Hello again, Connie, here.
I worked in recruitment for a number of years and I can tell you that it’s a tough game. The perception from outside of the industry is very different indeed to the truth.
I agree it can become very rewarding once you have built your client base, but if you fail to achieve that end, you will fail in recruitment. It is a true sales job and so many aspiring consultants fail because they do not have the ability to build that loyal and recurring client base.
Setting Up To Fail
For my money, one of the great failings in the industry is the lack of structured training. When I joined my first recruitment company as a junior consultant, I was given a box of cards and a ‘phone and told to get on with it. There was not one ounce of training. I had previously worked in advertising sales and had a traditional Huthwaite sales background so I was O.K.
If I hadn’t had that skillset behind me I would not have known where to start. It’s a churn and burn survival of the fittest in many agencies. The churn rate on consultants is treated as a puire cost of doing business. If the numbers work for the business the owners would argue it’s justified, but what about the human cost?
The cost to the self image and self esteem of the failures who are cast aside like oily rags on the recruitment scrap heap of life (that was dramatic wasn’t it?)
O.K, maybe a bit over the top, but the message is clear.
So, it was a breathe of fresh air to meet Chris Mason of Digital Marketing niche recruiters Intelligent People.
“It’s as the name suggests”, he laughs as I ask Chris about IP’s ethos with their consultants, “obviously we look for intelligence in our consultants, of course we do. But we also look for people who have worked in at least one or two areas of eCommerce or Online Marketing”.
Why do you do that?
“To be honest, we believe we can teach people the “sales” skills they need to get talking to clients. Once they are talking to a potential client, we simply believe it’s more important that they are able to converse on the clients home ground, with the authority of having worked in that niche”, he says, “it’s a massive differentiator against our competition”.
I guess I understand where you are coming from because I have experienced it first hand. I went in to IT recruitment and I had to learn it from the ground up. I knew nothing but the agency concerned (no names here) were happy to just let me lose on the clients with zero market knowledge.
“It’s absolutely crazy” says Chris, “we started in IT too and the modus operandi of most of the agencies was pretty shocking. Doug (Bates, IP’s co-owner and joint MD) and I were suss about it, we had a good work ethic and we learned the markets. But we were both in a “sink or swim” environment as well. I guess it sorts out the winners from the losers, but it is tough on those who fall by the wayside”.
Doug Bates Talks Digital Recruitment
The Right Balance
“I like to think we are much more benevolent, although I am not sure that is the right word, we need to turn a profit and won’t compromise that goal. However, we do invest in a proper structured training program and a Director will always go on client visits with a consultant until they are at least 18 months into the role and self-sufficient. Even then, the support is still there when required”.
I agree a much better way to operate, do you find you gain more loyalty from your consultants because of this approach.
“Oh, absolutely”, he replies, “some of our consultants have been with us for five or six years. Even if they leave we still maintain contact with them, you never know what the future might hold. Two or three ex consultants now work for clients and because of the good relationship we have, guess what? They come to us first with any jobs they need filling. you know it makes sense”!
So, what are the hot areas in marketing recruitment at the moment?
“That’s a really interesting question”, he smiles, “the job functions within the broad digital marketing niche are fragmenting into ever more specialised sub-niches”, Chris explains.
“We’re seeing specialised roles such as growth hacking and loyalty marketing recruitment. But we’re also seeing analytcis chunk down and specialise and ever more complex CRM systems spawning deep niche roles like category management and multi-channel strategy jobs. The role of the online marketing recruitment agency is a fast evolving thing”, he smiles.
Thanks Chris that was an excellent interview and great to get insights into a recruitment agency that obviously cares and does things right!