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A Guide to Recruitment Consultancy

By

Robert C Jones

 

Copyright © 2015 Bob Jones

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Written in 1986 before the all singing all dancing websites.

 

 

It would appear that there is very little written about the function and operation of the specialist recruitment business.  There seems not to be any generally accepted or proven method of operation and therefore an air of mystery seems to shroud the business.  This lack of information is possibly due to the general confidential nature of the business or perhaps the widely held view that that it is all achieved within the ‘old boy’ network.

 

The purpose of this short guide is to try to define, step by step, a method of profiting from the apparent lack of resources in the personnel, or human resource, departments within most medium to large companies.

 

The guide is primarily aimed at the individual wishing to become a recruitment consultant working alone or within a recruitment consultancy.  It will also appeal to anyone who has reached a ‘mature’ age and is wondering how best to apply their experience without getting too involved in the hurly burly of normal office life.

 

The recruitment business is essentially a personal business; it is a business that can change direction with every text, phone call or email.  It is continually presenting options which will allow you to pursue the direction which interests you most, in a relaxed and rewarding way.

 

The methods described here have been tried and tested over many years in the technical recruitment field, although the fundamental principles will also apply to any other field.  One point that requires a mention here is that we are dealing exclusively with the recruitment of permanent staff, the business that will result in a one off placement fee.

 

You can of course apply the principles to the ‘contract’ or ‘temporary staff’ market but this will be far more demanding on your time, patience and bank balance.  The one off permanent staff placement is by far the most interesting, satisfying, profitable and manageable proposition that can be comfortably handled by any one individual.

 

You don’t necessarily have to be tied to the office, the business will allow you to concentrate on that part of the business which interests you most, be it advertising, getting to know applicants or clients, telephone sales (getting vacancies), company visits, entertaining or simply reading your favourite novel waiting for the telephone to ring.  In my experience any one of these is equally productive.

 

It is likely that before setting out in the recruitment business you will have some idea of which particular field interests you most, be it executive, managerial, computing, engineering, accounting, medical etc. etc.  Your experience, interests or hobbies will probably dictate the area on which you will concentrate.

 

Obviously it is advantageous to have some knowledge of your chosen area; however it is by no means essential as you will be dealing with the personnel or human resource department who rarely will have detailed knowledge of the vacancy anyway.

 

The popular view of the recruitment consultant or ‘agent’ is somebody who solicits a CV from an applicant, passes it on to a client and collects a fat fee for his or her ‘efforts’.  There are happily the occasions when this happens and it is the intent of this guide to develop a method to make this the rule rather than the exception.  However in reality a modicum of effort, organisation and diplomacy to maintain the momentum is required.

 

WHY A RECRUITMENT BUSINESS?

 

What other business offers the individual with virtually no more than a telephone and a computer (or a photocopier) the opportunity to do business with the multi-nationals of this world?

 

What other business can be less demanding?  Remember, nobody expects you to deliver the goods, you can guarantee nothing to the applicant or the client and yet it is possible to tap the huge budget that is set aside by most companies for the recruitment of staff, any pressure generated will come only from yourself.

 

The fees you can expect range anywhere between 10% and 30% of salary and it doesn’t require too much button pressing on your calculator to work out how many placements during the year you will need to earn a reasonable income.

 

There should, in theory, always be a demand for the recruitment consultant.  When times are good concentrate on finding applicants and when times are not so good concentrate on finding vacancies.

 

 

THE ESSENTIALS

 

In the ‘good old days’ a license was required from the Employment Agency Licensing Office in order to operate a recruitment agency but fortunately this is now not required, however it is wise to conform to the industry ‘standards’ which are championed by The Recruitment and Employment Federation www.rec-irp.uk.com membership is not expensive and will give you a more professional image.

 

Office premises are not necessary as all your business can be carried out at home by telephone, text or email.

 

Next on your list should be to decide on your Terms of Business, a typical set of these can be found at the end of this guide, the only thing missing is the commission percentage which you can fill in having negotiated this with your client.  These terms have been accepted by large and small companies; however, if you wish to compare terms with other recruitment agencies they should not be difficult to find using your powers of investigation.  Some agencies will complicate terms in a variety of ways especially on the fees charged, by all means include any terms that seem to make sense but keep it simple.

