Agency Recruitment is a Zoo.

As a passionate ex-agency recruiter I am a little surprised at the lack of innovation and creativity coming from the dark side Jedi side of recruitment and as such have been pushing hard to get agency recruiters to release their inner marketers and create and foster their own brand within our brand. Agency recruitment has changed, some might say become a lot harder to do well. The few that do well are a different breed of animal and so when I recruit for my business I look for different characteristics of people that I can enable. The main skills you need to bring to the table in modern recruitment to do well are innovation, branding, marketing, sales, tenacity, empathy, analysis and creativity.

Now everyone cannot do this and what I have learned is that when I want to hire people I am really looking for two types of people.

1. The Parrot

2. The Elephant

For me to do this I had to go on a journey and re-discover what types of people work in agency these days. Now to put my learnings into perspective and to educate you on how I cast my judgement; you will need to note that I have hired many people in the last five years in agency land. I have done this as I have grown one business from start-up to success and also taken another 30 year old company and transformed it. I have interviewed many recruiters old and new and the traits they come with are aligned to our friends in the animal kingdom.

The types of agency recruiters I have encountered are:

“The Peacock”

Not Your Nbc Peacock

This agency recruiter is flashy and loud, they tend to self-promote often regardless of their habitat. You usually find this recruiter annoys as many clients as they please. They seem to know it all and they don’t usually engage their listening devices to learn anything. They usually hide all their precious information on candidates under their nest desk. As a manager what you discover about peacocks is that once they lower their feathers, there is usually not much more they offer.

“The Elephant”


First and foremost this recruiter is caring and likes to be part of a herd, though can also work on their own when need be. The greatest asset about this recruiter is their memory, they remember every client and candidate they have ever met and have the ability to be on the phone fast to the right candidate or client after processing information. This recruiter has a high EQ and IQ and therefore knows how to draw information from their candidates/clients and does so in an effortless way without the other party knowing what is happening. They will usually lock themselves down in one habitat agency for a long time and they are quietly confident about what they do. Usually other recruiters will be seen drinking at the water-hole water-cooler at the same time as the elephant to try and pick the brains of the elephant without anyone else listening.

“The Snake”

These recruiters have a way of getting what they want and usually it is with their cunning and lack of integrity. (Lies) They will do well in the role for about a year or two and then leave for the next job as they have out-warmed their welcome or (pissed everyone off.) Think of ‘Kaa’ the snake mesmerising Mowgli in the jungle book. This is what the Snake can do to an unsuspecting recruitment manager who believes the promise of a “stable of clients who only deal with me” and “average billings of $XX.XXX per month.  Stay clear of these recruiters and if you are worried that they are lying to you, triple check the facts before you make an offer.

“The Parrot”

This recruiter is one that is colourful, creative and sometimes flashy. They have a thirst for knowledge and attract people to them by their infectious personalities. They are able to flock together or fly on their own. Whoever coined the phrase “bird-brained” was not talking about a parrot as they are known for being extremely intelligent. They have the emotional intelligence to imitate what you say and therefore they will be able to relay a clients information about a role precisely. They will be creative when looking for Talent and will usually try new things in order to see that works for them. As recruiters you can be assured they will get the results you need, though they will indeed challenge their leaders they usually do so in a way of getting the best results for the whole flock.

These are just some of my thoughts on recruiters and how they show certain characteristics. Why you ask, do I think so much about this? Well in order to be a great agency these days you need to hire modern and great recruiters and sourcers that have the EQ and IQ allowing them to be trusted long term by their clients.

For me, I have found by hiring these types of personalities and characteristics that I can let them out of their cage and roam free around the zoo. We now have a team that each brings something to the table and is trusted and has a manager that gets out their way and lets them do their job well.

Now, now that you have read this don’t think that I hire a team of people exactly the same. I do like to find people that display these traits and can grow in their roles. Each personality can be different and ideally so. I read a great quote from Xerox’s Barry Rand who said, “if you have a yes-man working for you, one of you is redundant.”

Good luck in building your teams or re-engineering your career in recruitment.

Troy Hammond

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