10 Sep 14 Recruitment Trends

Recruiting on the Front Foot

I received an email late last week from a long term friend asking if we could find him good candidates with a certain hard to find skill-set for his new company. I immediately went back to him and said that I am sure we could but would ask those guys in the team who specialise within this area of tech recruitment. I also asked the guys if we would be interested in working these roles for a new client.


  1. Can we find this skill-set? - The guys came back with a really thorough analysis of the market and how in-demand this skill-set was but that they were about for the right roles.2
  2. Were we interested in working these roles for a new client? – The team gave me a brutally honest answer: That it would depend on a number of things (in this order):
  • What is the Client’s Shop Window like – (Website, Work here page, Reputation, etc?)
  • How long have they been looking for these great people?
  • How does this company presently recruit?
  • What are the commercials?

The answer to the first question was exactly what I thought I would get. When it comes to the Digital Technology space we are definitely over the top of the mountain and demand for great people totally outstrips supply. I speak with many other people in my space and we all agree that finding great candidates is harder than it has ever been even with on-line Job Boards, Linkedin & Social media together with our not un-substantial database.


The answer to my second question at first scared me – ARE WE REALLY HAPPY TO TURN DOWN POTENTIAL CLIENTS? – having grown a company from scratch I can honestly say that particularly in the early days there was a time when I would never have turned down potential clients as I always believed that it would work out for the good and we were trying to grow our brand. However 10 years on we now have a great team and the excellent client base that set the bar very high in terms of the quality of the people who join their companies. So probably like many of our competitors, we have choices about which companies we would like to work with.

Recruitment is all about keeping on the front foot – right from the very earlier conversations with the client on the Job spec and the type of person that they are potentially looking for to the offer stage and beyond. I personally have found that the closer you work with the client (whether that be the hiring manager, HR or internal recruitment team) the more fluent and efficient the process becomes. Often we share the same ups and downs and we all know that we are in it together and that we all have the same goal – to find and help build great teams and companies.  The closer you work with a client the more you know about them and why they are a great company to work for, the more you are on the front foot. Ultimately the recruiter becomes the ambassador or advocate for the client in the talent market place.


If there are barriers put up at any part of the process it generally leads to inefficiency and you lose a little bit of control of the process and therefore of the candidate as well as the client. We are very much in a candidate lead market and great candidates have lots of choice these days therefore it is fundamental that we all sell the company & the role to the those talented people sitting in the coffee house or opposite us in an interview. Thankfully in the world of Digital Technology the great majority of candidates follow the company, its culture and technology before pure monetary reward, however again there are plenty of these brilliant companies out there from start-ups to market leaders.


I believe that good recruiters also have choices and they too look at the clients in terms of their shop window, culture & tech stack etc as they know the better it is the more chance of attracting and building relationships with hard to find talent. This leads to greater efficiency in the work they do and helps them concentrate on the quality of their work. Good recruiters work less roles than the rest but their delivery is second to none; they are incredibly efficient; they have excellent relationships with their clients and candidates and are seen as experts in their field of recruitment. Many have access to the right talent pools but will only send their candidates to companies where they feel would be the right fit for the candidate.


Going back to my friend & his company – it was a recruitment car crash and when we started to look under the bonnet:

  • their Shop Window didn’t look that great,
  • they had been looking for a few months for these people
  • the roles were out with a large number of agencies
  • their commercial terms were awful


It was no wonder their current vacancy page was so long with what you would have thought would have been fillable roles. We declined the chance to work with them as they clearly didn’t care how they got people to their door. They were probably receiving countless average to poor candidates from agents who were themselves regarding this company as a 3rd class client who got the cast off candidates who the good recruiters felt were not good enough for their clients who they work closely with. Their recruitment strategy…Luck!


In my own recruitment journey I have recruited for a number of organisations and what sets the really good ones from the rest is that from day one they fully believe that the people within their companies are the most important thing; the people set the culture and drive the company forward. These companies also take their recruitment very seriously whether it be using excellent internal recruiters or working closely with a small select number of trusted agents or a combination of the two. Everyone feels part of the team and are driven to finding great people for that company because they believe in what they are doing. Everyone starts and remains on the front foot.


Jon Sheehan

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Tags on this post: recruitment