How can you find the right recruiter when you’re job hunting? What are some of the biggest mistakes candidates make when working with recruiters? What really makes the difference when it comes to getting invited for an interview? Ben de Grouchy taps into his 10+ years of recruitment experience to explain how to work effectively with recruiters and headhunters during your career transition. In the Mental Fuel® segment, I’ll address a listener question about what tweaks you could make in your career to improve your career satisfaction.
Key Career Insights
- When you’re working with recruiters as a candidate, honesty and transparency are key to having a solid relationship.
- Remember that attitude and interest can trump skills and qualifications if you’re really passionate about landing a specific role.
- Being on LinkedIn is close to mandatory for any serious professional right now, as it tends to be one place recruiters consistently go to quickly learn more about candidates.
How do find the right recruiter to work with?
- Find specialist recruiter who aligns with your specific professional aspirations (industry, role, geography)
- Consider Google & LinkedIn as a starting point to find the key recruiters who specialise in your specific area
- Don’t be too concerned if you haven’t heard of the recruitment agency you identify. Some of the best recruiters run very small, boutique operations.
- Trust is key!
What’s the best way to establish contact?
- Email- great place to start for a first introductory point of contact. Be specific about what you’re seeking.
- Phone- can be especially effective if you have a less traditional background, or if you’re making a nontraditional change.
- Face-to-face- the most powerful way to connote whether you’re a good fit for a specific company. If you take the time to do this, you might also have the opportunity to receive some guidance & feedback on your interviewing skills
How much follow up is effective?
- There’s no exact rule of thumb
- Best practice is to clarify what cadence is best with the specific recruiter you’re working with.
- Generally, no need to follow up multiple times a week.
- Make sure you check a recruiter’s website, and if you spot a role, it gives you a good reason to reconnect with your recruiter and drive top-of-mind awareness with them.
Where do recruiters go to find candidates?
- They start with their known network
- Referrals from other candidates
- Advertising network
- LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful tool these days. Make sure you keep your profile up to date and ensure you’ve indicated you’re open to opportunities.
On LinkedIn how much info should you include?
- When your profile’s more complete, you will be more searchable and findable
- Having a more detailed profile may allow you to be easier to find, so err on the side of including more rather than less detail (within reason)
- Having a bare structure is better than nothing at all
Do you HAVE to be on LinkedIn?
- Recruiters will almost always check LinkedIn for a profile. If you’re not on there, it doesn’t allow recruiters to as easily perform some quick research on you.
- Recommendations can also be a very powerful signal of your effectiveness as a professional.
- LinkedIn allows you to further improve your credibility online
What makes a recruiter more likely to present a candidate to a client?
- Candidates who ask thoughtful questions demonstrate how seriously they’re taking the process and how interested they are in the exact role.
- Having a great attitude can often help propel you to the top, even over other more “qualified” candidates.
How can unemployed people work well with recruiters?
- You can actually spin this toward your advantage.
- Not having a job allows you to invest more time in the job search process.
- You have to be able to clearly justify WHY you’re not employed..
- Make sure you tell the truth and be honest
What’s a common mistake candidates make when working with recruiters?
- People being evasive or misleading about their salaries.
What’s something candidates should understand about working with recruiters?
- Keep in mind that recruiters are paid by their clients/hiring companies to fill a role, not the candidates to get them a job.
How effective is it to have a more stylised custom CV/resume?
- It’s all about the audience. Consider whether the recruiter, HR representative, and hiring manager will appreciate your approach.
- The standard CV/resume tends to be the least risky, but there are situations where a more gimmicky CV could work if that approach demonstrates a skill relevant to the role.
What’s the biggest misconception candidates have about the recruitment industry?
- Recruiters are not just out there to make money. They want to have a solid, long-term relationship with their clients, which means they have an interest to find the best candidate for a role which leads to high client satisfaction.
What surprises you about the types of candidates hiring managers end up choosing?
- Passion can trump skill. Companies are willing to train people on skills, but it’s harder to train someone on attitude and interest.
