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Information you can bank on

How many recruiters in Australia have written a book about recruitment?

It’s a very, very small number. As far as I can tell it’s less than the fingers on two hands.

How many recruiters in Australia and New Zealand have built a recruitment firm from nothing into a highly profitable $1 billion to $2 billion-plus turnover public company in less than 15 years, employing more than 2,000 people?

The answer is: two people. Fortunately they have written a book about their experience, Flourish & Prosper: All We Learned From Our Time At Morgan & Banks - And So Much More by Geoff Morgan and Andrew Banks, published in 2004.

This is an astonishing book for the simple reason that the authors are very, very specific in detailing the way that they went about creating and building their original recruitment business, Morgan & Banks, by using a specific formula.

“The fact is that success actually does have a formula and a secret ingredient and we were certainly the first to have it in our industry, and probably ahead of many service industries in Australia,” they say.

Although the book has been out of print for a number of years (it can be found on Kindle) it’s still surprising that a small minority of owners and managers in recruitment have read it as it’s a goldmine of information that is still relevant, despite being written 15 years ago.

Highlighting a handful of the, many, quotable gold nuggets that you will find throughout the book from just one chapter (Chapter 5: Harnessing the Power of your People) you find the following:

Training: ‘We were actively involved in the comprehensive training of new recruits, who were given significant support and direction.’

Specialisation: ‘We strongly believed that specialisation in, and concentration on, particular areas of commerce and industry led to more in-depth and thorough knowledge on behalf of the consultant, which in turn achieved a better result for the client.’

Optimists: ‘Frankly, we looked for happy, bright people who had good indicators and who were optimistic. We didn’t let any chronically negative people near our organisation, because negative thinking is contagious. Be careful who you let near your mind!’

High Performance Culture: ‘We’ve made some mistakes but we’ve rarely had to fire people, because the high-performance culture of the company automatically weeded out those who didn’t fit.’

Systems: ‘Once you were in the company, you very quickly learnt about the management structure, the branding position, the way to do an interview, the way to deal with clients and the reward system on delivery. All these systems allowed our recruits to feel secure. From the moment they arrived there was a precision, thoroughness and detail, which meant that it was almost like they got onto a moving walkway.’

Employee – Job Match: ‘We knew exactly what we wanted when we were hiring every type of employee: from recruiters for permanent positions; to salespeople selling temporary services; to researchers who mined the database for candidates. Although we carefully matched the person to the job, we found there needed to be ‘stretch’ in everybody’s role, to provide challenges and raise expectations.’

My summary of these nuggets of gold:

1. Hire people for specific roles, ensure you understand the competencies and motivation required for success in each role and have a ‘stretch’ component in every role.

2. Only hire optimistic people.

3. Company owners and leaders should always lead the training of new recruits.

4. Don’t leave the success of a new recruit to chance. Have systems and processes to support the initial training.

5. A high-performance culture is self-sustaining.’

And I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes from the book. It comes from Geoff Morgan: ‘We make the dust, we don’t eat it.’

It perfectly encapsulates the focus of a company intent on raising the bar on their own standards, rather than worrying about the competitors and other things outside of your control.

Ross Clennett is a recruitment coach and trainer based in Melbourne. For more information about Ross visit

Special thanks to Morgan & Banks Investment Pty Ltd for permission to reproduce the text quoted above from Flourish & Prosper: All We Learned From Our Time At Morgan & Banks

- And So Much More (Penguin Books, 2004).

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