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Recruitment "Consultants"

#1 Recruitment "Consultants"
20/04/2011 15:04

David King

Can somebody tell me why Recruitment Agents call themselves "consultants"?

Some of the companies are even called "XXX Consulting" now.. yet all they do is cold calling/ blagging candidates..

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#2 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
20/04/2011 15:10

Ed to David King (#1)

Much the same reason as management consultants do - perhaps should be powerpoint technicians!

The vast majority of recruiters provide invaluable advice and consulting services as do management consultants, there are however many exceptions to both

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#3 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
20/04/2011 15:13

David King to Ed (#2)

what consulting do they do?

Thats my question

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#4 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
20/04/2011 15:14

Helen Hunt to David King (#1)

I agree with you, they are no more consultants than second hand car sales men or cold callers selling double glazing.

Although the people mentioned above probably refer to themselves as "sales consultants".

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#5 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
20/04/2011 15:29

A Recruitment Consultant to deleted (#0)

The answer is pretty obvious, we do naff all... blagging a few CVs, setting up interviews, trawling linked in spamming the hell out of everyone.. ok!

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#6 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
20/04/2011 15:33

Mars A Day to David King (#1)

David King I would suggest that senior doctors i.e. Consultants, who spend many years training for a specialism which often makes the difference between life and death, would question whether MCs are entitled to use the term too.

Unless you really do know more about a particular business than the client themselves then calling yourself a Consultant in the strict sense is also blagging.

I really don't understand where the bitterness comes from - 'Management Consultant' is in itself a nonsense term - since when do management in FTSE100 companies need a bunch of outsiders to tell them how to run their business? They dont. And they dont hire MCs for that purpose. So lets stop calling MCs Management Consultants if we stop calling Recruitment Agents consultants.

Personally I find the title Recruitment Consultant a nonsense anyway. Even with the best will in the world RCs dont recruit, they search, sell, advocate, introduce, but they dont make a hiring decision so they dont recruit if you want to be pedantic.

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#7 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
20/04/2011 16:00

rc to Mars A Day (#6)

'recruitment broker' would still sound respectable and reflect the sounding the market aspect; actually, there's some food for thought for the trade there - as a proper broker could be paid by either side and add active value to the negotiation process..

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#8 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
20/04/2011 16:33

David King to rc (#7)

Mars - easy! Didnt mean to offend your profession, or come off as pedantic - its an open question - what does the "consultant" bit actually mean?

From my (candidates) perspective, all we see are the blagging/ cold call element - so is that all they do, or is there a real consulting element?

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#9 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
20/04/2011 16:55

Consultant to deleted (#0)


In answer to your question - none in the sense that you are talking about.

Did a feasibility study a few years ago on an HR outsourcing project, and part of it was looking at capability of agencies to do other stuff - Whilst many claim to do everything from comp benchmarking to leadership development consulting, when they were called on it it was rarely more than 1% of their business, most had never done any work and none had a sensible capability that could be used.

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#10 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
21/04/2011 10:53

anon to Consultant (#9)

"since when do management in FTSE100 companies need a bunch of outsiders to tell them how to run their business?"

Since decades! Damn man I really wonder if you know what you're talking about sometimes.

Should rebrand yourself: "rubbish every day"

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#11 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
21/04/2011 12:14

Rubbish every Day to anon (#10)


First, apologies to all the MCs on here - I am not questioning your validity, pressing the debate about how we define what we do.

Ok Anon...

Ok give me an example of when YOU have told the BOARD of a FTSE 100 company how to run their business. I dont want an example of a process map run up for some mid rank pencil licker, or some nonsense about building platform A or market entry study C. An example of when you told the C level how to run the business they live every day and you walked into with your laptop a few weeks before.

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#12 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
21/04/2011 12:29

fuss to Rubbish every Day (#11)

It's a job title. Stop being so pompous.

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#13 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
21/04/2011 12:41

David King to Rubbish every Day (#11)

Odd frame of reference.. name anyone who tells FTSE boards what to do apart from regulators?

MCs help them to solve their business problems.

My question is whether agents/ consultants really help clients solve their recruitment problems in the same way - or whether contingent fees and competition with each other etc, mean this is a broking or agent relationship rather than giving objective advice?

I dont prejudge the answer to that BTW (before I provoke a rant from irritated Recruiters).

