Lessons learned of a recruitment consultant


About a year ago I started in recruitment: young, naive and looking to combine my experience in sales and psychology. Throughout my associateship with QTC Recruitment I was trained in the basics. What does a good candidate qualification entail? What are the key steps in the recruitment process? How do you differentiate between a good and a bad resume? What are clients typically looking for when it comes to filling positions?

In short, all aspects that come into play when recruiting specialised professionals within the food science industry. After a successful associateship of six months I was ready to build my own business within QTC Recruitment and I was released on the (recruitment) world. Throughout this entire process I was lucky enough to be guided by our managing partners Hans DijkstraMark Plessius and my brother Jord Teeuwen.

I was under the impression that I needed to be a technical specialist

When I started building my network with clients and candidates, I was under the impression that I needed to be a technical specialist to both clients and candidates to be successful. As you might guess I started reading about nutrition, food textures and my personal favourite, flavouring. As someone with minimal chemical knowledge you can probably imagine that I was more lost than when I started out. One advise to my recruitment colleagues: Don’t try to impress PhDs in food engineering with your “elaborate technical knowledge”. In Dutch we have a saying: “je valt door de mand”, which means that people always know when you’re telling nonsense.

So after some frustrating months I had an epiphany. I get hired to recruit hard-to-fill positions. I get hired because I know how to make sure that people find the right person for the right job. I get hired because I know how recruitment works. To me this means that the technical aspect is a baseline, which my client knows everything about. What I need to bring to the table is excellent knowledge of candidate needs, expectations and soft skills.

This mental change enabled me to really service my clients on a completely different level. I help and advise my clients to hire the people they’ve been looking for all this time. That to me is the reason why I would like to share the lessons I learned in recruitment with you:

The art of a job specification

A job profile is not about what a recruiter knows but what the client is looking for. So it is a shame to not take the time to really do a deep dive into a position. The way I work with my clients: They are telling me what technical skills they are looking for and how this translates into concrete experiences. During this process my job is to manage expectations, sharing my knowledge of what candidates are looking for and how this could translate into a position. By doing this together, the client and I are able to create a job specification that meets the demands of the client as well as the demands of candidates they are looking for.

Screening vs. knowing candidates

While screening candidates is a very useful tool to quickly get an overview of who might be able to do a job, it really brings candidates down to the level of being products. I’ve always been utterly aware of the fact that the work I do changes peoples lives. This to me translates into knowing candidates, not only on a career level but also on ambition level. My favourite question in this regard is the “wonder question”, an old trick I learned while I was coaching as an applied Psychologist. The wonder question is a method to help people to formalise their ambitions in small concrete steps and to give great insight into their abilities and ambitions.

Process, process and …. you’ve guessed it process

If a process is not managed this to me is one of the key aspects that can ensure losing top tier candidates in a heartbeat. In the current market number one candidates are never really looking for a new position. What this entails is that these candidates can have multiple processes simultaneously, to create and keep commitment from these candidates clarity and transparency is key. When a candidate knows a process from start to finish before he or she is invited for a first interview they stay more committed and true to the recruitment process. This is why I always tend to work with a process plan when recruiting for a position. In this plan I set dates for first and second interviews, assessments and the final offering.

What I found in working with clients and candidates last year is that by implementing these simple aspects, apart from having a professional way of working, the entire recruitment process is a lot more fun for candidates. And lets be honest, getting a new job should be a fun experience.

By: Wiebe Teeuwen 


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