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What does "Who've you got on your books" mean?

“Who’ve you got on your books?”. If I had a penny for every time I’ve been asked this question, I’d be able to build a state of the art recruitment library and save myself a lot of time, conversations and hard slog. It’s gotten me to thinking, what is this infamous “book”? Do people mean a physical book of contacts which recruiters are meant to pick off their shelves, thumb through the index of skillsets and pick a candidate at random for the job in question? Is it a recruitment adaptation of the notorious “black book” of contacts, which is kept in a hidden, secret drawer? Or, furthermore, perhaps it’s a series of CV novels, and we win a prize when we collect the trilogy?! The possibilities are endless! Obviously, being in a hugely powerful technologically driven 21st Century world, isn’t enough to supersede the “book” of a recruitment agency to some employers.

Now, brace yourself, but what if I told you this “book” didn’t exist. What if I told you this “book” is in fact a mystical representation and interpretation of the earnest efforts, graft and consistent commitment a pro-active recruiter tirelessly invests in building a strong network of contacts over many hours, days, weeks and years. Let’s not forget the weekends, evenings and times we have to make our excuses and slip outside from a family event to have a conversation about a job role with a candidate, as it’s a more convenient time for them to talk.

Being a recruiter, our primary purpose is to provide you with staff to solve your recruitment needs.  We secure you the right people, on time, to ensure your business continues to run smoothly and profitably. Sounds easy, right? If only. We know how precious it is to find people and connect with them - we cherish it, trust me! These are all steps recruiters take to make sure we keep our network of contacts strong and are able to service the needs of our clients seamlessly and productively. There’s no time for indexing and filing, we’re too busy researching, listening, engaging and securing the confidence of our valued candidates.

Let’s be frank, we’re in a world where pretty much everything is accessible at any time, from anywhere. We all work, and live, at a hundred miles per hour, mobile’s ringing 24/7, takeaway food delivered at all hours, a quick click on Amazon and your purchases are delivered the next day, the luxury of a check in and out 9-5 being a distant, happy memory. Is this what you are expecting from a quick “check your books” conversation with your recruiter? A candidate, delivered to your door who can slot into a position within your company at the flick of a page? Although business needs don’t always allow time for reflection and deep and meaningfuls, the “I need it now” impression won’t automatically allow time for a recruiter to ensure their candidate buys into you, your role or your company values.

The truth of it is, people won’t sit and wait forever for a perfect job to arise, just as jobs won’t stay available for years on end. If something isn’t working in your business, do you sit tight and think “that’s one for the book”, or do you change it, and make results happen? This is no different from a lifecycle of a job seeker, whether they are new to the working world, or experienced in leading a corporate empire. We are dealing with people who can revolutionise ideas, and will typically grasp possibilities with both hands; do you expect these people to be sat in a “book” waiting to be recognised? No. Can we keep them passive and boxed, ready for us to reach into our “book” and let them out one by one when a need arises? No.

Just as the world turns, seasons change, the economy peaks and troughs, so does the cycle of recruitment – let’s face it, keeping employment levels high ensures strong economic gain, which is a benefit for us all. A respected recruiter consistently monitors and assesses business challenges, the impact these will potentially have on industries, as well as keeping a finger on the pulse of new legislation, the impact of new legal requirements on businesses and employees, as well as discovering where there are skills shortages and how this gap can be plugged successfully. All this at the same time as adapting to new recruiting trends, creatively devising inventive ways to keep ahead of the game so we can find and secure your future talent before your competitor snaps them up, as well as keeping candidates interests warm, so they maintain committed to your process.

Now, here’s the good news, I’ll share a secret with you... recruiters are on your side! You have the power to make sure your recruitment process runs as smoothly as possible. By having a partnership, collaboration and connection with a recruiter who gets under the skin of your business and your long-term goal, they will find you “hidden gems” (AKA passive candidates) to keep your business world turning. They are also not scared to suggest new ways of working together, if they feel there are areas within the process which need strengthening. We just ask for you to consider some important factors when you next have a role to fill…  Firstly, start by thinking about your job vacancy as a project – when do you need for it to be completed by (your new starter joining you)? Have you allowed enough time for an effective resource plan to be put in place? Such as, speaking with your recruiter, ensuring they understand your vision, allowing time for them to search their network and having the right conversations. Have you reviewed your job spec? Thought about what’s changed in the role? How the business needs have grown/changed direction? Or have you just dusted off an old spec to save you time?!

Building your time into the project is imperative – when are you available for interview? Through clear communication, a detailed schedule/plan, a meeting or call, an up to date job spec, a process for feedback delivery, all helps enormously to ensure your needs are fulfilled, on time, within budget, and tailored to you. It also makes sure we, as your recruiter, can manage our candidate’s expectations as well as protect your brand reputation. A proactive, bespoke service is far more powerful than a reactive “check your books” email.

So, next time you’re recruiting, reach for the phone and speak with your recruiter. Let’s leave the legendary “recruitment book” locked in its magical castle along with the unicorns, and let’s indulge our time in a productive project conversation, as that’s where the real magic happens! 

Written by, Cameo Director - Hannah Nicholls

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