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    Chris Brown – The transition to Recruitment from working for a manufacturer as Sales Director

    Prior to working for Sharples Davies what did you do?: I have spent most of my working life in construction sales, selling many different products, but mainly heavy side building materials. I have done almost every role from area sales manager to sales director and main board director and have recruited in all the roles which involved managing people.

    When you held these positions, how did you approach the process of recruitment, and did you use an Agency?: I have always believed that a company’s biggest asset is its people. Customers can be fickle, looking to lower prices or increase discounts. However, if you have a good product, a recognised brand, and top-quality salespeople it gives you a much better opportunity to resist these demands, as customers also want to deal with people who bring in business and add value. I have always preferred to recruit from within, if possible, particularly to my management team, as the person knows the business, its culture, and customers, and of course they are a known quantity. The aim was always to recruit quality people with the potential to develop. If that were not possible, I would prefer to work on personal recommendation, but had no problem with working with any agency who could provide the right quality of candidate. I never understood people who preferred to avoid agencies simply to save money. Firstly, why spend money on customers, marketing, promotions, and events with questionable returns, but flinch at paying to bring in a quality candidate who will be a benefit to the business for possibly years to come. Secondly its false economy, how much business is lost if an area or role is not filled for months on end, and how much of a manager’s time is wasted in the recruitment process that could be taken on by someone else.

    Prior to working with Sharples Davies what was your opinion on recruitment agencies and the recruitment process: When Jeff the MD at the time suggested that when I was looking for a better work/life balance I should consider recruitment and working with Sharples Davies I thought it was amusing and asked that bearing in mind the reputation of most recruitment agencies, why would I want to do that. My opinion of recruitment agencies was that while there were a few good people in the various agencies I had come across, in the main they were a pretty disappointing lot. For most the drive seemed to be to get in as many CVs as possible for people living in the required area, and who had some sales experience of any type in any industry. To be honest over 90% of the CVs never made it past the bin. No one seemed to read the brief and make the effort to match requirement to candidate, and very few of the people I took on came via an agency.

    From your experience of working with Sharples Davies how did your opinion on the recruitment process change? I don’t think my opinion of the process has changed, sadly from speaking to clients many agencies still operate in the same way. After speaking to Jeff, I decided to give working freelance for Sharples Davies a shot as I found that their ideas in how recruitment should work fitted well with my own, and I looked forward to the challenge of trying to do things a little different from the norm and offer my friends and ex colleagues a different perspective. Over eight years later hopefully both I and Sharples have delivered that.

    To be a good recruiter you must understand the brief and be able to put yourself in the recruiting managers shoes, understanding what he is looking for, and his time scale, and the fact that he is looking for you to save him time, not waste his time. Therefore, looking at how closely the candidate matches the skills and experience required, speaking to the candidate to make sure he understands the role and making a judgement on personal contact, either on the phone or in person rather than on a paper CV you haven’t invested any time on. Finally, being honest, better to send a few quality candidates that you feel have a realistic chance of progressing, than sending a dozen on the hope that one sticks.
    I think we do that here.

    Moving forwards what advice would you give to a Hiring Manager now?:
    Firstly, as I have said, give recruitment the importance it deserves, finding the right candidate is a big plus for your business, so give it the attention it deserves and treat it as a priority not a chore.
    Secondly find an agency you can trust, that is prepared to collaborate with you, and treat them as you would want to be treated. Give them proper timescales to work with rather than unrealistic demands, candidates usually have jobs and commitments, and cannot drop everything at the last moment. Communicate and move quickly. Good candidates are rare and do not hang around in the market long. If you have a good candidate, see them, the longer you wait to act gives someone else the chance to take them. Good and speedy communication between client, agency and candidate will make everything easier, quicker, and more likely to get the required result.

    If you can, work with one or a couple of agencies and give them time. Working with multiple agencies isn’t necessarily going to give you more chance, most use the same job boards and sources, and as they only get paid for placement the temptation is always there to bang in CVs without the necessary investigation to see if they are suitable, because if you don’t someone else will get the CV in first. That promotes a scramble for speed where accuracy is sacrificed, and the number of irrelevant CVs multiplies.
    That is not how recruitment should work, and it is not how we work.

    As with most things in life, finding a good partner you can work with, and trust makes life so much easier.

    Chris Brown

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