Why Recruiters Will Be at the Heart of Our Corporate Future

hair clipperMy last post on why I believe LinkedIn will never kill the professional recruitment industry seemed to generate a lot of attention. While some of the numerous comments made a lot of sense, I can’t help feeling that there are still a lot of people missing the point.

Recruitment can mean different things to different people. There are 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. I expect this will be particularly helpful for those who seem to feel that they are qualified to comment on the impending death of our industry without having ever having been a recruiter, or in some cases ever having recruited a person themselves.

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.

What the Client Gets Out of Using Recruiters

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.

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 that 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.

What’s in it 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 matches their initial ideal the least on paper.

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

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 1 in 6 of the roles that 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 multi-channel strategies to reach as many customers as possible in order to thrive, the really smart companies will obviously use multi-channel 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 missed 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.


45 Comments on “Why Recruiters Will Be at the Heart of Our Corporate Future

  1. My compliments on a timely and well written article. I have listened to the constant “drumbeat” as to the demise of our recruitment industry for so long (25 years) that I hardly give notice to the articles. Your following statement:

    “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”

    —-sums it up.

    In fact I would respectfully suggest that any executive, with hiring responsibilities, should see that they read your article in its entirety. It could well mean their business survival in today’s economy.

    Gary Steeds

  2. Thanks, Adrian. Good recruiters with the level of professionalism you describe and service should be paid 30% or more fess for getting candidates who’d other wise never talk to a company to talk to them and getting them to accept offers that they’d otherwise not accept from them. That (and quick, emergency FT hires) is just about all- using a 3PR for virtually anything else is a waste of money and usually results from the laziness or ignorance of the client for MUCH more cost effective alternatives e.g,. a 3PR firm hiring newbie recruiters to dial for dollars (or pounds) and fill positions with candidates found off boards for 20% fees, when the clients could themselves pay $225/week for up to 225 board-and-internet sourced resumes on up to 15 reqs.

    The type of invaluable recruiters you describe have nothing to fear. The type of recruiters I describe should be afraid, VERY afraid- they either should “up their game” to provide the highest value, premium service, or find something else to do.


  3. I largely agree with this post with a couple of caveats. These comments are apt for ‘good’ recruiters only – ie, recruiters who genuinley add value and can do a better job than the client could do themselves. For most clients paying recruiters is still a grudge purchase. The challenge for our industry is to go from ‘grudge to great’ (with apologies to Jim Collins)- to add so much value that a client is delighted to pay for our services. At least 50% of recruiters in my experience would fail this test. Yes, the industry will survive and prosper but only those recruitment consultants who genuinely understand what it means to consult.

  4. This is an excellent article. Thank you Adrian. Maybe we aren’t dead and buried yet. This has been my thinking going on 15 years now, at least, but I wonder why organizations continue to dig themselves deeper with internal corporate “recruiters,” who end up being gatekeepers and even creators of unappreciated corporate culture.

    What is so totally, almost “humour noir” are the iCIMS advertisements circling this article and comment section, n’est pas? Does anyone see the fallacy of this?

  5. Very true and a well written article.Only applicable for sincere recruiters who put in tremendous effort every day to deliver worldclass recruitment solutions.It is them who deserve the appreciation and must be recognized for all the hard work they put in.

  6. What about the real world transition to insourced recruitment models and the huge growth of the RPO models? Its real, its happening.
    These factors alongside huge developments in semantic web technology will without doubt impact recruiter value add and subsequently their rates. If recruiters have to work so hard to deliver a good service will they do it for reduced commissions and salaries?
    there will always be a place for GOOD recruiters (very ambiguous term)but Im not sure that place will look anything like it did in 2008 and does even now.

  7. @ James: Very well put. Would a world-class recruiter perform as well going after 10% fees as at 30%? That’s why I think that there isn’t a need for many world-class recruiters at 30%, as there aren’t a need for many Lambotghini or Beluga caviar sellers, but they won’t have to worry about going broke…



  8. Excellent article on what a good Recruiter is. The only thing that I didn’t see touched upon was negotiation skills.
    A good or great Recruiter has very savvy negotiation skills since they are the intermediary for the other 2 parties.

