Here’s Why the World Needs Recruiters

Adrian Kinnersley

Recruitment can mean different things to different people. There is a plethora of different business models within the staffing industry, so I thought it might be a good idea to define what I believe good recruitment is. This will perhaps put into context why I don’t believe that  LinkedIn — or for that matter any other web-based product — can ever replace the service we provide.

Talent Is Not an Online Commodity

Getting the best possible talent to join your company is not the same as purchasing a product online. Talent has opinions, options, and time constraints. Talent can be unpredictable, irrational, high maintenance, and uncommunicative. A product you buy online will always show up if you have paid the appropriate price and followed the correct purchasing process. A product won’t have any thoughts or feelings that it wants to discuss with a third party. It won’t have any opinions on how well you selected it. It won’t wait for a better company to buy it if it doesn’t like your communication style or your company values. A product won’t consult with family members, professional acquaintances, and even someone it met on the train to provide fresh objections about why they aren’t going to show up at your company.

Recruitment Is a Professional Service

The reasons above are precisely why a professional recruitment service is uniquely positioned in the digital age. The number of intangibles in any hiring process is the very thing that prevents it from being a replicable and reproducible process. The freedom of thought from all of the parties involved in the ultimate decision making prevents the viability of a “black box” recruitment solution.

The Barber Shop Analogy

There are many other more tangible reasons why service businesses won’t be replaced in the digital age. A good analogy is that the Internet won’t put barber shops out of business just because you can buy hair clippers on Amazon and get them delivered the next day. The margin for error and potential for public humiliation when cutting your own hair will prevent most sensible people from trying it themselves.

You may choose your barber shop based on price or service and it’s likely that when you have found one that you are happy with, you’ll not only return many times but also probably tip handsomely for the privilege of getting your hair cut just the way you want it without even having to ask. My barber shop is a busy place and I imagine that for my barber to be able to cut everyone’s hair in the style that they have asked for takes considerable skill, years of experience, and a huge amount of patience.

Similarly, the margin for error, the potential for embarrassment, and the risk of public failure is huge when attempting to recruit for yourself. If it takes too long or if it turns out to be a bad hire, that can be a lot more expensive than a recruiter’s fee. Just like your barber, a good recruiter makes the process look easy not because it is — but because they have years of experience, considerable skill, a huge amount of patience, and a raft of other qualities.

Staffing agencyWhat the Client Gets

A good recruiter can help you qualify what it is you require. Sometimes a client hasn’t quite worked through exactly the balance between what they want and what they actually need. Talking this through with a recruiter to define a viable role can save a lot of time and heartache further down the road.

They can also give you advice on whether that role exists at your competitors; how they structure their departments; historically what has worked for them , and, crucially, what hasn’t. This can prevent you from heading down a blind alley when planning your department structure or defining a role that is not consistent with others within your industry. That’s not to say that you may still wish to pursue this path, but being aware of whether it is going to be easy or difficult sets expectations accordingly. Attracting the right talent isn’t always about paying top dollar. Money can’t buy something that doesn’t exist.

What A Recruiter Gives

A good recruiter will also advise you on what type of candidate you can expect to get from varying levels of compensation offered; an indication of how straightforward or challenging it should be to find the skills you require; intelligence about who else may be looking for the same skills; and ideas on how to position your opportunity and company to appeal to candidates in the market.

A good recruiter will not merely source and present multiple candidates but they will also make you aware of what their hot buttons might be so that you can sell the role effectively. They will inform you of which candidates are most interested — and therefore most likely to take an offer. Crucially they will also keep a backup warm for you should your first choice not accept so you don’t have to go back to square one.

A good recruiter will manage and organize the whole interview process for you. Then they will manage the offer process. Contrary to popular belief, a quality recruiter won’t be looking to maximize their fee by demanding the highest possible offer. They will be aiming for you to secure your preferred candidate at the best compromise for you and the candidate so that both parties are happy. That way they will get repeat business and referrals. “Shoot and move” recruiters don’t tend to be able to maintain longevity in their markets; good recruiters, on the other hand, understand that easy business is repeat business, and a happy candidate will lead them to more good candidates. It’s not all altruism. It’s just that good service = good business.