- Transparency and integrity carry tremendous weight, and hiring managers really appreciate this.
Any final advice for candidates who want to build stronger relationships with recruiters?
- When you find a solid recruiter, make sure you invest the time and effort to nurture and maintain that relationship, both as a candidate and a client.
- The candidate-recruiter relationship doesn’t have to just be transactional in nature. Treat it like an important, long-term professional relationship, and it can pay huge dividends.
Tweetables to Share
- Full write-up on 2015 in-person interview I did with Ben on The Secrets of How to Work Well with Recruiters.
- Browse marketing & sales roles in the UK on the DG Partnership website.
- I referred to Episode 19 with Adrian Granzella Larssen who talked about how she made successive tweaks to eventually find her way toward her dream role.
During this episode’s Mental Fuel segment, I talked about 3 tweaks you could make to improve your job situation: 1) changing projects, 2) changing companies, and 3) changing teams. What’s one tweak you will plan to make with your work or recruitment situation that could help you feel better about your professional situation? Leave a comment below with your plans!
About Ben de Grouchy, Recruiter & Founder
Ben de Grouchy is the founder of ecruit and director of DG Partnership. With over 10 years of recruitment experience in the UK, Ben currently focuses on online sales recruitment and executive marketing recruitment in the consumer goods sector. His sales & marketing headhunting agency J-DEG, which he cofounded, was successfully merged into the DG Partnership in March 2017 after growing the business from 0 – £1mn+ turnover and employing a staff of 10 people. The DG Partnership works exclusively in the consumer goods sector, from middle to senior management levels and is proud to be a trusted advisor to clients including Pepsico, Unilever and Nestle. ecruit is an online recruitment advertising network that allows companies to hire sales people directly, for up to a 90% discount vs. using a recruitment agency. Check out the ecruit blog where you can find really useful articles about the hiring process, and follow Ben on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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Episode Interview Transcript
Teaser (first ~15s): It’s amazing how many times I have seen people with the right attitude. Those kind of candidates will be more successful. They end up getting the job over somebody that’s better qualified than them. I always look for somebody that shows a real interest in the role.
Joseph: Hello, Ben. Thanks so much for joining me here on Career Relaunch.
Ben: Hi, Joseph. Hi. Thanks for inviting me.
Joseph: Definitely. It’s good to talk to you again. I know we got a lot to cover today. This episode’s going to be a little bit different from what I normally do on the podcast because it’s going to be a little bit more informational. I’d love to start off by just having you tell us a little bit more about your background in recruitment, and I’d also be interested in hearing about what you’re currently focused on as the Founder of ecruit and the Director of the DG Partnership.
Ben: I’ve been working in recruitment now for 10 years. I started off in an agency where I worked for a couple of years just to find my feet before setting up my own business. I was very young. I was 26, 27 years old, and I set up a recruitment agency at the beginning of the financial crisis, which was very interesting. That was focused on sales and marketing recruitment.
I just felt that—working for a big, generous recruitment agency, when my clients were telling me they like speaking to me because I was a specialist, I just work in the very niche area—that there was a gap in the market. So we launched our business in 2007 and grew it for about 10 years. We recently rebranded to DG Partnership, and it’s been an amazing ride.
We’ve always been specialists in our area, boutique agency, but we’ve managed to pick up some great clients like Pepsi and Unilever and Nestle, who just like our straightforward approach that perhaps they didn’t feel they were getting with some of their other agencies. That was the kind of classic recruitment side of my career.
You mentioned ecruit, which is a new project we’ve been working on, which is there to help mainly SMEs actually – small business owners who are looking to build their teams and perhaps don’t have the finance or budget to go and use a recruitment agency. We’ve just got a neat bit of kick that will help them recruit for about 95% less than perhaps coming to somewhere like DG Partnership.
They’re slightly different propositions designed to cover the whole market for our clients.
Joseph: I definitely want to come back and talk about ecruit because I think that’s an interesting part of your career. At the same time, I want to make sure that we make the most use of your time as an expert in the recruitment industry. Our main focus on this podcast, as you know, Ben, is career change. Whenever I speak with clients or audiences about job search strategies, this topic of recruiters always come up.
