Why traditional contingent agencies are running out of time

Agencies who lack the skills and strategy to elevate themselves from the bottom tier of recruitment suppliers are living on borrowed time, fighting each other for the dregs of the market. 

Having ‘lots of jobs on’ is no longer a badge of honour – it’s a potential red flag signalling a lack of commercial precision. 

Smart agencies are learning to work fewer and better-qualified jobs, sending their close rates and fee income soaring. 


What’s the problem with most recruitment training?

It takes rookies to first base, and leaves them there. 

It shows them how recruitment works, gives them the ABCs, then leaves them to figure the rest out for themselves.

The gap between trainee and consistent biller can be huge. The time lag to make the transition can be years, and the cost to agency owners can be hundreds of thousands of pounds across their teams. 

Knowing ‘how to do a job’ and how to do it expertly are two totally different things – and too much recruitment training settles for the former as an objective. 

In few places is this more exposed than in guidance focused on job qualification

With this vital area of training hurried through or neglected altogether, thousands of recruiters are never shown the way to lift themselves out of saturated, multi-agency contingent work – and spend their careers battling over the scraps of the market, wasting hundreds of hours on dead-end searches in the process. 


The buyer staircase

Getting out of this rut involves a change in mindset and a fundamentally different approach to qualifying and picking up jobs in recruitment. 

The ‘buyer staircase’ concept breaks down the different levels of client commitment agencies work on, each corresponding to different chances of fee success:

Step 1 – getting a job, permission or access to send CVs to a role

Step 2 – getting interview slots, or the chance to book candidate meetings in

Step 3 – exclusive interview slots, or the chance to work without other agency competition

Step 4 – retained search, or up-front fee commitment from the client

Step 5 – bespoke solution

For decades recruiters have been encouraged – indoctrinated, even – to work their way up the staircase.

Rookies are told to pick up some jobs, get some CVs out into the market, and gradually start fighting their way up the slope from the worst and hardest possible start point.

Instead, flipping this approach upside down creates radically improved outcomes for agencies – train and equip rookies to engage and pitch to clients on the top step of the staircase, and work their way down (if needed) to settle on a better working partnership with clients. 


Stop selling people, start selling solutions

To move up the staircase, business owners need to commit to a new way of positioning their agencies in the marketplace, and a new style of selling to clients.

By focusing everything on the sale of ‘people’ and CVs, recruiters trap themselves in a low-value box where they are little more than profile-generators and scheduling assistants.

By learning advanced sales techniques – and incorporating these into job qualification strategies – agencies can offer their customers truly bespoke products and solutions, locking in revenue opportunities and widening the gap between themselves and their competitors. 



About Trevor Pinder

Trevor is both an award winning recruiter and coach with 25 years experience. Throughout his career he has worked and lead both contract and permanent teams to director level.

Despite being a veteran of the industry he is still very much “on the tools” as a recruiter in his own agency and this is his USP when it comes to training. All of the coaching content that he uses is being road tested successfully in today’s marketplace by himself.


DOWNLOAD FULL EBOOK: ‘A Recruiter’s Guide To Maximising Billings’ here.