Dear Mitch

Welcome back to ‘Dear Mitch’ with the ever candid, Mitch Sullivan. A man many Recruiters will know. Never one to shy away from debate or express an opinion, he’s been a Recruiter since the days of fax. His desire to not have his eyes bleed every time he saw a job ad drove him to start his own Recruitment Copywriting Course.

In this series, Mitch is answering your questions. For every query your boss can’t or won’t answer, you can write to Dear Mitch…

“Hi Mitch, I honestly don’t think my boss knows how to recruit. He’s a nice person, but constantly gives me irrelevant advice. I’m at odds as how to change things, without moving company. I do well here but we’re at logger heads all the time despite me billing great numbers. Any advice for managing up the chain?” Verity, Essex.

Thanks for dishing me up this can of worms, Verity.


Is ignoring him an option?

How about having a private ‘off the record’ chat with him and letting him know your frustrations?

If neither of those are an option, then I guess the only other thing you can do is to talk to your manager’s boss or the owner of the business. Before you do that, you probably need to consider is who is worth more to the business, you or your manager? You need to have a sense of how strong your bargaining position is.

Then it’s a case of passing the problem up the line and getting someone more senior to take care of it.

But before doing any of that, if I was you I’d have my exit strategy already prepared. You know, just in case.

I feel like I really need to know more to able to offer the best advice. Feel free to contact me privately if you’d like to.

Either way, good luck.

“I’m a contract consultant and win business a lot but the vast majority is permanent. How do I persuade a client to use contractors?” James, London

Wouldn’t it be easier to just fill these permanent roles?

Failing that, do better research.

“How do I make my colleagues cross-sell?” Simon, Birmingham

“Make them”? Tie them to a chair and beat them. Or maybe threaten their families?

Sorry, I’m probably being too literal. What you probably meant was “how do I encourage/motivate my colleagues to cross sell”, right?

Hire a sales trainer.

“I’m a permanent consultant and I’m booked on a three week holiday – how do I safe-guard against coming back to no business?” Polly, LA

By taking a one-week holiday.

“Hi Mitch, I’m a young consultant and loving recruitment right now. I work really hard though, and I’m looking ahead wondering how I can keep going in this industry for a long time. Any tips?” Louise, Reading.

Louise, I keep coming back to  “I work really hard though” and it’s making me think that one day you’d like to not have to work very hard. Am I right?

Generally, the alternative to working hard is working smart – and that only comes with experience. The experience of understanding clients better (especially working out which ones to invest time in) and understanding your target candidate audience well will help you do this. There are no short cuts for experience I’m afraid.

As you get more experience, you may also start to find that the colossal wastage of energy that working on contingency entails starts to wear you down – especially if you’re always having to find new clients. But there are ways around that – like moving inhouse or learning how to work retained, for example.

If you ultimately want to not have to work very hard or fill jobs, then my advice would be to move into HR.

“How do I get through more than 5 years of R2R without dying of alcoholism?”

By replacing the alcohol with pot. Other recruiters have a way of not being so irritating when you’re stoned. So I hear.

“Dear Mitch, My colleague and I have recently started a recruitment agency. We were both consistently strong billers (£150,000 – 170,000) and are looking to get things off of the ground doing what we know. Being contingency search, permanent recruitment for Procurement & Supply Chain and Manufacturing teams, almost entirely within

“My question is based around what we want to do medium – long term. Which is develop our agency, and build contract desks. Something neither of us have personally done before. What advice would you give regarding this, mainly with reference to when, and how perhaps to make the transition, or begin adding it to our day.” Robbie, London.

Robbie, I’ve never worked contract, or managed people who’ve worked contract before, so am probably not going to be of much help on this one.

I’m assuming you want to build a contract book because of the cash flow and repeat nature of that type of business?

Are SME’s going to have that much contract and/or repeat business?

If it were me, I’d be converting as many of my perm clients to exclusive and retained agreements. Once that had been done and a steady pattern of filling almost every job had been established, getting contract work from those clients would be much easier.

But selling tighter working agreements between recruiter and client is my thing, and appreciate it may not be for everyone.

I guess the only other advice I can offer is bring in a contract expert, either to train you or to become a co-director.

Sorry it’s such a rubbish answer.

I am now taking direct questions for this series. Want something (anonymously or otherwise) answered? Just email me at [email protected] – I’ll do my best to answer, no matter how difficult or damning the question.