Modern recruitment…. no thanks. I’ll carry on as normal.

iagreeIf you read articles and blogs about recruitment, listen to some of the experts and thought leaders, and those that would like to think they are (including me!), you will understand that the way recruitment agencies work should be changing.

These experts tell us that it’s all about being able to do what companies and their internal recruitment teams cannot do for themselves…essentially find, attract and secure the types of people that generally won’t visit job boards and respond to adverts. And that’s all about using whatever new technologies are increasing available to us, and shifting our mindset to approach things in a different way… media, talent communities, EVP etc.

It all makes complete sense to me (hence why you are reading this blog!). And if you look at the cheers and hoorah that follows a Greg Savage conference, then most people seem to agree….this is the future and if you don’t get on board you are going to be left behind.

So if that is the case, why are the vast majority of agencies still doing things pretty much the same as they ever have. And why are they looking for the same things in a recruiter…the same skills and profile that they were looking for five / ten years ago?

How come when I meet with agencies very few of them talk about their recruiters needing to be digitally savvy? Why do a lot of them think a talent community equals their database? Why do they still pump out the same old boring adverts? Why does everyone who joins them as a recruiter need to be a sales-gun first, second and third….and if they have some cool sourcing skills then that’s also nice.

There is a massive disconnect between all the noise out there, all the expert opinions, all the “here here”…. and what is it actually happening.

Why is that?

Maybe recruitment is just too stuck in its ways. Maybe the folk sitting at the top of the tree are too far removed from the day to day to see the relevance of this crazy new world.……. better just to make sales calls. Maybe it’s just all too hard.  Maybe they have been away from the trenches too much – when you look at the digital footprint of some of the leaders of some of the supposedly top agencies it is embarrassing. The answer is that they probably still make enough money not to really care. 

In an industry that is suffering from it’s own talent shortage, has an issue retaining experienced operators, is very competitive and sometimes struggles to make itself relevant and respected, you would have thought that more agencies would be really embracing this stuff… would have thought anyway!

And the craziest thing about it……those agencies that have really embraced this brave new world…..who are thinking outside of the box and trying different things ….. guess what…..they are generally the ones doing very well ….  and much better than some of those more traditional brands.

Luke Collard


12 thoughts on “Modern recruitment…. no thanks. I’ll carry on as normal.

  1. Simon McSorley on Reply

    Good post as ever Craig, and I couldn’t agree more with your sentiment. Someone summed it up to me quite well recently – “Most agency recrutiment leaders I’ve met are slighly above average sales people, but way below average business people”. There’s a reason our industry focuses on Quantative metrics like no of sales calls and CV’s sent, as opposed to qualitative metrics such as Interview effectivness and domain knowledge, and it’s really down to a lack of ability to evolve, “sales will never change” etc. One of the biggest banes of our industry is our inability to build that domain knowledge in our people, whilst calling our new starters Experts – and it’s always puzzled me why this is the case. I know that’s a very broad statement but it’s true nonetheless. Your comment about leaders Digital footprints is also interesting – another broad statement is that a lot of recruitment agencies are top heavy on management (process, numbers, perfromance reviews etc) but embarrasingly shallow on leadership (Inspiration, empowerment, new thinking etc).

      1. Simon McSorley on Reply

        His stroke of the pen, playful way with words and prosaic gesturing is very similar to yours. Combine that with your strikingly similar physical appearances, and I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a very easy mistake to make. Smartypants

          1. Simon McSorley on

            You’re now thinking to yourself, “he’s pretty funny that guy, as well as being tall with rugged good looks mixed with boyish charm – I reckon he’d be good to have a beer or two with”

          2. Luke Collard on

            One day Simon, if I try really hard, I hope to be at least half the man Craig is (but then I’d be very very small!)

  2. Charles Cameron on Reply

    Great insights Luke. I’m worried that the opportunity for real change is passing many firms by. Yep, plenty out there ‘jumping the void’ but others not prepared to take ‘the risk’. RCSA hoping to bring the success stories of change to the fore over the next 12 months and maybe we need to look at the language of ‘success’ in our industry? Charles

    1. Luke Collard on Reply

      Thanks Charles – I think the RCSA is well positioned to help drive a cultural shift across the industry and help it’s members understand the importance of adapting. In fact, it should really be taking the lead.

      Whilst there are those agencies that will probably always be hesitant to change full stop, quite often I think the lack of evolution in some businesses comes more from a lack of understanding, awareness and the ability to actually execute.

      I agree with you that the industry as a whole needs more voices, giving real examples of ‘success’ from people that are living and breathing this stuff everyday. It is great that some of our more seasoned experts talk around the theory….but nothing like real life examples of it working.

  3. Mitch Sullivan on Reply

    All the people who make money on the speaking circuit are just soundbite machines. They say things that sound good and that their audience wants to hear, but if you analyse what they say over a period of time, much of it contradicts itself.

    For the most part, the mainstream recruitment media, be it thought leaders, gurus, training providers, trade bodies or trade press, all have a vested interest in the status quo being maintained. They don’t want the sector to become stronger, because if it did, they wouldn’t be able to sell as many tickets to a guru gig or get as many people to join their trade association.

    The relationship with the so-called thought leaders and recruitment agencies is practically munchausen-by-proxy in nature.

  4. Matthew Heslam on Reply

    I personally think it’s the potential pain of losing money during the transition. I also think that if you search #recruitment on Twitter that you’ll get a good clue as to why you can’t solely rely upon Social media for candidate or client gen…everyone is pumping out the same message which stands across most platforms.

    On top of this ATS/ Candidate generation led technology is purely management of data…not conversion of.

    I think the rhetoric is that the candidates and clients are fed up with the 21 year old salespeople who have no clue how to present a CV, interpret a spec or genuinely assist in making hiring easier for a client who has struggled to hire directly. I interpret the “candidate experience” or “social marketeer” as really meaning…know how to do your job and offer a service.

  5. Ross Clennett on Reply

    The reason that change has not come to agency land, to any significant degree, is that there is no financial pain to motivate any such change. Plenty of agencies are still making good (or at least satisfactory) profits doing things pretty much the way they have always done them so why change? You only have to read Pamela Williams’ ‘Killing Fairfax’ to realise that executives and owners receiving predictable rewards from current business models are almost certain not to change anything no matter how ‘obvious’ it might be to outsiders, or how frequently the owners and executives are warned, that sunset is rapidly approaching and the day of reckoning is near. Change is painful and change means having to think about the longer term future. Very few business owners (in all industries) want to deal with pain and the longer term future when there’s money in the bank. I predict that while recruitment agency owners continue to make the levels of profit they are currently making, very little will change across a vast majority of our industry. I hope I am wrong.

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