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Recruitment - it's a people business

It’s never easy trying to describe the recruitment business to someone who knows nothing about it.   And yet fundamentally it’s a very simple concept.  Employers need people and people need jobs and it’s the role of recruiters to match one with the other, irrespective of whether you are dealing with investment bankers, healthcare workers or engineers.

Obviously it is a lot more complex in practice, especially when it comes to understanding the legislation surrounding employment and the compliance requirements of specific industries. And, as recruitment becomes increasingly specialised, the days of the “generalist” recruiter are becoming numbered. Quite rightly, employers and candidates expect recruiters to have a detailed knowledge of the industry sector or profession in which they operate.

One thing doesn’t change though – recruitment is still a “people” business where good inter-personal and communication skills are absolutely vital. Whether you’re dealing with a candidate or a client, you need to ask the right questions, listen carefully to the answers, interpret, analyse and summarise. Only if you have a good understanding of needs and expectations will you be able to match the right person to the role and vice versa.

Recruiters work in a dynamic and fast-paced environment, especially if supplying temporary staff on-demand when priorities can change by the hour. You therefore need to be a good organiser with an ability to influence others and, because it’s a people business, a reasonable tolerance of occasional human shortcomings! Social work it isn’t although an empathetic approach is always helpful.

According to a survey recently published by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, turnover in the recruitment industry totalled £22.4 billion in 2008/9. Even in recessionary times that makes it one of the UK’s biggest service sectors. Unsurprisingly the demand for permanent staff shrunk by almost 40% as employers sought to reduce their fixed costs by cutting back on recruitment. 

However the temporary supply sector remained relatively buoyant, especially in the industrial and blue collar sector which now accounts for 33% of the total temporary supply market. As the UK emerges from recession, there is clear evidence that employers are reluctant to commit to additional fixed employment costs, preferring instead to recruit temporary workers until they are sure that the upturn will be sustained.

That trend is corroborated by Rowan Pritchard, Driver Hire’s franchisee in Romford and the company’s current Franchisee of the Year. “My business grew by 46% last year even in the worst recession in living memory,” says Rowan. “This year to date I’m over 80% up and aiming for the magic £1 million turnover. Demand for drivers is very buoyant right now and my biggest task is finding people with the right skills and experience to meet our clients’ needs.”

"Recruitment is a unique business. I hadn’t been involved in it before I came into Driver Hire but the training I received from Head office helped me enormously. Although I work in a sales environment, I don’t consider myself to be a natural sales person. However I do firmly believe in the Driver Hire brand and therefore I’m confident of going out and promoting it. I then back that up with a personal commitment to deliver what I promise." 

"In the early days, rather than let a client down I have been known to spend a day in a warehouse loading furniture onto lorries or to get out of bed at 3am to run a driver to work when his car wouldn’t start. It’s all about going that extra mile – the alternative would have meant a phone call to say ‘sorry’ but that has never been an option for me. I can honestly say that I love being in this business. If you’re looking for variety and constant challenge this is the place to be. No two days are ever the same and I still get a real sense of personal satisfaction from knowing that I’ve helped a customer deliver his goods (literally!) and at the same time found work for one of my candidates. I’d recommend it to anyone.”

Recruitment is well-suited to people who want to buy a business management franchise. It has the advantages of relatively low fixed costs, no requirements for expensive plant, equipment or shop-fitting, no depreciating stock and a system-led approach. However systems alone will not necessarily lead to success. As with any other business, the final ingredient in the recipe is the motivation, commitment and desire provided by the franchisee. In other words – it’s all about the people.

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