Recruitment Round-up – THE BRUTAL TRUTH #12

Recruitment Round-up – THE BRUTAL TRUTH #12.

by Howard Greenwood, 16th October 2023

Edition #12, and we are going to be brutal about turning away clients who don’t value your service; we are going to be brutal about the impact high attrition has on an agency’s ability to grow and scale and on the difference between face-to-face, video and telephone interaction with clients.

The Vital Role of Recruitment Agencies: Turning Away Clients Who Don’t Value Our Service.

In the competitive world of recruitment, where the demand for top talent constantly outpaces supply, the role of a recruitment agency is pivotal. Recruitment agencies are crucial in connecting businesses with the best-fit candidates, helping organisations thrive and grow. However, not all clients fully appreciate the value of these services, often viewing recruitment agencies as a transactional necessity rather than strategic partners. In truth, 99% of recruiters see all clients as a prospect, whereas most clients see recruiters as a suspect and treat us as such.

To delve into the importance of recruitment agencies turning away clients who do not value their service and why this approach benefits both parties in the long run, is an ongoing debate which we want to open up.

Quality over Quantity

One of the primary reasons why recruitment agencies should consider turning away clients who undervalue their services is the pursuit of quality over quantity. Agencies that prioritise the quality of their work and relationships with clients and candidates yield better results. By filtering out clients who don’t appreciate the agency’s expertise and dedication, recruitment agencies can focus on those who value their guidance and are more likely to form long-lasting, mutually beneficial partnerships. Why work every role presented to you? We should be proud to turn roles away and give genuine reasons to clients despite them not liking the truth. Changing clients’ perceptions of recruiters and challenging our quality and quantity desire will help increase your fill rates and client and consultant satisfaction.

Maintaining Reputation

Reputation is everything in the recruitment industry. A recruitment agency’s reputation is built on its ability to provide excellent service and deliver on its promises consistently. When an agency works with clients who disregard the agency’s value, it risks tarnishing its reputation. How many roles do we take from clients that we promise to fill but know there is little or no chance of doing so? No wonder the clients’ perception of recruiters is so poor. By turning away such clients and saying no to roles we cannot fill, the agency safeguards its standing in the industry, demonstrating its commitment to maintaining the highest service standards.

Resource Allocation

Recruitment agencies invest significant time and resources in understanding clients’ needs, sourcing candidates, conducting interviews, and ensuring a seamless recruitment process. The cost to fill is substantial, especially when the national average is that we only fill 20% of the roles we take on. When clients fail to appreciate these efforts or constantly question the agency’s fees because they see no value and all agencies tell them the same story. This can lead to frustration and inefficiency on both sides. By redirecting recruitment resources towards clients who value service, agencies can optimise their operations and deliver superior results. Reducing the cost to fill, time to fill and reducing the time spent working and dealing with clients who yield little or no revenue is critical. Are you aiming for a fill rate of 75%+?

Building Trust and Collaboration

Trust is a cornerstone of any successful partnership, and recruitment agencies are no exception. When clients value their agency’s expertise and judgment, trust fosters more effective collaboration. Recruiters can work more closely with clients to identify their unique hiring needs and culture fit requirements. This collaboration results in better candidate matches and increased client satisfaction. Most agencies think they have stronger relationships with their clients when most relationships are paper thin. We need to be closer to our clients, work with them when planning the workforce requirements for the next 3, 6, 12 months or longer, we need to be helping them attract and retain candidates, and we need to help elevate the brand to the candidates’ pool (passive, not active)

Better Candidate Experience

Clients who do not value their recruitment agency’s service may not provide the necessary support or resources to create a positive candidate experience. This can deter top-tier candidates from engaging with the agency and harm the agency’s ability to attract talent. By working exclusively with clients who appreciate their service, agencies can ensure a positive experience for candidates, making them more likely to recommend the agency to others and return for future placements. By knowing what type of candidate the client needs earlier by understanding their staffing requirements, the recruitment agency can truly pipeline court the passive markets, increasing the client’s ability to mobilise the marketplace quickly.

Long-Term Success

Ultimately, the goal of any recruitment agency is to facilitate long-term success for both clients and candidates. By turning away clients who don’t value their service, agencies can focus on those genuinely committed to the services of the recruitment agency’s ability to find the right talent and build stronger teams. These long-term partnerships benefit clients by ensuring they have the best people in their organisations, which creates repeat business and referrals because the agencies can offer the candidate a high touch point service to a client who cares about the candidate’s journey.

