Struggling to find top recruiters? We asked industry leaders to share their insights and advice to attract and retain quality recruitment talent. 

Click the video above to watch the panel conversation with Think Talent’s Co-CEOs Ainsley Johnstone, Natalie Firth and Davidson Director, David Wilson.

Finding top recruitment talent is a key challenge for agencies. And with no tertiary education or training pathway into the profession, recruitment consultants traditionally join the profession from other sectors.

We asked leading industry professionals to share their insights into the challenges of attracting and retaining recruitment talent.

How is talent getting into the industry?

“If you ask any recruitment company in Australia at the moment and ask what their major challenge is, it will be finding really good recruiters,” says David Wilson, Director at Davidson.

But ask any recruiter how they got into the industry, and most will say they fell into it by accident, he says.

As a medium-sized organisation, Davidson has the critical mass to invest in bringing graduates in, Wilson says.

However, for “exec and boards, we can’t necessarily do that, so you’re always hiring very experienced hires. But if they’re really good at what they do, they’re not naturally going to leave, and so it is a real challenge for us.”

Natalie Firth, Co-founder and CEO, Think Talent, says: “You don’t want to rely on people falling into the profession. And 90% of people in our program have fallen into it.”

Visa changes are squeezing the market

The challenge of finding recruiters has been squeezed even further by recent visa changes, says Ainsley Johnstone, Co-founder and CEO, Think Talent.

“The way the visa process works now, you have to pay someone at a senior consultant level to even get them on a 457 visa,” Johnstone says. 

“It means that at that junior end of the market there are Australians in the workforce, but it’s candidate-short, and often we’ve pulled from bigger markets.

“We don’t have access to juniors anymore because there’s no value proposition to hire someone on a visa at a senior consultant salary, and that makes it difficult for business.”

Missing education pathways

With no formal training or education pathway into the industry, some organisations are developing their own.

“We’ve started to think about how we can create some sort of academy or programme where we’re training people,” says Johnstone.

“We are working with one of the universities on a grad rotation program,” she says, but adds that having an external structure would greatly help this process.

Attracting talent by educating the market

First believes the industry needs to educate the market on what a great career choice it is.

“It’s actually a really rewarding and exciting career. You are dealing with really interesting people, you get to work with a range of organisations, it’s such a great learning opportunity. Unfortunately, in some segments it’s got a bit of a bad reputation.”

The sector is broadening its vocabulary around what recruiters do, says Wilson.

“We are in a really magical position where we are facilitating potential.

“The executives we place are making a difference every day in this world, and we are really helping on that journey, and I think we can really articulate that better particularly at graduate level, we can start to build that talent pool.”

Key qualities of recruiters are hard to find

Posing another challenge is the fact that successful recruiters have innate qualities, says Johnstone.

“It’s a certain type of person and behaviour that works well in the business. It’s up and down, it’s stressful, you need to be resilient, you need to be a salesperson but be advisory, plus you have to have subject matter knowledge.

“It’s a lot to ask out of one person.”

As the industry changes, recruiters need to become talent planners and advisors, Johnstone says. “That raises the bar again, so I feel like we do really need help.”