Guess what? Every single active recruiter in the UK is listed on LinkedIn.
That may not come as a surprise to anyone, as Recruiters are professional networkers, and LinkedIn is the biggest free CV database.  By definition, it is the job of a professional recruiter to market themselves to their chosen industry sector, clients and candidates.  It is vital that they spread the word of their own expertise in order to win and retain new business, and attract candidates.  Good recruiters can therefore become well known, and even minor celebrities in their own fields.
But therein lies the dichotomy. Agency owners and managers are usually former recruiters themselves, and can be reluctant to promote their individual staff members for several reasons. Firstly, they don’t want any recruiter to be bigger than the brand of the agency. Secondly, this is their business, and if anyone is getting credit, it should be the business leader.  Thirdly, and most importantly, they believe a prominent recruiter is more susceptible to being headhunted themselves by other recruiting firms.  The weight placed upon each of these factors will obviously vary according to the size of the agency, and the ego of the agency owner.
Let’s concentrate on the potential headhunting issue.  If a recruiter is doing their job properly, they will be actively marketing themselves, making connections, giving pitches, interviews etc and generally giving their business card to anyone who’ll take it.  Given this situation, is it at all realistic to attempt to keep the identity of your recruiters from your competitors or Rec to Rec agencies?  Seriously?  As I’m sure many of my competitors did, I used to have a spreadsheet containing the names, agencies, industry sectors and identified clients of every recruiter I could find, who worked with a competitor.  This would be updated regularly, and I’d ask clients for their views on recruiters from other agencies.  This was pre-LinkedIn of course, so it would be much easier to do now.
I do recall when working in Search Consultancy 20 years ago, we were barred from adding our names to vacancy adverts, in an effort to keep recruiter’s identities hush-hush.  It didn’t work, but this attitude prevails even today, in the midst of all these social media channels.  Perversely, it did succeed in ensuring that clients and candidates didn’t know who they were dealing with, and the expertise of each individual recruiter was shrouded in mystery.  It also resulted in a lack of loyalty from recruiters, who felt they weren’t valued, and were merely commodities to be replaced at will.  If Rec to Rec firms and competitors already know who your staff are (they do), why keep it a secret from client and candidates?
So, agency owners, if you want to showcase your recruiters to clients and candidates (and you should), then give them the tools, permission and support to do so.  Then whenever that headhunter comes knocking (and they always will), your recruiters are far more likely to reject their advances.

Stephen O'Donnell is a lifelong recruiter, internet enthusiast, fadgadget and peripatetic writer.

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