I notice a lot of people out there aren’t really sure where to start when it comes to working well with recruiters as a job candidate, which is a shame because recruiters can play a big role in your career, especially as you become more senior. If you know how to work well with them, it can really open up a lot of doors, which is definitely the experience I’ve had with you.
Let’s dive into this and start off by talking about finding recruiters. How can people go about finding a recruiter to work with?
Ben: It depends really on what you do. You need to be really clear on what you’re kind of looking for. Are you a freelancer? Are you looking for a permanent role? What sector do you work in? I think one of the most important things is that you find someone who’s actually a specialist.
Talking to a specialist, you’ll be speaking to somebody with an established network of clients in the particular area that you work with him. The best way to go out and find a specialist is going to be very easy for you to spend a bit of time researching Google, having a look on LinkedIn and some of the kind of key groups in your area and finding out the key recruiters that basically specialize in your particular area.
The other thing to bear in mind is you might not have heard of these companies before. A lot of these specialist agencies are small one to five-man businesses. That’s absolutely fine. A lot of these guys are very good at what they do, very experienced with a great network. Just because you haven’t heard of them or they’re not recognized or a trusted brand, there’s no harm in reaching out to them.
I think the second thing is working with a recruiter that you trust. You must be able to trust this recruiter with really sensitive information, private information that you’ll be sharing with them, information about your salary, your aspirations, and you need to be able to click with the person because they’re going to be walking you through a process that can be really difficult, that can be stressful. Therefore, having someone that’s really got your rear is almost as important as having someone who’s an expert in your area.
Joseph: What do you think is the most effective way for candidates to establish contact with you? I know you mentioned this trust issue. Also, there seems to be this debate out there about, in this day and age, is email enough? Is a phone call enough? Do you prefer that someone meet with you in person? What’s your perspective on that?
Ben: There are three classic ways that people might contact me. One is through a phone call. Two through an email or applications like a job advert, which will come through on an email. Lastly, it’s face-to-face. Everyone has their own personal preference.
I think what would be helpful for some candidates to realize, maybe let’s say in the more genius side of the market is that recruitment consultants are on the phone quite a lot. Therefore, if you’re trying to contact somebody on the phone, they can be frustrating. They might be away from their desk, doing an interview, and there’s no harm in sending an email.
I always, always, look at starting off a relationship just with an email – something soft, a nice introduction that would include your CV, a little bit about you. Not a huge covering letter, recruiters generally aren’t interested in that. We want to find out exactly what you want to do so we can make a decision on are you the right kind of person for our client base. I would advise almost everybody to make sure that you’ve introduced yourself on emails as well.
If you’ve got a slightly different background—for example, I work with a lot of people from retail buying who want to move across the other side in sales, which a move that you can make. It’s not obvious, but actually you can if you’re the right kind of character—then I think it’s really important to get on the phone or to try and get some face time with your recruiter. Especially if you are at the more kind of senior end as well, then it’s so important to get that face time because you’re going to be judged on your technical ability to do the role.
What’s more important is, are you going to fit into the team? Are you the right culture match? Are you going to be able to enjoy working with a company that might have a very specific kind of personality about it? I suppose a rule of thumb is email is great to start off with, and if you can—and especially if it’s slightly more tricky, it’s not a really obvious match—then a phone call or a face-to-face meeting can really help a recruiter to understand your skillset and how your skillset can fit into their client’s requirements.
Joseph: My understanding is also one of the things you’re doing as a recruiter, Ben, is that you’re also trying to understand how well they’re going to interview in front of their client. Does that mean that there’s another benefit meeting you in person?
Ben: Absolutely. The other thing is I’ll quite often do interview preparation with candidates that I meet. In DG Partnership, we’re a headhunting agency, and we deal with people that haven’t gone out and interviewed very often. They might’ve been in their current job for five years. If we get a real sense of who they are and really believe in them, then we’ll absolutely want to help them with classic interview questions, with the way that they present themselves, with the way that they deliver their answers.
