Recruitment is not for the faint hearted. It’s a fast paced, demanding career choice but it promises great rewards to those who thrive in its competitive environment. There are attractive benefits to the job, and remuneration packages can be substantial. It’s no surprise, then, that ambitious young professionals flourish in the industry.

However, as these young consultants will learn, recruitment is not without its problems. Staff turnover figures are high, with some companies showing rates of up to 40 per cent. Whatever the reason for this trend, it can prove costly for recruitment companies, affecting ongoing client business and increasing in-house recruitment expenses.

If recruitment companies want to buck this trend, it is critical that they listen to their staff and act on those complaints which regularly arise. These include: worsening commission schemes, reduced flexibility and unrealistic expectations.

Here is a roundup of the issues commonly expressed by recruiters.

“My commission structure isn’t good enough”
Everyone knows recruiters like money. It follows that when recruiters work hard to close deals, only to see the lion’s share of the money go into their bosses’ pockets, they find this hard to take. And the longer a recruiter has been in the business, the harder this gets.

Traditionally, recruiters worked for a low basic salary supplemented with commission and bonuses. Nowadays, starting salaries are higher but commissions are being squeezed all the time. While this may be reassuring for recruiters just starting out in the business – it’s a safe, steady income – for senior consultants billing large amounts, it is increasingly frustrating.

“I don’t have professional autonomy”
Micro-management can be necessary when training a new recruiter. Often the best way to learn how to recruit is to shadow your superiors, learn by example and follow strict processes.

However, there comes a point when a recruiter needs a longer leash and the freedom to develop his or her own working practices. Once they find their rhythm and are billing regularly, the need for a definite ‘recruitment recipe’ dissolves. A freer approach would encourage independent thinkers with pro-active attitudes – they will do much better than “yes men” working from a recruitment-by-numbers formula.

“Expectations are too often unreasonable”
Recruitment is an appealing career choice for the ambitious, and the most successful can quickly rise through the ranks. However, as this happens, said individuals can run the risk of becoming victims of their own success.

There is an expectation by some agencies that top performers must simultaneously act as team leaders. The more profitable an individual becomes and the higher up the ranks they climb, the more they are expected to maintain their level of performance whilst handling additional responsibilities. These often include tasks such as the training and coaching of new employees. While a move towards management may be accompanied by a small pay rise, many recruiters feel that the increased time spent juggling these additional responsibilities warrants a considerably higher pay packet.

“I want to improve my work/life balance”
The recruitment agency environment is not a particularly flexible one. An agency consultant is expected to work a set number of hours, but more often than not this is supplemented by out-of-office work in order to meet targets and earn extra commission.

This may be okay in the short term, particularly for those young, enthusiastic recruiters, but it becomes increasingly difficult for those with external commitments such as their family. A more flexible working environment would not only result in a more productive workforce, it a happier one too.

 About Richard Prime





Richard Prime, joint CEO, Sonovate
After 15 years in contingent recruitment you might think that Richard would be looking for a change. You couldn’t be further from the truth-ish!
Richard is fuelled by his passion for the recruitment sector and a desire to enhance the role of the recruiter and manager: in other words, those that deliver the service. Richard believes the ‘best’ recruiters are inherently ambitious and will choose the best option to progress their careers. Because of this, he is confident Sonovate will appeal to the industry’s pre-eminent recruiters.