  9. A very thoughtful article, uncommon common sense.

    BTW, some clients only want a product (the right candidate) and the success fee only model works fine for that. But it doesn’t encourage the delivery of good service (on the contrary, it can encourage a range of unprofessional behaviours). Service, and the best outcome for all, is best provided on a fee-for-service basis, even if some of it is conditional.

  10. What a pleasure to read an article that extols the virtues of our industry. As a recruiter and business owner for over 30 years, reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated several times over. The service we provide is unique and invaluable; we get to know our candidates and clients in a way that cannot be achieved on the net. We are truly a professional service, like a doctor or CPA. My analogy regarding candidates is that they can be a BMW today and a VW tomorrow, red yesterday and blue today – it is up to us to keep up and deal with it so that the client is protected. Also, we can pester our clients in a way that a candidate can’t directly, with respect to feedback and constructive criticism as to why the candidate did not get the job. I could go on and on regarding the services we provide, but the truth is that the good companies and candidates recognize our worth.

  11. Come on guys. Yes we do all those things and we are so valuable and wonderful, however, let’s be honest, we’ve been beating that drum (as described in the article) for years now. Honestly, there’s nothing I haven’t heard or said to a client in the last 24 years doing this job. The fact is, and I can see it in this EMEA environment, traditional recruitment is dying. Skills shortages, market dynamics, etc. you know the drill, are hugely challenging the way recruiters recruit. We simply cannot continue to do traditional recruitment and think we’re fabulous. Talent Acquisition has become far more sophisticated, and traditional recruiters are a dying breed, in my humble opinion. How many recruiters do you know who can assist and facilitate strategic workforce planning, create workforce plans, identify critical talent segments, forecast critical talent needs – etc. This is where we add real value. I don’t know many recruiters that even understand the talent management process, let alone be able to act as Talent Advisors. Frankly, having trained 1000s of recruiters who began in this industry as graduates, and made huge money, traditional recruitment is not that complex – just saying!

  12. I agree with those comments that say this is true for a relatively small proportion of the industry, and the barber shop analogy highlights it perfectly. If you get your hair cut every couple of months or so then it obviously makes sense to go to someone you know and be confident that you’ll be happy with their service – They’ll definitely be able to do it better than you can it yourself. But suppose you had a huge family, lots and lots of kids… there comes a point when you are spending so much at the barbers that it would actually be cheaper to hire a barber full-time. And not only is it cheaper, but because they only cut your family’s hair, they get to know exactly how everyone likes it and everyone is more happy with their haircut. Of course there will be a couple of kids who aren’t happy with just a haircut – they want something unique. For these, you need to bring in a specialist, but you’re happy to pay their high fees because of their level of expertise.

  13. Some excellent comments Adrian and I will use some of those points you make when I am next speaking to a potential client who thinks that it will be “cheaper” to try and recruit a position themselves. In Procurement we consider the Total Cost of Ownership when buying a product or service and this is very rarely the lowest cost.

    The cheapest brand new car costs less than £6,000 but there is a reason why we are not all driving around in one!

    Ben Glynn

  14. As a Partner in a recruitment business that has been established for 23+ years and that has seen changes too numerous to mention, it is refreshing to see such a well constructed and sensible article on Recruitment. Without wishing to ‘tar everyone with the same brush’ those that have missed the point, really don’t understand the true value of recruitment and have perhaps experienced the service (or delivered the service) from the ‘high churn’ end of the market that is better suited to an on-line service. In our view, there will always be a need for good quality recruiters and those recruiters will use a range of tools & techniques to work effectively with both clients and candidates alike.

  15. As an experienced software developer, who unfortunately has to usually go through recruitment consultants for many of the jobs I apply for, what a lot of rubbish this article is.

    You people are usually very poor at your jobs (from our perspective). You seem to have the ability to match up two or three keywords and number of years experience and not a lot more. (I could easily write a small program to do it more efficiently than you).

