The Power of Being a Niche Recruiter


The Power of Being a Niche Recruiter

When, at the beginning of the year, I surveyed Yorkshire based Managing Directors of recruitment companies one of the big things that came back was an overwhelming belief in the power of recruiters working within a niche (full details here).

At the end of February I was down in London attending a ukrecruiter and RIBA event where one of the panel debates was on being a niche recruiter.

The three panel members were Alan McBride, David Smith and Alana Carroll.

A couple of interesting comments were put forward by the panel – all of whom run niche recruitment companies and the comments closely echoed what had come back on the Yorkshire focused survey that I had conducted:

Alan McBride of Camino Partners Ltd said

“Being a niche recruiter is a strength because you have the option to say ‘no’ to clients; then when you say ‘yes’ the no adds strength to the yes.”

It’s a great point and was made in reaction to a question of whether a niche recruiter should go outside of their speciality should a client ask it. The point was made that it was sometimes heart-breaking to have to turn work away however the purity of the desk was felt to be more important and more profitable in the long run than grabbing a quick fee outside of the niche.

David Smith of Interactive Selection said

“Live and breathe the industry. Embed yourself in it.”

David expanded on this and explained that it was important that a recruiter looking to go down the niche route really needed to have some level of interest in the sector. That would then make learning about the industry and going to exhibitions and events much more pleasant and positive.

On that point going out to events and exhibitions was highly recommended by all panellists and having a background in the sector was recommended strongly by Alana and Alan. To be clear they didn’t feel it was an absolute prerequisite but certainly beneficial.

Alana Carroll of Gravitas Recruitment (SW) LTD said

“Build your business based on reputation. Treat candidates and clients with equal respect because you never know who will be important in the future.”

All experienced recruiters reading this will be nodding with agreement – candidates become clients – is the old adage within recruitment but the panel member, and I agree with them, felt that things have moved on from there. Given the current skill shortage in most sectors the value in candidates, especially passive ones is who they in turn know.

In other words there is no need to wait for candidates become clients – they are, right now, capable of making you introductions to unique, off the grid, placeable individuals who can make you a fee!

In summary the event in London was thought provoking and well attended by recruitment directors from across the country. On a personal level it provided an opportunity for me to meet a number of contacts who I have only known online up to now and rather pleasingly several of the people who I met are regular readers of this blog!

These director level events are held quarterly and I think they are well worth considering attending if you go with an open mind, as you should with all networking events! You can view future events via the ukrecruiter website.

Stephen Hart

Development Specialist,


Recruitment Survey 2015 – the Results

View from the top LI

Recruitment Survey 2015 – the Results

The recruitment industry has been through the mill these last five years but the corner seems to have been turned … or has it?

At Edenchanges we thought it would be good to go out and ask some questions of the people who are most likely to know – managing directors of recruitment firms. These are experienced business professionals and recruiters and at the leading edge of the recruitment industry.

And because Edenchanges are based in Yorkshire, and we thought it would be interesting to get a northern perspective so we limited our questions to Yorkshire based managing directors – although the firms queried recruit across the country and in several instances globally.

The four survey questions which we asked were:

  1. Where do you see the biggest challenge to recruitment firms coming from in 2015?
  2. Given both the continued increase of social media recruiting by companies directly and the increase in internal recruitment teams, how can external recruiters still add value to their clients?
  3. What advice would you give to a new recruiter coming into the industry in 2015?
  4. What do you think is the most important skill for a recruiter to master?

The answers were honest and thought provoking and you can read them online (or download a copy) by clicking on the image below:

View from the top

In summary whilst almost every company questioned is looking to expand there are clear challenges ahead that recruiters need to address. The markets are shifting and recruiters need to adjust what they do if they want to thrive.

I would like to thank all the respondents who generously took time out of their busy schedules to share their views with me. This e-book has been written and produced in the belief that we in recruitment are stronger together.

Stephen Hart

Development Specialist,


How to be Successful in Recruitment Part 14 Activity Level Calculation

Calculator LI

How to be Successful in Recruitment Part 14

Activity Level Calculation

I often get asked by consultants how hard they should work and it’s one of those questions where there isn’t a single answer. However I do believe there is a way to work out what the answer is for each consultant so let me share that with you now.

Activity Level Calculation

This calculation shows you the amount of first interviews you need to arrange on a monthly basis to achieve your target.

What you need to know

You need to know the following pieces of information to enable you to work out your required activity level.

NOTE: A send out is a first interview – yes old school jargon but it’s the school I went to!

  1. Annual target
  2. Average fee*
  3. Send out ratio**

* If you are brand new to the business then find out what the company average is and use that figure

**Send out ratio = Number of first interviews vs. number of placements made – again if you are new find out what the ratio typically is for new consultants in your particular company alternatively work on a 1:10 ratio

How to calculate your Activity Level:

  • Step 1) Annual target  ÷ Ten* = Your monthly target
  • Step 2) Monthly target  ÷ Average Fee = Number of placements needed per month
  • Step 3) Number of placements need x Send Out Ratio =

Number of send outs needed per month – to hit your annual target

* Yes you could divide this by 12 but this is one of those situations where mathematics has to move over for sales so let’s divide it by 10 and carry on from there! (Feel free to email me if you want to know specifically why I recommend dividing it by 10 –

And that’s it; as simple as that. I outlined an example below of how this can break down and you’ll see that it requires the hypothetical consultant below to be really quite productive! The thing about this activity level calculation is that it’s real and true. Yes you might buck the trend and do slightly better numbers but that just means you will over achieve by even more.

