Recruiters – where the bloody hell are you?

I was recently in Fiji attending the annual RCSA conference. But before you tune out, this is not another wrap up of the conference – others have already done a better job of that than me (I admit that some of the morning sessions were a bit of a blur after being led astray the previous nights thanks to the high achievers club of a well-known agency!!!).

Now, I went to the conference somewhat sceptical and pretty sure I wasn’t going to get much out of it.  I went basically because someone paid for me and there are worse things than spending a few days in Fiji.  It was going to be a bunch of old recruitment farts talking about the same old shit. In any case, recruitment isn’t rocket science and I pretty much know what there is to know. So what the heck was I going to get out of the conference apart from sunburn?

How wrong was I?

Firstly, the speakers, topics and subject matter that were covered were truly excellent. I am not one for going over the top with compliments but they were seriously good. They didn’t just cover the same tired, old, boring recruitment stuff that we have all heard before. What they spoke about was a very broad insight into the future of the world, the future of business and as such the future of recruitment. We heard about how advances in technology and generational attitudes are changing and shaping the world we live in and in turn the way recruitment needs to adapt to fit in. These are the things that most of us have probably never even thought about, but clearly need to. It was new, fresh, exciting, modern, interesting – not the sort of stuff that you expect to hear at a recruitment conference.

But here is the thing ….

Whilst I can confirm that I was not actually the youngest there, a quick look around the audience suggests I was not far off! And I am 37! The majority were of a more mature age on the downslope of their successful recruitment careers.  Greg Savage practically retired live on stage! Where were the under 30s, the new kids on the block who are going to be the future leaders of our industry? For an industry that is traditionally a young person’s game, there was a stark lack of them.

The clear message coming out of the conference was that those that don’t look to the future and understand the world of tomorrow are going to get left behind and quickly.. Unfortunately, most of the stuff that was discussed during this conference won’t go beyond Fiji because a lot of the people who embraced it won’t be working in the industry in 10 years.  The people who need to be at the heart of these discussions are our younger recruiters that will be our future CEOs and leaders.

So, this a gentle, yet serious, call to arms for the younger folk of our industry to step up and get involved. Whatever your perception of the RCSA and our industry today – and it might not be great, like mine was – don’t just sit on the sidelines and complain from afar. Don’t let our industry be shaped by the older generation; otherwise there might not be an industry for you to work in.

Luke Collard  


8 thoughts on “Recruiters – where the bloody hell are you?

  1. Sarah Calverley on Reply


    Me: “Boss, please hold the keys to my Mclaren whilst I pick up my golf clubs and ‘kini and head to Fiji to (yet another) recruitment conference? While you’re signing the cheque can you fill those contract jobs I’m working on?”

    Boss: “Have you been drinking again? Stop talking smack and fill those jobs we talked about”

    (I really wanted to be there, just couldn’t make it happen)

    *This is not a real conversation – my boss would never say smack 🙂

  2. thewebrecruiter on Reply

    Great blog Craig. Thanks to this blog and previous ones from you recently, I now know about the RCSA conference. RCSA has to take some responsibility here, their social media presents at present, is rubbish. They need to be seeking out and driving their business by connecting with all us young guns – check out their twitter profile, their engagement strategy could do with a slight spruce up.
    On THEup side, RCSA are a great organisation for the recruitment industry – so I wish them all the best!!

    1. lukecollard on Reply

      Thanks for the comment. Absolutely agree – I believe the RCSA need to be a more modern and forward thinking organisation that engages and is attractive to the 20 and 30 year old recruiters….not just the old boy and girls club. They have improved a lot, and this conference was evidence of this, but need to keep going.

  3. Ex-Recruiter on Reply

    I’m a early-20’s Gen Y who was working in recruitment up until earlier this year (total of 4 years in the industry). I was lucky enough to attend the conference last year in Port Douglas and although I was paid to go, I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it extremely valuable to my career. I took a lot from the speakers at the conference and found myself changing the way I recruited in the days, weeks and months following. I did notice a distinct lack of ‘young’ people however and I think I know (one of the reasons) why.

    My experience is that, in this market particularly, management of recruitment companies are limited by budget and can’t afford to send anyone and everyone. Instead, they select attendees based on billing or seniority in the company. I know that some ‘more experienced’ recruiters would no doubt be offended if they weren’t sent to a conference while a younger, less experienced recruiter was sent instead. It becomes very political! It’s a bit ridiculous though, given the younger recruiter is the one who will benefit most from the conference.

    I know the RCSA is working to attract a wider range of demographic but at the same time, I think a lot of it comes down to the recruitment companies themselves and them changing their views on who should attend events such as the conference.

    1. lukecollard on Reply

      Thanks Caitlin – I think you are correct. Going to a conference like this is often given as a reward for doing well (like me) and cost is obviously prohibitive to attending for many. However, it should be right there with sales training etc which most managers would see as obligatory. The thing is though, that most people would get a lot more value from being part of discussions similar to those at the conference. However, my ‘call to arms’ doen’t necessarily need to be attending an RCSA conference. It is more about getting stuck in and making sure the industry is being shaped by those that are on their way up.

  4. Brett Iredale on Reply

    Playing devil’s advocate;

    Their “old” bosses are not going to pay for a junket to Fiji are they when times are tight?

    And if they do own their own agencies I’m pretty sure they are more on top of things than most. After all, all the information presented at these conferences is freely available online and these kids are pretty good at keeping up with what’s new and topical.
    I also doubt that the price to attend represents the best business development spend for the average recruiter (rec to recs aside). In fact the more I type the more I fail to see any compelling reason why they would attend.

    (I am a supporter of the RCSA but as a previous and potential future sponsor / advertiser I am extremely conscious of their demographic and it plays a big part in my decisions about sponsorship).

    1. Craig Watson rec-to-rec on Reply

      Brett… I think it’s far more about professional development than business development – unless you are a supplier to the industry…. Unfortunately, it’s very easy for people who didn’t attend to not see the value – and even more unfortunately, most of the information presented will not be available online. Before this conference I have had very little to do with the RCSA. My perception was that it was an association that catered for the older generation of recruiter. My opinion after the conference is a very different one…

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