I’ll quite often, in a meeting with a candidate, if I think that they’re a really good fit, I will always suggest, ‘Let’s go through some interview prep. Tell me about your best career achievements or when have you had to deal with a difficult team member.’ Check out how they answer the questions, and then try and give them some advice on how perhaps they can improve their delivery.
Joseph: Another question that I hear a lot from people, Ben, is how much follow-up do you want from candidates, especially when they’ve first reached out to you? Do you want them to be following up with you every day, every week, every month? What is a good cadence for candidates to have with you? I know that obviously that’s going to depend on how they do it, but assuming that they do it in a reasonably professional way.
Ben: It’s a really contentious issue, and this is I think where the recruiting industry, as a whole perhaps, is an easy way to attack the recruitment industry, because as a candidate, you really want the follow-up, you want the feedback, and that’s really important. A recruiter should always be able to give people feedback in a timely manner, but the truth is, often, we don’t get the answers. We will submit an application to a client, and we will be following up, ‘Please, can we have some feedback?’ or, ‘How is their interview?’ and we don’t get it.
The key issue here is, for the recruiter and the candidate, to kind of manage each other’s expectations here. Our candidate may say, ‘Look, I’d love to follow up on my application on Friday. Is that okay?’ Therefore, the recruiter knows they need to get back to that person by Friday with an update.
I don’t think it’s helpful—and I have it quite often—sometimes, people call me two, three times a week. It isn’t helpful. It wastes everyone’s time, and I always try and explain to people I’m working with, the minute I hear back on your application or interview feedback, that’s like a high-priority thing for me to get that over to you. There is no point chasing me two, three times a week because I will let you know.
The other thing that’s really important for candidates to do though is to keep an eye on your recruiter’s websites, because very often, we will get a role on, and the first thing we will do is put it up on the website. If we’re very busy, we might not get a time to call all our candidates or we might not necessarily think of you straightaway.
Therefore, if you see something come up that fits your background, drop your recruiter an email, give them a quick call, and just say, ‘I saw that role. It looks good for me.’ There’s no problem in doing that. In fact, I really recommend doing that, and it will help you get slightly ahead of the curve when they come down to thinking about, ‘Right, who am I going to call about this role?’
Joseph: I’d love to shift gears a little bit here, Ben, and also get your perspectives on candidates, because I think now might be a good time to remind people that recruiters are actually working for and paid by their clients, not candidates. What should candidates keep in mind when it comes to recruiters also being on the end of looking for good candidates for roles?
Ben: The first place I’ll look is my network, and that’s the people that I have spoken with and met with, and that is your most powerful tool as a recruiter. Therefore, the people that have managed to build up a relationship with me and obviously people that I trust, I would generally call first. That’s like a number one kind of area.
Getting referrals, this is very much kind of a two-way thing. If I speak to somebody, and they’re not quite right, people are really willing to help, ‘Oh, have you tried, John, who works over at Johnson & Johnson? I hear he’s looking.’ From a candidate perspective, if you can also reach out to your trusted peers, if you’re looking around, there is no harm in looking at your network as well. Let people know that you’re open and looking. As long as you trust them, then I think that that’s quite a good thing. That’s probably a first step.
I’m quite lucky, we advertise in all of the top 10 UK job boards. We get masses of exposure there. Normally, I will manage to find somebody, find extra people for my shortlist for my client in my advertising network as well.
Lastly, it goes without saying, LinkedIn is such a powerful tool nowadays. I think it’s really important that people that are job searching, keep your profile up-to-speed. If you’re looking, make sure you tick the box there that tells recruiters that you’re looking. It makes you much easier to find. Make sure that you got the most recent job title on there. That’s such a powerful tool for people to utilize now.
Joseph: Sounds good. That feature you’re mentioning about LinkedIn, we’ll capture that in the show notes about how you can allow recruiters to know that you’re actively looking.