    You have very little understanding of the industry you are recruiting for. You frequently demonstrate that you don’t understand that knowing RDBMS or SQL equates to pretty much the same thing. My CV mentions PHP from a masters project ten years ago, but I regularly get spammed with PHP jobs due to this.

    I sometimes take the time to reply to recruiters when there is a job I feel I am qualified for, explaining that my skills are not an exact match of the skills listed, but explain why I feel I would be well suited. Am I likely to receive a reply? More than probably not.

    I sincerely hope that the recruiters will not be at the heart of our corporate future, but sadly realize that you probably will be.

  16. Good to see that some HR professionals are steeping out of the line remembering that technology is nothing without human intelligence and assessment !

    From my point of view this apply to all sphere of activities.

    And if I may add to the comments made by a unfortunate candidate just before, isn’t great to have still the liberty to make errors and therefore to have the opportunity to learn and progress (which is the proper of human being) and I am not sure that in is dreamed corporate future that the “machines” replacing the “recruiters” will have more ability than trying to match up two or three keywords to his profile !!!

  17. Thanks for all the comments. Just to reiterate, the point of the article is why “good recruiters” will survive, remain essential in the future and what I perceive good recruitment to be. Logic therefore dictates that if recruiters are not doing this then they are not good recruiters and will consequently struggle to survive given the multi channel options a company has to source candidates in the modern world. The bar of overall service needs to rise in recruitment and those below the acceptable level will struggle and/or be replaced with lower cost alternatives / in house process driven models. However, stop engaging with the value add good recruiters at your peril or your business will suffer greater ills than the lack of talent pipeline. Simple really!!

  18. @ Artemis: You’ve hit an important point: ISTM that fewer and fewer managers are looking for someone (internal, contract, or external) who can provide high-level value-added service: mentoring, advising, educating CLOSING. What seems to be more in demand now is a perky young (read: “CHEAPER”) order-taker.

    @ Graham: I hear what you’re saying. We would all like to be approached by a knowledgeable, well-researched recruiter, who has a position and pitch carefully designed toward appealing to us. Unfortunately, that’s not how it really works. Every day I am contacted by ~10 recruiters who have seen what I’ve recruited for and think those skills are what I DO. While I wish this weren’t the case, I know that’s how it is- you and I are but one of many people the recruiters/sourcers are contacting, and fundamentally, we’re not the customer; we’re the potential “merchandise”. Perhaps you feel you have the luxury of not listening to opportunities due to the ineptitude or over-hurry of the recruiter or sourcer; if that is the case, that says a lot for your value in the marketplace; most people aren’t in your situation.

    @ Everyone: What percentage of overall hires do you think require a sophisticated, high-value add recruiter to do effectively? My guess is 2% or less (These may be the most important 2% however.)



  19. @Keith
    “we’re the potential “merchandise”.

    I have heard management frequently complain that the quality of candidates offered is very poor as well, so it is not just the candidate side that is suffering. It reminds me of a recent experience of renting a flat, where I have to pay extortionate fees to go through an agency. No value is added, but a lot of money is extracted by the middle man, as there really aren’t a lot of other options.

  20. In many scenarios, there isn’t actually a lack of quality candidates. That mindset is fed by hiring managers insisting on only considering candidates who are currently doing exactly the same job.

    It gets symbiotic when agency recruiters are able to easily access so much more people data than they used to be able to, and suddenly start calling themselves “headhunters” and claiming to be specialists in a particular vertical.

    Ultimately, if an agency behaves unprofessionally, the ultimate responsibility has to lie with the company who allowed them access to their vacancy.

    Seriously, the way some companies engage with agencies is about as sensible as hiding sweets in a room full of 5 year-olds and expecting them to not make a mess.

  21. I am seeing more and more articles on this theme. Surely a sure fire sign of a dying industry is one where you see a regular stream of articles trying to state that it isn’t dying. Successful and growing sectors don’t tend to spend time and energy convincing everyone else and themselves of their importance and place. In my view, agencies and 3rd party recruiters WILL always have a place in the recruitment market but recognising they are one of a growing number of recruitment solutions is probably the acceptance that needs to be made.

