For an industry that attracts talent and deals with inspiring people to make the next move in their career, it is ironic that the biggest hurdle for recruitment companies’ growth is their ability to attract talent.

Fundamentally, “Physician heal thy self” is apt in this case. Recruitment companies need to get advice from their own staff in order to get this right. An internal survey of why people like working at the organisation and why they stay, may not be to everyone’s liking as it may expose a number of issues. However, my view on this is that if we can retain our staff by understanding what they need, this will also translate into the company being an attractive place to work.

Attracting good talent is a matter of understanding exactly what we are looking for. The fundamental nature of recruitment has not changed in terms of the role, but the sentiment of how candidates and clients are dealt with has.

The current recruitment market has two types of buyers; those that buy as they are prepared to suffer non-delivery most of the time for a volume price, the other being those that have been through the mill so many times that they are constantly looking for someone who will step up to the plate, or when they find them, they stick with them. The candidates have also moved on from simply being phone jockeys to those that have deep knowledge of their market and their clients know the value that they create.

Recruitment companies on the other hand have, in the main, not changed. The big players have little or no real difference in the way they operate, perhaps some cosmetic changes to the environment – but little else. The market that is evolving, and one that I have a keen interest in, is the new start-up sector. They are more like what one would consider to be advertising – marketing environments. The owners of these start-ups don’t want to wear a suit to work, they don’t adhere to traditional wisdom on a number of things within their businesses, but what they have got right is talent acquisition. They have personalised the work experience. They have involved their staff in their journey and, in essence, listen to them.

There is much we can learn from start-ups and why they attract talent that established brands cannot. The DNA of a lot of the current successful brands like Huxley, were based around the energy of their management and the drive and vision of what they were trying to achieve. This brought in perhaps some of the best talent in the industry into one brand and this helped it become what it is today. The drive and energy of the leadership and what they stand for, is the one outstanding element of recruiting talent. Talent is looking for a home that will value it, nurture it and eventually, reward it. Does your recruitment business truly do this?

Recruitment’s obsession with billings and activity stats (which I totally believe in) have, in a lot of cases, diluted the reason why people join a company and stay. Why do motivations dip to simply getting the commission on a selfish basis and not allowing oneself to add any real value to the brand.

So what is the answer? The answer is simply that if we applied the same diligence in attracting and recruiting our own staff as we do on behalf of our clients, the results would be very different. For example, do we do a proper job order for ourselves and ask all the questions we spend our lives convincing clients we need to have in order to get the right candidate? What is the culture? Why is this position open, what would happen if we did not recruit for this role (what is the impact to the business and therefore the seriousness of it), what are the next steps for this individual, what L&D do we provide…?

You get the idea. We are experts at what we do, we just don’t apply the principle to ourselves. Time to ponder the question…

Written by Abid Hamid, CEO, Recruitment Entrepreneur