OK, we might not be completely out of the economic woods just yet. The recovery we’ve all been waiting for might still be derailed by the general election, by a messy Greek departure from the Eurozone, in fact by one of a hundred other things we haven’t even seen coming over the horizon yet. But, for now, let’s work on the basis that 2015 is going to be the year when things really started to take off again. So, as an experienced sales professional considering how to make the most of the upturn, where should you be focusing your career development in the immediate future?
I’d like to suggest that now is the time to be selling the most challenging, but most satisfying – and potentially lucrative – product of them all, namely human talent. Why? Because the latest global survey of corporate CEOs conducted by the global consultancy, PwC, found that the key issue keeping them awake at night is how to attract and retain the right talent. Which of course means that they are going to be more willing than ever to spend serious money with the firms and individuals who can help to make their sleep more peaceful. And wouldn’t you like to have access to this significant income stream?
In the UK alone the recruitment sector is estimated to be worth well in excess of £25 billion and, for those with commitment, talent and application it can offer impressive financial rewards and career prospects. Working in recruitment can also be very rewarding in less obvious ways. The roles you find for people can have a huge effect on their personal and material development and significantly contribute to the growth and success of the organisations that employ them. Money, promotion and job satisfaction. What’s not to like?
Nothing, however, is ever truly perfect and recruitment is unfortunately no exception. The sales process involved is particularly challenging because it always has a dual element. You may do a fantastic job of selling an individual to a potential employer, for example, only to have the ingrate in question turn down an offer for a whole range of downright baffling reasons. Something that an inanimate product or service is distinctly unlikely to do. People, being people, are, of course, endlessly unpredictable. You may plan and organise the sales process in your typically professional way, but you can never fully account for candidates kept awake by crying babies before a crucial interview, clients venting frustrations with their spouses on unsuspecting applicants or seemingly very bright people who can’t use a satnav.
Recruitment is also a particularly crowded and competitive marketplace because the barriers to entry are, theoretically at least, very low. The basic needs are simply a computer, a phone and an internet connection. Which is why so many of the wrong sort of people seem to think that they can become successful recruitment consultants, and why so many are quickly proved wrong. Consequently, I would argue that this is a sector where the choice of which firm you work for is extremely important. Avoid the generalist, multi-discipline, multi-sector organisations and instead seek a specialist that provides real value and has consultants who know their industries inside out. Here at Inward Revenue, for example, our people are thoroughly trained through a dedicated in-depth development programme to gain both expert recruitment skills and a deep understanding of the IT market.
Recruitment can be tough. Recruitment can be frustrating. But for those willing to take it on, it can offer opportunities beyond the scope of many other sales-based careers and the chance to operate in one of the most important markets of the 21st century – the battleground for the very best human talent.
By Jonathan Graham is Managing Director, Inward Revenue Consulting