Dual LifeTo sell or to recruit?  Do I have to choose one role?  Can I successfully handle both?

Many recruitment and staffing agencies hire blended staff or revolving staff to handle all of the aspects of agency recruiting.  Agencies prospect and develop a client base as well as handle the sourcing, screening, interviewing, matching, and presenting of qualified candidates.   In contractor or staffing oriented scenarios there is also an operational element involved in managing your candidates as your employees. All functions are of equal importance to the agency.  Without paying clients you can’t put your candidates to work, but without excellent candidates or happy contractors your agency can’t fulfill its obligations to the customer.

For simplicity sake we can focus on the pros and cons of what we will call the “sales” side of the house and the “staffing” side of the house.

Sales Side Pros and Cons

Pros:  Sales jobs offer an exciting career opportunity.  The skills you acquire in sales, particularly in selling a service, are highly translatable into other careers.  A career in sales often provides a higher total compensation opportunity with commissions, bonuses, trips, and other incentives.  Recruiting and staffing agencies often handle sales in an “outside sales” environment meaning that you get out of the office to meet face to face with clients.  This can make your day go faster and offer you flexibility to run your personal errands in between appointments.

Cons: While sales jobs have a certain type of glamour, they come with high expectations which can be overwhelming for the faint of heart.  Sales jobs typically come with a quota and a productivity expectation about how many appointments you must set and attend every week, how many prospecting calls you are required to make, and how many new clients you must sign up every week.  Gaining new clients or even getting their attention can be very difficult as they are usually taking calls from many salespeople at recruiting agencies.

Staffing Side Pros and Cons

Pros:  Staffing and recruiting jobs can be very fun and exciting career opportunities in an agency.  One week you may be recruiting for a hot new e-Commerce start up, and the next looking for the new CFO at one of the largest employers in town.  Recruiting for a wide variety of positions and handling the entire recruiting life cycle can be great resume builders of your own for your next recruiting job.  You also learn how to use industry CRM tools, Internet recruiting tools, and social networking venues.  All of these are great  skills to boost your resume.  As a staffing professional you will also learn valuable employee management skills.

Cons:  The staffing side of the agency business means that you get the pleasure of dealing with the “human element”.   You put your name and reputation on the line to help a candidate get a job, whether contract or permanent, and you never know if they are going to live up to your expectations.  Candidates will tell you what you want to hear to get presented for the job or get selected for the contract.  But, that doesn’t mean they will represent you well and that is the con of this job.  You will deal with employee or candidate nightmares which will jeopardize client relationships, cost you your and your company’s reputation, and cause you to grey far sooner than your biological age, and you definitely won’t get paid as much as the sales team which brought the customer in the door, which you now just managed to lose.  Add the HR nightmares and a lot of operations work and you’ve got yourself one stressful job.

If you’re looking to work in the agency environment you can be successful working a blended desk if you like a job with a lot of variety and can handle the pros and cons of both roles.   The best idea though is to really focus in on what you want to do as you move forward with your career and develop your skills and abilities with the goal in mind of eventually choosing one path or the other. There is a good chance that you’re not a total natural at both – to succeed long term in this business, you should be doing what comes naturally to you and what fits with your personality.

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