Thought Consultants point was an interesting one about the other "consulting" service Agencies claim to offer

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#14 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
21/04/2011 13:01

anon to David King (#13)

I am not a recruitment consultant but I believe most of them do resolve client’s recruitment problems, and success of their model can be evident from the fact that lot of consulting firms are also following them by offering similar kind of services known as BPO/body shopping in consulting terms.

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#15 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
21/04/2011 13:17

they are monkeys to David King (#13)

they are just above estate agents in the corporate food chain...

everybody knows it, so no need to try to intellectalise whether they are really consultants, when we all know they are all monkeys

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#16 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
21/04/2011 13:34

they are muppets to they are monkeys (#15)

I agree with the above, bunch of muppets with a LinkedIN account and a copy of the yellow pages... On your marks, get set, annoy the hell out of anyone remotely qualified for remotely anything!

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#17 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
21/04/2011 13:40

they are monkeys to they are muppets (#16)

you can always tell the agents waiting in reception to see hr..

they usually have a leather wallet file with nothing in it but plain lined paper, shiney suit, loafers and spikier hair than anyone else, if not a fashion mullet and swarovski earing..

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#18 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
21/04/2011 14:08

Tony Restell ( to they are monkeys (#17)

Just a cautionary note as I can see this turning into a mud-slinging thread with recruitment consultants in the firing line...

... all management consultants out there should keep in mind that ~60% of consulting firms' hires are still being made via recruitment consultants. So whilst there are certainly some out there that give the recruitment industry a bad name, you are doing your career a disservice if you close yourself to the notion of ever working with them.

Tony Restell

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#19 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
21/04/2011 14:12

they are confused to they are monkeys (#17)

i think 'recruitment agents' is more suitable term compare to 'recuitment consultants'...

Most annoying thing would be when they would call and rather then discussing a role they would start asking for the details of your line manager…

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#20 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
21/04/2011 15:38

Fred Goodwin to Tony Restell ( (#18)

Tony - interested to know where the 60% stat comes from?

I work in RPO and we tend to hire less than 30% through agencies. So nice to know where ahead of the indiustry by some margin!

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#21 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
21/04/2011 15:58

Haha to Fred Goodwin (#20)

David King,

Did you not get the job your recruitment consultant promised you and now you are simply bitter and hit where it probably hurts recruitment consultants the most?

They are no less consultants then MCc consultants - if anything recruitment consultants see their job to the end, whereas MCs show up, start lecturing everyone, present few power points and leave - job hardly done. At the end, who cares? People sell far more trivial services in the market then all sorts of consultants and get paid - its all part of what keeps the economy moving.

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#22 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
21/04/2011 16:15

Ed to Haha (#21)


a/ dont think youve answered Davids question

b/ do you have any idea what MCs do?

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#23 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
21/04/2011 16:29

Haha to Ed (#22)


a/ Smart people will read in between the lines.

b/ Probably, if not certainly, more then you do.

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#24 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
21/04/2011 16:40

Ed to Haha (#23)

Haha - Doubt it as I am one, and your obviously an agent who thinks whether or not you "see a job through" has something to do with being a consultant

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#25 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
21/04/2011 16:45

rc to Haha (#21)

there's as big a range of quality and behaviour among recruitment forms as there is among MCs. I've worked at a big MC where there was highly unethical sales-driven behaviour with little regard for client need. Conversely, I've generally found that the partners at Boyden, Heidreck and their ilk have a detailed understanding of their specialist sector, the client organisation and the personalities within it. I'm sure every service industry has its fair share of bucket shop monkeys ...

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#26 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
21/04/2011 17:48

Mars A Day to rc (#25)

The point Ive been trying to make (rather poorly as it happens) is that job titles are rather meaningless. We have started from the assumption that the term 'consultant' implies some sort of connotation of quality or expertise, and frankly this varies as much between RCs and it does among MCs.

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#27 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
21/04/2011 17:50

Mars A Day to Mars A Day (#26)

And on that note, Happy Easter everyone, have a good (long) weekend.

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#28 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
21/04/2011 21:51

Haha to Ed (#24)


If your poor soul will feel any better by what you say - I'll let this one go without indulging you with no further discussion on the topic - enjoy Easter

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#29 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
21/04/2011 22:09

Consultant to David King (#1)

Anyone who even remotely believes that Recruitement 'Consultants' do consulting work is, probably well suited to being a Recruitement 'Consultant'.

