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How to be a Great Recruitment Manager e-book Review and Giveaway

By June 17, 20103 Comments

In this week’s blog I have a Free Prize Giveaway of Dean Gollings’ e-book How to be a Great Recruitment Manager.

Dean is a recruitment trainer of some repute in the UK, where he runs the simply named “Make More Fees” course for clients in the recruitment industry.  If you think the name of that course is direct, no-frills and to-the-point, then you won’t be surprised to learn that this book is also exactly that.

The official blurb on Dean runs like this:

“Dean Gollings is a business graduate and a qualified Chartered Accountant.  He entered the recruitment sector with Michael Page in 1982 and has since built and run some of the most respected and successful recruitment teams in the industry.  Since 2004 he has been operating as a freelance recruitment trainer and coach, and is the originator of the highly acclaimed Make More Fees series of courses.”


Over the course of this book you get to understand a lot more about Dean as he imparts his hard-won knowledge and advice, and lets us build a more rounded picture of a larger-than-life character through his unflinching recollections and candid horror stories, which run throughout the book, and seem to me to cause him more enjoyment than horror.  He attained manager status in Michael Page’s Birmingham business after just two years and developed a competition-crushing team of recruitment stars.  By his late 20’s his unrelenting work hard, play hard attitude led to an apparent case of “Yuppie Flu” which was all the rage in late 80’s Britain.  He drove on to Director level in the company’s London head office before building his own specialist recruitment business, delivering continued growth through the 1993 recession and suffering complete burnout and a couple of marriage break ups by his late 30’s.  He then took an underperforming business to number one status in the region as an Operations Manager at the turn of the Millennium, before devoting his career to recruitment coaching.

Make no mistake, this book pulls no punches and tells it like it is.  Dean does not profess to be an angel and admits to many mistakes along the way, but it is from these mistakes he has developed his considerable knowledge and imparts some genuine gems at stages in this book.

So is it worthy of the roughly NZ$45 you would need to give Dean to learn his pearls of recruitment management wisdom?  It’s a good question and depends entirely on the Reader and what you might be looking to gain from reading this book.  This is no long-winded management theory text and nor does it profess to be.  It is a funny, warts-and-all, series of recollections from an old-school recruiter whose first day on the phones consisted of him flicking randomly through a box of client cards and calling clients who had already been contacted earlier that day by his fellow consultants.  He learned from this, of course, but so can the Reader, for the lessons learned, no matter how long ago and how devoid of today’s technological input, are exactly the same.  Many of you will have experienced the same things, although nowadays your client list is on a computerized database and you make a double-up client call because your fellow consultants haven’t bothered updating their notes on the system.

Dean is refreshingly open, especially in today’s painfully “PC” world where the recruitment industry seems to be forgetting how to have fun whilst being successful, and takes itself far too seriously.  But this openness also makes it easy to pick holes in the text and criticise certain elements too.  For instance, the book is a little one-sided in its presentation of tips, advice and guidance.  Dean has some well-known friends in the industry, some big names globally, including some in Australasia, and he has some excellent contributions from them, having asked them to offer up some top tips, to identify some big mistakes, and to reveal their own horror story, all relating to recruitment management.  Unfortunately for the reader they all appear to be male, hard-nosed, hard-working recruitment Director types all forged from the same competitive 80’s recruitment foundry as Dean himself.  Some diversity in contributions to lend some refreshingly different perspectives would have been more welcome and would probably have widened Dean’s readership and target market accordingly.  The exercises at the end of each chapter are also a little thin.  They make the Reader think a little but don’t provide a real learning experience, they merely provide a list of answers to the initial question.

In fact, after I had read through the first few pages, I was really worried that this book would bear little relevance to the modern recruitment world, and seemed so idiosyncratically English that I didn’t see it translating very well into any other culture, even the Anglophile culture of New Zealand.  Dean was hired into the recruitment world after a couple of boozy interviews in the local pub, a pub which later became his second home (after the office) and which would regularly provide him his lunchtime sustenance of two pints of warm ale.  He followed the lead of the rest of his team and became a chain smoking corporate slave, married to the job, and relates his first experience of management as being told to call through a box of client cards and ask each client “How’s business?” – that was his training.

But eventually I realised there is much more to this book than first meets the eye.

This book genuinely contains some real gems that bear just as much relevance in today’s recruitment world as the one in which Dean learned his trade.  Half of the book is dedicated to how to build and lead a fantastic team, which really is the most crucial element of any recruitment business.  Dean offers some very useful pointers about what to look for in a new Consultant, although this excellent information is tempered somewhat by a few crass remarks about what NOT to look for (for example, “Anyone who looks as if they were unpopular at school, you know the type.”).  He has some interesting ideas around team competitions you can run with some very different targets (one that stood out was awarding champagne for placing the ‘hardest-to-place’ candidate), and he also has a well-developed discussion around the pros and cons of managing to KPI’s, as well some interesting new KPI’s to target which I have not come across before.

Other chapters that offer some excellent ideas and food for thought are ones on how to conduct performance appraisals and how to overcome phone call reluctance in the team, which includes the excellent quote:

“You know the sound of ‘tap, tap, tap’ on those keyboards?  Well, that’s the sound of money landing in your competitor’s bank accounts.”


Surprisingly for Dean and his apparent management style, he did not make a mention of the trick of removing Consultant’s chairs during a marketing session, but perhaps this is for his promised follow up book which he intends to be “more hardcore”!

The book is peppered with several other areas of advice that could be invaluable to a modern recruitment manager.  Some suggested Quality Control actions you can take to check on the service levels experienced by your clients and candidates is well developed and contains some great ideas.  Some guidelines around making the most of networking events is excellent, despite Dean confessing to hating these events himself, and perhaps the most enjoyable piece of advice is one which perfectly illustrates the style you can expect from this book as a whole:

“When you enter the room, grab a drink or food but not both.  You need one hand free to shake hands (or to make offensive hand gestures to your competitors).”


Sage advice delivered with a wry smile, which is really what this book is all about.

By the end of my read I had completely changed my original opinion and found that How to be a Great Recruitment Manager is just a really fun read.  It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and neither should the Reader.  You might have to dig a little deeper to find the real pearls of wisdom that will help you with your particular business, but find them you will.  As to whether it is worth the $45 is really up to you to decide.  If there is one piece of advice that can help you to attract a better quality of consultant, retain the talent you have, develop a competitive marketing plan, or even just how to avoid your own “burnout”, then I think you would agree it is money well spent.

I’ll finish with my favourite piece of advice in the whole book:

“Don’t make a prat of yourself.”


Genius.  And something that many recruitment managers would do well learning.

Win a free copy of Dean Golling’s “How to be a Great Recruitment Manager” e-book


Dean has kindly donated one free copy of his book to The Whiteboard which can be won by correctly answering the following question:

How many Recommendations does Dean Gollings currently have on Linked In for his Professional Recruitment Training business?

A)                   0

B)                   6

C)                   26

D)                   36

Please e-mail your answer to with the title “E-book Comp”.  Correct answers will be put in a hat and the winner will be randomly drawn at 5pm on 1st July, so make sure you e-mail your answer in before then.

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.