Would you encourage YOUR child into recruitment as a career?

Would you encourage YOUR child into recruitment as a career?

For the most part I have had a blessed career in recruitment. Sure there have been tough times and lots of challenges. But mostly I have had immense fun, made life-long friends, travelled the world, learned an incredible amount, and made a very good living.

Yet, for the best part of 25 years, as long as I have been a father, when people have asked me the question, “would you encourage your children to go into recruitment”, my answer has always been a very firm, “NO!”

But why is that?

Maybe it was because recruitment can be such a relentless business. Or maybe it was the often-negative reputation of the industry, and possibly, to be frank, it’s because deep down in my unconscious, I never really believed recruitment was a ‘real’ career.

But in the last year, something has changed.



The bowler in this picture is my son. He is 18 and on a working gap-year in the UK, having finished school in 2014.(Yes, that ball took out the middle stump, in case you were wondering 🙂)

And when we were considering his career options, to my astonishment I found that if he showed any interest in recruitment, I would have no aversion to him following that path. (He showed zero interest by the way)

Which is counter-intuitive surely? Why would I point my eldest son into a career that I could not bring myself to recommend for 25 years, at a time where so many people want to tell us that it’s a dying career anyway!

Well the answer is that recruitment is not a dying industry. In fact, despite what you read, our prospects have never been better!

We must reinvent and evolve, for sure, but where we are going, if we get it right, is a far richer, more intellectually stimulating future than any thing we have seen before.

But, recruiter success is not for everyone. In fact most will not ride this new wave of prosperity and fun.

It’s an opportunity, not a right.

The smart, and the quick to adapt will thrive. New skills must be learned and I have spelt out in detail what those modern recruiting skills are.

And so, on reflection, maybe the question is not “Why would you become a recruiter?” maybe the better question is “Why wouldn’t you want to be a modern recruiter?”

Look at what the job involves! (Please review the chart below in conjunction with the DNA of the modern recruiter. It will make more sense)

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 2.22.06 pm


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About Greg Savage

Over a career spanning thirty years, Greg Savage has established himself as a global recruitment leader. Greg is a regular keynote speaker at staffing and recruitment conferences around the world.

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21 Responses to Would you encourage YOUR child into recruitment as a career?

  1. Brian Keith June 16, 2015 at 9:40 am #

    As a recruiter who owns their own ’boutique’ agency in the USA specializing in the Manufacturing Industry, for the first time in my career I am really starting to feel like I can’t make it work anymore.

    I used to be able to find an extremely talented candidate and market them around to companies I know would be a good fit. I could have a detailed technical discussion with the hiring authority and figure out right then and there if there was interest.

    These days I am told by whomever I get in contact with that I will have to contact Human Resources regarding all hiring issues. I recall a time (2-3 years ago) when the Plant Manager or General Manager could over-rule a stubborn HR Manager and I’d get my candidate an interview. Not anymore; the Hiring Managers have become powerless when it comes to hiring and HR is seemingly the most powerful department in the organization.

    I’d be ok with that if it were not for the fact that so many people who hold the title of Corporate Recruiter or ‘Talent Acquisition Specialist’ can’t answer even the most basic technical questions regarding the openings they’ve been charged with and the task of scheduling a simple interview has become an exercise in futility. Inform them that a Candidate needs 48 hours notice and a late afternoon interview; Can he come in tomorrow at 9am? No? Let me get back to you (two weeks later) Can he come in next Tuesday at 11am?

    This industry only works if a large number of decision makers in an industry agree that third party recruiters add value. The way it is now nine out of ten companies in a given ‘niche’ are using internal recruiters and third party agencies are not welcome, yet I’m expected to be an expert in that niche that has only one company using agencies every once in a great while.

    Candidates I’ve worked with for years call me asking if I know of any opportunities they’d be a fit for and I do know of several, but none are using recruiters. Do I tell them about the position (further feeding the idea to companies that they don’t need us) or do I lie and say I don’t when all they have to do is google their job title and their city and find out I’m either a liar or incompetent.