Some of the comments on here are laughable.

Sorry but I'd rather go for a drink with an estate agent......

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#30 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
22/04/2011 14:28

Alex to Consultant (#29)


Bitter much?

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#31 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
22/04/2011 15:31

Consultant to Alex (#30)


Very, I hate estate agents.

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#32 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
26/04/2011 09:17

wowser to Consultant (#31)

Apologies to anyone who finds this sexist - (you shouldn't - just swap male for female and it works just as well)...

Recruiters are like single girls - yes there are some trashy looking slappers, but there are also some fantastic looking, intelligent, mature and emotionally balanced godesses If you find yourself continually being chatted up by the former and being ignored by the latter then it might just say more about how those differnet people perceive you.

Sorry guys, but the fact is that there are some fantastic recruiters out there and if they are not knocking on your door then it is just as much a refelction of where you are in your career as in it on the increasingly polarised recruitment industry.

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#33 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
26/04/2011 12:16

Kingsley to wowser (#32)

Hi Wowser - interesting point

So who are the best and worst? I want to benchmark how good I am!!

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#34 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
26/04/2011 13:17

wowser to Kingsley (#33)

Well it's all very much a matter of taste (and I'm sure some of the ladies will fill us in with a corresponding opinion from their perspective) but I'd say top of the current rankings would include Emma Watson (cute, articulate and at a very good university), Michelle Mone (at first glance a stunning blonde, but frankly a very clever businesswoman who always comes across as a genuine person when on TV), and I have to admit always having a bit of a thing about Rachel Weisz.

If your consistently interacting at that sort of level, I'd say you're doing pretty well, Kingsley.

I'm too much of a gent to list any "worst", but the list begins with Jo ends with Dan and has an R in the middle.

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#35 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
26/04/2011 13:28

T OFF to David King (#1)

David King-

There are some really good Recruitment agents who really do consulting sort of a work on various assignments.

I have interacted with some of these guys as a hiring manager and they do really do a lot of other value added things that you mentioned in your posts.

One such example is when I had two brilliant candidates from the recruitment consultant and both were employable. My agent did a proper consulting kind of a work with me to help me in selecting the best candidate which my HR was unable to do.

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#36 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
26/04/2011 20:00

David to T OFF (#35)

T OFF I dont believe your a hiring manager.. your grammar gives you away as an agent

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#37 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
26/04/2011 20:24

Ribbit to David (#36)

T OFF you've been sprung!!

I was just thinking the same thing, its the bit about my HR was unable to do that seals it!

David King - I think Consultant (20/4) further up the chain gets closest to answering your question;

They all talk up the odd bit of non-standard advisory work they do to unsophisticated buyers eg line managers in diddy companies that think you have to pay for an agency to do a bespoke salary survey, but in practice their business is 99.9% making placements, sales calls etc

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#38 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
26/04/2011 22:21

Sebastian to Ribbit (#37)

What is the big deal about this topic - if a shop assistant can call herself or himself a sales consultant, whats wrong with recruiters doing the same?!?

Fact is - in all industries and in every business there are poor and excellent performers, poor bastards and elitist snobs. God knows how many management consultancies there are out there, doing whatever consulting they can for xy companies - and we have never even heard of them, perhaps. But of course, we all know about MBB and few others. The same is in recruitment industry - some are crap and do placements and cold calling only and some are more prestigious and do more strategic recruitment work.

Closest example I have is my school mate who went to work for a boutique recruitment consultancy in the city - consultancy yes, they really do do consulting haha. His colleagues are Oxbridge, LSE, European business schools alumni, INSEAD and the likes of it, former strategy consultants and etc. - would this caliber of people be wasting time cold calling and making placements?!? I don't think so.

I presume most people here ARE management consultant - you should know better then to argue about semantics - or should you? :) :)

Ta xx

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#39 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
27/04/2011 11:11

Shoe Polisher to Sebastian (#38)

I am a Consultant.

I work in the Recruitment industry and take massive pride in what I do. I work with the (few) clients I have to recruit the right people to take their practice forward. We have a full plan and execute and have a post-action review to cover lessons learned and how we do even better next time.

You tell me I'm not a Consultant? Go pull your sausage, I can out-pwerpoint you, I can out-present you and I can deliver more than you.

And I'm pretty certain I make more money than you.

