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The recruiter of today is unrecognisable from even a few years ago. Taking a trip down memory lane, can you recognise any of these characters?
Recruiters have evolved with the times, but what does the future hold?
I disagree. I think the average recruitment consultant has devolved, although I do think the industry on the whole has evolved - largely thanks to the advent of inhouse recruitment. They are forcing the agencies to up their game.
Here's an alternate view of how we got here:
Years ago being an agency recruiter was simpler.
Companies and agencies had fewer sourcing channels. Most of it was in traditional media (local, regional, national and trade press) and all of it was expensive.
Just like the Internet many years later, agencies got better at using it than companies.
Because there were fewer places to find people, companies hired more people with transferrable skills.
They hired some of them from recruitment agencies – but the agencies had to work harder to sell their services because recruitment agencies were still relatively new and some companies hated the fact that people had become commodotised.
Trouble is, most of these same companies didn’t know how to advertise properly – largely because they disrespected their audiences by doing things like referring to them in their adverts as “the incumbent”.
Then the Internet happened.
That was when the people with most to gain from recruitment fees staying the same (ie..recruitment agencies) started embracing technology and laying claim to the new frontier.
People became increasingly easier to reach – especially when Web 2.0 came along, and so what recruiters did to maintain their fee levels was move from being horizontal market specialists to becoming vertical market specialists.
Because now the candidates were within easier reach
Now they were selling candidates that already knew how to do the job before they’d even started.
Now they were calling themselves "headhunters" - but not charging their clients 30% with a third upfront.
Clients loved it.
The recruiters loved it.
The candidates, not so much.
But candidates have to move jobs sometimes. So, if they had to leave their job because they hated their boss, at least now they could choose their next one from the constant phone calls/emails they’d receive from a specialist recruiter (aka the newly entitled contingent headhunter) who had a job that was paying more money with a competitor.
In the background, hyper-capitalism had taken off and everybody was making money. More clients used more agencies who contacted fewer candidates.
The job got so easy that all recruiters had to do was flash a few de-personalised CVs via email to a few select competitors and wait for the bidding to start.
Recruiters got worse at selling, because they could.
Clients got worse at buying, because they could.
Candidates got worse at learning new skills, because they kept taking sideways moves into similar jobs. But they earned more.
Everybody was going niche.
Then the penny finally dropped and clients started bringing recruitment inhouse.
Because using the Internet had gotten so easy that they figured they could do what the agencies were doing for less money.
And they were right.
Then the crash happened and suddenly there were too many agencies all saying the same thing and too many candidates suddenly out of work.
Which brings us up to today.
All the big employers are doing it for themselves and lots of recruiters are fighting over scraps that those big employers sometimes throw from the table.
Lots of these recruiters should now be selling themselves to the SME market, but aren't - probably because they don't know how to sell, don't know that much about recruitment and know they won't be able to attract candidates to a smaller company as easily as they were once able to do with Pepsico or Microsoft.
A virus has hit the agency sector and only those with the strongest genes are going to survive.
To be continued...
Great post and great comment as well. We live and work in interesting times.
Mitch Sullivan really interesting comment!! very insightful!!
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