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The Reality Of Being A Recruiter

Author: Brittany Fisher

Published date: 2018/07

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Recruitment gets a bad rap. Many people think that being a recruiter is somewhat akin to people-trading – that we slap up a job on the internet, pick the person whose CV is closest to the job spec, and give them the hard sell until we get them into a job they’re not ideal for, simply to get a commission. This could not be further from the truth.

To help bust some myths around what a Consultant does, we’re interviewing Brittany Fisher, our Senior Consultant responsible for the Fetch Business Support team. She’s here to tell us how she got started, what a typical day entails, and the common misconceptions around recruitment.

Tell us a little bit about how you got started in recruitment.

Like most people who are in recruitment, I fell into it! I got my degree in Psychology & Sociology, and really wanted the opportunity to work with people. After four years of studying though, I couldn’t face the thought of another five years to become a qualified psychologist, and I just wanted to start working. I saw a role advertised for a Recruiter in New Zealand, and they wanted someone with a people-focussed degree. I really liked the idea of helping people find jobs and careers they loved, working with clients to understand their business, and working with a group of dynamic, like-minded people.

It was a bit of a baptism of fire though! I got thrown into the role with little training, and it was very ‘sink or swim.’ I knew it would be challenging, but I wasn’t prepared for how much pressure there would be to achieve targets. It was a steep learning curve but I quickly learned how focussed and organised I needed to be.

I was there 18 months when I got a call from a recruiter in Melbourne, wondering if I’d consider a move across the ditch. Weirdly, I had been thinking about moving to Melbourne so it seemed pretty fortuitous. I signed my contract with Fetch on Christmas Eve, moved countries in February, and I’ve been here ever since!

Describe a typical day as a recruiter.

I know this is something many people say, but there really is no ‘typical’ day in recruitment! You can have a day where you have back to back interviews, you can have a day where you are out visiting clients, or you can have a day where you’re chained to your desk researching and screening candidates. The truth is, you’re at the mercy of whatever call comes through in the morning. It could be a crisis with someone you’ve just placed, or an urgent new job might come through and you’ve got to drop everything and deal with it. As a recruiter, you have to be really adaptable – you just never know what the day will throw at you. You have to be constantly prioritizing.

What are some of the common misconceptions clients & candidates have about what you do?

Oh gosh – where do I start?!

When it comes to clients, there’s an idea that we have 30 quality candidates ready to jump into whatever role may come up! While we generally have a pool of people we have spoken to or screened, it’s really unlikely we’ll have one that is perfect for that particular job brief.

The other misconception we deal with is that we only get candidates the same way they do – putting an ad up on Seek and hoping for the best. There is so much more to the recruitment process, and none of the behind the scenes work really gets noticed. It’s our networks and our ability to find and create relationships with a passive candidate market where our value really shines. We also know just how to sell a company to a candidate, how to get a thorough reference check done, what the state of the market is doing, and how to negotiate terms with a candidate. These are all specialty skills that we take off the plate of our clients!

With candidates, there’s a real mistrust of recruiters. Probably rightly so, as there are a lot of cowboys out there! Many candidates just see us as sales people who’ll shove them into any open job just to get a commission. They think we see them as just a fee, not as a person, and we don’t have their best interest at heart. While every recruiter is different, it’s certainly not the way we operate here. Working with a recruiter can definitely help them get their foot in the door of a company they would otherwise have no chance with. We offer a lot of value to candidates when it comes to helping them grow their career.

What do you consider to be the biggest challenge of your role?

Finding good people, for sure! In the market we operate in, it’s extremely busy and there are a lot of jobs on, but we don’t have the experienced people ready to go. Many clients are simply not willing to train more junior people, so we’re left with having to poach an experienced candidate from somewhere else…but that then creates a vacancy at that company. It’s a vicious cycle. The expectations of some companies about the kind of candidate they can get are just not realistic.

How do you think the industry needs to change in order to address this issue?

We need to broaden our horizons in terms of what skills and attributes we recruit for. There needs to be a bigger focus on ‘soft’ skills, and recruiting for personality, attitude and culture fit as opposed to technical skills that can be taught. As recruiters, we need to get much better at training and educating our clients on why attitude is the most important thing when it comes to hiring. It’s extremely difficult to sell the value of a candidate to a client on a piece of paper.

Recruitment is a notoriously tough gig to do over a long period of time. What do you think are the key traits a person needs to hold in order to make it as a recruiter?

The number one thing would have to be resilience. You need the ability to separate your personal feelings from the business issue you’re facing, and bounce back quickly from disappointment – because there will be a LOT of those! The truth is, you’re dealing with people and they will never do what you think they should, so you need to expect the unexpected.

You also need to be able to switch off. Recruitment is one of those jobs you can do 24/7 if you want to. We have constant access to our phones, emails & databases, so there’s such a temptation to work nights and weekends, but it’s the worst thing you can do. It can be a highly stressful & emotional job, and you will burn out if you’re not careful. So find a way of decompressing.

And always celebrate the small wins! You have to learn to appreciate all the little wins you have along the way, because it’s hard to get the big ones sometimes. You can do everything you can to get a candidate in front of a client and mitigate as much risk as possible, but at the end of the day you can’t control the outcome. Try and let go of the end result, and focus on the process.

What do you love about what you do?

The buzz you get when you place someone into the perfect role. There’s no better feeling than knowing you’ve helped someone further their career AND helped a client find someone that will help grow their business.

I also love the challenge of being able to run my own desk the way that I want. It’s like being able to run your own business within a business! We’re given KPIs, sure, but we’re not micro-managed into how we achieve those. It gives us a lot of flexibility. And the social side is pretty good too! We’re a great bunch of people here at Fetch, and we love to get together for a good celebration. I’ve made some amazing friends during my time here.

What piece of advice would you give someone who is new to recruitment?

Ask for training, that’s key! Make sure you have a good grounding in process and skills before you start. It’s really hard to be successful if you’re just thrown into it (I should know!). There are certain personalities that do better in recruitment, but it’s not the be all end all. You can be trained and be successful if you want to. It also helps to have a strong interest in whatever you’re recruiting for – if you’re on an engineering desk but you really like creative services, you’ll be making your life difficult from the start. You will need to know your market intimately and speak to people every single day about their industry & their career, so try and do something you’re passionate about.

How do you think Fetch sets itself a part (or could do better!) as a Recruitment employer of choice?

Fetch is such a fun place to work. Everyone is really nice and gets along well, which can be unusual in a competitive, sales-driven environment. We don’t have the pressure that a lot of Recruitment companies have of having to achieve unrealistic targets. Our KPIs are very achievable, and if you have a bad month and don’t manage to reach the targets you’ve been set, you’re not vilified for it. There is a lot of support from the leadership team to help everyone get to where they need to be. Our achievements are all publicly celebrated and everyone gets around our wins, so it’s really nice to be appreciated.

Where we could do better – and this is common of most recruitment companies out there – is the initial training, and structure around that that could be improved. But I know it’s something we’re working hard on!

So where to from here in your career?

I’m excited to grow the Business Support team by another two members in the next 6 months, which will pave the way for my promotion to Team Leader. From there, I’m hoping to grow into a Management position, and take responsibility for another team in the business. I’m not looking to go anywhere soon. I’m lucky to be a part of a business that encourages me to grow and supports my career aspirations. Watch this space!


Brittany Fisher is a Senior Consultant at Fetch Recruitment, responsible for the Business Support team. She is a passionate people-person and dedicated Consultant who constantly strives to do the best thing for her candidates and clients. You can connect with Britt on LinkedIn here.