    There may be a future in this industry chasing down ‘purple unicorns’ that are so difficult to fill these days that even someone like me who spends 10 hours a day calling prospects can’t even find one single candidate who remotely fits the description, much less one who will be interested or get the offer, waiting like a starving animal for those ‘Resume Saved Search agents’ on the three expensive job boards I pay for to provide a ‘hit’ in the hopes I’ll be the 1st recruiter to call only to be told by my client that the position is now on hold.

    I’ve done this successfully for 15 years now, every year it gets more difficult and every year I hear how the golden age is around the corner for those who adapt. I just don’t see it. I’m about ready to give up. I am currently training my step son to work with me but every day I
    feel like I’m leading him down a road to nowhere.

    • Andrew Gemmell June 16, 2015 at 3:13 pm #

      Brian as Greg has said, it is evolving! And that takes time.

      It will take time for the people who care about the quality of talent run the ruler over how successful those hires have been using an internal source. In larger organisations many of those “hires” are actually shifting resources internally. Is that a good hire? Yet to be determined and as they say the proof will be in the pudding.

      But don’t wait and hope those internal recruiters are deemed to not have been a success. Package up your knowledge and skills differently and perhaps offer from a different angle. I’ve no doubt being hands on in the market you will have a lot of very valuable information.

      • Brian Keith June 16, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

        Thanks Andrew. We are currently taking a lot of Greg’s advice and trying to get the battleship pointed in a new direction. Much like the metrics for internal team’s successes you mention taking time to come in, only time will tell if investing more in marketing, etc pays of in the end. We survived the recession,so here’s to surviving the ‘recovery’.

        I wonder, how long will it take for CEOS and CFOS to realize that creating an entire department to be in complete charge over hiring is kind of a conflict of interest by it’s very nature. Unfilled positions to the Talent Acquisition Specialist=Job Security.

      • Amybeth Quinn June 20, 2015 at 1:51 am #

        Hi Andrew, while I understand what you’re saying, it’s not fair to lump all internal recruiters and sourcers into that ‘crappy’ category 🙂 no more than it is for someone like me to lump all agency recruiters into ‘used car salesperson’ category 🙂 There are good and bad in both, and unfortunately if we’re in this line of business we’re each going to run into the bad ones at some point.

    • Mark June 17, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

      Hi Brian,
      Sometimes you need to change sectors. From what you describe, clearly there appears to no longer be a demand for candidates represented by recruitment agencies in your sector. That does not mean all sectors are the same, if your sector does not have demand for agency represented candidates and does not look likely to change then recruit something else. You must recruit where there is enough demand, don’t choose to be a purple unicorn recruiter rather be a purple squirel recruiter and find candidates that internal teams just can’t source

      • Brian Keith June 17, 2015 at 1:19 pm #

        Thanks for the advice Mark. I think you are right, it’s been the kind of thing that reminds me of that Godfather quote, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in”. For a while I did still have one good client left in my industry who gave me lots of business, but had nowhere to go with candidates who were not a fit for them.

        Lately though, even they have brought in a new Corporate Recruiter who could care less about my successful track record over ten years. She acts nice to my face but actively sabotages everything I try to accomplish and lumps me in with every other recruiter they work with even though my people always stick while everyone else’s candidates last a few months and leave. She has also insisted on complete control of the process (no CC’ing Hiring Managers allowed ever) which I know will never work because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to get a little aggressive with hiring managers to get them to see what they were not seeing and it has proven very successful.

        Anyway, I am totally venting..sorry about that..it’s very much like a grieving process having to turn my back on an industry I’ve worked in so long but I know it has to be done. It’s taking all my decorum not to write a “good bye cruel world” or “you won’t have me to kick around anymore” email to all of my clients.

        Thanks for the support. Nice to know we can all lean on each other once in a while for advice.

      • David December 2, 2015 at 4:17 am #

        Mark, I am always a bit flabbergasted when I hear people say “just change industries/sectors”…like we can port over 10 years of relationships and technical knowledge into a new sector overnight.

        What I sell is the relationships I have in the niche, which leads to solid referrals that not many others can get dependably.

        I feel that if you switch sectors you are relegating yourself to job boards and sourcing LinkedIn.

        What then is the reason I tell them to use me over other firms?

        Don’t get me wrong, it can be done, but then is only about activity. Forget the passion you may have for a field. It becomes irrelevant.

