurised world of agency recruiting.

Added on 06.10.2011

In short it is a 'hard job'. We all question why we do it. There are times you hate what you do. There are days you go home feeling deflated, worn-out and - frankly - useless. The world is littered with 'ex-recruitment consultants', burnt out and cynical about their all-too-short recruiting career.

It's true too that being a recruiter can be the greatest job of all, but even so, to survive you have to know the pitfalls, prepare for them, minimise their impact where you can, and push through the inevitable challenges this job will throw you.

Recruiting is uniquely tough because it's the only job that I know where what you are selling can turn around and say 'no'. We do everything right. Take an extensive job spec. Go out to meet our client and spend time understanding their needs and culture. Go out to market to meet candidates and spend time interviewing and accessing suitability. Then manage the process, which can be tricky - these are human beings after all. Secure a great offer and then get everything agreed. Then at the eleventh hour and through no fault of yours, the product - our well managed candidate - says 'No, I've changed my mind'. BANG! It's all over and we're right back at the start of a process that could have begun two months ago.

Recruiting is a killer because, for us, it is all or nothing. Of course a tiny percentage of our work is retained, but mostly recruiting is first prize or nothing. We do all the work, spend lots of time and expertise, and manage the process with skill and diligence. But if our great candidates get caught by a late runner from another recruiter, or an internal candidate, then it is job over for us and we walk away with nothing after spending weeks to months on a assignment. That's tough (soul destroying in fact) and can be so hard to take, especially when it happens often: and sadly, it does.

Recruiting can be hard graft as you do so much work you don't get paid for. When you hear the words 'I am burnt out' from a consultant, what that actually means is 'I just can’t stand doing so much work for nothing'. Contingent recruiters are lucky to fill one job out of five they take, and place one candidate out of ten they meet. And combined with the 'all or nothing' fee model most work on, it means endless hours for which we don't get paid, and equally importantly see no tangible success. And success, in the form of happy clients and happy candidates, is what our self-esteem is built on. And once that crumbles, it is the beginning of the end.

So what to do?

Firstly recognise that if you are going to be a recruitment consultant, these challenges come with the job. You will need to toughen up and prepare yourself for plenty of disappointment.

Secondly, work hard to mitigate the risk of these things happening to you. Hone your recruitment skills, your talent management skills, and your job qualification ability. Build trusted advisor relationships and work to get exclusivity on orders to increase your job-fill ratios. Great recruiters, who move from transacting to consulting, start to win more than they lose. This industry can be one of the most rewarding to work within and equally also one of the worst. When it's good it is great, and what an amazing feeling when you find that great candidate; your client loves you, and your candidate loves you as you have found them their dream job. Me, I love it!

Spotted on http://www.recruitingblogs.com