Recruiters get a bad press, and often it is well deserved. There are far too many consultants out there who see candidates as a resource; nothing more than a stack of CVs to match to new jobs that come in.
At Hartigan we strive to be different. For a start, we know that we are nothing without our brilliantly talented candidates, and that means we must constantly nurture our relationships with PR professionals and their prospective employers.
But most of this work takes place in the background: invisible to you, the candidate. That’s why we want to give you some insight into all the work we’re doing on your behalf, beyond the coffees and catch-up phone calls which is often your only contact with us.
First, let’s nix the myth that recruitment is one long whirl of lunches with agency clients. Sadly for us, most of our time is spent on endless amounts of crucial but mind-numbing admin: chasing clients on CVs, interviews, feedback and decisions, and researching new job opportunities and market moves (such as poring over PR Week for new client wins or staff moves).
It’s pretty similar to PR. To be a good recruiter, you need in-depth knowledge about your sector, the latest moves and client wins; we’ve got to keep abreast of new developments, trends and technologies; and of course keep up to date with our candidates’ careers and ambitions.
As for long lunches at the Groucho – forget it! Catching up with agencies is important, but we’re as deskbound as the journalists you try to tempt out to meet your clients. Likely as not, we’ll do it over the phone – or steal half an hour for a latte as we rush across town between meetings with candidates. Whether they happen in person or on the phone, these meetings are crucial for building a thorough understanding of each agency’s unique culture, so the people we place are genuinely happy in their new roles.
But we believe recruitment is so much more than merely matching CVs with roles. It’s also about helping our candidates to grow, which is why we spend a great deal of our time offering advice and counselling them on their job market, listening to their ambitions and helping them plot out a career path. To this end, we have our own certified career coach – an ex-PR pro who offers amazing insight into the industry and helps people decide what they want out of their career. (Drop us a line if you’d like to speak to her!)
One of our biggest gripes (and what gives our industry a bad name) is when recruiters only contact candidates when they want to “sell” them a role. Then, if that placement doesn’t happen, they’ll go AWOL for months on end. That’s not how recruitment works: it’s about building relationships, finding out why a role slipped away, and working with the candidate to make sure that we nail the next opportunity. If you’ve dealt with us before, you’ll know that we reply to every email application, and keep you bang up to date with our progress at all times.
That means that much of our time is spent pushing for updates as hard as you guys chase for coverage, or doing the thousand and one tasks that contribute to getting you the job you deserve. This includes a lot of new business work, constantly building relationships with new agencies so that we can offer the widest pool of opportunity to our candidates.
Don’t weep for us, but there’s a lot of drudgery involved, too. This includes everything from writing ‘cover sheets’ that sell your skills and experience, rushing to find the best fit for an urgent job role, co-ordinating diaries and managing last-minute changes, running CV and interview clinics, managing the offer process and negotiating salaries and benefits (hey – it’s in our financial interest that you get paid the best rate!), countering rival offers – as well as more strategic tasks such as brainstorming and future planning.
OK, we know we’re not saving lives, and we can’t compare our work with that of our candidates’ (apparently, the sixth most stressful profession!). But there’s a big difference between doing a job adequately and doing everything in your power to place people in jobs where they’ll be happy and fulfilled.
And our reward? Nothing beats that celebratory drink with a candidate when they have secured the job of their dreams (though we’ll also join you to drown your sorrows if it’s a ‘no’…).
Many recruiters measure success by fee income or number of placements made. Our metrics are more subjective: for us, it’s about building long-term relationships – and often genuine friendships – with the people we work with. Our job isn’t over when the job offer’s been accepted – once someone works with us, they are part of the Hartigan family (for as long as they want to be!).
And everyone’s welcome. If you like the way we work and want to join us – you know what to do!