  22. Brett, the challenge I have with your sentiment is that I see these articles every few months, for the last 10 years. Perhaps it’s dying slowly, but that’s a very long slow death.

    Do we as recruiting professionals, both corporate, agency and those of us who dance the line between those two models need to change and evolve? Heck yeah! But it’s clear to this recruiter that there is and always will be a need for my services.

  23. @ Graham: IMHO we have a disconnect in expectations. Many hiring managers think that because of high unemployment, the very best candidates will line up in droves to work for them, when they have nothing special to offer- my analogy is that of a better than average guy expecting to be able to date supermodels. Many elite candidates “play hard to find and harder to get”, and resent anything less than “red-carpet treatment”.

    @Brett: I think that the first thing a recruiter did back in the Stone Age was to get a job order for a hand-axe maker, the the second was to find the hand-axe maker, and the third thing was to get involved in a big discussion of “The Crisis and Dim Future of Contemporary Recruiting”. How do I know this? I was that recruiter….


  24. I have been doing it for 44 years. We am not going anywhere.
    @Brett- They been writing these types of articles since the internet came on. They were saying it’s dying then. It never will because of the great reasons/comments above.
    @Graham- “Clients say we send bad candidates”. Not mine. They say the opposite. We send better candidates than they see from any other resource.Check out our testimonials from clients and candidates.
    @ Artemis- Traditional recruitment? In my eyes it is calling people who had no idea they were going to make a change until I sold them on the idea. They were not looking at job boards. That’s traditional to me. Not many are willing to invest that type of time and receive that kind of rejection before finding the right person. It is still a contact sport.
    @James- I haven’t submitted a RPO in over 15 years. I am not willing to cut my fees and have to bid for my services. Successful recruiters don’t work low ball deals. They don’t have to.

  25. @ Steve: “I think that the first thing a recruiter did back in the Stone Age was to get a job order for a hand-axe maker, the the second was to find the hand-axe maker, and the third thing was to get involved in a big discussion of “The Crisis and Dim Future of Contemporary Recruiting”. How do I know this? I was that recruiter…”
    I stand corrected: YOU were that recruiter!
    Well done, sir!



  26. I disagree. Pack your bags folks.

    Two things are at play: recruiters provide value by selling access (#1) to qualified labor (#2).

    First, technology (ie linkedin) gives employers access – now everyone has access to everyone.

    Second, technology will begin determining qualified labor through collective intelligence (peer reviews), data mining (education, experience), etc to provide answers (sometimes much better results than a human recruiter, and/or at better costs).

    If this point is not valid, than why else would this article have been written? Answer: recruiters are trying to stay relevant in increasing difficult times as innovative technological improvements offer competitive advantages.

  27. Certainly all great points made in this article, but unfortunately our profession, like many, is filled with incompetent and unethical recruiters.
    The downturn in the economy tends to purge many of these wannabe recruiters, but as the US/World economy recovers, many of the wannabe recruiters will re-enter our professional ranks.
    Second point, the traits and skills highlighted in this article exist with many in-house corporate recruiters. Organizations who value these competent recruiters and compensate them with incentive pay commensurate with their value will win the day.

  28. Great article! Value is achieved when you do it better, faster and for a fair price (not the cheapest). In my 20+ years of placing profesisonals in Accounting, Finance and IT, on a contingency fee based delivery, my clients and the candidates I represent have realized greater opportunities than they would have scanning for the “next job or candidate” on a web based board. As a number of talented folks mentioned above, ‘creating’ the need with a talented passive candidate that objects the first 2 times you pitch an opportunity to them is where the Value lies and ultimately the company you place them with realizes a long term victory in productivity and enhanced culture from “making a good match” that ordinarily they would not or did not accomplish on thier own. All this takes a lot of hard work, discipline, honesty and a broad awareness of what the market will bear at a given point in time. For that, I’ve been rewarded quite well financially but moreso, I’ve earned the respect of many decision makers and internal human resource professionals. All those years on the soccer field taught me to “get the ball and score” so thank you to my parents and great coaches along the way for setting the stage for long term recruiting success.