 

Another essential should be the Front Sheet which again you will find an example of in this guide. The front sheet should be attached to every CV you submit.  It is not always possible to fill in everything on the front sheet when submitting the CV but it is information that the client will need at some point.

 

An advertising budget is also a must which will give you impetus; any advertising is somewhat of a lottery but is an unavoidable necessity unless you are in partnership with an established agency.  Give yourself a deadline for spending your budget.

 

A method of logging, recording, storing and searching your records of both CV’s and vacancies (more about this later) is essential, I would recommend a programme called Cardbox http://www.cardbox.com/ , we have used this for many years you will find it simple to use, effective in operation and it is now offered as a free download.  Total spend on all of the above need not be more than c£500.

 

 

ACTION

 

Having taken care of the essentials, now for the exciting bit, where do you get your first CV?  Where do you find your first vacancy?

 

FINDING APPLICANTS

 

In recent years the explosion of sources of information has, on the face of it, made the task of searching for applicants much easier, Social Media, websites such as Linkedin, CV Library, purchasing CV’s from various sources are all useful but try to remain focused.  An excellent source of applicants can be found on   https://www.guardianjobsrecruiter.co.uk/ there are probably more websites in this area but will require a spot of digging.  An old fashioned advert in an appropriate newspaper or specialist magazine is probably as good as any.  Advertising for a specific vacancy or a general advert advertising your services will start the ball rolling.  It is good practice to acknowledge every CV.

 

Interviewing applicants is not normally necessary, except over the phone, as the client company will usually make an interview offer on the strength of the CV.  Personal qualities such as interpersonal skills, attitude, leadership qualities, tact and diplomacy may be an area where the client may welcome your views.  

 

FINDING VACANCIES

 

Obviously the best source of vacancies will be your own personal contacts, however, if you are starting from scratch don’t get the idea that the Human Resource Manager has his or her favourites, or information regarding vacancies is for the fortunate few, it isn’t, you will find that most managers and their staff are very approachable and will only be too happy to send you their list of vacancies, in the hope that you will be able to help them out,  provided your fees are acceptable and, of course, they are aren’t they?  RPO or Recruitment Process Outsourcing has in recent years had some impact but if you have the right candidate this should make no difference.

 

How do you approach a new company for the first time?

 

The answer to this can lead, if you are not careful, into endless courses on selling and salesmanship, self-development courses, confidence building, developing the RMA (right mental attitude), combating the ISI (inadequate self-image) etc. etc. they all have their place but how about picking up the phone, ask the receptionist to connect you to Human Resources (or Personnel) preferably the manager but not absolutely necessary and ask a simple question:-

 

“Will your company accept CV’s from agencies for permanent staff vacancies?”

 

This may seem a trifle simplistic but never fails to get a considered response.  Even if the answer is “We don’t use agencies” it begs the question “Why not?”  and if selling is your bag then the best of luck.  In my experience 90% of companies will say yes, provided that your terms are reasonable.

 

THE APPLICATION

 

Let us now assume that you have a vacancy and a suitable applicant. The following steps may be stating the obvious but nevertheless are worth mentioning.  Firstly check that you are not going to embarrass your applicant by sending his or her CV to a company that for some reason he/she does not wish to apply. Most applicants will have no objection as to where you send their CV but it wise to check.

 

Delete the applicants contact details from the CV (if you are copying from a hard copy, a concertina fold hiding these details will do the trick) you may consider that in some cases it is prudent to delete the applicants name as well, if so be sure to give it a number in order trace the applicant from your records.  Add the front sheet and your Terms of Business drop it into the post or if you can’t afford a stamp! email the application but first check if an email application is acceptable.

 

You may be tempted to send the CV to dozens of companies on an ‘on spec’ basis in the hope of increasing your chances for your applicant, in my experience 6 well directed applications will be the best use of your time.

 

The progress of events from the moment you mail the application will be entirely out of your control except perhaps to monitor the situation and maybe diplomatically urge things along.  Your time at this point will be better spent trying to make another ‘match’.  Then when the call comes and it surely will that your client wishes to interview your applicant you will be pleasantly surprised if not ecstatic with delight.

 

Arranging interviews is a satisfying stage of the proceedings, there is nothing complicated about it, just be sure that both parties know precisely the time, date and venue of the interview.  Following the interview the applicant normally will continue negotiations direct with the company, all you need to do is tactfully monitor the situation, wait and hope. Precise records of events at this stage are a must in order to remind and prompt you if further input from any party is required.  I am sure you will not need reminding to send your invoice.