I got a question about LinkedIn for you, Ben, since we’re talking about LinkedIn. What are your views on what candidates should capture on their LinkedIn profile? I guess I’m specifically wondering about this question that comes up a lot about whether you should simply replicate what’s on your CV or your resume and literally cut and paste that onto your LinkedIn profile, assuming that you’re not sharing confidential information, or are you looking for more of a summary, or does it matter?
Ben: I personally don’t think it actually matters. It’s down to you as an individual. I think that having a really comprehensive LinkedIn profile is great from a recruiter’s perspective. It helps me kind of understand what people do. I can do more research on somebody before I contact them. It means that I’m given information. That will mean people that I choose to contact will be more relevant for what I’m doing.
Perhaps, by having a little bit more information on there than just something very high-level means you might get contacted about more relevant job opportunities if that’s what you’re looking to do.
I do also see people that do keep it very topline. On LinkedIn, you have a profile completion measuring tool that will advise you your profile is at 80% complete for example. You’re more searchable, your content is more findable if you spend a little bit more time making sure what you’ve got online is up-to-date and relevant.
I’m a fan of having a more detailed profile, but if you’re listening to this, and you’re thinking, ‘Oh, I don’t have time to do that,’ having a bare structure up on LinkedIn is better than having nothing at all. Maybe start with something simple, and then you can build on it from there.
Joseph: Can I just pick up on that, Ben? Because I was running this personal branding workshop last week for some senior execs, and quite a few of them surprisingly were not on LinkedIn. I got the question quite a few times about what happens if you’re not on LinkedIn. I guess their rationale was, ‘I don’t have time to create a really comprehensive profile that I’m proud of, so I’d rather just not be up there.’ Is there an issue if you are trying to find somebody online and they’re not on LinkedIn? What’s your perception as a recruiter of that person if you don’t find them on LinkedIn?
Ben: When I speak to people now on the phone—I think a lot of recruiters do this—I’ll always go and see if there is a profile for them online. I will go and try and do my own research if I can find them. Especially for senior executives, you can normally find their profile on the company website. I really like to do that. I’ll always give someone the benefit of the doubt, but if I can’t find them on LinkedIn, it does make me just question, will I? I can’t do as much research as I normally like to do.
Now, okay, we’ve got safeguards against that such as your referencing and face-to-face meetings so that we can qualify that person, but it makes it much easier for us if you can find somebody on LinkedIn and we can see recommendations of team members that have worked with them, of peers that they have perhaps worked with or even their bosses.
Looking at someone’s recommendations on LinkedIn can also be a really powerful message for me as a recruiter or for a hiring manager who wants to find out, ‘What does this person’s peers feel about that person? Has their old boss written them a recommendation? Has their old team referenced work that they’ve done with them or given an idea about what it’s like to work for this person?’ If they have, it only adds weight to that person’s application.
We do make our own reference checks. We do follow up with face-to-face meeting, so it’s not the be all and end all if you don’t have a LinkedIn in profile, but I think you’re missing out on a trick. If you are an executive and you want to not necessarily market yourself but improve your online profile, I think LinkedIn is the first place you would go to, to be able to get your profile into the open market and improve your credibility online.
Joseph: Let’s say that you’ve got candidates, and they’ve all got roughly the same skills. What makes you more likely to present a candidate to a client?
Ben: When candidates ask the right questions. When I brief someone a particular position, I can often tell how keen they are by the types of questions that they are asking. I can almost tell who’s going to get the role by the questions that they ask on our first telephone conversation.
People that say, ‘Yep, that sounds great. Send my CV forward,’ these are the people that you get them an interview two weeks later, and you need to go through the whole brief again and maybe send them the job description again, because they haven’t really thought about it. A lot of active candidates might have several job applications in, and they got to the point where, ‘Let’s just put in a few applications and see what happens.’
I prefer not to work with people that aren’t taking each application really credibly. Therefore, at that first briefing when I’m talking to you about the role, if you’re asking me, ‘Exactly where is that location? Do they have any flexibility on home working? What is the whole salary bracket I might be working into? Who does this role report into? How many direct reports do they have?’ People that are asking me these important questions about the role at that early stage, the ones that are really thinking about it, they’re qualifying themselves for it, and these people are the ones that I’ll get a good feeling from early on, and I’ll always remember.
