6 qualities needed to run a successful temporary desk

It was nearly 25 years ago that I had my first experience of running a temp desk. I’d been working as a commercial perm consultant for a year and was making an average of 2 placements a week. Then the catering temp consultant, Mary was heading back to Texas and they needed someone to take over. It was November and Christmas would soon be here, so I thought it would be a great challenge.

Within 2 weeks I’d booked 110 temps out per day, with some only working a 4 hour shift. I was working 12 hour days myself and on call evenings and weekends. I ended up spending 4 years running temps on 4 different sectors and then managing a team of 11 who were able to deliver up to 1,500 temps out per day.

I learnt a lot from those days and some of the lessons are still relevant today.

So, what makes a great temp recruiter?

1. Perseverance

Probably one of the first things to show itself in a great temp recruiter is that they can handle the rough with the smooth.

By their nature, temps can be a little unpredictable; the fact that they don’t have to work if they don’t want to and you can’t discipline them adds to this – of course you don’t have to offer them any more work, but it means that you are dealing with workers who have the potential to let you down.

Being able to keep smiling and keep going when it’s getting late in the day and your temp has just called to say that they won’t be going in tomorrow, is a great quality to have. The tenacity to stick with it until the booking is filled is what your client, candidate and boss require of you

2. Organisation

When I started out in temps, I counted up the pieces of paper that needed to be completed for my temp to be able to work the minimum of 4 hours and to be paid on time – 27!!

Lots of recruiters don’t realise the amount of administration that is required to run a successful temp desk, so getting yourself organised and having a plan to work to is critical.

There’s also way too much to try and remember, so utilise checklists and to do lists to make sure that everything gets done. Write out a 3 month plan with objectives, activities, results, ratios and revenue to be achieved. Then plan how you’re going to achieve it through your client and candidate strategies.

3. Being Approachable

The candidates need to know that they can call you when they’re not going to turn up and the clients want to be able to ring you up and ask what’s happening, if necessary. If you’re not approachable, then because human nature is to keep away from conflict if at all possible, you’re not going to get those calls and you’re going to end up losing out.

4. Having some Business Smarts

Running a temp desk, it’s all about the numbers.

  • How many calls will it take me to get a new client on board?
  • What’s the average number of temps each client gives me?
  • What’s the average length of time it takes to fill a booking?
  • What’s my margin – both % and £?
  • What’s the average hours per timesheet processed?
  • What’s the average timesheet value in £?
  • How many leavers do I have each week and how many future bookings are confirmed to make that number up?
  • What’s the average length of booking?
  • What’s my % fill rate?

Now… I can work out what I need to do to be able to hit my revenue target for the month.

5. Assertiveness

Being a successful temp recruiter means being a successful ‘middle-man’, whatever gender you are. It’s important that your communication skills are assertive. Being passive means you’re going to get walked all over and being aggressive or passive-aggressive might get what you want… once!

If you are able to state what you want to happen and what your thoughts and feelings are to all interested parties, this means that you’re likely to be able talk through difficult situations (which will happen if you’re a successful temp recruiter), work out what’s best for all concerned, and put across your potential solutions in a reasonable manner.

What I found hardest as a consultant was to not take things personally. It took me a while to realise that this was a business transaction and as such I needed to be able to take the emotion out of the conversations. Remain positive, enthusiastic and on an even keel, and your candidates and clients will appreciate your assertiveness.

6. Self Belief

Being all things to all people can be tough. It’s not usually in the first year that this is a problem, but for some reason I’ve worked with many consultants that seem to lose their self belief around the 18 month stage. These are very capable consultants, who know what they’re doing, but their inner belief can sometimes disappear and it can have a major detrimental effect on success.

My advice is always to go back to basics. Review your stats, analyse what you’re doing and pick 3 focus areas each month. By identifying key objectives to achieve, the self belief and self motivation usually comes back within a month or two… remember the first key attribute – perseverance – it was top for a reason!

Angela Cripps

Angela Cripps has worked within the recruitment industry for over 25 years and runs Connemara UK Ltd. Her career started as a recruitment consultant, where she recruited both temporary and permanent staff for Blue Arrow in Catering, Industrial, Healthcare and Commercial sectors. She is now an Executive Coach, Mentor, NED and Trainer for the recruitment industry.

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