Skip to main content

Why Brits Make Good Recruiters

By September 1, 2016No Comments

Happy Friday everyone. Well actually it’s Thursday here as I’m bringing you the second in the UK series of The Whiteboard. But I’ll just pretend to keep up appearances if you don’t mind.

After more than a week immersed back in the UK culture, plus several conversations with recruiters in London and around the UK, I’m starting to get more of an inkling about why it is that the APAC region is so chocka block full of “Pommie” recruiters (and why my path was very much set, unbeknownst to me at the time, when I first approached a recruitment agency in Australia looking for a job).

Any of you who have worked in the larger corporate recruitment brands, and also many of you who have not, will know what I’m talking about. Us Brits are part of the furniture in the recruitment environments of Australia and New Zealand.  You hear it and see it all of the time.

Take a look at part of the comment posted on an earlier Whiteboard blog by Jason Walker from Hays:

“…we have expanded the ethnicity quota significantly since the days of “let’s get an English bloke in from good old Blighty” days. Don’t get me wrong, that was an important part of our growth phase, and you played a role in that success, albeit from the UK via Australia.”

And the side note, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it denouement from Ross Clennett in his recent post about the Michael Page ski lodge party:

“The image of inexperienced young Brits on 457 visas coming to Australia and making merry as fly-by-night recruitment consultants will only be reinforced by this ugly event.”

Then I got chatting to a neighbour of my parents who works for a bank in London.  He has two friends, both British, who run their own recruitment firms in the antipodes – one in Australia and one in New Zealand. Love us or hate us it seems your recruitment firms can’t get enough of our awright geysers in amongst the gidday mates on the sales floor phones.

So why is that? What makes Brits good recruiters? One thing that has jumped out at me in the past couple of weeks is that the people of Britain live constantly in a sales culture. You cannot go anywhere without being sold to. You can’t even get into a tube station without being hard sold a new laundry app or something, and my parents landline phone must ring three or more times every single day with cold callers (and sometimes scammers).

Image result for british salesman

Whilst Brits have become very adept at (politely of course) deflecting unwanted attention like this, it’s so prevalent in society here now that nobody is going to bat an eyelid at having to make a difficult sales call to another person.

It’s also much, much easier to be given a chance in recruitment. The policy here is very much hire fast and fire fast. I met a recruiter last week who got into the industry two years ago when placed by a “Graduate Rec-to-Rec”.  Not any old rec-to-rec like Rice Consulting, oh no. One that specialises purely in new-to-industry recruiter placements. And he said they were one of a hundred or more just like that in London. I know the population is larger in England but I couldn’t fathom how there could be access to enough talent for this to be viable.

But recruitment firms make bolder decisions here. They can obviously afford to make mistakes and move on more quickly. The expectation, he went on, is for 2 in every 5 new-to-industry recruiter hires to actually make it past the 3 – 6 month mark. Low odds that the firms here seem perfectly happy with. Being good, or confident, at sales is one thing, but turning that into an ability to engage, persuade, influence and negotiate with clients and candidates is another, but if you haven’t got what it takes here, the door is very quickly shown with no hard feelings at all.

Image result for hiring and firing

The whole post-Brexit exodus is a bit of a misdirection really, especially with Parliament being on its summer holiday and GB’s performance in the Olympics taking everyone’s mind off things, but there remains strong desire among many here to take their recruitment skills and experience to the other side of the world.

The key, as many of you will have no doubt already found, is to harness the hunger and drive that often accompanies a UK recruiter with skills forged in the hyper competitive and sales driven culture here, but also quickly soften the edges before they upset too many people and burn too many bridges!

I’m meeting a few who definitely have that potential, like I did I suppose (ok except I still upset people…sometimes :)) I’ll be back in a couple of weeks if you’d like to hear about them.

That’s it from me this week, more from the UK next Friday, enjoy your first weekend of Spring!

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.