24 February 2016

Client loyalty is unpredictable and other tips for stars changing jobs

Fifteen years ago I had just celebrated my ten year anniversary at Recruitment Solutions. I was the General Manager for the Sydney office comprising four divisions; Perm Accounting, Temp Accounting, Sales & Marketing and Business Support.
 
Unfortunately my time at the company was drawing to a close. The new Managing Director and I had a different view of what was required to grow the business under my leadership. Differences of opinion grew into animosity. Before I knew it I was told that my job was going to be advertised and I could ‘apply for it, if you like’. A clearer case of constructive dismissal you could hardly find.
 
I didn’t want to be working for a person who didn’t want me there, and who I didn’t respect. I went on sick leave (having taken five days sick leave in the ten years of my employment) and eventually we negotiated a severance agreement.
 
I moved to Melbourne and into a new recruitment agency. It didn’t work for me, or for them. I then moved to another agency, into a different job. I didn’t accomplish much with that employer either. By the time I resigned, although there was light at the end of the tunnel, it was too late; I had decided that self-employment was the path I wanted to explore.
 
In twelve years since I have often reflected on these personal experiences as I have seen and heard of many, many recruitment consultant ‘stars’ move companies and fail to achieve the same level of success as experienced previously.
 
Here are the things that I would advise experienced recruiters to be fully aware of before accepting an offer from another employer:

  1. Expectations are high for quick results
    When a boom recruit arrives at their new place of work, there is a very high level of expectation of great results, quickly. The boom recruit is likely to be on a generous remuneration package that, naturally, has high expectations attached to it. Owners want to see a quick return on their (expensive) investment and existing employees want evidence that the boom recruit is as good as all the hype has cracked them up to be. This level of expectation almost always means disappointment as it inevitably takes longer than expected for a boom recruit to get up to speed.
     
  2. Client loyalty is unpredictable
    It’s easy for successful recruiters to believe that ‘their clients’ are actually their clients! Often there is a shock in store to find out, after they move employers, that ‘their clients’ were actually their previous employer’s clients and are reluctant to follow the recruiter to their new employer. Never assume you have ‘clients’, instead regard them as ‘customers’ who need to be won over every time there is a vacancy up for grabs. If you start from that position then every client that does come across is a bonus.
     
  3. You don’t have any goodwill to draw on at your new employer
    A recruiter that has been at their previous employer for a number of years can easily take for granted the goodwill they have generated, and utilised, over the years. As a boom recruit at a new employer, not only are expectations high, there is no goodwill to draw on if things don’t go to plan. Previous flexibility to, for example, arrive late, have a long lunch or leave early for study, the childcare/school run, gym, or just because you feel like it, is suddenly off the table as the spotlight is on your underwhelming, or, yet-to-be-delivered, results.
     
  4. Your new boss will be different, get used to it
    I still remember how hard it was to adjust to each of the nine different bosses I had over my life as an employee. The personality differences were enormous as were the differences in the way they each interacted with me, gave feedback to me and the expectations they each had of me.
     
  5. The first six month will be tough, it may not get better
    It’s rare for a boom recruit to slide into a new job with a new employer and start kicking goals straight away. Mostly the first six months is a tough transition, no matter how welcoming your new boss and new colleagues may be. Working in a new office, establishing new routines, adjusting to a new culture and building new relationships all take time to adjust to. Sometimes it never clicks, no matter how hard you try.

I changed employers three times in my career as an employee. The first time I moved countries, the second time I moved states and the third time I moved one CBD block away.
 
Each of these three times, my physical move was far less significant than the cultural adjustment that accompanied it.
 
Never underestimate the transition you have to make to a new employer and how the difficulty will be exponentially greater the more significant your new role or the more significant your perceived status.

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2 comments:

  1. Could not agree more with point two. Even without moving employers I've always found the moment a consultant starts saying "my client" with that tone inferring ‘how could they possibly go anywhere’, is a turning point where they’re likely stop being successful. You have to win every client, every time, at every encounter…..on the phone, face-to-face, with the placement. That’s how you keep business no matter where you are.

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    1. Spot on, Liam. Consultants overly protective of 'their clients' are on the path to complacency and a rude shock or two!

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