The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow had just finished and  I was lucky enough to see Sir Chris Hoy being interviewed by the BBC 5 Live.  He talked about what British Cycling had implemented that had created such success for them.  The key mindset for them is a strategy called Marginal gains.

Marginal gains are small or insignificant changes they make to their processes.  Tiny things like bringing their own mattress when travelling for events, so that it feels like they are sleeping in their own bed which means they get a better nights sleep and can perform better the next day.  These gains and changes on their own seem insignificant YET when they are all added together mean the difference between winning gold or coming 4th.

As recruiters, we can also model this marginal gains strategy to get better results. Here are three simple marginal gain areas you can work through with your team for better results:



“Your team does a lot of work – but they could do better. “ 

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1. Working only on fully qualified jobs that consultants are 80% sure of placing.

This means that consultants need to work on their process of taking on quality jobs.  Getting crystal clear on how to establish a clients needs, what questions to ask, what they can offer the client – benefits vs features and deliver on the clients needs.  Asking for exclusivity and interview slots each time.  Mastering this process so that they can negotiate 25%+ fees every time.

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When you are working only 80% certainty jobs, consultants won’t be playing a guessing game on whether they will hit their targets. Their efforts will be going towards working a job that will give them the return. They will also create about 6 hours extra a day by getting rid of the unfillable jobs.

Top Tip – Brainstorm with your team what the fillability criteria is that makes an A, B, C or D job.

2. Working only on qualified candidates that consultants are 80% sure of placing.

Working with Most Place-able Candidates – MPC’s as I call them. When consultants only work with the right skilled candidates that are commitment to moving, have properly interviewed, referenced and got exclusivity with will mean they make more placements.  MPCs are more difficult to find because you need to get them at the beginning of their job search.  However, your only need 2 MPC’s each month to make 2 placements… And candidates that come through referrals, word of mouth and your own database will more likely fall into this category.

Waiting For Hiring. Three Candidates For The Job In The Office S

The key here is to get your consultants focusing on finding and working only MPC’s – because focusing on quality candidates, consultants will increase their chances of success and by placing quality candidates, it will also increase their reputation as a quality recruitment consultant. 

Top Tip – Brainstorm with your team to decide what an MPC looks like for your business and how to get more of these.

3. Increase average placement value.

Increasing average placement value is a smart thing to focus on as it can give you significantly quick returns.  Increasing average fees can be done in several different ways:

a. Focusing on a higher average basic salary.



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If a consultant works with a candidate on a basic salary level of £25k, his average fee at 20% will be £5k.  Making 2 placements a month his total yearly billings will be £120k. Focusing on placing candidates on a basic salary of £40k will increase the average fee to £8k. Two placements a month his total yearly billings will be £192k – £72k a year difference.


b. Increasing the % you charge a client

Isn’t much difference between negotiating a 22% or 25% fee, yet it takes the same amount of effort to work a great or average job. Negotiating 3% yet when added to 2 to 3 placements every single month will make a big difference to your overall results.  Note – you may have to step out of your comfort zone which may feel uncomfortable initially and get better at pitching and also think about finding new clients if your existing clients won’t budge.

c. Changing your market or geographical focus

I was working with one consultant who discovered that he could place the exact same candidate in Switzerland and get 30% fee rather than in the UK at 18% fee.   So we simply worked out a plan to get new clients in Switzerland.  Another client I worked with placed office support staff – she did an analysis on which type of clients would pay more for exactly the same candidates and found that if she focused in the legal market they would pay higher salaries and also higher fees.  So again, we simply worked out a plan of how to develop this niche.  Her billings doubled in 3 months.  So imagine how you could do this with your market.

I hope you found this article useful.

If you want to learn how to set up your business, so that it stops under-performance once and for all, then join my free webinar:  The 5 Secrets Our Clients Use to Build 7 & 8 Figure Recruitment Businesses


‘Til next time,