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#40 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
27/04/2011 12:20

Management Consultant to Shoe Polisher (#39)

@ Shoe Polisher

I am pleased you are proud of your job, well done. Really enjoyed the indignant rant at the end

Just to confirm - Who are you talking to? All MCs? you can "out-powerpoint, outpresent, and out-earn" all Management Consultants? Or is it someone in particular that you are most insecure about?

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#41 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
27/04/2011 12:29

Shoe Polisher to Management Consultant (#40)

But thats the point though isnt it?

Who are you to tell me I'm not a Consultant?

What's your qualification?

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#42 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
27/04/2011 12:37

Management Consultant to Shoe Polisher (#41)

Who is telling you your not a Consultant kiddo?

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#43 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
27/04/2011 13:33

Dan to Management Consultant (#42)

I have enormous respect for a guy that placed me with my current company - LBS MBA graduate with admirable skills working for a city recruitment consultancy. I'm sure there are crappy ones too that give others bad rep, just like in any job.

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#44 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
27/04/2011 15:02

hmmm to Dan (#43)

I also have enormous respect for the rather spotty, fashion-mulleted, shiny suited “consultant” that got me my 98K job, even though I know all he did was cold call me at a moment I was open to moving, cut and paste my CV into his standard format, send it to the client and phone me with dates for the interviews.

Isn’t that the problem? The truly great recruiter is the one that gets YOU a job. An INSEAD MBA, ex-olympian that has nothing for me is just a nice chap to have a drink with.

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#45 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
27/04/2011 15:25

Tony Restell ( to hmmm (#44)


I think you've inadvertently hit upon the real problem here. The recruitment industry is financially incentivised to delight clients and not candidates - not through any choice made by recruitment firms but because those are the market constraints in which they operate.

You say "The truly great recruiter is the one that gets YOU a job" -- but the reality is that no recruiter is paid to get YOU a job. They are all paid to fill a specific vacancy - with that payment being made by the employer. So unsurprisingly they work to delight the employer and do not generally choose to invest time in candidates they cannot immediately assist.

In rare instances I've come across firms who are working with candidates so amazing they are willing to go out and market that candidate to find them their dream job - as they feel there's a strong chance of securing a placement fee; but for the vast majority of high-calibre candidates that isn't the reality. Your specific skillset and experience profile needs to closely dovetail with a current requirement of a client before a recruitment firm is going to be in a position to invest their time in helping you.

These unfortunately are the commercial arrangements in play within the recruitment sector and they contribute directly to candidates' poor overall perception of recruiters.

To play devil's advocate, what do you think would happen if all recruitment firms were banned from earning placement fees from employers and instead received some kind of fee for each satisfied candidate they'd worked with? It doesn't take a huge stretch of the imagination to envisage that ensuring candidate satisfaction and going the extra mile to help every candidate would become the mantra of recruitment firms. It all comes down to incentives - and if these are skewed towards helping employers rather than candidates - as they currently are - then it's little wonder that the resulting service doesn't delight the average candidate.

Tony Restell

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#46 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
27/04/2011 15:43

Patricia to Tony Restell ( (#45)


You are right to the point. Thanks.

Recruiters are on the clients' side - not candidates side. Clients pay their fees, not candidates - its very simple and yet it seems our online community of MCs simply don't get this simple fact - its embarrassing. I hope recruitment consultants won't be reading this thread because it has all the ingredients of insecurity, snobism, arrogance, even stupidity on the side of so-called MCs....

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#47 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
27/04/2011 15:52

Mr Cool to Tony Restell ( (#45)


Absolutely agree, although I think there are a few things worth adding.

The dynamics change in good recruitment markets (gee, remember them?). Hard to believe, but there are periods where there are more jobs than qualified people (even today in niche markets) and in those circumstances recruiters can only delight their clients if they have access to good candidiates. As such they spend more time talking to good potential candidates. I still see quite a bit of this in the interim market where there are four or five agencies that will take me to lunch or buy me coffee and have a chat every six months or so. It’s partly to swap market info, partly to sell their services to me as a hirer, but at least in part because they need to have a pool of proper interim/contract staff to fill their clients’ needs.

The dynamics change as you get more senior. Again recruiters who are confident that they always have a source of senior mandates will spend time networking with future potential candidates. Partly this is hoping to match them to the right job when it finally arrives and partly to benefit from referrals to alternative candidates. In the non-advertised (senior and secret!) market networking is an important aspect of search (as opposed to selection) activity.

