Recruitment Training in Tougher Times

"Our most valuable asset is our people”. How many times have you heard that? In the recruitment industry you could take this further and say, “Our only asset is our people”.

Why is it then that some recruitment firms, when the going gets tough, cut back on developing the expertise of their only source of revenue.  Why, just when your consultants need all the help they can get, would you cut back on the amount of support you provide them with? What sort of message does that send out?

Clearly, in order to keep costs under control, some economies will need to be made, but why should training take the hit? It doesn’t make commercial or even mathematical sense. It makes about a much sense as limiting the amount of time your team can be on the telephone in order to keep the phone bill down.

The vast majority of consultants in the industry today have never experienced a recession. What happened in 2001/2 was not a recession, it was a dip. The market which confronts recruiters now is much more like the conditions which prevailed in the early 90s and throughout most of the 80’s. Is your team fully equipped to cope or are you hoping for the best? Are they only capable of making money in a buoyant market, or do they have the additional skills and know-how which will enable them to thrive in a downturn? Are they capable of seeking out the business opportunities which still exist, or are they merely job-fillers?  Are they capable of delivering a true consultancy service or are they merely “matchers”? Will they crumble under the extra pressure or will they rise to the challenge?

Investment in great training not only provides a significant financial return for you and your team, it also boosts morale, self-confidence, staff retention and loyalty. Let’s look at some simple numbers.....


Average fee per placement in the professional services market (as opposed to High St), £8000

Investment per annum in Manager/Consultant, say 2 days training, total cost inc travel, £700

Absolute bare minimum extra placements made per annum as a direct result of training, say 2, equals £16000

So your minimum, extremely conservative, return on investment is £16000 - £ 700 = £15300 per head. In percentage terms that’s an ROI of 2,200%. Put your own figures in for average fee and take a look at the result. I could quote real life examples where the ROI has been much, much higher.

Choosing right trainer for your business is of course critical.

Some factors to consider :

*What is their track record in your part of the recruitment industry? Do they have genuine credibility?

* Have they gained their experience with market leaders or market followers?

* Is their specialist area of expertise appropriate? High St recruitment is very different to ‘professional’ recruitment (and many external trainers come from the High St)

* Have they worked through a recession and beaten it?

* Do they have anything new to offer or is it more of the same?

* Can they add real tangible value to experienced billers, as very few rookies will be coming into the industry over the next year or so?

* Who else have they worked with and are those firms similar in ethos to yours?

* Does the trainer share your recruitment philosophy?

Too many recruitment  firms think they are saving money by cutting their training budgets. In my view this is a short-sighted strategy and a false economy.

Outstanding training for your team during the current economic climate will enable you to maximize current revenue, win market share from your competitors, and provide a solid platform for accelerated growth when we emerge, weary but exhilarated, blinking in the sunlight , into the new dawn.........

Dean Gollings

February 2009

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