Skip to main content

They say there are no bad dogs, just bad owners. Now I wish I could say the same about Recruiters, but alas no. There are some truly terrible operators out there. However in the most part, the recruiters I meet at all performance levels have some fundamental skills that, with the right firm, could be honed into being profitable recruiters. Although a high amount of emphasis is placed on what a recruiter bills, the good recruitment agencies realise that billings are just one of many metrics to judge a recruiter. The truly great firms understand that a poor performer in the wrong environment could still be a mega biller in their environment, and they take a chance on them accordingly. Sadly however, many Recruiters don’t know how good they could be if only they found the right home. They toil away, day-in day-out, wondering why nothing seems to click. Most eventually leave the industry, but the wise ones find a more suitable home. Here’s a few observations around what the wrong agency may look like:

You’re the lowest biller, without exceptional circumstances

Let’s face it, no one likes to be bottom of the pile. However, in a firm that offers transparency around performance, there needs to be one recruiter collecting the wooden spoon at the annual awards night. In an ideal world, this is the person who is newest to the industry, or the person who works part-time, or the person who works remotely on a small base salary, recruiting in a weird niche. It should not be a recruiter with an average amount of experience, working an average desk. If this is you, do not lose hope. I know many poor performers who went on to be mega billers elsewhere. Like a natural striker stuck out on the wing, a new manager may have you banging them in like an early 2000s Thierry Henry.

You don’t get on with your boss

You don’t have to like them, but you do have to respect them. If you don’t respect your boss as a leader, or a recruiter, or as a person, or all of the above, you will never realise your full potential. In my years in recruitment, I’ve never seen anyone work at their best under someone they don’t respect.

You get on too well with your boss

No, I’m not talking boning them (although that’s also a really, really bad idea), I’m talking a level of friendship that makes management impossible. You can go to their house for BBQs, you can house-sit for them, your kids can play ripper rugby together, but when you can no longer take a bit of a kick up the arse from your boss without feeling that they are betraying a friendship, you’re in a very difficult situation.

There is drug use, addiction, or alcohol dependency in the office

Incredible that this is included, but also incredible the number of firms who do, or have, condoned and even been involved in drug use in the recruitment industry. If your boss or bosses are known or rumoured to use drugs during the working day, then it is time to leave. Don’t get me wrong, I love a few beers and a boozy lunch. I believe it’s great for our team, brilliant at cementing client relationships, and awful for my blood pressure. And I don’t care what you do “recreationally”. However, I’m not smoking P in the work toilets, or racking up lines for the top biller. Firms that do often burn bright, before exploding in a puff of white powder. And if you know your boss or colleagues are on the gear, chances are your clients do as well.

The “vibe” is not you

Not the gadget my wife has replaced me with, I mean the general feeling in the office. If Sunday evenings are full of dread at the thought of returning to “that place“, then it’s probably not going to work. If the office is too loud for you, it’s not going to get quieter. If you hate dogs, don’t join a firm with beanbags and an air hockey table. Recruitment is about fit, and you need to fit the desk, the team, and the “vibe” man.

You work a desk that you have absolutely no affiliation with

This is a big reason people leave the industry before ever getting go. Quite simply, they get stuck on the wrong desk. Restless, impatient souls, doing executive search. Academic, slightly ponderous graduates working labour hire. Square pegs into round holes. Nope.

No one else bills

If you are billing, and no one else is, get out now. Firstly, you’ve got to question the solvency of the business. Secondly, being the only biller creates resentment between you and everyone else, in both directions. And thirdly, what is going to push you to achieve more if no one is gnashing at your heels?

They offer a team commission

Just no. It doesn’t create high-performing Consultants and no one can convince me otherwise. You all end up hating each other and resigning.

You’re the highest biller

Crazy I know, but it is not typically healthy to be the highest biller in your agency every year. In my experience, very few have the motivation to fulfil their true potential when they are a shoo-in for the golden compendium every year. To be a great biller, you need to be competitive, and to be competitive, you need…competition. You may sit there and feel that earning $220k a year is enough for you, however would you not like to earn $300k and retire 10 years earlier? Only one person can claim to be New Zealand’s top biller, and if you’re not them, you should always be open to exploring an opportunity elsewhere.

Anyway, I’m sure there’s more, so feel free to add some below. Until next week.