our blog gets recruiters thinking

APSCo kindly published a blog of mine last year – “I don’t need a recruiter plus they cost too much!”.  Lots of readers, shares, etc… nice…  But also clearly a divisive topic. 

I also attended a UK Recruiter End of Year conference and waxed lyrical to lots of lovely people about Recruitment Technology Strategy for 2014 (view the slides if you’re interested).

At the end of the UK Recruiter conference the lovely Alan Whitford asked recruiters if they felt worried about 2014 and how their roles may be being eroded by their clients trying out recruitment for themselves.  There was a lot of huffing and puffing about what recruiters can offer and hence why direct hire is the devil.  All sorts of reasons why recruitment agencies can have the edge were offered,,,

Agency Recruiters have an Edge on In-House

  • You can be advocates of both the client and candidate – in-house recruiters can’t do this – they have to choose (and it’s likely to be the client)
  • You can negotiate on behalf of both – can in-house negotiate on behalf of candidates? (really?)
  • Agency recruiters (should) have a global view of the sector, not simply of their own business / site
  • Leading on from the above – recruiters are ideally industry geeks – they know their sectors
  • Agency recruiters normally have FAB networks, and they’re not afraid to use them (is that a contact in your pocket or are you just please to see me?)

A lot of this was covered off in my speaker slot for APSCo at their 2013 conference: Resisting the Pull of the Direct Recruiting Model. (Seems like I’ve been about a bit in 2013…)

I got pretty jittery in this meet up, so I decided to ask some questions of the agency recruiters in the room:

How are you marketing these supposed “USPs”?  How are you letting people know that you do this and that you are a better option than your clients trying for themselves?  How to do market to candidates that they need you to secure the best role they can get?

STUNNED SILENCE! And from a bunch of recruiters (a group of people known for filling silences!)

Then someone said – “but what would we talk to our clients about if we said it all online?”

It was my turn to be speechless.

Do recruiters cost too much? Or is it that what they do looks cheap?

Let’s start with my view – recruiters are not expensive.  Neither are they dodgy dealers or crooks.  They are a pretty valuable part of society, which like every industry has some horror stories. Let’s face it, doctors and nurses get sued all the time (so the press make us think), but we still trust them to open us up and fiddle around with our bits and pieces.  But then the difference is that we KNOW WHAT THEY DO AND WHAT THEIR OUTCOMES ARE. They make it abundantly clear that their job is to make us better.  They even have an oath…

What do recruiters have?

Some have silly USPs about being big, old, fastest growing – pointless – that’s not going to place a candidate for longer!

We Did Some of Our Own Recruitment – What a Mare!

So, Barclay Jones is recruiting.  We decided to try it out for ourselves (practice what we preach and write adverts, post them online etc…) Just to see if it was that easy!

What an interesting experiment.  We were dumbfounded:

  • Why do people apply for jobs when they want more money than the advert stipulates?
  • Why do people not print off their CVs and actually look at them – some I reviewed were pretty poor formats, dull, not aligned correctly – just looked damn awful!
  • Why is it when you book a phone interview, give them time to sort themselves out  that you need to remind them which job they applied for when you come to speak to them?
  • Candidates are the biggest stealers of time!

Our conclusion?  RECRUITMENT IS HARD WORK!  It takes the patience of a saint, who needs to be telepathic whilst dealing with passive and emotional human traffic.

So why do so many companies think that recruitment is easy?

Recruiters really need to try harder to make it clear what their outcomes are.  A little hint – it’s not to advertise, or to send a candidate to a client.  It’s to:

  • Change lives – when you get someone a great job it’s a pretty special thing!
  • When you find the ideal candidate for a client, you have the potential to make their problems go away and they can get back to their day job – bliss!

Is that not worth talking about?

The biggest threat to agency recruiters?

The worst enemy of the recruitment agency world? Recruiters who don’t get their own value and have little capacity to talk with integrity about it!

Get with it agency folk – your customers and candidates need you!

(Thanks APSCo for publishing this blog.)

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  1. Recruitment consultants are often their own worst enemies. Poorly formed value propositions that focus on the wrong content. It's the difference between the ingredients and the experience of eating the cake. The ratio of butter and flour is dull - the result is so much more appetising. Too many recruiters selling their ingredients (specialism, headhunting, database size, history etc) not value of successful outcome - in this case bliss or life changing opportunity.

  2. Good read and all good points - especially the examples of candidates as stealers of time!


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