Rec2Rec. The Marmite sector or have you just not kissed enough frogs?

Rec2Rec. Recruiters appear to either love us or to hate us. The sector is a large focal point for scrutiny by fellow recruiters as this is the sector which provides the greatest insight into best and worst practice. Perhaps uniquely, our end user is the recruiter and looking at the social media press given to the experiences published there are many differing opinions about who we are and what standards are achieved. Having seen a variety of posts on social media (some great, some not so much) and having operated in this sector for 15 years, I wanted to give you an insight into things from my perspective.

Firstly, I’ll tackle the myth that all Rec2Rec’s are failed recruiters. I wasn’t a failed recruiter, far from it, but I was a failed employee. It’s safe to say, as a hands-on recruiter I was a highly respectable biller (I believe one of my records from 1999 still stands). I was dedicated and ambitious…all the buzzwords, but the culture back then was promotion = financial success and company recognition, so I moved into management and the wheels slowly came off.

I knew I was a skilled, highly trained, typical recruiter. I enjoyed making placements and letting others see that I was the best person to work with on a career move, gaining experience in a number of sectors whilst working for some great companies. I never looked at the £ to be made but looked at the candidates and the clients. Would I have been happy if I were the end user? Was the service value for money? Had I properly advised and behaved in a consultative manner? Did people genuinely trust me?

What I wasn’t cut out for was the dreary 1-2-1, tippy-toe managerial life and I saw it back then but felt that it was the only way I was going to achieve any visible career goals. I was 27 years old and having to adapt my very distinctive personality to develop and train others when deep down I wasn’t ready. It was a catch 22 situation for my employers as they wanted to progress me to keep me, but had no viable options other than operational or managerial.

I also wasn’t prepared to be managed by someone I felt wasn’t as good a recruiter as I was (ahhh….youth!!) so it left me in a somewhat tricky position. I was a frustrating person to be around back then. I handed in my 3 months notice and looked at what I could possibly do with myself. Following on from a personal bad experience with a Rec2Rec (they sent my CV to my boss #awkward) and several conversations with respected ex-colleagues I came to the conclusion that Rec2Rec was a market that I could make an impact in because I understood it and understood the end user frustrations and requirements. I also had never found a trusted brand in this marketplace as either a candidate or a client.

The business launched in late 2003 and regardless of the market sector we operate in, we are no different from any other long standing, professionally run recruitment business. I took the view that the principles were going to be the same whichever sector I worked in. We haven’t changed a great deal in the 15 years. Much to the horror of the Exec Search Elders we still work on a contingent basis, through choice. I hear the argument, but it doesn’t work for me. Would you go into a shop and expect to walk out with the goods? No, but I also wouldn’t pay Tescos if my online delivery didn’t show up. (or they delivered 20 kilos of parsnips instead of 20 individual ones at Christmas – true story). By my 40’s I was finally ready for management. My patience level, having been tested by a toddler and then a teenager, was just about there.

Here’s another myth. No sector is saturated. All recruitment sectors have the space for quality and professionalism. I am proud to say that the knowing the Rec2Rec sector as I do now there are some SUPERB companies and Consultants operating in this field. You might have to kiss a few frogs to find them but they really are out there. They might not necessarily be The LinkedIn Oracle on the Recruiter’s Universe or the industry’s answer to Howard Stern but they are there, every day, working hard to provide a good service like in any other sector. If you look you’ll find them.

As an end user, you need to look at who you are dealing with. Would you trust your career with them? Are they recommended? Yes, there are some bad Rec2Rec’s, but I challenge you to show me a sector where every single Consultant and Company is great. I’m also not asking for criticism of the sector. I just wanted to let you see it from the inside.


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