The One Where I Have a Pop At the Recruitment Agency Haters

  • Date posted: 06 Jan 2014
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Ok so I'm going to apologise in advance if this reads like a bit of a is a bit.


I'm reading, and hearing, too many conversations and blog posts denigrating the work of good Recruiters and it makes by blood boil.


So let's have a look at this, shall we? Who is responsible for making these comments and what are they saying?


Well surprise surprise, these posts are largely made by people that have either never actually been a Recruitment Consultant or used to be a Recruiter so long ago it has no relevance.


What do most of these people have in common? Yes, you've got it ...they're trying to steal our lunch! Yep - they're mostly self-labelled "outsourcing" or "social recruiting" experts. Now before I engage in some kind of DefCon 5 level open warfare with "that crowd" as a whole, let me expand on that...I know lots of brilliant people in these fields, some are close friends, hell I used to be a Digital Engagement Director for a major PLC myself...I'm simply stating that most of this stuff comes from people with those job titles.


According to these "experts", Recruiters are lazy, unskilled, prey on their clients as if they are limp idiots with no intelligence and no defence against us bandits. They also circulate and stir up the suggestion that we don't get any better results than a (insert whichever product or service they are trying to sell here...job board posting / linkedin paid account / zappy career site etc) but we cost about 100 times as much.


Let's just cut the crap guys and get real for a moment shall we and settle this once and for all. To all you Recruitment Agency Haters (I'm calling you RAH's from now on which is what your constant moaning sounds like in the background and it smells a little like jealousy too) You've got it largely wrong, you can't just make sweeping generalised statements and get away with it...and we Recruiters need to get more vocal and reinforce our value proposition!


Let's break it down:

  1. There are good and bad in every profession and walk of life. FACT. So yes you might find some Recruiters that aren't great...but that doesn't mean the industry or the large majority of Recruiters out there aren't.

  2. We're not lazy. I would challenge anyone to work as a Recruiter for a week - very few would survive. The pace, stress and workload of a good Recruiter would cripple many people in I know in other professions. I offer an OPEN INVITE to anyone that wants to take this challenge.

  3. Good Recruiters match their level of commitment and time to that which a client or candidate is willing to invest. So if clients, hiring managers or candidates don't want to invest the time to meet us, discuss the requirement, selection/search criteria, company culture/personal values, and search strategy in detail then face the facts, you're not going to get a huge amount in return. If you won't invest, don't moan if CV's aren't a great match, you don't get much activity from your Recruiter or they don't prioritise your role/career search. Remember we're one of the very few industries where we get paid AFTER the work has been done and are largely paid on RESULTS. What other professions or services out there would do that?

  4. Good Recruiters don't just post jobs on job boards. Let's just blow this one out of the water right now. I speak knowledgeably on behalf of most Recruiters to say that job boards provide very few, if any placements. In fact, they tend to generate lots of irrelevant responses, which actually the job boards could control better with little investment, why not? Because then they would have less "application" stats to through at us when they want to sell us job board credits. There's a great post on this by the way by Jamie Leonard.

  5. Good Recruiters are true Consultants. We constantly advise our clients and candidates on a wealth of information based on our experience. We are exposed daily to feedback on interview behaviours, employer brands, interview techniques, CV design and layout..the list goes on. That information is highly valuable and we impart it freely with the clients and candidates that work with us. Many of us are highly trained, have qualifications in psychology, psychometric testing, recruitment and more.

  6. Direct sourcing strategies aren't a replacement for Recruiters. Yep, sorry, but it's not just true. So okay many firms invest more in direct sourcing now - big deal. Every industry is affected by disruptive technologies, cost-saving measures and modern advances. Recruiters, good Recruiters, know how to defend the value they offer a firm, they also know how to adapt. Anyone remember the expected death of recruitment agencies when the first job boards launched?? 
    You can't compare a Recruitment Consultant with an Internal Sourcing Consultant - they're different things, one doesn't replace the other and guess what THEY CAN WORK TOGETHER. I know ....shocking! Internal Sourcing Consultants act in a SINGLE company's best interests. I know some brilliant people in these roles who are fantastic resourcers but please don't confuse this with being a Recruitment Consultant. It's an entirely different discipline and any firm locking out agencies and adopting a purely "internal" programme miss out. They know this which is why very few corporations actually do this.

  7. Companies NEED Recruitment Consultants. Not all firms can carry the fixed cost base of a heavy internal resourcing team. Those that do have internal resourcing teams are also usually involved in recruiting a large range of roles and as result cannot focus on talent pooling and pipeline in one specific area. They are also largely overworked. Any Recruiters out there secretly harbouring a desire to "go Internal" need a rethink - it's a tough job with even more KPI's than you have at the moment and less commission/bonus element. That's why they need us. They need us to be there when they can't cope, for that hard to fill role, to work quickly and with speed, to gain coverage across a broad base of candidates so that feel they have the "best person" for the job, not just "a person that can do the job. They also want the financial benefits of only paying a fee once a placement is confirmed and the opportunity to recoup all or part of the fee if the placement doesn't work out! Why keep pumping time and money into job boards and trade journals and social recruiting when the results are unknown?

  8. Candidates often go to Recruitment Consultants FIRST. This is my personal favourite and is the "Ace" for all Recruiters out there looking to justify what they do. Quite simply candidates will more often that not come to us first! They do, they do, they do. Why? Because they want:
    - Impartial advice on job market as whole
    - They want to work with someone local that KNOWS the local range of employers
    - They want the inside track on which companies are the best to work for
    - They want to know which firms are a risk
    - They want advice on how to maximise the impact of their CV
    - They want a range of options - yes sorry - but candidates considering a new role usually like a range of options.


Most of the RAHs out there (Recruitment Agency Haters) like throwing around a little quote to counter this, stating that most candidates start their job search online with a keyword search. Yes many do - but what happens when they do that search? The results are largely from agencies (BINGO) and again they can become swamped with boring job description type ads with little real insight into the role. So what do they do? - they call the agency that either they know from previous use, is connected to them and known to them, they have referred to them by a colleague or looks like they have the most roles in their area.


So a few final take-away points.....

  1. While candidates want confidentiality and advice there will always be agencies

  2. While clients still want a "search" - search firms will remain

  3. While clients want a results based cost option - agencies will survive


To all those RAHs out there - have a rethink - isolating yourself from the wealth of talent and expertise within the recruitment agency can only make your business poorer - get close to some good Recruiters - you might be surprised


To all you Recruiters out there - go to war!! Reinforce your value every chance you get - be brave enough to walk away from those that don't see value in what you do and move on to the firms and candidates that do.


I work closely with many social recruiting experts, job boards, recruitment technology and recruitment related firms - we work together and gain a lot from it. I value the role we all play and see value in all of us and the services we provide. It's total arrogance to think that one solution or service is ever the total solution. So let's quit trying to steal each other's lunch and work together.Try it.


Rant over.


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