 

CATEGORISING INFORMATION FROM THE CV AND VACANCY

 

When this guide was first written, about 20 years ago, I wrote the following sentence:-

 

Life would be a lot easier if there was a universal format for the curriculum vitae or the rezoomay as they say in the States, but until that time comes we will have to make the best of it.

 

That time still has not arrived so it is still advisable/necessary to extract information on a category basis despite the sophisticated word search and character recognition programmes now available, in order to find either an applicant or a vacancy especially when you have hundreds and maybe thousands of CV’s on your database.  In other words reduce to a minimum the information gleaned from the CV.  This exercise might seem a touch daunting, especially when you get dozens of CV’s from your advertising, but you will be rewarded in the long term, so bite the bullet!  Categories for the CV should include the following, I am assuming you are inputting the following information into Cardbox ‘fields’ but if you do not have Cardbox a simple written list can be used in the early stages:-

 

 

NUMBER.....................Give every applicant a unique number and add this to the top of the CV.

 

NAME..........................The surname will be sufficient.

 

ADDRESS...................The full address plus postcode is preferable but simply a county would suffice for searching purposes.

 

YOB.............................This is the year of birth; the last two digits will suffice.

 

QUALIFICATION.........This is any practical or academic qualification e.g. NVQ, APPrenticeship, ONC, HNC, DEGree, MSC, PHD etc. (only 3 letters needed here).  In this and the following categories usually more than one input will be required.

 

DISCIPLINE.................Relates to the qualification only e.g. ARTS, ARCHITECTURE, ENGINEERING, FINANCE, LEGAL, MARKETING, MEDICAL, IT, SCIENCE etc.  Sub categories could be included such as Mechanical, Structures, Electrical, etc.  Abbreviate or use your own coding system.

 

INDUSTRY...................The industry category will separate those with identical jobs, qualifications and experience but work in entirely different industries e.g. Aviation, Building, Offshore. etc.

 

JOB..............................This category sounds obvious but needs just a modicum of thought.  Usually the job is a verb. E.g. Administrator, Analyst, Architect, Author, Designer, Engineer, Programmer, Surveyor, Welder, etc.

 

EXPERIENCE..............This is reasonably self-explanatory, this is usually a noun or things or equipment on which the applicant has worked.

 

RANK...........................e.g.  Lead, supervisor, manager, executive, director etc.

 

LANGUAGE.................Languages fluently spoken.  It can be very useful to find somebody at the touch of a button who can speak a particular foreign language.

 

These 11 fields or categories are adequate for most CV’s but of course you can add or delete fields if required.  You may choose to use numerical codes instead of words in order to minimize the inputting process, this works very well provided you keep a list of what your codes mean so that when you take on administration staff, they know what the codes represent. For instance Bob Jones’s CV who lives in Surrey, was born in 1959, has a first class honours degree in electrical engineering, works in the petrochemical industry, is a design engineer and has experience in rotating machinery, has managerial experience and speaks fluent Spanish can be reduced to the following:-

1234/JONES/SURREY/59/071/54/1/240/1750/M/SP, easy when you get used to it!

 

CATEGORISING THE VACANCY

 

Categorising the vacancy is somewhat easier than the CV here we only need 6 categories or ‘fields’.

 

 

REF..................Each vacancy should have a unique reference number.

 

JOB..................Same as CV above.

 

INDUSTRY.......ditto

 

EXPERIENCE..ditto

 

COMPANY.......The company name or abbreviation.

 

LOCATION.......The location of the vacancy, not necessarily the address of the company.

 

You do, of course, have the option of not keeping or recording either the CV or vacancy information, merely working on your best candidate or vacancy one by one but it is wise to build a database of both.  You may well find that down the line you will easily be able to identify good candidates or suitable vacancies from your database.  

 

With Cardbox you can also create a database for your client companies and contacts but the old fashioned card index takes a lot of beating for this, especially when you get a call from a client at 8am and your computer is down or not switched on.  Just to re-iterate; the ‘categorising’ of both CV and Vacancy will enable you to SEARCH and FIND easily.

 

A FINAL WORD OR MAYBE TWO

 

Good luck!

 

 

 

.....................................................................................................................................

 

 

Front sheet.

Your Recruitment Services

_______________________________

 

Your address

Your contact details.

