Why Every Recruiter Should Have Their Own PSL

However long you’ve been in recruitment, being on the right PSL can be a money maker.

The trouble is, before you’re on a PSL, you actually have no idea whether it’s the right one.

You could be one of two agencies used religiously, with line contact encouraged. Maybe even one who welcomes the occasional visit.

Imagine one who appreciates your work.

Who helps you achieve the goal. The goal of growing their business.

On the other hand, it may be an established PSL, with three tiers, strict guidelines, and an invite to bid, to work at 12.5% terms.

If they’re completely up their own arse they’ll have a rarely checked, legacy portal with no human contact, last updated just after the cold war.

“I’ve just got us on the PSL for Facebook” you smirked in your review, despite not hitting target again.

“Well done mate, that’s quality work. Target smashed next month I expect” replies your hopeful Manager, underlining ‘Performance Review’ on their pad.

As good as a great PSL can be, they need pruning and cultivation. 

And bigger rarely means better.

A bit like one Mr Myagi’s bonsai trees.

Sure there’s growth on certain branches.

But it can be better for the cause if you nip it at the bud.

If you’re competing against one rival, great.

If you’re in a much bigger system, you’re being offered the metaphorical ‘opportunity’ of minesweeping half finished Fosters at closing time in Wetherspoons.

So here’s some advice…

Flip the PSL system on its head.

Don’t fall for the allure of dancing to a client’s beat.

Create your own.

Your own PSL.


Not your business.


One you create, curate and critique.

The only stipulation over how many you recruit for, will be how much work you expect from each.

It might be just one client. It might be five. But you need to critique the clients you work with now and any client you want to work with.

It should be a similar critique you hold candidates to.

You’ll see more success, and gain a higher level of control over your finances. Because if you’re constantly in charge of where your effort goes. You’re far less likely to have it wasted.

How to qualify

When you pick up a job, it’s tempting to rush the phone call. You want crucial information quickly in order to reach candidates before your competition.

That’s the biggest mistake to make in job qualification.

Most people will tell you to keep the client on the line for as long as possible. But understanding their level of commitment to this role is arguably just as critical than understanding the job.

Ok, so they can’t live without the hire.


You know it’s urgent.

They say you’ve got the role exclusively.

Brilliant, there’s no one else looking.

But there’s so much more you need to know.

Has there been an effort prior to this conversation? Do they have a database full of candidates they’ll claim to know if you send someone over? What’s their commitment been to previous roles? Can you book in interview slots? What turnaround time can they promise at each stage? Has it been signed off financially?

If there’s any possibility your work will go either unnoticed or unappreciated, stop.

Do NOT work this role.

But more than that, seriously think about working long-term with this client.

You don’t need misinformation or fragmented processes.

If you can’t set your watch by the reaction of a client in the recruitment process, not only will you not make the placement, everything will suffer as a result.


The only way you’re getting anything above basic in this job is by filling roles. And there’s so much more than finding candidates to consider with a client.

If you can’t get them on the phone, your emotional health will suffer.

The relationship with your boss will suffer.

The relationship with your candidates will suffer.

Your credibility and reputation will nosedive too. Because in 90% of cases, every interaction you have with candidates is based on the strength of your client.

OK, you’ll sometimes call up with the ‘No News’ angle. Apologising and staying in touch is great to show you’re still working. 

But people don’t wait with ‘no news’ for very long. They’re not in this process to support you. And they definitely won’t be keen to work for a business that can’t organise their own recruitment.

If you can get visibility on when commitment might dwindle, you’re already making yourself a better recruiter.


The power of saying ‘No’

It’s easy to mentally say ‘no’ to a vacancy.

It’s easy to give your attention to other roles and spend your time more wisely. It’s something you’ll have learnt in your first few weeks on the job.

What’s more difficult is saying no to a business.

And you don’t just do it by ignoring their emails, or striking them from your call back list. You need to actually tell them.

Once you realise the direct and irremovable connection between your time and your bank balance, you’ll be strong enough to call out poor processes that damage both you and your ‘client‘.

If you’re working with a retained client, this will leave a lasting impression.

But is also extremely unlikely. Therefore, this advice is really aimed towards the contingent market.

If you’ve decided your efforts are going unnoticed or unappreciated by a client, call them up, and talk to them about why that might be.

If all you get in return’s lip service, it’s time to tell them you’re moving on.

And they’re no longer on your list of preferred clients.

The one recruitment secret few clients realise

“Your website’s the face of your business.”

Everyone knows that, don’t they.

But that’s not how potential employees first find out about a business. They do so through the strength of a recruiter’s chat. Your chat. And by chat, I mean your PR capabilities.

If you can eloquently describe why a business is the ‘fantastic opportunity’ you claim it to be, it’s an easy choice for a candidate.

“Yeah put me forward, they sound good. I’ll go and check out the website” they say excitedly.

If you’re then met by a breakdown in communication, no news or angry responses when you try to get news, you’re going to look like a liar. Therefore it’s imperative to report this back to the client.

The amount of times I hid things, or acted as a buffer for the interests of a placement are too many to count. It’s something I imagine happens far too often, and you can’t really blame recruiters for doing it.

But sometimes no amount of ‘buffering’ suffices.

I wouldn’t even hazard a guess at the amount of businesses unaware at the terrible reputation they have because of their recruitment process. Or lack thereof.

And make no bones about it, that reputation affects them.

You’re a consultant, so consult

When striking clients off your list, you need to be clear you’ll only work with the best. Just like they do, when they’re constructing their own PSLs.

OK, they might have a turnover to make Branson blush, but if every candidate you call laughs at the mere whisper of their name, it’s all irrelevant.

And their PSL is probably quite easy to get on.

If you’re going to stop working with any business, giving a reason will set you apart.

If their recruitment process is atrocious, their brand’s suffering. And you’ve got your ear closest to the ground to hear the vibration of feet, running away from them.

So tell them.

It may of course fall on deaf ears.

The sort of clients who have don’t realise the negative reputation they can get from a poor recruitment process are often those who pay no attention to feedback.

They’re the sort of businesses that post a photo of their logo with the tagline “We’re hiring” expecting that alone to be the catalyst for a flood CVs to shut down inboxes.

If you’re willing to work alongside slapdashery of that magnitude, plod on.

If you’ve realised your time’s more precious than that, stop giving it away for free.

It’s worth it for the change in your daily mood.

But the change in your success will be notable too.

Only ever work with clients as responsive as you are.

You’ll find you’re more successful.


And have a better reputation in the market.

And if you’re feeling the stress right now, here’s an article on how to unwind.

Bookmark it for your commute home.