Are the days of the traditional recruiter numbered?

As the hero of our story leaves the office all he could hear were the cheers of the business managers he supported calling his name and shouting “You are the saviour of recruitment!!!"

…and then I woke up…or rather I turned off my laptop and left an empty office to cross London and get the 20:40 train north.  As glamour trips go, the tube from Heathrow to Euston is not one of them.  But then who said being the saviour of recruitment was going to be easy.

Week 3 of my assignment and things are looking up or at least there are some glimmers of hope.  For those who missed my last blog I am doing some onsite recruitment for a great client.  That isn’t me sucking up to them, they have a unique culture that despite some rapid growth still feels like a start up but with none of the downsides. 

My assignment is a combination of hands on recruitment from cradle to grave and with my HR hat on beyond that into onboarding.  It is also about reviewing and improving internal and external processes to enhance and develop the candidate experience and dare I say it, create a compelling employer brand proposition supported by direct talent acquisition and talent pooling. 

This has brought me into contact with many many recruitment organisations.  As per my last rant (click here) some of these are decidedly average, fail to connect with me as a client and certainly don’t have my business interest at heart.

This is no surprise.

Clearly I will not be naming names but after today some of you will know who you are.  Actually some of you that should won't because you weren't listening*.  You might not think I am the client but you'd be wrong.

The ray of sunshine is a small group of businesses that are really trying very hard to support our needs.  They do this through regular but useful contact, an acceptance that I am busy and can’t always deal with them straight away and most of all by providing good candidates that have enjoyed their experience with that agency.   My commitment to those businesses and individuals is that wherever I can I will support them with an honest approach to what I am doing and where possible exclusivity of roles to reward them for their efforts. 

At the other end of the scale is an agency that is failing to meet many of our basic and contractual commitments.  If my experience of them as a client is poor I dread to think what candidates think.  I can hear some of you asking why they are still engaged, the reality is they have candidates 'in play' and we are business built on strong business ethics and need to manage things properly.

This is the thing they and many other recruitment businesses fail to understand.  The minute they mention my company name they are linking their brand to ours and the candidate experience begins there not with my organisation.  How many candidates have been put off us by our choice of recruitment partners? 

The brand is everything.  It lives, it breathes it is tangible and with social media technology now meaning something we will live or die by that brand. 

So here’s the warning for our industry.  If we continue to allow poor recruitment practice we only have ourselves to blame whatever side of the recruitment fence you sit.  Equally we need to reward good practice by bringing a select few closer to the business so that they can understand where we are heading and be more proactive in targeting candidates we will need in the future not just the fill the role approach taken by so many. 

This leads me to the next phase of my assignment.  Having established what we want both in terms of behaviours, having worked with those partners to extend our brand into theirs and vice versa I am going to work on a real talent pool solution. 

The industry has been talking about it for a while, I have even launched my own solution for commercial consumption, talentpuddle but there are no obvious leaders in the market…. yet….

The old school fill the role organisations are starting to talk about it.  In reality what they have done is rebrand their database as a talent pool.  Was factually correct a static database of 3 gazillion candidates does not make a talent pool.  A recruitment friend of mine described it brilliantly “a just in time database, populated by live, engaged talent” (Thanks Chris). 

So I open it up to the industry. Can we deliver this? Can we use a combination of technology, effective assessment tools and traditional service led engagement with our chosen sectors? 

I know I can… but those fill the role businesses will not be a part of that.  Traditional behaviours, traditional recruiters bring traditional results and with my client hat on that just isn’t good enough.  I know that other organisations can, look at Cisco's Kevin Blair and how he delivers a commercially driven in-house recruitment service.


*p.s. seriously, listening to a client is part of being in recruitment.

2010 is going to be another tough year, I believe we are out of the worst of it but it is by no means a done deal yet.  If you want my help with your recruitment strategy, from inception to delivery, help in the creation of a 3 year business vision or practical on-site recruitment support then contact me, Martin Dangerfield on +44161.408.4005.

As well as being a Regional Director for the IRP, Martin is Director of the innovative recruitment business mckinleyresource, a freelance people consultant specialising in talent attraction, assessment and recruitment and a provider of business coaching for high growth entrepreneurial organisations.

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