Some things in recruitment never change

Some things in recruitment never change

(The small print – the following article is from my own observations and experiences that are common to most industries and sectors I have either worked or consulted in)

The 1990’s

Sure, selling in the 90’s was different to now. The early 90’s the internet was, for most people, a topic on “Tomorrows World”. The biggest asset any respectable recruiter needed was their Yellow Pages and a rolodex contact storage device.

This was a time when Take That was establishing themselves as an iconic pop band (the first time around) racking up the hits and when departments from local authorities were allowed to receive A3 desk pads, branded coasters and mugs without it being seen as a bribe to win business.

A time when prospective clients needed a printed copy of a company brochure to help make an informed choice. However, if I take my rose-tinted glasses off for a moment, the 90’s was very much like the decades before and after which all had their own challenges and advantages. Challenges and advantages that recruiters had to adjust in order to be successful. Each decade forms its own layer of change, to the world around us and how people think and behave.

Fast forward to the late 1990’s when Britney Spears was asking us to hit her one more time and telling us that oops she had done it again. The internet was becoming more main stream and more computers were being placed in the workplace to help revolutionize the way we work. Now prospective clients had the choice to dial into the network, wait for 15 minutes, and conduct a limited search of companies that could supply them. Their need for an actual paper brochure was starting to diminish.


In 2005 James Blunt was telling us he thought we were beautiful, the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles got hitched. YouTube was launched in the US and we were still two years away from the launch of the iPhone.

Prospective clients had a choice of suppliers at the touch of a button, being able to get an idea of price and services and the paper brochure was a retro piece of stationary from the old days.

When meeting with a potential supplier no longer did they need a history lesson on the recruiter’s largest organisational milestones, they already knew that! They also could read online key products and services and compare them to other suppliers offering similar options. The prospect clients needed and expected something different from the recruiter. They wanted the recruiter to have adjusted and be able to demonstrate their points of difference, explain the “why choose us” statement, how much discount they would offer and in general have the question “Why should I choose you” answered.


The age of big data. It is reported that 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last couple of years, that the amount of new technology information is doubling every two years. Some other technology facts and predictions:

  • 24 hours of video viewing is uploaded every minute on YouTube
  • If Facebook were a country, it would be substantially bigger than China
  • 92% of the world’s currency is digital
  • By 2020, video will account for all internet traffic – that’s just two years from now!
  • More than 570 new websites are created every minute.
  • A site that is new to a user, taking longer than four seconds to load, the user will most likely click out.

Now prospective clients are faced with too much knowledge and options. They would need to invest lots of time to review and compare all the options open to them. With so much choice and information it can be overwhelming.

I have noticed over the past few years recommendations are rising back up towards the top of a prospect client’s decision-making criteria. Recommendations have always been key, but in the age of data, being recommended to someone moves you forward towards the trust zone, makes you stand out in the noise of competitors and helps create balanced relationships that are mutually beneficial.

What does this mean for a sales professional?

Whether you call yourself a Recruiter, Business Development Manager, Territory Manager, Head Hunter, Director of Sales, Sales Ninja or ruler of the new business realm, there are some things that haven’t changed through the decades! You are dealing with a human being!!!

Whether that human is in front of you in person, looking at your website on their phone whilst on their way to work, trying to avoid your emails or seeing your LinkedIn profile they are still human and need to clearly understand the “What’s in it for me” before they invest any more of their time with you.

With people allowing just 4 seconds before they click out of a website…how do you grab their attention? On LinkedIn on your profile, how can you make yourself stand out? On the telephone, how can you motivate someone to engage in a conversation with you within the first 30-45 seconds, how can you utilize your network to be introduced to the right prospective client? People buy from people and that has been the case since the first ever sales role in 2400 BCE. How people work has changed… but the human being instinctive need to feel trust and understand how they benefit from something hasn’t.

Some points to consider:

  • You need to fully understand a client’s wants and needs so you can relate your solutions to their problems and issues to demonstrate your true value. For this… you need to talk to them (strange I know). Gather information so you can truly diagnose their needs.
  • Think like a prospective client – map out what would be important to you if you were them. What would you want to hear, how would you want the recruiter to behave? What would someone have to demonstrate for you to invest your valuable time with them? What are the changes within the industry that may need a solution? What do you want from an organisation?
  • Be clear on your selling style and how to adapt to the client’s buying style. There is a small window of opportunity to make a subliminal connection to develop trust. Your style needs to reflect what they need and how they make decisions.
  • Understand your own core offering and the benefits for the client. Often, when we have time with the client there is a danger of product dumping and not making the dotted lines clear between what you offer and how this helps them.
  • Be clear and know how to articulate – what you do, why they need to hear about what you do (the benefit to them), how you add value to their business, what solutions you solve (give them peace of mind, save them time, save/make them money, take away their hassle or “just because” they may want it).

So, to recap – 2018, the age of digital downloads to hear Dua Lipa sing IDGAF, big data and potential buyers with a four-second patience capacity we need to evolve how we connect with them.

However, the one thing that hasn’t changed is to remember the human being that you are trying to connect with. How and when they buy may be different from the 1990’s but the need to trust the recruiter and understand the value you bring to them hasn’t’ changed.

To hear more about how we can make your benefit statement crystal clear and how it translates across all mediums and sales channels and to hear more about the psychology of selling, please get it touch:

Photo by petradr on Unsplash

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