For the Candidate

A candidate will want to interact with a recruiter for all the same reasons that people deal with Realtors rather than buying houses from pictures on the Internet. Prospective house buyers want to deal with someone who can show them around, give them advice, tell them things they wouldn’t otherwise know about the neighborhood, etc.  The system might not be perfect, but dealing with an agent or consultant when you are buying a house is something that’s the norm the world over.

A good recruiter provides a whole range of services completely free of charge to a candidate. These will include a cross section of opportunities with different types of companies. Often a candidate has a clear idea of exactly what they think they want, but when presented with an exact match, it frequently doesn’t feel right. A good recruiter can present a variety of options — and candidates regularly end up going for the option that least matches what at first they thought they wanted.

A good recruiter will negotiate the best salary without pricing you out of the market. This is a lot harder to do by yourself.

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A good recruiter will prepare candidates for interviews with information on the person they are meeting, their background, interview style, and typical questions. They will give the candidate ideas how they can sell themselves and provide coaching on difficult questions. They will fill the candidate in on the company values, goals, successes, and in generally provide an insight that they would not otherwise get.

A good recruiter will expedite the recruitment process so that if multiple offers are likely, they will come through at the same time — and they will also coach a candidate through their resignation to make the process as painless as possible.

All of the above applies equally to permanent and contract hires. However, with contract hires the recruiter will also normally take care of all the employment and payroll issues both for the hiring organization and the candidate making the experience of hiring a contingent labor force truly hassle free. With the growth of contingent labor, particularly in the U.S., this is a huge value add for companies and candidates.

It’s Just Good Business Sense

A good contingent recruiter will fill approximately one in six of the roles they work on, but they will still provide the same service to all. They won’t place every candidate with whom they interact, but they will still provide the same service. They will do this because every person they deal with will become a candidate again, or they may become a client. Similarly a client may become a candidate.

Every time they deliver a below-par service they will lose money not just on that placement but also multiple other missed opportunities for repeat business or referrals. Contingent recruiters only charge when they are successful, so the smart and successful ones deliver quality service every time to maximize the chance of success. You get so much service for free, it doesn’t make sense not to engage.

Disengage At Your Peril

Just as successful retail companies in the digital age tend to employ multichannel strategies to reach as many customers as possible in order to thrive, the really smart companies will obviously use multichannel strategies to source their talent.

However, organizations that stop engaging with recruiters will be missing out on a huge amount of information and therefore cutting off a vital resource for their talent attraction strategy. Despite recent economic woes and a degree of ongoing uncertainty, recruiters who provide a quality service are thriving in this market and will become even more critical during an economic recovery.

Recruitment is innovating and evolving in order to adapt to the modern world. Those who predict its death alongside other ancient business models that are unfit for purpose in the digital age have, I’m afraid, fundamentally miss the point. The mobility and flexibility of talent in the global generation is the most valuable corporate currency of the future. Being able to see where talent is in a social network just doesn’t cut it. Talent never has and never will hop and skip from one company to another — and no digital strategy will influence that

The ability to attract, extract, and deliver talent is — and always will be — a high-touch service which will continue to put recruiters at the very epicenter of the corporate future. For recruiters and recruitment companies who provide a genuine service the future is very bright.

Adrian Kinnersley is founding partner and the managing director of Twenty Recruitment Group, one of the world?s fastest expanding independent recruitment businesses. With offices in London and New York the firm specializes in senior appointments within finance, financial services, and technology.


19 Comments on “Here’s Why the World Needs Recruiters

  1. Very well said Adrian.
    But I guess nothing proves the point better then first hand experience . So some companies will still take the tech route, see how well (or not) it works and come back to us 🙂 . The others have already figured out the secret and treat vendors as valuable partners.

  2. Great article! Now if only all recruiters provided this level of service we would never need to justify our value. Unfortunately a very small percentage have the experience or the training to go the extra mile. Recruiting should be regulated or at least there should be some barrier to entry. Recruiters are judged all the same yet are worlds apart when it comes to delivery. Recruiters serve a very important role in society and until AI develops to the level of the human mind we will still be needed. Technology is advancing at a crazy rate so I can see eventually it will disrupt our industry but then again the tech savvy recruiters will still have a role to play.

