All right, we’ve skirted around the elephant in the room long enough. It’s time to talk JOYN.
Not that this is a new topic for me – most meetings these days, the question comes up. Everyone wants to know what the deal is with JOYN. How does that work for me? Aren’t they in, like … competition with me?! The rabbit hole deepens from there. How does it work, having directors who run a traditional recruitment agency and a market disrupting alternative to agencies? Isn’t that conflicting? Do you fight for business internally? How do you feel, seeing them out there saying “Agencies suck!”
Right off the bat, let me start by saying neither Jon or Sean think agencies suck. They do think “recruitment doesn’t always work. Not for everyone involved. Some recruiters don’t like working in boiler rooms making constant cold calls, or colourless in-house recruitment teams spending all day doing compliance admin. Some clients don’t like the lack of transparency, the smoke and mirrors that in their eyes enshrouds our recruitment processes. The cost, for many, is eye-watering, whilst our industry is rife with cowboys firing CVs from the hip and waiting for an ill-deserved fee to land.” Hence, they put their money where their mouths are and created v.RPO, a virtual RPO model fine-tuned over five years before being rebranded and launched as JOYN in November 2017 – smack-bang in the middle of my first week with Rice Consulting, funnily enough.
Seeing JOYN birthed in my very first week at Rice placed me in a particularly good position to observe the evolution of this market-shaker. Ultimately, I think it’s a great thing. I was working at a boutique agency when v.RPO first launched, and remember feeling a quiet thrill at the time. I was convinced that was what the market needed. Unlike the majority of my peers, and certainly in contrast with my manager at the time, I felt like agency recruitment was broken and we could surely do better. v.RPO looked every bit to me like the remedy we needed.
I followed its journey closely, and always respected Jon and Sean for making such a ballsy move – to continue proudly leading their own specialist agency, while also waving the flag for something that could be (and is) viewed by many as a direct competitor. I saw an instant reaction way back when v.RPO was first a thing. The market rippled with scared little shock waves and “How very dare they!” reactions from recruiters who, frankly, needed the shake-up.
I’ve always believed in sales that there is no point obsessing over what your competitors are up to, anyway. Be aware of what else is happening and available, sure – but if you are truly offering a valuable service that people respect, trust, and enjoy using, they will continue to work with you. The only people who felt panic over v.RPO’s launch are surely those who knew deep down they weren’t offering that type of service.
Generalist recruitment – the type where we chase everything and will work on any type of role, in any industry or sector, with no quality networks built or proactive sourcing done, ever – is dead. That, really, is the crux of it. That type of recruitment is not a value-add service. It’s a costly, exhausting process for many businesses, usually highly contingent and therefore costly and exhausting for recruiters, too. Surely you’re tired of working that way? Our best work is done when allowed to be truly consultative. We all know that. Exclusivity is the dream. It’s also damn near impossible to get for generalist roles.
Because the client is totally capable of doing this themselves.
That’s the crux of it, really. Outsourcing anything-goes recruitment is, for many, simply outsourcing administration. It’s not that managers aren’t capable of conducting a hiring process for those sorts of roles; rather they don’t have the time or resource. So they engage with somebody external. Traditionally, that’s been via an agency; some faux leather compendium-toting whippersnapper keen to close the deal, get the sale and fill that role. They know two or three other agencies have been briefed, all selling the same dream, so they race to the finish line, posting shamefully similar ads, screening the same candidates, rushing through interviews and slam-dunking CVs into the poor hiring managers’ inbox as quickly as humanly possible. Then, at the end, charging a handsome percentage-of-salary fee for the privilege.
That model of recruitment simply doesn’t make sense. It’s outdated, broken, and not fair for either party. So JOYN, a platform that connects businesses with freelance recruiters and then simply charges an hourly rate for services rendered – and pays the recruiter that hourly rate! – makes perfect sense. I mean, imagine working a role and being guaranteed payment for the work you’ve done.
Charming notion, innit.
That’s not to say all agencies suck. There is still absolutely a place for specialist recruitment, and that, dear friends, is how Rice and JOYN co-exist in sweet harmony. We offer two completely different services, and are damn good at each. Neither Jon or Sean have ever believed all agencies are redundant, nor have they set out to undermine all agencies. They believe wholly in the value of a truly specialist recruitment service, and champion this broadly. They are advocates for, not detractors from, and do a pretty stellar job of applying this passion for the industry to both ventures.
Curious to know your thoughts?