Have agency recruiters forgotten how to recruit? And by “recruit” I’m talking about the full cycle of prospecting, building relationships, understanding a client, gathering market intelligence and then making approaches to suitable candidates.
Or did most of us never know how to really do that properly and just sailed through those halcyon pre-recession years billing big bucks off the backs of our quick wit and questionable charm?
The good news is that the economic recovery is full steam ahead. Interest rates are starting to climb again (something predicted with even more certainty than the forecasts of Auckland getting hammered by Cyclone Lusi this weekend) and the story from Australia appears to be the same with Ross Clennett meeting “recruitment agency owners over the past 6 weeks and almost without exception they are all smiling again…”
But hold that smile a moment, won’t you please? Because the bad news is that, whilst business confidence and hiring intentions are clearly back with a bang, companies’ interest, or appetite, in using recruitment agencies is NOT. You see, since they last wanted to hire people all of the time and good talent was hard to find (as in 2006, say) there has been a growth in technological advancements and recruitment agency alternatives that they have largely utilised to save money and get by. The thing is, that new sense of frugality hasn’t gone away.
So it’s kind of cringe-worthy to bump into HR leaders and hear stories about recruiters pestering them for a meeting just because they happen to work in the same building, and then having absolutely nothing new to offer, or share, when the meeting is reluctantly granted. And stories of recruiters turning up in packs of three to spend an hour incessantly talking without ever asking a question or listening to what their client might actually want from them.
Or, even worse, when a client does engage with an agency again, they make completely bumbling and ham-fisted efforts at headhunting like in the story amusingly related by Mark Sumner earlier this week.
There are two truths facing recruitment agencies today:
- The economic recovery is well underway, hiring intentions are up, and opportunities lie ahead
- Companies do not want to use recruitment agencies to satisfy their hiring needs because they don’t see anything new or fresh in what we have to offer
I think that, even for the best recruiters, they will be faced with a certain level of reluctance from clients when they do begrudgingly start engaging with them again. It’s probably going to be impossible to avoid that, for now, such is the reputation we have curated for ourselves over the past few years. But I also think there is a clear opportunity here to elevate yourselves above that mire. We all have parts of the recruitment process we’re better at than others (I know I certainly do) but the one thing that must reside in the back of every recruiter’s mind is: How can I truly add value to my client?
Recruiting like it’s 2006 isn’t going to cut it anymore I’m afraid. Offering insights, knowledge, market intelligence, and listening to clients so you can properly represent them to the increasingly fussy jobseeker market just might do it. And properly understanding your client’s brief when you do finally get the work coming back in will always help too – just ask Mr Sumner!
What are you going to do differently, now that the opportunity to grow is upon us again?