Recruitment agencies are more than just transactional service providers; they are strategic partners in helping businesses find and retain top talent. Turning away clients who do not value their service is not about elitism but prioritising quality, reputation, resource allocation, trust, and collaboration. By doing so, recruitment agencies can deliver exceptional results, foster strong relationships, and contribute to the long-term success of their clients and candidates. In valuing their own worth, recruitment agencies ultimately provide better value to the clients who recognise and appreciate their expertise, which will optimise the agency workforce, increasing the profitability per head by focusing on a 75%+ fill rate rather than focusing on the number of roles they have on.

The Impact of High Staff Attrition in Year One on the Growth and Scalability of UK Recruitment Agencies

In the fast-paced world of recruitment agencies in the United Kingdom, the ability to attract and retain top talent is paramount. Staff attrition, particularly within the first year of employment, can have a detrimental impact on an agency’s growth and scalability. Understanding the reasons behind high staff attrition in year one and how it hinders a recruitment agency’s ability to expand and thrive in a competitive market is critical; developing strategies to combat attrition is essential to ensure the agency reaches its goals.

The Recruitment Industry in the UK

The UK’s recruitment industry is the third largest recruitment sector in the world, behind America and Japan. However, it is the most saturated and highly competitive, with agencies vying for top candidates and clients. The success of a recruitment agency largely depends on the quality of its team members. Consultants and recruiters are the backbone of any agency, responsible for identifying, attracting, and placing candidates with clients. High turnover in this industry (43%, according to Perkbox) can be particularly damaging as it disrupts the agency’s operations, relationships, and overall reputation.

The Impact of High Staff Attrition in Year One

Cost Implications:

Recruiting, onboarding, and training new staff members is a costly process (on average, based on 25K salary in total, it costs 56K per year). When a recruitment agency experiences high staff attrition within the first year, it incurs substantial expenses that could have been invested in comprehensive training for the existing staff, business development, technology upgrades, or other growth initiatives. The constant need to replace departing staff members diverts resources from scaling the agency. Most recruiters only start making an actual profit for the business in year two.

Client and Candidate Relationships:

Building trust and strong relationships with clients and candidates is fundamental in recruitment. High staff turnover disrupts these relationships, as clients and candidates may feel less confident in working with an agency that appears unstable or inconsistent. Long-term relationships are crucial in this industry; frequent staff departures can erode that trust.

Knowledge and Expertise:

Recruitment is a specialised field that requires industry knowledge, expertise, and a deep understanding of market trends. High attrition rates in year one leads to a loss of institutional knowledge and expertise, making it challenging for the agency to deliver quality services and effectively compete in the market. New consultants need time to get up to speed to develop the knowledge required to build and gain trust with clients and candidates.

Internal Culture and Morale:

Frequent staff turnover can negatively impact the agency’s internal culture and employee morale. The remaining team members may become demotivated, feeling like they are constantly in a state of flux. A lack of continuity in the workplace can lead to decreased productivity, overall employee dissatisfaction, and a higher attrition rate for those with more than 12 months of employment.


A recruitment agency’s reputation is built over time based on successful placements, satisfied clients, positive candidate experiences, and, most importantly, the agency culture, which is built on the agency’s ability to attract and retain staff. High staff attrition can tarnish a company’s reputation, making attracting clients and top talent harder. In a competitive market, a damaged reputation can significantly hinder growth and scalability.

Mitigating High Staff Attrition

To address the issue of high staff attrition in year one, recruitment agencies should consider implementing the following strategies:

  1. A more in-depth recruitment strategy: In the main, agencies hire on skills and lose people due to behaviours, lack of will to do the job, and value alignment, where they should be recruiting on values and behaviours, then will and skills. Stop blaming the person, and have a look at your processes!
  2. Comprehensive Onboarding: Develop a robust onboarding process that provides new employees with the tools, training, and resources they need to succeed. You need to make the time and not create or rely on a sink-or-swim development plan.
  3. Support and Mentorship: Assign mentors or senior team members to guide new recruits, offering support and guidance as they navigate their roles. Mentoring is great for new starters; mentoring is not mirror and match, as that process is extremely flawed unless done correctly, which in the main it is not.
  4. Competitive Compensation: Offer competitive salaries and benefits to attract and retain top talent. It’s about producing a quicker ROI and driving the right behaviours in new people.
  5. Career Development: Provide opportunities for professional growth and development within the agency, giving employees a clear path for advancement. If they don’t know where they are going and how to get there, there is a high chance they will find the exit door before you promote them.
  6. Feedback and Communication: Foster an open and transparent communication culture where employees feel comfortable providing feedback and discussing their concerns. If they do not have the autonomy to challenge and ask questions without the fear of retribution, they will find somewhere that does.