It’s amazing how many times I have seen people with the right attitude. Those kind of candidates will be more successful. They end up getting the job over somebody that’s better qualified than them. Nine times out of 10, that attitude piece can give you the edge. I always look for somebody that shows a real interest in the role, not somebody that just is well-qualified and can do the job and says, ‘Yeah, I’ll have a chat with them.’
Joseph: Before we move on to talking about some misconceptions of working with recruiters, I did have one more question about just getting your perspectives on candidates. We’ve all heard this saying that finding a job is easier when you already have a job. I know a lot of the podcast listeners here are thinking about switching jobs or maybe they’re between jobs. Do you have any advice for people who are not currently employed when it comes to working effectively with recruiters?
Ben: It’s what you make of it. I’ve heard that saying, but I’ve also heard the saying, ‘Looking for a job is a full-time job in itself.’ It’s full on. There’s lots of people to speak to. You need to keep up-to-speed in all your applications, making sure you’re applying to the right roles. If you’re not currently employed, you’re at a huge advantage where you can put loads of preparation into every interview.
I have heard that finding a job when you don’t have a job can be tricky, and I think there’s two main things that you could consider in response to that. The first thing and the most important thing is to be able to justify why you’re not in employment at this time. It could be for a whole host of reasons. Maybe you’ve been made redundant. Maybe you quit your job or you changed location. Whatever it might be, you need to put together an honest and credible story as to why you’re not employed at that moment.
There are some stigmas sometimes attached to why you might not be employed, but if it is for example a redundancy, just tell the truth, explain the background, and there shouldn’t be a problem. I think it’s really important to be honest, but to be prepared to package up your answer to this question in the right way in an honest and direct manner.
Joseph: Yeah, I think that’s really helpful. I think sometimes we can be our own worst enemies, and we can sometimes self-sabotage and start trying to over-explain something that isn’t necessarily an issue for someone else. That’s very helpful.
I just want to shift gears now, Ben, and talk a little bit about just demystifying a couple of myths about working with recruiters and just have a couple of questions about this, and then we can wrap up with a few finishing questions here. I’m just wondering, when it comes to working well with recruiters, what’s a common mistake that you see candidates making when they’re interacting with recruiters like you?
Ben: I, on a weekly basis, will come up against people perhaps not telling me the whole truth with regards to salary or their package. That’s probably the most common one. People believe if they inflate their salary or their package details, then they can get themselves a better package down the line, and it’s just the wrong thing to do.
It’s very obvious to a recruiter because we will cover this off with a candidate maybe three or four times over the course of their interview. If a salary has been inflated, 9 times out of 10, it comes out at the end. So I think that is really important: just be honest, and say if you’re earning $50,000, but your expectation is at $60,000, tell the recruiter that. Don’t say, ‘I’m on $55,000, but the expectation is I want to get up to $60,000,’ because it sounds like a more reasonable gap. That’s the first thing.
Actually, to back that up, Joseph, it was last year. We got a job offer for somebody who was very senior in almost a director level position. This particular candidate had changed the job title on their CV to reflect what they did rather than put their official job title on because they were having problems with people understanding what they did. It was quite an unusual role. It got picked up in the referencing stage, and unfortunately, the client withdrew the offer because it was a misrepresentation of what they did.
I think that is so important. The number one thing is be honest with your recruiter and with your end client about what you do. Make sure the date is right on your CV, these small things.
Joseph: What about something that you just wish more candidates understood about how to work well with recruiters?
Ben: There has to be some empathy here from the candidates in terms of who pays us. I think recruiters can get a really hard time in terms of it might be they didn’t get back to the person when they said they would. Whatever it might be, at the end of the day, we’re employed by our clients to find the right fit. We’re not employed by the candidates to get them a job. Therefore, I think it would be really good if some candidates—
Often, we get really pushed to, let’s say, send their CV off to certain client when we know it’s not really right for either party. I think that it would be really good if just some candidates could appreciate that we have to act first and foremost in the client’s interest and protect them. They’re the one that pays the bills.
