Turning recruitment failures into successes – 3 lessons to learn quickly

Turning recruitment failures into successes – 3 lessons to learn quickly

 There’s not one successful recruiter today that hasn’t made a mistake or two.

In my first 3 months I can remember two big mistakes that I made. They were my first job take and my first placement! My first job that I took on… I didn’t place. Didn’t even get one candidate for. My first placement… didn’t turn up!

So how am I still here nearly 30 years later?!

My first job was 3 times the average salary that my colleagues were working on – I thought I was the ‘bees knees’. It was for an AS400 RPG programmer. Now remember that this was the late 80s and our office had never dealt with IT positions before – we didn’t even have a fax machine yet… it was either telex or send the driver round with the CVs. After 2.5 months I had to admit defeat. I didn’t know any AS400 RPG programmers and neither did any of my colleagues or contacts.

Lesson #1

Stick to your core business and what you know best. Become an expert in that field and be known for it. There’s a Juice blog on this too. Straying outside of your core business what are the potential risks?

My first placement was an accounts administrator in a local company with a candidate called Alison C. It’s amazing how all these years later I can still remember her name (I’ve not put her surname to protect her!). She didn’t turn up on her first day and when I finally got hold of her she said she was sick and couldn’t start. I apologised to the client and said I would update them tomorrow. Day 2 and I couldn’t get hold of her. Day 3 and she had disappeared off of the face of the earth. At this point I was still hoping everything was OK and tried to keep the client happy. By the Friday I had given up and was now apologising profusely. I found another candidate for them, but I’m sure my reputation had taken a big knock and I’d only just started in recruitment.

“If you don’t make mistakes, you aren’t really trying.”     Coleman Hawkins

There are likely to be many times in your career, where the negatives are a little overwhelming. It’s important to learn from these mistakes and adapt your actions, so that you can grow and develop.

So that’s what I did. I went on to place 114 people in permanent positions that first year – even with the dodgy start!

Lesson #2

Don’t give up when it all goes wrong. Perseverance and tenacity are key attributes to work in the recruitment sector and if you haven’t got those, then you’re going to want to quit.

Turning it around.

The skill that I hadn’t learnt in that first month or so was Qualifying – in essence I was trying to work blind. I had taken on a job that wasn’t my core category and I knew nothing about the market. I didn’t question the client enough and was just blinded by the possible fee I would make. I hadn’t learned to say “No” to a client or candidate yet. With the candidate I had given her a half an hour interview and hadn’t asked the key qualifying questions; I had no commitment to me from the candidate and she certainly didn’t keep me informed. So, who’s fault was it really?!

Lesson #3

Hone your questioning and probing skills to really understand your customers, their wants and their needs… and keep qualifying every time you speak to them, because things can change overnight.

Having those failures early on, made sure that I questioned every job, every client and candidate as to their commitment levels in future.

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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