    • Randy July 17, 2015 at 1:43 am #

      My advice is Don’t Be Afraid To Cut Bait! I had a recent problem where a client’s HR Recruiter was just not doing his job. I could not get the feedback I needed on the candidates I had submitted. So I sent an email to the Director of Engineering and .. well … I’ll let you read for yourself what I said ….

      Hi Joseph,

      I did want to say thank you for asking me to work on positions at your company. I greatly appreciated the opportunity.

      I put in quite a bit of time and resources in trying to help the hiring manager out that you referred me to. It’s been a long and difficult process with very little feedback from him and the recruiter. The feedback I do get is very little. We lost one candidate because of the length of time it took to give feedback to him. I have one other candidate in play currently, but he will most likely be gone too since I can’t get feedback in a timely manner.

      I need to dedicate my time elsewhere with companies who want to partner with me and stay in contact with me to bring them the talent they need at an affordable cost.

      I wish you and XXXX much success!

      Kind Regards,

      Randy Aven
      Principal Talent Acquisition Partner
      Aven Talent Resources, LLC

      I immediately received a phone call from the engineering department. They apologetic and asked that I continue to work on their requisitions. They made sure HR knew there was a lack of communication and insisted that I get the information I needed in a timely manner.

      Of course this is not a fool proof way of always getting a client moving, but like I said in my email, you don’t have the luxury of presenting candidates to one client who is very slow in giving feedback knowing that possibly another client may hire that candidate. (by the way, I do not present the same candidate to two or more clients at the same time. I find that is a sure fire way of losing a client if they find out their candidate was also presented elsewhere)

      Not sure if this helps, but certainly something that helps me.

      Cheers from San Diego, CA!


      • Brian Keith July 17, 2015 at 9:08 am #

        Thanks Randy. Unfortunately I tried that with my client but no one seemed to really care. HR seems to have everyone pretty cowed. I did end up moving on and have found some new clients in a different industry and it does seem to be going better. Still needing to pull long hours 7 days per to keep things going. At least my new clients aren’t treating me like an afterthought though.

  2. Johan Ferrari June 16, 2015 at 11:13 am #

    ahhh a proud dad … Good on you Greg. As far as encourage my Daughter into recruitment, at this stage probably not. From another proud dad, I hope she does whatever makes her happy, if it is recruitment I hope I can mentor her so she does not have a similar uphill battle. (Or just maybe that is the whole point of becoming successful in this business)

  3. Alan Allebone June 16, 2015 at 3:10 pm #

    Hi Brian,

    Firstly I must congratulate you on not just giving away the business but ensuring you are helping your Step Son to further his career. Yes it is a Career and a bloody good one!

    I have been in recruitment for 40 years and NEVER given up whatever happens.

    We experience the same here in Australia as you do Brian and our biggest competitors are our clients.

    Yes I agree with you with regard to the “Corporate recruiter” and the “Talent Acquisition Specialist” Some of these guys could not make it as recruitment Consultants so they left the sinking ship and got into some form of HR. A safe path no challenges.

    I still today go to the hiring managers i research and get all my info and go in at the back door. 90% of the hiring managers like that as it is their division who needs the staff and they know more than anymore what they need.

    Your step son is very lucky to have you there to help and support him.

    I wanted my 2 sons and daughter to follow in my footsteps as it is a professional career and has wonderful opportunities for anyone who has the guts to stick to it.
    They decided to go to Uni and seek out their own career path. their loss.

    My very first boss back in Romford (London) told me that if i completed the first year okay I would be in it for the rest of my career. How right he was.

    I am now 70 and still bashing away.

    Brian Good luck for the future, stick by and support your Step Son and please NEVER NEVER QUIT.

    Take a leaf out of Greg Savage book and just see what can happen to you and your future partner your Step Son.



    • Brian Keith June 16, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

      Thanks so much for the encouraging words Alan. I really do hope I’m still bashing away (with my step son at my side) when I am 70.

      I’m coming to the realization that I am needing to change my niche, which I’ve spent many years perfecting and getting to know lots of great people in.

