Recruiting & Candidate Development

“God, I hate recruiters”

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gregsavageIt was Sunday, so I was not in work mode at all. In fact I was watching my son trial for a Sydney Representative cricket team, and my mind was on him bowling fast and batting straight.

On the side of the field, the mums and dads congregated, and the usual banter was flying fast and furious, when one of the guys turned to me and said,

“I thought of you this week.”

The dad in question is well known to me. We have sat on sporting sidelines watching our sons for years, so I was expecting a joke or maybe even an oblique compliment.

But when I asked why, he looked at me steely-eyed and said “God, I hate recruiters”.

There it was. What every recruiter suspects, but does not really want or expect to hear.

It seems my friend had recently resigned his senior IT job and was seeking out a new role. That brought him into sharp and intimate contact with a wide range of Sydney IT recruiters, and what he had to tell me about the experience made me want to hide in shame.

What he said is not new. We have heard it before. But this was from a friend. And it was recent and raw because it happened to him in the last few days. At a vulnerable time.  And so it was so much more real than some esoteric Boardroom conversations about “candidate care”. And clearly, as a recruiter, I was caught up in his perception of our industry.

In short, he had this to say:

He went on to say one more thing, which I was hesitant to repeat here. But regular ‘Savage Truth‘ readers know I will always tell it as it is, so here goes. 
He said, and I quote,

“As soon as I hear the recruiter has an English accent, I won’t deal with them.”

Now, let’s dig into that.

Firstly I don’t share that generalisation, obviously. There are great English recruiters, and there are duds. Same as any nationality.

But secondly, I do understand his attitude. Because it is true that Australia has seen an influx of UK trained recruiters, many of who have a poor reputation for service. Recruiters who call candidates ‘punters’ and placements ‘deals’. The point is his experiences were bad enough for him to simply refuse to work with them. Probably reducing his chances of getting a job, but he is prepared to take that risk.

But that is all a distraction. The primary point is that candidate service is getting no better in Australia – or elsewhere in my opinion. Why are we so blind as a profession? So shortsighted? We knowaccessing talent is where the real battle in our business will be fought, yet we continue with this shoddy behaviour.

It’s a training issue for sure. It’s a leadership issue definitely.  It’s also a problem with the fundamental model of our industry, the fact that most work is contingent and in competition. That means recruiters fill only a small fraction of the jobs they work on. That drives speed over quality. And all that is compounded by the way we pay people. Telling them to provide service, but rewarding them only for financial outcomes

And guess who loses. Candidates.

The only good thing that came out of that sideline chat? The fact that there is clearly an opportunity for forward-thinking recruiters to differentiate.

To go against the tide.

To stand out as a beacon of service in a sea of mediocrity.




Greg Savage is the founder and driving force behind Firebrand Talent Search. Over a career spanning thirty years, he has established himself as an icon of the Australian recruitment industry and is a regular keynote speaker at staffing and recruitment conferences around the world.

After graduating with honours in Psychology, Greg’s early career saw him manage the London office of the United Kingdom’s largest accounting recruiter for two years. In the early 1980s he returned to Australia to run the Sydney office of Accountancy Placements (now the Hays Group), where he was invited to join the board of directors at age 27.

Greg founded Recruitment Solutions in 1987 and rapidly built the start-up into a company of over 200 staff and annual sales of $60,000,000. Recruitment Solutions was successfully listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in July 1998 with Greg at its helm as both Executive Director and COO.

April 2001 saw Greg join Aquent as Asia-Pacific CEO. Four years later in 2005, he was promoted to Aquent International CEO and assumed responsibility for all Aquent businesses outside of North America, which then comprised of over 25 offices across Europe, Asia and Australasia.

In recognition of his contribution to the Australian recruitment industry, Greg was made an Honorary Life Member of the Recruitment and Consulting Services Association (RCSA) in 2004. As an active social media enthusiast, Greg’s industry blog – The Savage Truth – is a must-read for recruitment consultants, while his Twitter feed similarly attracts thousands of followers from around the world.

Greg is undeniably respected by the industry he has helped shape over three decades. With Firebrand he continues to influence and develop this industry for the better.

To contact Greg please go to
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email address is
Office number is +61286678888



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