Victims of their own success?

Recruitment Consultants

Over the years, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon that happens to consultants at around the 18-month stage. Whereas they’ve been successful up until now, I’ve seen many that start to fail and struggle to do the role. It’s made me think more and more as to why and has prompted me to write this post.

A new recruitment consultant can easily take three months to understand the role and another three months before it actually all starts to come together and work for them. So, a consultant with six months experience is now on their way. It’s also probably one of the reasons that as an industry, we have high turnover – the job is a lot more difficult than most people think. Each element isn’t difficult, but as the role is comparable to 10 jobs in one, the organisation and time management required makes it difficult to be successful.

From six months to a year, they are now gaining their own roles and clients, filling positions (whether temporary or permanent) without much supervision and very likely, loving their job. Placing people into jobs that they want is one of the most pleasing things you can do… in a work environment.

So now our consultant has a year of experience, are good at what they do and has some reference points, data and trends for their second year. It’s at this point as we close towards the 18-month stage, that it can start to fall apart – so why is this?

I believe there are three reasons for this to happen: –

1. Self-belief

This probably has the least impact of the 3, but I have seen it happen a number of times. All of a sudden, the consultant starts to believe that they can’t do the job anymore or that they are no good at it. They talk themselves into a negative state, and without the right attitude, it doesn’t take long for the performance to drop considerably.

It takes a very competent manager to spot the issue and to turn this situation around quickly. What is likely to happen, is for the consultant to start not enjoying their job at their current company and be open to opportunities that present themselves elsewhere.

2. Becoming complacent

The job is very complicated initially, but of course a year later it becomes a lot easier, and complacency starts to set in and therefore corners are cut. Maybe the consultant doesn’t spend the time to take a full job description and person specification, or they ignore some of the qualifying questions required to establish an ideal candidate to match to the role. It’s easy to think that if you’ve been placing people successfully, then maybe you don’t have to work as hard moving forwards… but recruitment doesn’t work that way.

If you cut corners, then the process is likely to break down somewhere along the way.

3. Victims of their own success

The final reason is that the consultant becomes overloaded with work and the stress levels take over. They’ve been bringing in new clients and working with their existing clients, and they will start to hit a saturation point. Working on too many positions at one time (apparently eight permanent ‘hot jobs’ is the ideal number that big billers work on at any one time) means the consultant is placed under too much pressure and the workload will overcome them.

So, an overworked consultant, spreading themselves too thin results in their performance taking a dive and once that happens, it’s hard to get the positivity required to make your way back up again.

It’s up to line managers to be aware of these issues and make sure they monitor the consultant’s performance on an ongoing basis, thereby making sure that none of the above three issues occur.

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