  29. The Article is very good, and the person who wrote is very good as well.
    Graham, I certainly feel your pain.
    Unfortunetly most recruiters only see the quick commision, and dont take the time to really understand their candidates.
    You may be tarnished from past experience, but also seem to have a chip on your shoulder that also may come across to a good recruiter, as you said your some you do need them.
    To expect a non programmer to know what you know is not realistic either, maybe if you like a recruiter help educate them and understand if they knew all this stuf they would want your jobs.
    Usually good recruiters learn most of the terminology through time and hard knocks of interviewing candidates and trying desperatelly to understand things they are being told as they go.
    I know they need a certain ammount of basic knowledge to make matches, but dont expect non techies to become techies.
    As far as the thought that all the new tech stuff will wither away good recruiters, I have over the many years i have recruited heard this everytime something new comes out, I am still standing, and I have not had to lower my fees to a point of destruction, supply and demand is the main thing that drives that.
    A lot of candidates that I have over the years preferr to use me instead of trying to find that job themself, and having to deal with the uncomfortable things like Money negotiations, maybe telling a company no.

  30. I think this article is great and does a lot for my self esteem, making me feel proud of my profession. I am a contract recruitment consultant where we live and die by how quick we are at delivering what our clients want/need.

    It’s my job to quickly understand the requirement and aim to deliver a shortlist within 48 hours. Which I do in most cases and I’ll always give everyone I’m in contact with some form of communication or feedback at every phase of the recruitment process.

    @Roger Graham: I’m glad you’ve commented above it’s insightful to hear your point of view from the otherside. It’s a shame that you haven’t been given proper respect by the agents you’ve engaged. The truth is that nobody works for free it’s a shame but some recruiters can’t see beyond their noses. 🙂

  31. @Brett: I think the steady stream of articles in recruiting are less about the industry dying (let’s face it, this has been a topic of discussion forever) and more that these articles appear as a result of some new industry service/technology, in the case of point of reference to this article – LinkedIn.

    Like anything, perception seems to overshadow facts a lot of times, as I believe the case is here. Let me state why I believe recruiting is NOT going to go away – maybe just evolve a bit differently in the future, based on facts.

    First, Social Media, especially LinkedIn is perceived to be much more successful than it really is. Just look at the SilkRoad study mentioned on this site (which shows newspaper classifieds still more effective than social media) and the recently published 2013 CareerXRoads study showing social media channels getting worse at finding candidates rather than better (these are just two of many studies linking these same facts). Like it or not, when it comes to online technology, job boards outperform social media by more than 10 to 1 – and boards are getting better while social media is getting worse.

    Second, the global industry for talent grows every year and the average tenure of employees at a company is decreasing. One has only to look at more senior workers profiles on LinkedIn. Look at the job changes in the last 15 years versus prior to that period. It means more frequent job changes and thus more opportunities for recruiting services on a more frequent basis.

    Third, online tools will NEVER replace outside recruiters (Full Disclosure: I am CEO of an online recruiting site). Instead, online tools and offline recruiters need to be viewed like a carpenter’s toolbox – you select the right tool for the job, there is no one tool fits all.

    Fourth, still more than 75% of professionals are NOT found online in regards to their professional capabilities and capacities. Maybe one day this will get as high as 50%, but with the professional talent pool still growing by almost 10M people annually, according to the International Labour Office, this results in the number of real people still needing to be recruited stays high.

    So no, recruiters are in no danger of going away, maybe just having their services evolve to fit current market needs. Online tools only represent one tool in the toolbox. Lastly, I am one who strongly believes, based on trends and studies, that social media is NOT going to be the future in recruiting or is in any danger of hurting independent recruiters. But that is a topic for another discussion.

