No agencies please….

My name is Kate, and I am the owner and creator of Seek Recruit.  I started working in recruitment straight from higher education, and my husband Ben has run a social work recruitment agency for the past 14 years.  I am a professionally accredited recruiter with the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).  Both Ben and I really do enjoy working in recruitment, and over the years we have amassed plenty of skills and learnt many lessons along the way.  We value our clients and work with the mindset of finding out what they need tomorrow as well as today, so that we are one step ahead in providing cost effective solutions for them.  We want to be their recruitment partners – the people they turn to when their businesses evolve and when they need appropriate staffing solutions.  However in this relationship there is also plenty of focus available for another party: our candidates.  Over the years, we have built good relationships with many of our clients and candidates, who in some cases have become good personal friends.  When we ask them what it was that we did that made us stand out from our competitors it is usually pretty simple: we listened and genuinely cared about helping them get the most from their careers.  I always try to stay loyal to my candidates – if they tell me something in confidence I will not break that trust and tell my client.  Equally, I will be true to my client and ensure that this particular candidate is not included in their final selection.  It is all about ensuring that the fit is correct.

So what makes a good recruiter?  It depends on who you ask of course, and also what industry you are in.  The most successful recruiters who I have met all seem to have very similar traits –  a natural ability to put you at ease immediately and the desire to take the time to find out all about you.  Good recruiters like to ask questions, and are tactical in ensuring that they get as close to the truth as possible.  If a candidate gives an answer that doesn’t stack up, they do not let it rest and invariably they will get to the bottom of things.  They are great at multitasking and ensuring that their candidates are kept informed and well prepared, and that their clients are getting excellent value for money and the best candidates the market has to offer.  Lastly, they are bright and don’t miss a trick!

On the other end of the spectrum, it never fails to amaze me how some unaware and apathetic people do get by in recruitment.  These types are often brilliant “Hunter Gatherers”: they charm their way into your organisation and give you a multitude of reasons why you should use them with promises aplenty. “Leave it to me, I will have you the perfect person ASAP!” they say.  They are your new best friend and they glide away having won your business, and you are so pleased: what a relief to have such an amazing hunter on your side!! Well, hold on a moment before you prepare you offices for these super fabulous interviewees to arrive.  It’s now a few days down the line you are a little confused.  You can just about see over the pile of CV’s your “Hunter” has ensnared / cornered for you, and it seems that everyone (and in one instance it may as well be someone’s dog) is perfect for your business.  Hmmmm, this is taking up a bit more time than you had originally hoped and you are not really sure who is doing all of the work – you or “Hunter”??.  It is these types that make me cringe on behalf of all the good recruiters out there, and we do also have to put up with them at various events and training courses (they are the ones who like to do most of the talking during these unsurprisingly) so we do feel our clients and candidates pain when they have a bad experience in dealing with them.

When I visit a new client, the chances are I know relatively little about their business or industry, except from the research I carry out before attending the visit.  I cannot stress enough how important these initial visits are.  You can match a candidate to a job spec on every count, but if the personalities are not the right fit the chances are your placement will fall through.  There are exceptions to the rule of course, but generally speaking if you get the person with the right attitude for your company, many other things can be taught.  It is people who make our businesses, so we should invest in getting the right ones.

So on my visit to the client, I will ask the questions that others may be too worried to ask. My knowledge lies in recruiting and not, for example in conveyancing, and if I don’t understand something I will be honest and ask.  If I leave the meeting not knowing something, the candidates who I speak to about the job will also not know it.  This could mean your ideal person ducks out of the application process, never to be seen again.  Another thing I will also ask is to meet people who are currently in post within the company.  Hopefully they are doing well and helping grow the business therefore we want to find you more of these, so it makes sense for me to meet them and find out what makes them tick. It is also probable that you will want your team members to like each other, so this is something that needs to be factored in.

From here I will put together engaging and well written adverts, and use our database of registered candidates, who I know well and have always met face to face and skills tested (Seek is the only agency in the local area to offer the full range of comprehensive online skills testing, something we are very proud of).  I will spend as much time on your job as is needed to ensure the final cut is perfect.  If it isn’t, I will be perfectly honest with you and tell you why.  If we need to make a plan B, we will.  I am not targeted, and for me my reputation is more important than my sales revenue.  It always has been, and I have made a promise to myself for this to never change.

Candidates arrive at interview well prepared and at the correct address (I know it as I have already been there) and you can be absolutely assured that they know what the job is.  I have heard many a tale about candidates going for interviews because a recruiter, for example, has told them that working flexi-time is an option, (when it is nothing of the sort) just as a way to get the candidate in the door and hope the client likes them so much that it all works out.  I don’t like basing my business on “hope”, I like basing it on facts and hard work.

It is so important to me that Seek offers it’s clients a cost effective service.  It is estimated that in the UK, the average cost per permanent hire is between £4,500 – £5,000.  My most recent clients invoice will be less than half this cost, and they now have me as their recruitment partner for the future.  In their words, I have proved that I have “an eye for the sort of person they always need” and from here we can go on to ensure that they save even more money in the long run by not recruiting the wrong people.  My services cost nothing until your ideal person starts their employment with you, and even then there is a comprehensive rebate facility in place should things not work out.

So when I see the line “no agencies please”, I do wonder why!

Kate Arnold MREC CertRP – Owner and creator of Seek Recruit.