Every great recruiter has this ONE thing. Do you?

Every great recruiter has this ONE thing. Do you?

What makes a great recruiter?

I get asked this all the time, and frankly I am still trying to pin down that moving target.

But one thing is for a sure; a great recruiter, especially a super temp or contract recruiter, is an opportunist, quick to spot an opening. They are always looking for ways to generate activity, find a great candidate, and quickly fill a need.

This was demonstrated to me most vividly on my recent visit to people2people in Melbourne, a business I am a co-owner of, and sometimes drop in to help. (As long as they don’t ask me to… you know… actually do any work!)

I asked our senior temp recruiter, Liz Punshon, how things were going. She was buzzing, but also looked a little bit sheepish too. “It’s all great Greg” she said, “But there is one thing you won’t be happy with”.

Intrigued, I encouraged her, “Do tell Liz”.

And so it unfolded. A big, global technology giant, who regularly gives us bread and butter administration and support roles, had suddenly sprung something a bit funky on Liz.

“Greg, you will be grumpy, because the jobs I filled there are weird and not our specialisation. But I had good reasons” Liz hastily added.

It seems our big client sells a special technology to farmers in country Victoria; technology that measures the quality of tomatoes. But they had now asked Liz to find them a team of low-skilled temps to go out into the field to pick, weigh and measure the tomatoes. It was unskilled, labouring, work, and we are a white-collar specialist recruiter, working in administration, accounting and law!

And what’s more, the jobs are in Echuca, on the Murray River, out in woop woop, on the far side of the black stump.

Could there be a less appropriate job for people2people to fill?

But Liz wanted to satisfy her client. She reckoned that showing willing would strengthen the relationship. She felt she could prove her ‘can-do’ attitude. And although she did not say this, I think she saw is at as a challenge! A test of her temp recruiting mettle.

“But Liz”, I protested, “how did you find people to do that work, out there, when we have no candidates like that? And surely you did not advertise for fruit-pickers in the bush did you?”

And now the cool part emerged.

Want to know what Liz did?

She wanted to satisfy the client, but she was not going to be sucked into time-draining recruiting for a gig that had no future in it for us. We were never going to fill a fruit-picking job again, so Liz was not going to run an Ad for a low-skilled job that would draw hundreds of candidates we could never work with.

She googled the backpacker hostel in Echuca. She got the phone number. She called it. She asked the owner who answered the phone if he would give a shout out for any backpackers who wanted a month’s work. 6 names were tossed up. She phone-screened them, held Skype interviews, did some checking, processed some paperwork, signed them up and they started the next day.

The client was delighted, and since then Liz has filled several more mainstream jobs with them in Melbourne. The relationship has strengthened.

Impressed, but wanting to make sure Liz did not know that, I said, “and I suppose you caved in on margin on your backpacking fruit-pickers too did you Liz? What are we making? Two bucks an hour?”

“Ah!” said Liz, “that’s the coolest part, and the part I know you will enjoy Greg. These are not core jobs for us, they needed special attention, so I worked on our standard 60 % markup. The backpackers were ecstatic with their rate and a months work, and the client was relieved and happy to have that problem solved – and we are making $12 an hour on all of the temps”.

I am still not sure people2people should be filling fruit-picker jobs on a farm, but that apart, I love the attitude. The initiative shown. The can-do spirit. The speed to solve. The desire to satisfy the client. And the commercial nous to make sure we made money on the way through. Love it all.

I have spoken a lot about the more sophisticated aspects of the modern recruiter. Branding, digital search, social media.

But the good old hard-core basic traits shine through too.

You just gotta love a great temp consultant. Like a dog with a bone, or a bloodhound with the scent in it’s nostrils.



The Savage Truth Speaking  London, Glasgow, Dublin.



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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13 Responses to Every great recruiter has this ONE thing. Do you?

  1. Fiona April 5, 2016 at 11:50 am #

    Great story and share Greg- it’s always refreshing to hear stories which demonstrate creative thinking and a logical, common sense approach to delivering solutions.

  2. Alan Allebone April 5, 2016 at 5:10 pm #

    Were they all on working/holiday visas?



    • Greg Savage April 5, 2016 at 5:22 pm #

      I am not sure Alan, but I imagine so…
      I can find out of course, if its important?

      • Alan Allebone April 5, 2016 at 5:28 pm #

        No not important just curious so many backpackers in one area. Good thinking on the consultants part.
        Better the money in her pocket than someone else pocket (the company I mean)


  3. Wendy April 5, 2016 at 5:12 pm #

    Love stories like this ! Well done Liz

  4. Kevin Dee April 8, 2016 at 5:24 am #

    Brings to mind one of my favorite quotes from Winston Churchill, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

  5. ISGF April 14, 2016 at 11:11 pm #

    Getting things done and not only maintaining a client relationship, but strengthening it too. Great story!

  6. Matt Bishop April 17, 2016 at 6:32 am #

    Maybe not so great a relationship now they have seen the mark up charges that were applied? ??

    • Greg Savage April 17, 2016 at 10:29 am #

      I am not a particularly bright person Matt, but I also dont think I am totally stupid either. So writing this story on a blog read by over a million people a year suggests I am very comfortable that nothing here would harm the relationship. And why would it? We are totally confident in our markups, the client problem was solved by excellent work in quick time, and these are our standard margins for all our work. So nothing to defend. Indeed, that why I was cool to share the gritty details.

  7. Cedric Markwatson April 26, 2016 at 7:38 pm #

    Great source of information. Thanks for sharing it.

  8. Kate Yeng April 26, 2016 at 8:18 pm #

    When stories are clubbed with conversations, it makes them more readable. It was a good read and very enagaging.

  9. Salvatore June 14, 2016 at 7:48 pm #

    Great post, thanks for sharing!

  10. Maureen Sharib January 15, 2017 at 9:37 pm #

    Good lesson and to put this into perspective for our American brethren – these low-skilled temp jobs in the back-country of Australia to go out into the field to pick, weigh and measure tomatoes is costing the customer $32 an hour (if my math is right) with your agency fee added in?

    To put that into US dollars today that would be about $24 an hour in US dollars – correct when you add in the agency fees?

    I understand the countries have different tax structures and those reading this with critical thinking skills will criticize the comparison but the bigger picture of what you present is what will be missed – the audacity of going at the problem with 1) a common sense, creative solution and 2) tacking on a bold, aggressive fee for getting an “impossible to the customer job” – done, even though the gross amount paid on behalf of the worker in the field appears not to make sense NOT paying that amount for this customer with this special technology to farmers is what really wouldn’t have made sense and she saw that critical component of the picture.

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