  3. In my humble opinion recruiters, on-line job boards like Monster, Career Builder, Ladders, Beyond, or any other of the hundreds of companies out there offering jobs to job seekers are in need of serious and heavy duty government regulation. I am a job seeker, and have been for well over six months now. To be honest, I attribute my continued unemployment to the fact that I have been bumping into and up against recruiter after recruiter, job board after job board, and every last one of them a complete waste of my time and energies.
    While I am sure that there may be some honest companies or recruiters in the world, I have yet to meet one who truly wants to find me employment. Moreover, I have found the industry to be so corrupt, self-indulging, and time consuming to navigate I have become of the strong opinion that major legislation and regulation needs to be passed by the government to get the industry and its practices under control. My reasoning and argument is simple, and is of concern to both the general public and the government.
    The fact of the matter is that a rather large part of the still high unemployment numbers are directly caused by the companies, recruiters, and human capital or job placement industry itself. These companies, recruiters, and the industry has become a un-needed and very harmful barrier between job seekers and employers. There are several ways this horrible state of the industry has come to pass. However, in my opinion the most un-ethical offense regularly under-taken as an industry practice, is the practice of Human Resource Professionals, Recruiters, Job Board Companies, and the like acting as “Gate Keepers” who with-hold valuable job opportunities and open positions away from the general public. In other words, a monopolization of quality jobs and employment opportunities by the Human Capital and Talent Placement Industry, for the sheer and only purpose of ensuring the perpetuation and continuation of the industry.
    Every business model, company, or business concept in the “Human Capital” industry is predicated and not even possible to maintain, without the industry as industry practice getting between employers and job seekers under the guise of being facilitators of the employment process. For lack of a better term, it is an industry of middlemen whom add little no value to the market cycle in my opinion. I have read business article after article, whitepaper after whitepaper, study after market study, and I have noticed a rather large divide and growing trend in almost every business sector or field. Executives and Upper Management are reporting in report after report about their apparent inability to find qualified, eager, and unemployed talent for many middle management, junior executive, or other company leadership positions. I have also read analysts reports from various sectors of the economy where even qualified white and pink collar positions continue to go unfilled.
    At the same time the Country is suffering from the largest and longest unemployment cycle or down turn in over at least a decade, and that is including the last and latest job report which was just published stating that unemployment is down and job growth is on a steep rise. We are still below economic averages, which some argue have not been experienced since the early 1980’s or at various recessions and economic down turns in the past thirty years. It depends on which expert you ask, which report you read, and who is using the numbers for what purpose. However, all the experts agree this has been one of the longest and largest unemployment spells experienced in at least a decade plus.
    My point is this; How can that be. Large amounts of people are claiming to be out of work, because they can not find employment. At the same time an ever increasing amount of employers are complaining that they are unable to find and hire qualified and capable talent or employees. It seems to me there is a disconnect, a block or gate, which is standing between employers and those whom seek employment.
    The answer is as obvious as I hoped my sarcasm was in the last paragraph. The answer is a billion dollar a year industry, which has successfully implanted itself between employers and employees slowly and silently. While claiming to be a value added proposition and industry Human Capital Placement companies have diverted and interfered with the centuries old employ employer dynamic on a never before seen scale. In HR, Recruiter, and Human Capital trade and industry websites, news letters, and blogs, the industry itself boast about its recent, rapid, and extensive expansion in less then ten years time. Moreover, these same industry information websites, whitepapers, and news letters, all seem to be in awe of themselves and the industries knew found and un-needed power and technological growths.