Joseph: I just want to finish up here, Ben, with a few questions on just setting the record straight with some common questions that I hear from people all the time. We can kind of almost treat these like rapid fire questions.
I don’t know if you get this question very much, Ben, but I’m getting this question more and more. We’re recording this in 2017, and I get a lot of people asking me how effective it is to create these more custom-designed CVs that shift away from the traditional one or two-page CV, depending on where you are geographically, the sort of plain-text, reverse-chronological formatted CV to the more stylized, designed. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Ben: Absolutely. I mean I’ve seen some amazing CVs. There was one that went around fairly recently. It was fantastic. A designer had created a Super Mario version of his CV where Mario run along, and then he was jumping over the hoops and collecting the coins, and it was showing all the different skills that this child had. I think that if I was a recruiter for a programming business or a games business, this guy would walk into a job. It was incredible.
You got to read the situation right. If he sent that CV to me for one of my sales and marketing roles, I’m probably not going to call you. You got to bear in mind who your audience is. Your CV is going to be reviewed by three people essentially: a recruiter, an HR manager, and a hiring manager. You got to make sure that your CV is appropriate for the audience that is intended to see it.
My personal recommendation, what I like to see is something that’s quite classic, two-page resume that can give me an understanding of what you do in a short period of time. Then I can make a call as to whether or not we want to have that interview with you or not. There’s definitely a place for some of these more interesting CVs as well. My feeling is it depends on what industry you’re in.
Joseph: What about some of the biggest misconceptions you think candidates have about the recruitment industry?
Ben: One of the ones that we see quite often are people kind of complaining on LinkedIn that we’re just out to make a buck and make a fee. Any recruiter that’s worth his salt or her salt, it’s absolutely not the case. We’re out here to protect our clients, and we are looking for longevity in these client relationships. The best way of creating that longevity is to find them the best people for that job. Actually, a good recruiter will forfeit a number of fees. If they don’t believe that person’s right for that job, they won’t engineer a situation that will get that person the job. I think that that’s really important.
We’re a sales industry, but I think the people that are in it for the long term, it’s not about the fees. It’s about the client satisfaction and relationships. If you get that right, a byproduct is, yes, you should be able to create revenue for your business.
Joseph: I think it goes back to just creating a strong relationship and seeing the recruiter as someone who’s a partner and not somebody who has any interest in forcing you into a role that’s not right for you because it ends up not really serving anybody – not the recruiter, not your client, and also not the candidate. That’s good advice.
What about what surprises you about the type of candidates your clients ultimately end up choosing?
Ben: Sometimes they do take me by surprise. If a candidate is well-qualified but doesn’t show that real passion for the role, and they’re put up against the candidate that’s slightly less qualified but really wants it, the candidate with the passion will always get it.
Companies are really open to investing in the right people. It’s all about getting that right personal fit, and you can train the rest of it. That’s something that surprised me at first. I was thinking, ‘Wow, you’ve got this guy who’s super qualified for your role. We haven’t hired him. You’ve hired this other person who is just sure and willing, done more preparation.’
The other one that we had really recently that I found quite surprising was a candidate that I was working with for a very senior role, a marketing director for a really big FMCG company, who essentially turned down the offer that we got given for her with our client. The reason was that she couldn’t get the mortgage to work on the back of the financials, and she was good enough to say, ‘Look, you’ve been really good to me. I really want to join your business, but I cannot accept your offer because X, Y, and Z reason.’
We had backup plans for this particular client, but it’s her readiness to share this really deep and some other personal circumstances as well. Instead of going back to market, which would have been a more cost-effective thing for the client to do, they bent over backwards. They escalated it several levels to actually get the correct financials in place for this person to get the role.
I was surprised at the length the client went to secure this person, and I think it was through the transparency and the levels of integrity that she had shown in approaching this really sensitive kind of issue. Therefore, the client was willing to go the extra mile. It shocked me to be honest. I was really surprised.