Any consultant who is serious about hitting their targets should consider the activity level result as the minimum that they should achieve each month.

Sample calculation:

Annual target:   £150,000

Average fee:      £8,500

Send out ratio: 1: 8 (one placement for every 8 first interviews arranged)

  • Step 1) £150,000 (annual target) ÷ 10 = £15,000
  • Step 2) £15,000 (monthly target) ÷ £8,500 (average) = 1.76 rounded up = 2      
  • Step 3) 2 x 8 (send out ratio) = 16

The result clearly shows that the individual needs to arrange 16 first interviews per month to expect to hit their annual target.



Development Specialist,


Lessons from the Wolf Pack #13 How to Structure a Phone Sales Session

Picture of a wolf pack which represents recruiters

Lessons from the Wolf Pack is an ongoing series of recruitment advice articles taken from, or inspired by, situations and events observed during our phone coaching sessions with recruitment consultants making real, live calls to win business and find candidates. This is advice directly from the recruitment front lines!

Lessons from the Wolf Pack #13

How to Structure a Phone Sales Session

Anyone who has been in one of my sales training courses knows that I advocate making scheduled business development calls in the morning. I also have an opinion on the best sequence to make those morning calls.

Before I share that though be aware that I am saying scheduled business development calls here. If you get a lead in the afternoon then you follow that up either immediately or at the next best time to make the call. You certainly do not have to wait for the following morning. The calls you schedule are the ones that are in your sales pipeline which are going to be a mix of follow up calls, new approaches to prospects, calls to existing clients etc.

Now when the morning comes it can be a daunting task to start making calls and working your way through your call list. What I am going to share here is a simple trick to make your morning calls start positively.

First, pick a few low value calls to start your morning with. That is calls that if you fluff them it won’t make a huge difference to your recruitment desk. Calls to smaller prospects very often fit into this category. If you drop the ball with those calls the amount of potential business that you have lost is very minimal.

So make three or four calls of that nature first. Basically get yourself into the game and up to speed. Then when you are into your groove make some warmer calls; chase down those hotter leads or prospects that you have, in an effort to bring in a quick, and easier, win.

By calling after those first few unimportant calls you will be much more ‘in the game’ and much more likely to make good sales calls. And when you are chasing your hot leads that’s when you want to be at your best!

Once you’ve exhausted those calls then you move onto the colder, newer calls; reaching out to companies that don’t know you or have rebuffed your advances in the past.

It’s important when you get to those colder calls that you don’t start to cherry pick who you are going to ring. At this stage in the process if they are on the call list then you ring them. Don’t waste time trying to ‘pick a winner’ just get on and make your calls.

One of the keys of a successful business development session is to minimise the time between calls and speculating which company is most likely to give you business simply wastes time.

In summary what I am recommending is making the following calls in the sequence listed below:

  1. Make three or four low value sales calls
  2. Chase hot leads and prospects
  3. Make the rest of the calls on the list working from the top down

I’m writing this in January and if you’d like an analogue then the above is a bit like the winter commute. You get in your car, turn on the engine and set off for work. For the first few miles the car is freezing cold inside and the car engine struggles just a bit as it warms up.

Once it’s been going a few miles everything gets smoother; the inside of the car warms up, the engine thaws and the journey becomes noticeably smoother.

That’s what we all want for our sales sessions isn’t it? A smooth comfortable journey!

I know that few people actually like making scheduled sales calls but to be successful in recruitment this is still a critical activity. The above advice should help make your morning sessions go a little smoother!

Until next time; be successful!

Stephen Hart
Development Specialist,


How to be Successful in Recruitment Part 13 Quality Questions and Relationships

An image that represents relationships ... but why?

How to be Successful in Recruitment Part 13

Quality Questions and Relationships

“The quality of our lives is determined by the quality of the questions we ask.” Unknown

I came across that quote a while ago and I think it has some real merit. It’s power lies in the fact that very often we know what we need to know but we get bogged down in the debate or the topic and thus are unable to see the answers clearly even though they are already within us.

When we ask a question we trigger the brain to cut to the chase and spit out an answer. It can be very powerful.

So let’s apply it into the cynical world of the recruiter and see if it helps clarify what we should be doing in our eternal quest to make more billings …

Here’s a question –

“When a client has a vacancy that they need filling which recruiter do they turn to?”

Now I know it’s almost an impossible question to fully answer but I suspect the first answer that occurs to most of us is:

“It depends on their existing relationships.”

And whilst there are other factors at play the above answer is probably the single biggest factor in who a decision maker turns to when they have a vacancy they need filling.

