13 February 2014

Hail the unsung heroes of the recruitment industry: the non-billers

One of the things I am most ashamed of in my whole career is an event from about 15 years ago. The temp accounting team I was leading had set our sights on having 300 weekly temps working. The week we achieved it, I shouted the whole team out for a night of expensive cocktails at some trendy bar.

We had a great night out but the next day I was horrified to realise that I had not invited our receptionist to join us in the celebration.

Our receptionist was an extremely capable and valuable member of the team but in my self-absorbed world, I only thought about the recruiters in my team, not the whole team. I missed the person who did the most to support the recruiters.

Our receptionist was very gracious about it but it was obvious that my snub had hurt her. I felt terrible. I had failed a key aspect of leadership - acknowledging and celebrating the role that each person had played in helping the team deliver a key goal. Unsurprisingly she resigned to go to a better job shortly afterwards (clearly any other job was better than working for an unappreciative boss).

I would like to think that devastating experience was an important lesson for me.

Yet, how common is it in our industry? I suspect in most recruitment agencies the recruiters get all the kudos and the support staff get little, or none.

I know this is not the case everywhere.

I was prompted to think about this topic after visiting one of my clients, Aspect Personnel. I was (as usual) warmly greeted by Cassie on reception and then Leanne (Administration Manager) ensured I had everything I needed for my meeting. Cassie and Leanne are the two permanent support staff for CEO, Matt Sampson and his team. Every time I have visited the Aspect office, Cassie and Leanne consistently demonstrate their skill and commitment. It's wonderful to see. They are both are an important part of Aspect's success.

That night I asked my wife (10 years experience in the recruitment industry) who the best non-biller was that she had worked with during her time in recruitment. She quickly responded 'Carolyn Hyams'.

Carolyn was (and still is) the Marketing Director for Aquent (incorporating Firebrand Talent and Vitamin T). She is now in her 13th year in that group of companies.

Most of you would know of the high profile that former Firebrand/Aquent CEO, Greg Savage, has in the local (and global) recruitment industry.

How did Greg build his profile so effectively?

Greg has a lot to say and all of it is worth listening to but when you run a multi-national recruitment business, there are plenty of operational issues to keep you occupied 100% of the time without the distraction of blogging, tweeting and speaking at conferences and events (to name just three brand-building activities).

If you also want to build a personal brand to directly benefit your business, then you need a highly capable executive to build and execute all the behind-the-scenes marketing and branding strategies that are the foundation of building a strong brand.

Carolyn has, for but a few months, since Greg joined Aquent in 2001, been that key backroom executive. Starting as a Marketing Associate, Carolyn has proven her immense value to Greg and everyone at Aquent/Firebrand because of two critical factors:

a) She was/is the accountable person (no billings target or anything else to distract her).
b) She was/is highly capable and thrived on building her marketing knowledge to benefit the business.

I'll leave the final word on Carolyn to Greg's:

I only write LinkedIn recommendations if I truly mean them. And when I say Carolyn is unique, I mean that.

Her loyalty, diligence, commitment to the cause, and dedication to excellence, is simply as good as I have seen in 30 years of managing people.

Her specific skills, which are many and varied, you can see in her profile, but what you really need to know is this. She is hard working, honest, intelligent, innovative, in love with marketing, even more in love with digital marketing, "gets' social media for branding, a great net-worker, a superior people manager, collaborative, has a smart design-eye, can run a team, can take direction, speaks up when she has ideas, can coach, can be coached, has patience, is demanding of herself and others, understands and delivers on the need for ROI.... and rather useful as far as I am concerned... is good for laugh and a glass of red when the time is right.

Simply this. If she offers herself. Hire her

How are you ensuring that your non-billers are acknowledged and celebrated?

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  1. Matt Sampson14/2/14 8:38 AM

    Great blog, Ross.

    If billers are the cogs that turn the recruitment machine, support staff are certainly the oil. Without the oil, the cogs won’t turn at all, let alone in coordination with the rest of the machine!

    Thank you for mentioning Leanne and Cass – two of the best administrators I have had the pleasure to work with. When you are spoilt by good administration staff every day, it can take someone from outside the business to remind you how lucky you are. But it shouldn't!

    To all the recruiters and managers out there, don’t take your administrators for granted. Thank them for their hard work, include them in your successes. For, in the words of Joni Mitchell, you don’t know what you've got till it’s gone!


  2. Ross, I have to tell you that your article came as a complete surprise to me. It kind of brought a tear to my eye and it's really nice to feel appreciated.

    I absolutely love my job, however as with most marketers, often our efforts fall under the radar and are not acknowledged as often as those who are the GP billers.

    So needless to say, I LOVED IT :)

    Thank you!

  3. My pleasure, Carolyn. It's a privilege to be able to highlight just a few of the many, many things that happen behind the scenes by many people to help recruiters deliver a great result for their clients and candidates.

  4. Well said Ross - it's rare to hear comments made about non billers in a positive way rather than the traditional complaint that they are overheads / expenses to the business.