    Aside from being unwarranted and harmful gate keepers, many in the industry have become or always were lazy. They have allowed computers and software programs to do their thinking for them, by allowing meta-data searches, algorythms, and other cutting edge software technologies to decide who will be recommended for open positions and get hired. I am sure this isn’t news to many on this website, as I am sure many people who visit this website are familiar with these programs, software, and hiring tactics. In fact, according to the Human Capital Industries “Best Practices,” it is standard procedure and application to allow computer software programs decide which humans are qualified for most (If not all) employment opportunities. The practice of allowing software and computers to chose which humans are qualified and should be hired is actually a large part of the growth and expansion of an industry which has arguably failed both employers and would be employees alike. It has certainly failed me thus far, and so I undertook an investigation and personal research project into why?
    The aforementioned failing and short-comings are only the aspect of the industry which stands in the middle of employee and employers, for no other reason then to perpetuate the industries own unwarranted growth and un-needed existence as a whole. Many industry HR insiders, Human Capital Industry Firms, and/or Job Placement websites/job boards also have and do make a fortune off selling employment seekers personal information to marketers, on-line markets, data collecting firms, and sales lead development companies. I am not sure how often your clients complain about the practice of many less ethical companies out there, and how while seeking employment and filling out on-line applications some how these on-line schools always seem to get an individuals information. After one day on applying on line, the next day one must tell at the very least five to ten telemarketers and e-mail marketers not to call or e-mail them any more and to be removed from their various lists.
    Therefore, between the job lead hoarding and hiding; the interference and blocking of communication and information between qualified and eager employees and needful employers; a culture of trying to create a false pretense of being of high value, instead of truly adding value to the market and customers; the sheer numbers produced in report after report stating unemployment is still higher then it should be, while at the same time all the data shows employers are showing increased job production and employment opportunities yet are unable to fill those positions; and the fact that when I undertake a study of a subject (Especially one which is directly impacting my life on a daily basis) I am rarely if ever wrong, I am going to have to respectfully disagree with the statement recruiters are some how needed.
    Recruiters, the Human Capital Industry, HR Professionals, or whatever people like to be called are harmful to the unemployed, if for no other reason then often times they will secure job positions and keep the knowledge of open job positions from the general public in order to fill those positions with people whom are already employed. In so doing, prove on a micro-level how the industry as a whole creates an un-natural and unreal sense of competition in the job market. This in turn drives down salaries, creates incentives for employers to offer less in the way of benefits, and has even created an unrealistic culture and practice of “Post-Graduate Internships.”
    Post graduate internships or externships is a new and very exploitive employment practice which many less ethical companies and firms have recently begun implementing, whereby companies and firms believing in an artificially inflated over abundance of qualified manpower and job candidates require employees to work for free for several months. The employees always have already graduated from college or even possess graduate degrees, and are in desperate need of paid positions. However, unethical, exploitive, and miserly employers, firms, or companies perpetuate the exploitation and hardships a person must undergo simply to become employed, by stating that if a non-student and post graduate adult is willing to take a non-paid “internship” for generally a time period just short of the legal limit allowed before triggering Federal Labor Laws requiring at least minimum pay be conferred then “possibly” the individual will receive a paid position with said firm. However, often times the company or firm simply dismisses the “intern,” without legal recourse as they were merely a “volunteer.” At which point the firm or company simply convinces the next individual desperate for work, due to the unemployment condition and the aforementioned employment hardships caused by this industry; at least in part.
    That has been my honest experience. I now have to begin my daily routine of seeking employment, in an environment made harder to do so by unscrupulous recruiters and the Human Capital Industry. I am sure there are good and honest people, like this websites creators. However, the truth is the helpful are far and few between. As I said, I should know, as I have been unemployed for over six months and I posses a Juris Doctorate, my BA, and have extensive experience. Yet, I am unable to find employment.
    I realize I may have been more honest then I needed to be, and I may have been less then tactful. However, the truth need recanting. However, as a token of my goodwill and apology my real name is Joel Marshall Drotts Juris Doctorate, and my real e-mail address is If any one feels the need to comment on my comments, I will respond.
    Joel Drotts J.D.

