Recruitment by numbers.

In the 1970s surreal television program “The Prisoner” the lead character, a former spy who is held captive in a mysterious village (for more information see, would regularly shout out at his captors that he was “..not a number, I’m a free man…”; this was a reference to the fact that he was only ever referred to in the village by the term “Number 6” (we never get to know his real name).

The recruitment business is very driven by numbers….

  • Number of calls a recruiter makes to find an opportunity,
  • Number of candidates per opportunity to get an interview,
  • Number of interviews required to get an offer,
  • Number of offers required to close a deal.

This is fine and an appropriate way of managing a recruitment business, it works; metrics do matter.  However, some agencies can get lost in the wrong numbers and if they start treating you as number and not as an individual, a person, then it’s time for you to shout…“I’m not a number.…”   So how can you tell if an agency has or is likely to fall foul of ‘metric madness’?  There are many indicators but two key indicators are:

How well do they understand you and your needs?  How much time do they spend getting to know you.

Remember that the first impression a prospective employer has of you  is the recruiter that is representing you.  If they have not taken the right amount of time to understand your background, your strengths (and weaknesses), listened to what you want from the next role and the role after that and then mapped that to the roles available in the market they are doing you a disservice.  If your recruiter hasn’t taken the time to understand what you are capable of and what you want and is just putting your CV in front of as many employers as possible then they are just working the numbers.

How well do they understand the employer’s needs and requirements?  Can they really explain the role the client is looking to fill? 

Equally so, if the recruiter isn’t investing the time in understanding what the client needs, and sometimes this means helping the client to understand what they need – then no matter how many candidates the recruiter puts in front of the client – none will be a fit.  They are just working the numbers from the other side.

Next time you engage with a recruiter, actively take note how much time they take to explore your experience, your skills, what you are doing now and what you want to do and equally how much time they spend detailing what the employer is looking for and needs.  If the amount of time doesn’t add up then don’t be a prisoner shout…“I’m not a number, I’m going elsewhere”.

On August 6th, 2013, posted in: Blog by


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