Recruitment: Who have you got on your books?

hmHamish Marr looks at the age-old question that is often asked in the recruitment industry.

Who have you got on your books?” This usually means, “just take a quick look without any real commitment” – and a few of our competitors have been asked to go and do the same. Often there is no real brief given; sometimes a quick 10 minutes on the phone and hiring managers think this is the best approach to ‘cover the market’.

This approach is flawed on so many levels. For starters, you end up having to give the brief two or three times, and then manage two or three supplier relationships over the course of the ‘assignment’. It usually results in a shipload of CVs sailing through your inbox. Often it’s the same active candidates who are in the market that week, who have either just been sacked, or their ‘role has been made redundant’, or they are just bored and disengaged in their current role. Probably not your industry stars.

As recruiters we feel that it screams: “Can you go and do a heap of work for me, for a small chance of earning your costs back.” And we think, sure, I’ll flick you over a couple of candidates who I know are actively searching this week (for criteria see above) and go back to the work that is really going to pay off, ie, your other client who you perceive as far more committed and serious about finding someone, and where you are actually going to earn your money. You’d have to be very lucky to secure an industry star using this method of recruitment.

The way we search for candidates within the FMCG industry has changed. Advertising campaigns, while they have their place, generally don’t reach the top talent in the industry – those who are deeply engaged and involved in their current work, even if they are open to a new role. We have a unique industry that hires from within, and most often from within the country. While some functions (accounting, HR, IT, as examples) can take people from outside the FMCG industry, the same cannot be said for sales, marketing, category and manufacturing, or operations roles.

At OCG, we have the market mapped. When you need a ‘senior brand manager’, we can show you a list of the 132 senior brand managers sitting in roles in the industry. When you need a ‘business manager’, in most cases we can tell you which of the 92 in the industry are ready for their next move, and what would likely motivate them to make a move. When you need a ‘category manager’, we can tell you which ones have the experience of working in some of the more advanced and sophisticated markets, like Europe or the US, or even dare I say it – Australia. However, we often still need to motivate the real stars to look at your role, by knowing and selling your businesses goals, aspirations and opportunities. This doesn’t start with a “Who have you got on your books” mentality!