 

 

Date;-…………………..

 

For the attention of:-…………………………………………………………………

 

Please consider:-……………………………………………………………………..

 

for a permanent position with your company.

 

Position sought:-……………………………………………………………………..

 

Applicant’s home town:-……………………………………………………………..

 

Salary required:-……………………………………………………………………...

 

Current salary:………………………………………………………………………..

 

If you wish to interview this applicant, please contact …………….. on the above.

 

If you do not, currently, have a suitable vacancy; please keep these details on file for future reference.

 

For Terms of Business see attached.

 

Remarks:-

 

 

 

.........................................................................................................................................................................

 

 

 

 

Terms of Business

Your Recruitment Services

_______________________________

 

Your address

Your contact details.

 

 

TERMS OF BUSINESS

 

For the introduction of Permanent Staff.

 

1.These Terms and Conditions of Business are between (Your Recruitment Services) and/or subsidiaries or associates or names hereinafter called the ‘AGENT’ and the Employer Client (the ‘CLIENT’) and are deemed to be accepted by the Client by virtue of an interview or the engagement (which term includes employment or use, whether under a contract of service or for services) of an applicant introduced by the Agent.

 

2.The Client agrees:

 

(a)To notify the Agent immediately an engagement is accepted and

(b)To pay the fee of the Agent, within 30 days of the commencement of the engagement.

 

3.The fee payable to the Agent by the Client for the introduction of a successful applicant is calculated as a percentage of the annualised commencing gross taxable pay and taxable emoluments payable by the Client to the applicant.  The percentage of the first year’s remuneration will be ……… (exclusive of VAT).

 

4.In the event of an employee leaving the Client’s employment within 13 weeks of commencement the placement fee will be refunded as the same proportion of the unworked period has to 13 weeks provided that the Agent is notified in writing within 7 days of termination of employment and provided the Client has paid the Agent’s fee within 42 days of the date of invoice.  Should the Client subsequently re-engage the applicant within the period of one year from the date of termination a full fee in accordance with Paragraph 3 above becomes payable.

 

5.Introductions are confidential.  The passing of an introduction to another employer which results in an engagement renders the Client liable to payment of the Agent’s fee as set out in Paragraph 3 above.

 

6.The Agent endeavours to make every reasonable effort to ensure the suitability of applicants selected on behalf of the Client but does not personally establish references and cannot accept responsibility for any loss, expense, damage or delay, however occasioned.  The Client is responsible for taking up references concerning an applicant’s skills, qualifications and general integrity, obtaining work permits and satisfying any medical requirements or qualifications as required by law.

 

7.Alterations to these Terms of Business can only be accepted if confirmed in writing by the Agent.

 

 

 

...........................................................................................................

 

 

 

 

The acknowledgement.

 

 

Your Recruitment Services

_______________________________

 

Your address

Your contact details.

 

 

Dear

 

 

We acknowledge receipt of your CV and will inform you of any developments in your application.

 

We will also endeavour to keep you informed of any vacancy, registered with us, which we feel would suit your experience.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

 

Your name

 

Your Recruitment Services

IMG_3668

I get bored easily, unfortunately!

 

This is the front cover of the book which is now very rare.

I did sell a few copies from an ad' in the Daily Telegraph at a time when James Khan was starting out in the Recruitment business, he made millions and you probably remember him on Dragon's Den.  So far he hasn't sent me any commission!

Back in 1987 I decided to try my luck as a one man recruitment consultant in the Engineering field and set up an outfit called Independent Recruitment Services and rented a tiny office in Cobham High Street.  Following a year of getting organised, coding CV's and Vacancies on a programme called Cardbox making a few phone calls the cheques started to roll in. I then got bored with it and went back to the drawing board.  But not before I wrote the following book explaining how to do it.

 

The cheques on the front cover of the book are real, see below.

£1,940.62

From Kennedy and Donkin.

£3,953.12

From W S Atkins.

£4,528.12

From Brown and Root

£2,156.25

From Photo-Me

£2,225.12

From Denver Process.

£4,743.75

From Cameron Offshore.

£2,515.62

From BOC Cryoplants.

£2,839.06

From Ewbank Preece.

£2,300.00

From Air Log Ltd

 

£4,754.52

 

From Central Electricity Generating Board

£2,443.25

From Calor Gas Ltd

These are real cheques, fees for one placement