How to be a Great Researcher

Business Development or 360 recruitment isn’t for everyone. In times gone by, if you weren’t happy with dealing with client in recruitment you probably wouldn’t have gone far. Even showing disdain for cold calling clients would have you flogged in the local river as a witch.

Today, things are a little different.

There’s absolutely no negative stigma to not enjoying ‘BD’ and the industry will provide many options for anyone in this mindset.

If you’re one of those people you’ll want to explore Research and its various factions. Don’t be fooled into thinking if you don’t like sales you won’t be good at recruitment or can’t stay in the industry. You can.

The Research function of recruitment companies and search firms can have different purposes at various businesses. The overarching output is to support the respective company’s sales arm and develop a seamless recruitment organism which works as one. Imagine you’re working as a 360 Recruiter. You have to be as competent at every single output of your work. Any weak link will mean you’re not performing as well you could.

This is even more true with a separate research team, as you’re able to critically assess the success of individual efforts.


Contingency Resourcing

In contingent recruitment, being a Researcher or Resourcer will be your prelude to a full 360 role. Finding and calling candidates will hone many of the skills you’ll need later in your career and mean you can speak to clients with some experience under your belt.

In this entity, Research is likely to be split into two options: Contract or Permanent.

Contract Resourcers will need to be quick thinkers, great relationship builders and reactive to the needs of the contract sales team. Knowing who the best three candidates are for one skill or project at any one time is imperative. Along with when they’re going to be ‘on the market’.

Because of the regular continuous nature of contract, you’ll speak to the same candidates over and over again. Projects can last anything from a few hours to a few years. So, making sure candidates know who you are and that your jobs are worth investigating will mean you rise above a transactional relationship. Being able to sell is a skill which shouldn’t be underestimated, but when you’ve got a great relationship with a candidate, you’ll need to sell less.

The same goes for the permanent side of the business.

Permanent Resourcers will often be working proactively in order to map out a market. This means getting on the phone to speak to candidates. You need to know the culture of a client. But most importantly why a particular candidate would work well in that environment. For this, having clear communication lines is crucial.

This model (whether permanent or contract) is a transactional job. It’s relationship driven to a degree, but always focused on one particular mandate. Fill that job.

Man on Hill

Executive (re)Search

Some firms in Exec Search view Research as a function far detached from the phone. It’s market mapping on a systematic basis to determine the movers and shakers in the industry.

Within some firms, the dark arts are still practiced. “Black-hat tactics” means calling up people for the sole reason of information gathering. Maybe referred to as “rusing” it’s a notion which harks back to the old days of recruitment. The days when people weren’t searchable on the internet.

For the modern day Researchers, you need a higher networking capability in order to succeed. Reinforcing your firm as the best place to find jobs to a passive candidate is important. However there’s also an argument for promoting your personal brand just as much as your company’s. The average tenure in recruitment would justify that, but also, everyone in the world’s connected on social media more than ever before. Working for an industry heavyweight doesn’t mean you’re an industry heavyweight.

There’s also a sales aspect to this too. This will largely depend on the firm or agency you’re working for. If you’re at a small company it may well be expected for you to headhunt candidates for longlists or shortlists.

Hunted partner and Strategy search firm The Barton Partnership operate their research arm as market and candidate mapping around for existing and target businesses alongside resourcing.

Tom, The Barton Partnership: “Our Researcher track provides a great platform to become successful in the business and combines resourcing with executive search techniques.”

“The resourcing element is important to bring qualified candidates into a search, but the real value and differentiation comes through the technique. Providing candidate, market or company information. For example we headhunt from many strategy consultancies, so on top of market mapping, knowing how these companies assess their staff (which will differ from firm to firm), and establishing who the highest ranked candidates are at each level makes a huge difference.”

“Furthermore, our Researchers build a reputation in their market, where they’re seen as experts, so the role they play is key.”


Write Right

As with anyone offering an insight into a business, being able to write well is pretty important. It’s more than just knowing the difference between their, there and they’re. It’s knowing that a copy and pasted LinkedIn message conveys the lack of effort you’ve put in to ‘touching that candidate’s base’.

Meticulous, well organised Consultants that are able to find a needle in a haystack will go a long way in Research. There are plenty of people who base their career around it and the opportunity to grow is certainly possible.

So, if you’re one of those Recruiters who isn’t a fan of business development, don’t panic. There’s more than enough opportunity to grow your career in this industry without hating your job. And the best part is, there’s only going to be more opportunity as the industry matures and evolves even more.


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