Recruitment has always been a transient sector, attracting large cohorts of individuals trying to find fortune, success, or who are completely undecided but somewhere along the line they heard, “the recruitment world has streets paved with gold!”
If you started your recruitment career in the last 24 months, you would have believed this to be true as the market has been dripping with opportunity. Companies across the world hiring in never-before-seen numbers pushed salaries to all-time highs and completely unsustainable levels. Candidates previously discarded with a cursory glance were hotter than gold as a commodity. Even seasoned recruiters couldn’t believe their luck. Especially after all the turmoil of Brexit, IR35 and then a pandemic, it was like the boom years of recruitment had finally returned.
But if there’s one thing I have learned in the past 18+ years of recruitment, nothing lasts for long. As fast as the market picks up it can fall twice as quickly. And for an industry that relies on speed, urgency and thinking on your feet for success, watching some recruitment consultants trying to adapt to a changing market is like watching the QE2 trying to turn in a bathtub!
The ones who have never experienced the sudden change that recruitment markets can present, don’t believe you when you tell them it’s coming. I was probably just as oblivious at one point, incredulous at the warnings given by my more experienced colleagues, only learning my lesson once I butchered my pipeline.
The pain really starts to register when the cash flow starts to evaporate, especially as you very quickly get accustomed to the spare cash you have enjoyed for months. But the predicament of your situation finally registers when your jobs have dried up, your clients aren’t as urgent and internal teams suddenly don’t return calls as they are “too busy filling roles internally”, pahaha! That’s a funny one.
I doubt this is any different in other sales and target-driven environments. You are constantly at the behest of economic turmoil, external factors and other market conditions that dictate the environment you work in. But it’s nothing new, it’s been the ONLY consistency in sales since the dawn of time, so why aren’t we better prepared?
Personally, I don’t think it’s about being prepared. It’s more a case of who is the most disciplined and consistent in all market conditions. Sales is repetitive. The lows far outweigh the highs and if you celebrate the highs too much and for too long, the lows will feel much worse.
The most successful people who rise to the top keep their jobs interesting and challenging. They never get complacent, and they know, when the sun is out make hay, when it’s not, change it up and make something happen!
From experience, it’s only a small shift needed, but it’s a conscious one that changes early on as you see or feel the market shifting. Like the captain of a ship, they’ll shift to starboard a few degrees well before the rest of the crew see the oncoming swell that would have taken them broadside.
In that lies the answer. You need a good captain to recognise what lies ahead, and then implement small changes to combat them. The most successful people know exactly how to change their normal approach. Subtle shifts in approach, focus, work rate and prioritisation. You need a calm measured, assured shift towards revenue generation in different ways.
The best revenue generators do it all the time. It might not translate into direct figures immediately, but it provides a platform and opportunity to capitalise in all market conditions.
Sales and commission-led environments owe you nothing. Today’s heroes are tomorrow's losers. The sooner you realise that the quicker you can change your work habits and be a recruitment consultant for all conditions. If you can do this, you will have a long and prosperous career.