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November 26, 2010 / Mervyn Dinnen

Money For Old Rope??

“How can recruiters find candidates that the corporates can’t find themselves?”

That tweet caught my eye yesterday. I think it emanated from a TruAmsterdam chat, I don’t know who said it or the context but it stood out and really got me thinking…Why ask that now??

Why haven’t recruiters been asking this kind of question for years?

Surely that’s what recruiters should always do…find talent that clients can’t find for themselves.

The flipside of this would be to say that recruiters are too used to offering clients a route to market that the client could use themselves. Which is of course mainly true.

Job board advertising, CV databases…all very well, but why?? Surely a client has always been able to utilise those for themselves?

Unfortunately it’s been too easy for too long for most 3rd party recruiters…take a brief, advertise the role, wait for response, blow the dust off a few database CVs…and charge a fee.

Money for old rope? Harsh, but looking at it from a client’s viewpoint you may ask where the value is.

Having said that, clients themselves have often been complicit in allowing this to happen, but the times they are a-changing…

Clients are doing it for themselves

Recruiters are now trying to use LinkedIn more, but guess what…they’ve missed the boat! Clients are already starting to use it…and LinkedIn themselves are offering functionality and capabilities that are ONLY for the corporate market. A corporate recruiter will now probably be able to find a much stronger shortlist than a third party using LinkedIn.

Barely a day passes without another blog or article criticising the attitudes and behaviours of 3rd party recruiters, and you can’t deny that we often give them an easy target.

In the last couple of days we’ve had ’12 Lies Recruiters Like to Tell’ by Christine Livingston and ‘I Strongly Dislike Recruiters’ by Veronica Ludwig. There was also had a long piece in Recruiter Magazine which further drove a wedge between agency and in-house recruiters, painting them as two tribes with different views, attitudes, aims and rewards. My colleague Andy Young responded to that with the excellent ‘It’s not WHERE you work, it’s HOW’

We seem to be here on a weekly basis. I wrote recently about the sales model and how it was responsible for so many of the behaviours that annoy clients and candidates and had the usual range of responses from believers and deniers.

In reality there seems to be a real ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ attitude and unfortunately the measure of ‘broke’ isn’t customer satisfaction but bank balances.

The belief seems that it makes money, and if it makes money it must be right. New offerings, which are invariably old offerings with new price models, are aimed at cost and speed, not really with providing a better or different experience or building long term relationships.

There seems little appetite for re-invention. We hear talk of communities, talent pools & puddles, social sourcing, but ultimately most 3rd party recruiters are remunerated and incentivised to place as many people as possible, whilst their employers look for the cheapest, quickest routes to market.

So what are we really doing that’s different?

What do most 3rd party recruiters offer clients that they couldn’t do for themselves?

How are we adding VALUE?

Let me know your thoughts.

Blogs mentioned above:

It’s not WHERE you work, it’s HOW

12 Lies Recruiters Like to Tell

I Strongly Dislike Recruiters

Making the Switch

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3 Comments

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  1. sarahloucooper / Nov 28 2010 12:48 PM

    I believe a good Blog inspires thought and this one is great as I’ve been mulling it over all weekend.
    Its not often I comment, feel the fear of sticking my head over the trench to get shot at and doing it anyway, but here goes.

    I’m not interested in fuelling the ‘3rd party v Internal Recruiter’ debate. I have worked in both and believe the learning curve and subsequent skill sets are different and yet the objective ‘securing the right person for the right role in the right organisation’ should ultimately be the same.

    Instead of opposition I’m concerned with how and where we work together reach this aim.

    I’m even more concerned with the issues raised by Christine Livingston and Veronica Ludwig and here is where my answer to your question on value lies.

    As a 3rd party recruiter I feel a strong obligation to the candidate.

    To meet them, understand what motivates them, facilitate and coach them, address their needs. What can they do? What makes them tick? What would suit them? What would engage them?

    Yep, okay I’m a sucker for fairy tales. I’m a closet romantic and yet with 14 years Recruitment experience I’m hardly naïve.

    As Veronica says I’m not their therapist. In fact acting as such without the necessary training is dangerous and irresponsible especially with people made vulnerable through times of stress and change as many candidates are.

    Yet I can truly provide a service of value to them. Insight into how they present their skills and experience. How to uncover what they really want and need from their next role, and how they can assess what sort of organisation, culture and environment would suit them.

    I can be there throughout their career. I can build long standing relationships spanning many moves. Rather than one meeting for one role in one specific organisation lastly aprox one hour.

    I can then recommend and represent them to a relevant company and give my client a real understanding of what this individual can bring. I can consult with them.

    Candidates are clients.

    Just because you cannot charge for a service doesn’t mean it has no requirement or value. That value is passed onto the recruiting organisation with a match that will have a better chance of standing the test of time. That it will be a significant ‘win win’. It’s still not a science. The better you know someone the easier it should be to get them a gift that they will love, but countless dodgy family gifts attest that’s not always the case.

    Should I be the one to offer such a service? Can I be neutral when a candidate has choices to make? No. Yet I can be open and honest. Give them all the information they need. I must if I want the fee to stand, uphold my reputation and my relationship to survive the placement and continue into the unknown future.

  2. Ben Fletcher / Nov 29 2010 2:59 PM

    For me, it comes down to a question of scale. If you recruit enough people of a certain kind, there really should be no reason to use recruitment agencies. You recruit enough of them to hire a specialist who knows their way around the job boards & linkedin and can build their own database. Unless your drive is to outsource recruitment, you’d do better to be fully in-house.

    However, a lot of roles will not be recruited at that volume, so it makes sense to use a specialist agency. Because of their scale, they will have more contacts/database and they’ll be active on the job boards. You are effectively using their scale to access more liquidity. Because you’ll get a better result, you’ll be happy to pay more for it.

    Also, generally across your in-house team, you will have peaks and troughs of recruitment volume, so if you are staffed to manage the peaks you’ll have spare capacity in the troughs. It may make sense to have a team for core recruitment and outsource low-volume roles.

    Both justify using agencies for low-volume roles in different ways.

    Agency fees are under pressure because recruitment has become easier with linkedin/other social media – so fewer roles fall in these categories where it makes sense to use an agency.

  3. Jane Blackmore / Nov 29 2010 10:53 PM

    Really powerful article. A recruiter, be them agency or in house needs to add value to the process by means of service. Therefore providing more than just a piece of paper with relevant key words on it and expecting a hefty check for doing so. Businesses and corporates tend to look for ways to avoid using recruiters because of the poor level of service they recieve as well as the cost implication.

    Ben makes an interesting point when he says that agency fees are under pressure because recruitment has got easier however it my experience the stronger, more ethical recruiters that deliever on expectations and service tend to charge the higher end in fees. This way they dont need to recruit for every business going and work on a high number of roles.

    With new routes to markets and more ways to source strong candidates directly one would hope only the good (rather than the cheap) will survive in the recruitment world, whether that happens is another story….

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