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Do Recruiters Have Good Attention to Detail?

By July 1, 2010One Comment

Two weeks ago I reviewed Dean Gollings’ e-book “How to be a Great Recruitment Manager” and, with one free copy to give away, asked the question:

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

The blog received a pleasing amount af attention and several competition entries from experienced recruiters and I would like to thank you all for taking the time to submit your entries.  The correct answer was, of course:

….and I bet there’s a few of you scratching your heads now


But don’t worry if you got the answer wrong and said “36” because you are by far in the majority of over 70% that thought the same.  Of course, if you read the question closely, I was asking how many recommendations Dean has for his training business, which would have required scrolling down his profile and physically counting them.  The easy option that caught most of your eyes was the top of his profile which states 36 recommendations, but of course these also include 10 recommendations for his previous work in recruitment consultancies.

So are any of you surprised that most people got the answer wrong?  I’m not.  Of all the traits looked for, and coveted, in successful recruiters, attention to detail is usually a long way down the list.  Sales ability, commercial awareness, negotiation skills, self-confidence, interpersonal skills and presentation are generally the dominant attributes of successful recruiters.  And many of you who said “36” are extremely successful recruiters at the top of your games (and also highly competitve – another key trait – which means you’re probably pretty pissed off at me going on about it now!)

We come across many instances every day that require excellent attention to detail but as recruiters we are not always up to scratch.  Ads are posted on job boards with spelling and grammatical errors, despite Seek having a spell check function.  Poorly worded e-mails are sent to clients every day, who are sitting there wondering why we charge such high fees for providing such slack detail (and I have had first hand experience of this after sitting next to a recruiter, a great bloke and a top biller, but who could not string a coherent written sentence together and actually lost a client as a result of it).

But then this seems to be a typical trait of the top billers, the fearless business developers and aggresive, competitive hunters who would rather be hitting the phones, negotiating offers, bringing in new clients and meeting new candidates rather than waiting for Seek’s spell check function to run.  So is it a necessary evil or should we expect top recruiters to have both excellent sales skills and thorough attention to detail in their armoury?

A recent case from Australia reported in Recruiter Daily highlights the importance attention to detail plays in the job of a recruiter.  In the case a recruiter placed a candidate into a 12-month contract but sent a letter entitled “Permanent Placement with Mater Healthcare Services”.  The letter was generated from a template on the recruitment firm’s CRM system which was how the mistake occurred, but the title could just have easily been manually corrected before the letter went out.  You just know that this recruiter was more excited about putting the fee up on the whiteboard than making sure the correct letter went out.  The candidate claimed unfair dismissal at the end of the 12 months but this didn’t stand up in court, but it is a good reminder of how important our actions can be at times and how we really should pay greater attention to detail in our jobs.

I pride myself on my attention to detail and I have usually been a strong biller, although never the top biller in a firm (apart from my current firm where I am the undisputed number one!)  But then I think I would have probably answered my own question with “36” too, if the shoe was on the other foot.  After years in recruitment, churning through e-mails and skim-reading numerous CVs every day, I too have developed a habit to skim through detail to try and quickly get to the crux of an issue.  I reckon I would have seen the number “36” at the top of the Linked In profile and just gone for that too, so I could quickly move on to something else, something hopefully more “revenue-generating” in the short-term, such as marketing clients or arranging interviews.

In a very bold move I have also decided to type this blog straight into WordPress, rather than my usual habit of typing it in Word first so that it highlights (and even auto-corrects) spelling and grammar errors.  So there may well be areas of this post sorely lacking in attention to detail, and I will welcome the criticism from my readers in the comments, and take it on the chin – especially those of you in the 70% group – and you know who you are!

So congratulations are in order to those of you who correctly answered “26”.  Your names have been put in a hat and placed in front of Charlie Rice and the winner was drawn at 5pm (NZ time) on Thursday 1st July.  Well done to…


HAMISH MCLEAN – Senior Technical Consultant at Rob Law Max in Auckland

…who is the lucky winner of the e-book.  I will be in touch on Friday to organise getting you the book.

I also received an e-mail from the author Dean Gollings for any of you who missed out that would still be interested in purchasing a copy for yourselves:


 Leadership Tips, Strategies and Horror Stories From the Recruitment Frontline’


This is the title of my new ebook, which is now available to buy from my website.

 The book has been written for everyone in the global recruitment industry who has responsibility for a team, irrespective of job-title. The book is also highly recommended to any Consultant who has managerial aspirations and any HR professional who might like to know more about what goes on ‘the other side of the fence’. It has already been described as “Great”, “Brilliant” and “Fabulous” by current recruitment leaders.

 As far as I know, this is the first book ever published which specifically addresses management and leadership issues in the white hot furnace of the global recruitment industry.

 This book seeks not only to inform, but also to entertain, as it draws on many of my own personal experiences and disasters over the course of a recruitment career which dates back to 1982. It also contains advice, mistakes and confessions from highly successful recruitment leaders based around the world. Early reviews have been extremely positive.

 The book is available exclusively from my new website,, for only £20.00 (plus vat in the UK). For each book sold I shall be donating £1.00 to UNICEF, the international children’s charity.

 I hope you decide to buy the ebook; it might just be the best value £20.00 you spend all year.


So that’s it for this week.  We are now through the first half of 2010 and things seem to be getting better and better out there.  How is business for you?  Are you feeling the benefit of the upswing yet?  I was talking to one particular client late on 30th June just as his final figures for the 2nd Quarter of 2010 came through and it sounded like there would be some major celebrating going on in that particular firm – with an upturn of 400% on the same Quarter in 2009 and an improvement of 66% on their previous best Quarter.  Those of you in this firm will know who you are – well done to you and enjoy your Friday night drinks this week!

The movement of Robert Walters’ Auckland IT team into Hudson seems to now be public knowledge, as reported in this week’s Movers and Shakers.  The piece also mentions Matt Devitt who is a new recruiter at Sales & Marketing recruitment specialist Focus Recruitment – congratulations Matt and welcome to the world of recruitment.

Next week I am hoping to be blogging on the differences between internal and external recruitment and what those of you contemplating making the change can expect – until then have a great week.

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.

One Comment

  • Excellent post, Jonathan. A point very well made. Most recruiters are skimming resumes, emails etc all day and mistakes like you pointed out are all too common. Recruitment ads with spelling mistakes are just plain embarrassing. It makes it hard for our sector to build credibility if we cannot get the basics right in a very public way.