Are your team “tram track recruiters”?

Posted on Monday, January 1, 2024 by Alison Humphreys - Award winning NED and strategic advisor

Are your team “tram track recruiters”?

A business I work with has 45000 candidate records on his CRM. This was a mature business.

At the same time, his team were spending 20% of net fee income (yes, 20%) on job boards and CV download services.

That was having a big impact on net profit.

He was a bit flummoxed. “Do we need to write better adverts?” he guessed. “Or do we have rubbish candidates?”

There may have been some cases of that. But what it mainly told me was that his recruiters were on tram-tracks – a single objective for each call or contact, that blinded them to other opportunities.

If your recruiter takes a job instruction, they are usually under time pressure to fill it. I get that.

But recruiters who advertise a role, respond only to the “best match” CVs and then ruthlessly qualify the shortlist only for that role are missing a huge opportunity.

Because in today’s age of identity fraud, automated messaging and a tighter job market than they’ve previously experienced, it’s going to get increasingly difficult to fill jobs profitably and efficiently if you start from ground zero with every job.

Your process will be longer.

Your ability to engage candidates will be reduced.

And you will be annoying huge numbers of potentially placeable candidates. People who could make referrals and give you good market intelligence. People who may become clients.

That’s what tram-track recruiters do.

Think about it. The very best recruiters don’t do this. In many cases they are able to present a well-qualified shortlist from their own network.

They are able to convert clients to candidates. And vice versa. Again, it won’t happen if you only deal with a single objective on your call.

The very best networkers become faster than the tram-track recruiters quickly. Their candidates are already engaged and the recruiter knows what will appeal to them, their mobility and availability, and their current pay package.

Most clients are much more impressed by this network than by someone chanting “Now we’ll advertise your vacancy and screen the CVs”. After all, they can get an administrator in their own business to do that, right?

The client is likely to be much happier with a consultant with a credible network – so much so that he or she is much more likely to give you exclusivity – at least for a while.

But how do the greatest recruiters build this network?

  1. They show an interest, even when the candidate can’t move right now, or isn’t interested in the specific job your tram-track recruiters are focused on.
  2. They keep great info in their CRM- not in their email account.
  3. Then they stay in touch. Regularly. And with curiosity.

(They get the huge benefit of referrals, leads and market intelligence from that network).

Best of all? The recruiter’s job becomes easier over time if they build a genuine specialist network.

Take a look at your team this week. Listen to some of their calls. Sample some of the data they input to the CRM when they “qualify” candidates for a job.


Alison Humphries is a highly experienced MD and NED, with 35 years at the top of the recruitment sector. She advises directors and owners of recruitment businesses on strategy, finance, sales and management to maximise performance, enter new markets, prepare for sale and work more efficiently. 

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