    1. Joel,

      I’m afraid you have a lot of opinions but seem to miss the point.

      There is some truth to your suggestion that Meta Search systems are inefficient in assisting the hiring of the right candidates for vacant role.
      However, the Author of this article suggests that “Good” recruiters who know their industry and business cannot be replaced by Technology and other substitutes.

      Being a recuiter myself, I can only suggest that you look at yourself with regard to hirability and then perhaps to a really “good” recruiter who knows your industry to assist you in finding a role. They are generally pressed for time and highly pressureised to deliver so it is in their interest to find you a job if they have clients from your industry with vacant jobs.

      All the best,


    2. Ranting online won’t improve your chances of getting a job, it is likely to make you sound bitter and someone who is very quick to blame everyone else other than themselves.

      1. Although I agree that venting on line may not be the best use of one’s time and energy, I myself am sympathetic to this plight as it is a very difficult environment to navigate. Personally, I feel a comment such as yours without any tangible suggestion on how to “improve” one’s chances of success is just irresponsible, at best and down right nasty at worse.

        It’s a tough economy and emotions are high, especially with those trying to improve their situation. My suggestion to you would be to show some empathy and be more productive with your comments i.e. they are meaningless at present, as one never knows when they could find themselves in a similar situation.

      2. It’s disappointing to have someone spend so much time writing about why they cant get a job? Something tells me that this person is quite young and inexperienced and with that said a sense of entitlement. My advice, stop wasting time on posting your frustration and start using your talents on building a network that can truly help you. For starters, no one can find you if you have 9 connections on Linkedin with no content about your background and experience. Second, CHANGE YOUR LINKEDIN PICTURE! You’re drinking a beer standing next to a pool! Companies and recruiters see this and immediately will put this person in the back of the line! Based on the long tangent, it’s apparent that this person is a fairly bright individual so use that ability towards gaining a position that suits your needs!

    3. Oh my god, perhaps you should focus all this energy on finding a job rather than spending hours on writing articles that pretty much scream nothing but bitter, confused and frustrated. Who would want that kind of an employee? You know companies google social media profiles now, right? You go for an interview, you do well, they want to move to the next stage then they put “Joel Drotts” in google to dig up any info on you and come across this whining post. Do you think that’s gonna up your chances? lol.

    4. I’m not sure I see how government regulation of the recruitment business will increase your chances of finding a job, and I’m not sure you can prove that high unemployment numbers are, as you state, “directly caused by the companies, recruiters, and human capital or job placement industry itself.” You should also understand that a recruiter is not obligated to find you a job, but rather to fill his/her client’s position(s). If your background/experience renders you unqualified for a certain position/company, that’s your problem. No one owes you a job.

      My advice to you is to stop blaming others for your plight. Blaming others will never get you anywhere in life.

  4. This is a great article and perfect timing. I have an appointment next week with a company that has never used a recruiter, they don’t see a “value” in paying us fees when they could do the job themselves. I plan to reinforce some of your points- thank you.

  5. As a
    long time 3rd party search professional, I completely agree that a large
    percentage of people in our industry are incompetent and unprofessional.
    However, regulating the industry isn’t the answer – there are plenty of
    “regulated” industries dealing with the same knuckleheads screwing
    things up for the good guys. Case in point: Realtors. I’m trying to sell my
    home and I’ll tell you first hand, passing the tests needed for a real estate license
    must not be too difficult because the IP Ratio (idiot to pro) is really out of

    In my
    opinion, the best way to deal with idiots in ANY profession is the same way you
    deal with the true pros – – word of mouth. You can’t stop dishonest or
    incompetent people from being the way they are, but you might be able to help
    somebody avoid dealing with. Over time
    the dumb-dumbs will go broke and move on to their next failed career (most
    likely trying to sell real estate!)


  6. wow wow wow

    I just want to thank you for such a detailed, reasoned and more importantly truthful account of the experiences that many job seekers are going through right now. I personally think recruitment agencies are the scum of the earth. Most of the junior staff are less qualified than the people they are supposedly helping into work and are not equipped in the sectors they are recruiting for. Recruitment agencies were just fine when they were dealing with temp positions. I curse the day they got more involved with general full-time recruitment.

    Luckily I am in work, but I am desperate to move on and in some ways its harder for me to make that next step up the ladder – no-one wants to know. My salary requirements/needs and objectives are largely ignored – all they want to do is make a quick buck on commission or build up their list of CVs.

    I’ve been sent to bogus interviews, had “chats” with people who have failed to even read my CV properly, and even been ignored post-interview when asking for feedback – a total waste of time and money and a whole heap of low self-esteem. Something needs to be done, because it is seriously demotivating a generation.

    Keep on fighting!

  7. Maybe I was a bit harsh saying scum of the earth…as someone pointed out, emotions run high and maybe I ran my mouth/fingers without thinking first. I still stand by everything else I said though,

  8. As I see it, this article is open to debate; and indeed, as it is often the case, a babbling brook of perfervid words ordinarily yields emotional responses which ought be saved in a memory bank where it might offer a better rate of exchange in the time to come. Nevertheless, in my view, an attitude of tolerance towards other’s opinions ought to be respected even in extreme cases. In leaps and bounds, I was unable to resist getting involved in the debate since unemployment has chosen to trifle with me now and I must confess that this article brought a brightness into my way of thinking as it gave me a true notion of expectation in the absence of contentment. Please, when the dust has settled take a long look at the next man’s plight before wishing him ill, as he falls in the dust and bites the earth.

  9. All I can say is I have no complaints. I started looking for a new job last summer (2012) and received many responses from the first entry submitted. I worked with fantastic recruiters, and touched down in December with a position that is the match I was looking for. I say realistic expectations are also key.

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