That said, both of these variations are investments that good recruiters are willing to make, as you say, so that they can delight their clients who are paying the bill.

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#48 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
27/04/2011 20:35

wavey davey to Patricia (#46)

Patricia - what are you talking about?

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#49 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
28/04/2011 10:11

William to wavey davey (#48)

I am an RC and I absolutely love my job, people I work with, colleagues from top schools, the dynamics of it and of course my sometimes inflated salary haha :) - couldn't care less whether or not people perceive me or call me a "consultant" - in fact, "consultants" are often looked down by the industry people so don't mind if I am stripped of the title ---- MCs, get some confidence, for crying out loud...

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#50 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
28/04/2011 10:24

wowser to Patricia (#46)

Patricia – every time I read one of your posts I fear that you will not be able to keep up your previous standard of “missing the point” – but I shouldn’t worry, as you’ve quite clearly done it again.

Most MC’s (and employees in general) are very much aware that they are not paying the fees of the recruitment agent – believe me they’d remember getting an invoice for 10K plus VAT on their first day in a new job. This is not the point.

The complaint is that many agents increasingly strip out what most people would regard as common manners (or perhaps even professional courtesy) from the way they go about their work. Good recruiters are not afraid to phone their candidates to tell them that a job opportunity has sadly evaporated, or that an interview has not gone well. In return the candidate often respects the recruiter and will be open to different opportunities in the future and even to referring colleagues who might be more suitable for the post. Bad recruiters see this as a waste of time because they have insufficient rapport with their clients to control any exclusivity and they have insufficient grasp of their market segment to expect a consistent flow of similar requirements.

BTW - most people seem to prefer "snobbery" to snobism (sic). Woz it your education wot gave youthe impression that MC' are arrogant?

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#51 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
28/04/2011 16:36

recruiter too to David King (#1)

To follow up on Tony’s point re the economics: recruiters are largely paid on a “success only” basis, working with employers that often don’t pay for any “value add” ie they screw fees or simply don’t want it. What this means is that a successful employment agency is not the one that employs the best and most knowledgeable staff and pays them a good base salary but often the one that pays poorly and employs poor staff who are largely incentivised by money and commission.

Note the word “often”: I did not say always. Not after sympathy: just stating the fact.

Incidentally this problem, while not unique to MCS firms is much much worse in this sector than others. It’s also got much worse: when I started in MCS recruitment over 15 years ago employers treated recruiters pretty well, as did candidates. Chicken or egg: who knows?

So basically the MCS industry i.e. your employers have a lot to answer for!

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#52 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
25/05/2011 17:35

Tony Restell ( to Fred Goodwin (#20)

Fred - not a hard fact in the sense that we haven't done a survey about this across the whole industry. But the major firms I've been in contact with of late have almost all confirmed that the majority of their total hires still come through the recruitment agency route...

Tony Restell

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#53 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
27/05/2011 10:43

Feedback to Tony Restell ( (#52)

As a long suffering Recruitment "Consultant" I have to agree with the status quo here. The great irony of the situation is that the recruitment industry is probably in more need of some genuine consulting assistance than anything else out there. Without it, I'd expect a 5 - 10 year lifespan, and contingent businesses will be dead and buried.

In an environment where the dollar rules all, candidates are being left behind, and no one has made the connection that it is a limited pool of talent - so when you under service everyone, you'll be left with no one. It's an unfortunate missive, but even the lion hearted amongst us must bow to the need for "bums on seats" to make quota and stay alive another month.

If it's of any comfort to those scorned at the hands of the recruitment industry, it's nigh on impossible to break into a serious career path after a few years in. Most end up in internal recruitment roles, starting their own agency, or bolting back to the UK to rejoin the military!

Hoping to prove myself wrong on this one though - if there's a consulting practice out there willing to look at a late twenties recruiter, with near a decade of business development and recruitment sales experience, currently studying his MBA!

Any takers?

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#54 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
27/05/2011 14:03

markok to Feedback (#53)

This has to be the most redundant discussion yet.

It has no real point to it.

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#55 RE: Recruitment "Consultants"
23/06/2011 15:39

catcher to David King (#1)

lets just call them parasites shall we? either way they bite where they can to live off! now they cant be any worse than that in our social society?

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