Joseph: Very interesting stuff, Ben. I just wanted to close by asking you if you have any final advice you would like to offer to candidates who want to build strong recruiter relationships, and then we’ll wrap up by talking a little bit more about your work at ecruit.
Ben: If I look back at the people that have built the strongest relationships with me, it’s definitely a quid pro quo type of relationship. I’ll give you an example, Joseph. I remember when you called me back in—when was it—2008, 2009, and you’d arrive in the UK.
Joseph: I just moved to the UK, yeah.
Ben: Yeah, and I think it could be that you’d seen an advert that for a role we’d been recruiting for, and it was great. You called me. You positioned yourself in the right way, which is someone that perhaps didn’t have the UK market knowledge but someone that was really eager and have the great skillset to offer the client. We arranged a coffee, and I think the rest is history. We found you a really good role, and then you came back to me, and you asked me to help recruit for your team.
I think that the most important thing is when you find your recruiter that works for you, definitely stick with them. It’s a relationships that can last over the course of a lifetime. The best thing a recruiter can ever get, if you can give them the recommendation on something on LinkedIn, or you can even reach out to them with a piece of business if they’ve done well, and you’re now a hiring manager, something like that can really make a candidate stand out from the thousands of other people that we have to deal with day in, day out.
I think you’ll find most recruiters will work really hard to get good relationships and give far more back than the perhaps more transactions that you would expect between a candidate and a recruiter.
Joseph: Very helpful. That’s really useful to hear. I definitely do remember that first meeting we have when I just landed here in London. You’re actually one of the first people I met when I landed in this country, so I remember that very well.
Very helpful, Ben. I want to just wrap up by talking about your current business, which is called ecruit, which I know you just launched. Can you wrap us up by telling us a little bit more about ecruit, and then we’ll be done?
Ben: Absolutely. I’ve run my own recruitment company for 10 years, and recruitment is a great industry. There’s been huge amounts of pressure from clients over things like fees, and there’s been huge amounts of technological advances that have allowed clients to adopt direct-hire strategies and cut the recruiter out. That’s fine. That is just part of the market.
We also think there’ll always be a place for good headhunters. The gap in the market that we saw was for actually all of our clients, these kind of big, global, corporate businesses that were looking to hire tons of people and they’re putting pressure on the margins. There was a huge gap in the market for this kind of SME businesses that are trying to hire sales people who’ll grow their marketing or sales teams but don’t have the budgets that maybe a big kind of corporate did.
The new business that we launched a couple of months ago allows these SMEs to recruit really good caliber sales people for about 90% of the price of using an additional recruitment agency.
Joseph: Oh, wow.
Ben: It’s really exciting. Actually, the concept sounds really good, but it was absolutely quite easy to put together because we just combined some technological advances, for example like LinkedIn and advertising networks with social media, and it’s allowed us to create almost like a community of likeminded people, sales people, marketing people that we can reach out to really easily on behalf of hiring managers and connect these hiring managers to people that can do their jobs. That’s what I’ve been up to over the last—I suppose it’s taken a year to put together, but it’s been really exciting.
Joseph: If people want to learn more about ecruit, especially people who may want to actually tap into the service, where can they go to learn more about ecruit and learn more about you?
Ben: We’d love people to join our LinkedIn group. Just look up ecruit, or you can go to our website, www.ecruit.co.uk. We’ve got all sorts of lovely little articles there, free articles that can explain to particularly hiring managers how they can interview more effectively, how they can add to their teams, how they can recruit directly without necessarily spending a lot of money. There’s a wealth of knowledge to you even if you’re not a hiring manager and you think you might be one day.
Joseph: Fantastic, Ben. You are definitely one of those recruiters who’s had a huge impact on my career, especially here in the UK, so I just wanted to personally thank you for that. I also wanted to thank you for sharing such practical advice with us today and also reminding us of the importance of integrity throughout the process, which I’m sure many people will find useful, especially if they’re trying to make a major shift in their careers.
Ben: Thank you, Joseph.