      It’s hard to face the reality that most clients no longer see the value in what a good recruiter can offer. They take all the credit for our successes and blame us 100% when it doesn’t work out This profession all looks so easy on paper that it takes a while to realize there’s a lot more to it than sourcing resumes and making a few phone calls. I feel fairly confident they’ll figure it out sooner or later that this is not as easy as it looks, but by the time they do they’ll find many of the good recruiters have left for greener pastures, if not abandoned the industry entirely.

      It’s the classic case of not knowing what you had until it’s gone. No one ever wins in this scenario.

      • Amybeth Quinn June 20, 2015 at 1:54 am #

        Guys, just want to point out that in many situations when you go the back door route you’re going to get blacklisted. The internals may give you a free pass at first but continue to do it and they’ll view you as bad partners and not work with you. I’ve been on both sides of this discussion, and my advice is to operate with integrity with every step. Don’t lose the war just to claim one battle.

  4. Brian McFadden June 16, 2015 at 7:05 pm #

    good article Greg – I think the industry has a negative view of itself and bashes itself too much – as a Sales Technique almost – i.e. “Oh there are loads of cowboys in the industry but of course i’m not one – work with me” Yada Yada yak yak yak. eventually this mantra sinks in. people give out about recruiters because
    a. we are a filter of candidates – which annoys candidates filtered
    b. we work in an inexact science – finding people who have skills and who are a cultural fit
    so the results can be mixed.

    Recruitment is a tough role because it is the best role. Your infogram above is great but is actually, believe it or not, missing some stuff. everyone out there in the working world wants a challenge and variety in their roles – which recruitment offers in spades. The reality is that perhaps a lot of people DONT want that much challenge and variety in their day as it can be exhausting.

    I am not going to encourage my two boys into the industry. if i do, there is no chance they will go into it. if i say nothing, hopefully they will want to themselves.

  5. Daniel X James June 18, 2015 at 11:25 am #

    Great ball. Straight through him. Batsman had no idea.

  6. Erick Peterson June 19, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

    Great article as always Greg & a timely one as I was just having this conversation with my own son earlier this week and I thoroughly encouraged him to get into the recruitment industry – but my reasons why are a bit different to yours.

    I agree 100% that a role as a recruitment consultant can offer a new employee exposure to so many aspects of business life that many other traditional roles can’t – that’s one of the brilliant things of the industry and the experience you pick up in doing that is huge.

    But – I only recommended my son work in the industry to get in & then to get out. There are no barriers to entry – he doesn’t need qualifications, he doesn’t even need a track record as there will always be an agency at some level who will hire him, if he’s got great presentation skills and speaks well (which he does). Therefore, rather than sitting waiting for his ‘ideal’ career to come along, working in an agency will give him a great kick start to pick up some valuable skills.

    I spend a lot of time with many teenagers / graduates all who are looking for that first role and I can assure you that none ever say they want to be a recruitment consultant – but those who do see the potential, are only in for the experience and out again to excel in their ‘real’ careers.

    That in itself is what compounds the damage to the industry and the levels of service provided and why the reputation continues to be negative. You cant blame the younger newer employees for that – they are doing what they need to do to get their careers started. Blame the owners who will hire anyone and grant them the title of ‘consultant’ and blame the industry for having no entry requirements for anyone to start working here.

    For my son though – absolutely get in the industry (if he can), get the experience, get the exposure and then get out. If he loves it and stays – great for him, great for the industry & great for his clients – but he (and many others of his generation / age group) think that working as a recruitment consultant is equivalent to call centre work and certainly not for a long term career.

  7. Mick Stevens July 6, 2015 at 5:37 pm #

    Nice bowling but what happened to the batsman’s footwork? He’s neither forward nor back so the stroke is awkward.

    • Greg Savage July 6, 2015 at 5:54 pm #

      Yeah, well he was the opener, but maybe the ball before which hit him flush on the helmet grill disorientated him…

  8. James September 1, 2016 at 8:39 am #

    He’s well and truly beaten him for pace there. The balls through him before he could get forwards. Looks like it kept a bit low mind you…

    • Greg Savage September 1, 2016 at 8:41 am #

      Full and cutting in. The ball before nearly took his head off, and I suspect that helped…:)

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