High staff attrition within the first year poses significant challenges to the growth and scalability of recruitment agencies. The associated costs, disruption of relationships, loss of knowledge, and damage to reputation can hinder an agency’s ability to compete effectively in the market. By prioritising employee retention in year one, investing in comprehensive recruitment strategies, onboarding and training, and fostering a positive workplace culture, recruitment agencies can mitigate the negative impacts of staff attrition and position themselves for long-term success in the industry.

Face-to-Face, Video, or Phone: Which Client Meeting Method Yields the Highest Success Rate?

In today’s fast-paced business world, how we communicate with clients has evolved significantly. Face-to-face meetings, video conferences, and phone calls all serve as effective means of connecting with clients.

However, determining which method boasts the highest success rate can be complex.

Face-to-Face Meetings

Face-to-face meetings have long been considered the gold standard for client interactions. The ability to establish a personal connection, read body language, and build trust face-to-face is unparalleled. In-person meetings allow for a deeper level of engagement, fostering a sense of authenticity and rapport.

The Success Rate:

Face-to-face meetings have the highest success rate for building long-term relationships and sealing significant deals. The personal touch, eye contact, and physical presence contribute to a strong emotional connection.

Factors for Success:

  1. Trust Building: Clients often feel more secure and confident when meeting in person. Trust is more straightforward to establish through face-to-face interactions.
  2. Body Language: Non-verbal cues like facial expressions and gestures are crucial in effective communication and understanding client needs.
  3. Engagement: In-person meetings facilitate active participation and immersive discussions, leading to better outcomes.

Video Conferences

With the rise of technology, video conferences have become a popular alternative to face-to-face meetings. They compromise personal interaction and convenience, allowing clients and businesses to connect from different locations.

The Success Rate:

Video conferences have a moderate success rate. They are effective for routine meetings, updates, and discussions but may fall short of establishing the same level of trust and connection as face-to-face interactions.

Factors for Success:

  1. Convenience: Video conferences are time-saving and convenient, making them suitable for quick check-ins and discussions.
  2. Visual Engagement: Video allows participants to see each other’s facial expressions and body language, although it may not be as detailed as in-person meetings.
  3. Cost-Efficiency: Video conferences can reduce travel expenses and are more environmentally friendly.

Phone Calls

Phone calls have been a staple of business communication for decades. They offer a quick and efficient way to connect with clients without needing physical presence or visual engagement.

The Success Rate:

Phone calls are effective for brief conversations, updates, and maintaining ongoing communication. However, they often have a lower success rate than face-to-face or video meetings, particularly for complex negotiations or relationship-building.

Factors for Success:

  1. Efficiency: Phone calls are swift and do not require travel or setup time, making them ideal for quick interactions.
  2. Verbal Communication: Effective verbal communication skills are crucial for success in phone calls, as non-verbal cues are limited.
  3. Pre-existing Relationships: Strong, pre-existing client relationships can mitigate the limitations of phone calls.

The success rate of client meetings depends on various factors, including the nature of the meeting, client preferences, and the stage of the client relationship. While face-to-face meetings offer the highest success rate for building trust and rapport, video conferences strike a balance between personal interaction and convenience. Phone calls, while efficient, are better suited for routine communication.

Ultimately, the choice of meeting method should be driven by the specific goals of the interaction, client preferences, and practical considerations. A successful business relationship may involve a mix of these methods tailored to individual client needs and circumstances.

Phone calls to set the scene, a video meeting to further deepen the relationship, but a face-to-face meeting when closing or reviewing your services still cannot be beaten.

The more face-to-face personal interaction you have with your clients and candidates, the more they see you as a prospect, not a suspect. If your client refuses to meet with you, they don’t respect you or see the value in your services.

However, one thing rings true: marketing is an excellent way of bringing business into your agency, but keyboard recruitment still does not have the conversion rate or ability to change your client’s mind compared to phone, video and especially face-to-face interactions.

As always, we would love to hear your comments and understand your viewpoint, but most of all, listen to what you say about the current market and how recruitment should be delivered. 

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