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The Cult of Job-Hop Happy Recruiters

By June 20, 2013One Comment

Wow, what a storm last night.  I hope everyone out there in recruitment land is safe and sound this morning, especially the icy South and our wind torn capital.  Quick one from me today as I’m working from home this morning.  No we’re not snowed in in Auckland, although the hail last night was an unusual surprise, but I’ve got a sparky coming over and I’m taking advantage of Rice Consulting’s highly advanced flexible working policy.

I was part of an interesting little Twitter chat last night.  I hopped into the #nzlead discussion at the tail end (highly recommended HR and Recruitment leadership chat every Thursday at 7pm for those of you interested and on Twitter).  Last night’s confab was spun off the back of last month’s Sourcing Summit in Auckland and was discussing a range of Sourcing-related topics.  One comment made by @AaronDodd caught my eye when he said:

“Proactive sourcing is about formally mapping an industry for talent, so you know who is who BEFORE a need arises.”

Wise words indeed and it is practices like these that really separate the quality recruiters adding true value to their clients from the phone-jockey also-rans.

But the thing is, I spent most of 2012 working closely with my colleague Vanessa to market map the NZ recruitment market and it was a complete nightmare!  Every week we needed to update large rafts of the data for our industry’s itinerant and itchy-footed talent.  Even sharpening the focus down into just IT Recruiters was like watching a barn dance from above.

Highlighting this fact gave rise to a discussion of which the main points seemed to be:

  1. Only crap recruiters job hop around frequently.
  2. Good recruiters stay longer term and make lots of money.
  3. Really good recruiters leave their employers and set up on their own.

Now I know that having to express a point in 140 characters can give rise to sweeping generalisations but in my several years recruiting recruiters there is a degree of truth behind many of those statements.

BUT, like with most things, there are some notable exceptions.  And I also think the accepted wisdom above is standing on ever shakier ground as the recruitment sector continues to evolve.

The first point, in particular, is coming up against the era of “personal branding” where clients care less and less what company a recruiter is recruiting for, it is more about who their networks are, how skilled they are at accessing talent, and what depths their sector specialist knowledge extends to that really matters.  That recruiter might happen to choose to remain within his recruitment firm for a longer time, but that’s probably more to do with enjoying the incentives and adulation of high performance, and probably a positive culture of success that encouraged the developed of their skillset in the first place.

And here’s a thought:  Is it really just the recruitment industry that is so job-hop happy?  I imagine it probably applies to most sales and commission based jobs.  One the better-known estate agents in my area has worked for Barfoots, Bayleys, Harcourts and back to Bayleys again all in the couple of years I’ve been watching and eventually moving into this area.  Her personal brand is such that it doesn’t really affect her listings or outcomes one jot (ok the private number plate probably helps too).

As for setting up on your own, well being the entrepreneurial and driven people many recruiters are, and have to be, this is of course still a large feature in the movement of recruiters.  It will probably always be thus but let me assure you, for every success story you see out there on the wall-mounted directories of CBD office towers, there’s a far larger number that don’t or can’t make it work.  Often the excuse is they “didn’t like working alone” or they just couldn’t get around the PSA’s the larger firms are all on.  And their CV often ends up on my desk, often going no further than that.

It’s all food for thought.  What do you reckon?

Final word from Dilbert:

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.