Life as an external recruiter… “Welcome to the Dark Side?”

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“An External Recruiter.. Welcome to the dark side!” That wasn’t much of a welcome message for someone who had just about stepped into a full suite of networking sessions in the company of a house full of external recruiters. That was my first year in business after having been a corporate HR person for over a decade.

Things changed dramatically from the day I left my job and the reality of the world dawned upon me. I was constrained to spend extended periods of time at my desk, in my own personal space accompanied by my mobile devices. I was the first in office, the last to leave and did almost everything without assistance. The biggest change was not having a team to share the load and functioning as a single contributor who had to multi-task. There were endless emails to be read, follow-up calls to be made and events to attend. You have to look fresh all the time and keep the energy level high while at the same time, not look appear clueless about the industry which frankly I was. This was on account of the fact that I wasn’t really a full-time recruiter but more of a generalist in my previous avatar in Corporate HR.

Switching over from corporate mode wasn’t seamless. From calling the shot on which vendor to use to being a vendor myself was a horrible experience. I still remember my first sales pitch to a global MNC. I had a mini portfolio on what I could provide as a service vendor and armed with that went on a sales presentation to my first client. He cryptically told me that what I could do, his internal team could do quite well; so what did I bring to the table? I knew that he was right. I wasn’t special and you needed to craft an identity for yourself, a niche in which you excel in order to make your way forward.


How to become a better recruiter?

So what makes a recruiter exceptional? Here are some pointers for people who are looking for a switch from corporate to external recruitment.

  • Do not take short cuts – I never believe that you should hide any known facts from a candidate. I once executed an order on behalf of a client who organization had received some bad press lately. I clarified with them as to the facts of the situation and laid these clearly in front of the candidates.
  • Sell the brand, not just the job – be a brand advocate, do your homework about your clients and ask them as many questions as you would if you were to join the organization and not the candidates.
  • Provide them the pros and cons of a role – there are endless job opportunities and recruiters out there. An exceptional recruiters shares his expertise on why a role will further enhance a career
  • Never oversell a position – word spreads and your reputation is all-important.
  • Go the extra mile – make things happen fast and put in the additional effort required in delivering exceptional customer service. Go meet your candidate if they cannot meet you in your office. Thank them even if they decline your offer and I am sure they will be back for future roles.
  • Be prepared for failure, a successful recruiter sees failure as part of the job and works harder on the next assignment
  • Always ask yourself, what value can you provide to your customers? How are you different? Make a constant effort to be different
  • Be bold with your ideas. Even when people think it’s not a great idea if you have the courage of your convictions, go with it.


Life as an external recruiter

A recruiter’s job is never an easy one. I once heard someone say that a recruiter’s job is no great shakes and doesn’t really require any special talents. Don’t you believe that? It’s not just about a phone, making a few calls and sending across that fat bill. No matter how big or small a firm you are working on behalf of, the war over talent is not just about speed but durability. If you can deliver quality consistently you will surge ahead. Think of it as a marathon, pace yourself and cherish every moment.

It’s the career you chose. Nurture it.

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Amos Tay

Amos Tay

Amos Tay is the Senior Partner of Hatch Asia. He is a Gallup-Certified CliftonStrength Coach and lead our executive search, coaching and expand our partnership development across the region.

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