So, by working from the back to the front of the recruiter and client dynamic, we reach the clear answer that relationships are key.

Not a new answer I realise but nice to have it confirmed when looking at things from a different perspective. (See here for more on different perspectives)

So now we are clear on that let’s try another question that follows on from the above

“How can a busy recruiter maintain relations with multiple contacts, who aren’t immediately recruiting, but do use recruiters when there is a need?”

I’m very tempted to share the answers that occur to me but given this is an article about questions providing powerful answers

What would your answer be?

(Let’s see if we can generate a kick ass list of answers below!)



PS Bonus points to anyone who can explain what the image has to do with the topic!

Development Specialist,


How to be Successful in Recruitment Part 12 Burnt Loaf

Burnt loaf

How to be Successful in Recruitment Part 12

Burnt Loaf

“When life gives you burnt loaf sometimes you have to just eat it.”

Lysha Holmes

Lysha is a recruitment professional (rec2rec) who tweated out that comment earlier today and it seemed to contain a moral.

Us recruiters tend to spend a lot of time trying to find the ‘perfect’ candidates. This can be both for our roles and also for marketing purposes. And striving for a close match is to be applauded but it can also be a curse.

Unless they are careful consultants can overlook and dismiss candidates who do not appear on the surface to be great. If CV’s or LinkedIn profiles were sufficient to judge a candidate then we’d all be out of work. So those ones who look ‘possible’ should be called and interviewed.

As my mother used to say

“If you want to find a prince you have to kiss a lot of frogs”

So double check those ‘possibles’ and if something appears to be missing on their details give them a call and see if maybe they just omitted it from their CV or LinkedIn profile. (If they really don’t have what you need you can always network from them.)

To interject a true story the last two occasions I prompted consultants to call candidates who they had initially rejected (without speaking to) both candidates ended up getting job offers!

The other thing to be careful of is not wanting to market out a less than stellar candidate. Whilst the process of marketing out a candidate (calling companies with the intention of ‘selling in the candidate’) works a LOT better when the candidate is outstanding I have seen a lot of consultants just not using this sales technique at all because they felt that they only had ‘average’ candidates.

To quote Wayne Underwood, joint owner of several recruitment forms in Yorkshire:

“Average people get average jobs.”

And he’s right.

So if you talent pool is looking a bit less than stellar consider what you CAN do with the people that you do have. Possibly aim at smaller companies who have smaller recruitment and payroll budgets and frankly can’t afford the best candidates on the market. Instead sell them the best candidates that they can afford.

And the same holds with vacancies If you are starting a new desk don’t be too picky about what roles you work. Get busy, bet billing and then you can cherry pick your roles later on.

I accept that none of this is ideal but sometimes all you have is a little bit of burnt loaf to eat. Better to eat that than do nothing and go hungry!

Until next time; be successful

Stephen Hart

Development Specialist,


How to be Successful in Recruitment Part 11 Do Your Homework

Homework a

How to be Successful in Recruitment Part 11

Do Your Homework

So I was phone coaching with a new recruiter recently (which involves me listening into his calls and providing written prompts to help overcome obstacles on the call). This consultant is building a new desk in a niche industry with mainland Europe being his focus area geographically.

He skilfully navigates his way past the receptionist and starts talking to a senior individual. Whilst a director it turns out this individual isn’t exactly who the consultant should be talking to so he networks from this director and gets put through to the actual decision maker.

The normal process then unfolds with the decision maker attempting to rebuff the consultant. To counter that the consultant brings in the earlier conversation with the other director. This helps a bit but the turning point comes when the consultant mentions specifics about two roles that he understands the company are recruiting for.

He goes further than that though because he continues talking and mentions that not only does his recruitment specialism match those roles but also that his experience covers similar companies who have the same aspirations as the decision makers company.

He points out that he’s read that the company is planning to produce certain products and enter certain markets and that he’s had experience of other companies doing the same thing AND that it seems to be the way that this particular industry sector is moving.

The response from the decision maker was

“Thank you for doing your homework.”

The consultant was a little surprised and said “Ah … you’re welcome. It’s just the research I do. Don’t most people do it?”

“No, not in my experience” was the decision makers reply.

The conversation then progressed from there and resulted in agreement for the consultant to work on the two roles.

This ties back into the point that I made in the second of the How To Be Successful In Recruitment Articles when I discussed preparation and it’s importance.

Doing your homework is about proper preparation for your calls. It doesn’t have to take long but reading through the target company website, checking the News and Careers pages and having a quick look through the decision makers LinkedIn profile can provide you with really powerful information to use on the call.

Also it’s the kind of research that can be done ahead of core phone sales time …  as it was in the case of the consultant I was sitting with. Yes it takes some time but consider it an investment of time.

As a senior managing director in the recruitment industry said to me this morning

“Better to make fewer good quality calls than more bad quality ones.”

He’s completely right and as was evidenced on the call I listened, to our clients respond well to us doing our homework, and that can result in some favourable outcomes and results! 

Until next time; be successful

Stephen Hart

Development Specialist,