Breaking News…. Recruitment Consultants v HR goes to extra time and penalties

I’m a recruitment consultant for my sins.

I’ve been in this game for nearly 25 years.

I’ve been a top scorer over the years with some outstanding goals and quite a few lucky deflections! I’ve also let in a few clangers down to the odd defensive mistake.


But consistently over this time, my toughest opponent and the most difficult defence to break down is our friends in HR. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve got some fantastic relationships with people in HR across my client portfolio. People who go that extra mile to get me the information I need to sell the company to my candidate; who get me that quick decision when a candidate is under time pressures; who get me a telephone appointment/meeting with the managing partner or head of department to get the facts about the role; who work with me to get the job done and get the deal over the line. After all we both have the same goal don’t we – I want to make the placement, they want to get that talented candidate on board.

But then you come up against your “defensive HR formation”. No you can’t speak to the partners about strategic plans, no you can’t submit a speculative CV because it’s not on my list of vacancies, no you haven’t ticked box 3 (i) (b) on our recruitment terms of business so I simply can’t talk to you. I’m marking you out the game. You will not be able to show any attacking flair and I will scythe you down the minute you try to get past me. Referee!!!!!!!

What happens then is that the game peters out into an inevitable nil nil draw, with both sides limping off the pitch licking their wounds. I as a recruitment consultant lose interest in playing that side again as it’s not worth the effort. Consequently my best candidates don’t get seen by that firm and will go elsewhere. And the HR equivalent of Claude Makelele can limber up for their next game against another unwitting recruitment consultant, hopefully wearing shin pads.

So what am I trying to say here – that HR and recruitment consultants are each other’s nemesis. Not at all. I can understand why people in HR get hacked off by the constant calls, a rain of CVs, sometimes not even suitable for the advertised roles and after all recruitment is only a small part of what an HR person does, but seems to take up a lot of their time.

The best HR people I work with know how to play the game. We spread a few passes around, support each other by doing the hard yards and at the set piece, we’re both accurate in the delivery and the finish. We both come away from the game feeling happy and even better we’ll go for a beer together afterwards. And we’ll both be keen to set up a rematch!

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