  32. The biggest complaint I see from clients and candidates is that recruiters just don’t understand the client’s business, technology and therefore can’t make head or tail of the job spec let alone give any advice. Candidates also hate talking to recruiters because recruiters are clueless of their skills and experience.

    Graham Rodger mentioned in his comment he gets unrelated spam all the time. This is precisely why technology is and will do a much better job of matching people to job openings into the future.

    I’m an engineer, product manager turned technical recruiter. Technical recruiters have to think like hiring manager / project manager – not just sales people. This is where the process is broken at least in technical recruiting.

    Part of lInkedin success is that such a platform empowers companies to do it themselves. Why? 1. because it’s cheaper. 2. More control and 3 better results.
    If staffing technical recruiters did such a great job Linkedin would not stand a chance yet Linkedin is growing in leaps and bounds. The writing is on the wall.

    Staffing recruiters have to offer more then what corporate recruiters can easily do themselves using linkedin and other social media tools. Job boards are on the way out being replaced with tweeting, blogging and linkedin. Reason being the latter are just more effective. Staffing recruiters have to go beyond linkedin into blogging, deep Internet searching, understand SEO and personal branding and become true specialists in their chosen verticals.

    Linkedin has done a great job of engaging visitors they just paid over $90m for pulse a beautiful app which aggregates news feeds. Linkedin’s intention is to keep visitors coming back for all their career, business and industry news thus by increasing the addiction factor. Candidates are getting smarter at networking through the use of tools such as Linkedin and are becoming more aware of the value of personal branding. This will ultimately hurt the average recruiter.

    Our industry is being disrupted by advances in technology and this will require us recruiters to sharpen up or be left out in the cold. True value is going deeper, really understanding not only the human aspects but also the vertical as well as being fully versed with the latest tools and methods. All this requires more dedication and the wiliness to embrace change.

    AI is the biggest threat to recruiters and AI is here to stay. Just in time recruiting is around the corner especially in the tech space driven by social media, BIG data mining and ubiquitous always on communications.

  33. A significant problem observed with corporate recruiters is the lack of general ability or knowledge. Keep in mind many of these individuals do not have any truly marketable skills or abilities. Many recruiters feel they have done their job by sending and receiving email each day, many of which result in no productivity. Most of their job is completed by an ATS program and most hiring errors begin at the recruiter. I have been disappointed with the quality of preliminary interviews with recruiters as many recruiters have difficulty just reading a technical question, much less the ability to comprehend a technical response. I’ve heard it said multiple times that corporate recruiters are failed real estate agents. Typically large companies with poor recruiters will have the same job openings posted again within a relatively short time frame and chances are previous candidates with a less than desirable experience with the recruiter will avoid applying to this company going forward.

    I have recently been submitting a resume to several recruiting companies. It is a bogus resume to actually test the effectiveness of these “recruiters” such as Michael Page, Selby Jennings and Brokerage Consultants Inc. These recruiters are posting jobs that do not exist and they typically post the same position every 6 months. This being said, are these recruiters submitting quality candidates? If a reputable company utilized one of these recruiters to fill an actual position would they then utilize the same recruiter when the candidate they potentially provided did not work out, requiring searching for a new candidate?

    I have been contacted by these 3rd party recruiters based on the resume that was submitted. These conversations have been very short, in fact their qualifying interview has consisted of no more than–What is your minimum salary requirement? All three of the recruiters listed requested a few minutes of my time to ask nothing more than my minimum salary requirement. Surly this rigorist recruiting process has provided significant benefit to candidates and companies alike.

    After some questionable practices by some of these recruiters I would recommend to job seekers to avoid 3rd party recruiters. If a position is legitimate you should be able to do a little research to identify the unnamed company looking to fill the position and apply directly to them, in fact this research may lead you to other jobs that match your interests. I would also recommend that if you have made the mistake of providing an actual resume to a third party recruiter that you include a statement at the end of your new resume stating “I do not authorize the submission of this resume by any third party recruiter or recruiting agency.”, convert the document to a .pdf format, apply a signature and lock the document.

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