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About In House Tax

About In House Tax

This weblog is a news and views site for tax professionals within the UK and international in-house tax community.  You will find information about appointments and people moves in and around the in-house tax market, issues affecting the in-house tax professional, opinions on the state of the tax job market, updates on tax technology, and other general thoughts of the day.

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Location: St Albans, United Kingdom

This site has been developed by Simon Godley, who also runs the niche tax recruitment company Talentpool Selection . Simon spends a lot of his time placing tax specialists into FTSE companies, large in-bound groups and some professional services organisations. He also recruits and is well networked around the UK tax technology and VAT markets.

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Recruitment Agents and Estate Agents - roughly the same?

Thursday, 6 October 2011

By Simon Godley

I was at a drinks function recently, and got talking to an in-house Tax Manager. I was describing a recent placement I had made, someone from company A into company B. In this scenario, company A had also appointed me to conduct a search to recruit a replacement when my candidate from company A announced that he was leaving to join company B. The chap I was talking to said “OK, bit like an estate agent.” He was a very nice guy, and I was enjoying talking to him, so I didn’t react adversely to his comment.

However this was a reminder that some people have a perception that recruiters or recruitment consultants operate like estate agents, or that in some way it’s the same discipline. I think the origins of this somewhat incorrect comparison are that the vast majority of people understand how an estate agent earns a fee, but don’t have a good understanding of what’s involved for a recruiter to make a fee. Yes, recruiters and estate agents both earn a fee for their successful deals, but that is probably where the comparison ends. What about investment bankers? They also earn a fee for transactions, but they are never likened to recruiters.

The other possible rationale is that both recruitment and estate agents fall under the same discipline category i.e. Sales. Again, this is a huge generalisation, and I think confusing.

I think a recruiter’s job is NOT like an estate agents for the following reasons:

• An estate agent’s product is a property i.e. a non-human inanimate asset. A recruiter’s ‘product’ is a person – a human that has emotions, views, opinions, personality, and most importantly the right to say “No”. That’s a big difference, and I think provides an additional layer of complexity for a recruiter when handling a candidate-client placement process.

• In the process of selling/buying a house, the house has a vendor i.e. someone wishing to sell the property. In the process of someone wishing to move jobs, their employer is clearly not selling them into the market. You could argue that in a redundancy situation, the employer is releasing them into the market, but that’s one event of many possibilities. In many recruiter scenarios, the candidate who is looking at other options, doesn’t have to move jobs. The emphasis is therefore on the recruiter to assess and make a judgement on how serious a candidate is in their quest to move jobs, again providing uncertainty in the process.

• When someone has bought a house, if the house turns out to be a bit rubbish, or doesn’t live up to expectations, who do they blame? There may be more than one answer to this, but I think the majority of people would either blame themselves for taking the decision to buy the house, or in a lot of cases would blame the previous owners for not looking after it very well. The agent gets a bit forgotten. However, if a company hires someone who turns out to be a bit rubbish, or significantly underperforms, who do they blame? In a lot of cases this turns out to be the recruiter, and the company will penalise the recruiter by not using them again. I’m not saying that this is the wrong reaction – it’s a bit harsh, given that the recruiter has virtually no control over how someone behaves once they have started a job, it’s just a different result.

In writing this article, I am in no way suggesting that an estate agent’s job is easier or less demanding, I would never suggest that. My point is that they are very different, with a very different transaction process, but often seen by the outside world as very similar.


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posted by Simon Godley

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