If it looks like a rat, smells like a rat, and sounds like a rat, then it probably is a rat. Or so they say. Just who they are is open to debate. In recent years there has been a groundswell of Technology Consulting firms who are offering services that, to someone as cynical as me, could be described as *hushed-tones* Recruitment. It would seem however, that these firms are smarter than most of us. They realise that cold calling a business and calling yourself a recruiter produces the same reaction as finding a turd on your pillow. Instead these firms use terms like Resourcing as a Service, and outsourced PMO. This repositioning also means that they are not bound by the evil shackles of Preferred Supplier Agreements and its ginger step-child, the All of Government panel.
I know about a few of these companies as I’ve tried, with limited success, to recruit recruiters for them. Some would argue that by this very action alone, they are actually recruitment firms, but let’s park that for a moment. The conversations typically goes as follows:
Client: We’re a technology consulting firm that also offers resourcing services.
SW: Resourcing? What? Like recruitment?
C: No, no, no, we’re not a recruitment company! Some of our clients need IT contractors. We source these and place them on an hourly rate.
SW: How do you make money?
C: We charge them out at one price and pay the contractor another.
SW: So like recruitment?
C: Would you stop with the recruitment stuff??! Anyway, we’re looking to hire an experienced agency IT recruiter who wants to get out of agency recruitment. Their job will be to find contractors for existing clients, and also win new clients through BD and place IT contractors into them.
You get my point I’m sure. McDonald’s can call themselves Restaurants all they like, but, after 20 nuggs at 2am do you tell your wife that you were late dining “Mediterranean-style” in a restaurant? Well, maybe you do, but that says more about your relationship with your wife than your definition of a restaurant you filthy animal. Maybe we’ve convinced ourselves that just by saying, we are. Perhaps in these times of being instafamous for doing fuckall apart from bearing your large bumcheeks, just claiming to be famous, makes you….famous. I’m perhaps slightly old-fashioned in that I think actions speak louder than words. If you ever go to Los Angeles, you’ll find bars and restaurants all staffed by “actors” who are “between jobs”. No mate, you’re a barman until I see you in MacGyver. And if you’re filling IT vacancies to make margin on hourly rate, then have a guess what I’m going to call you? And who do these firms compete against? Recruitment Agencies. How to they make money? Through margin and perm placements. Are they just recruitment rebranded? Mostly. Is our industry so tarnished that this is necessary? Arguably yes.
In the defense of some of these businesses, a number have moved to a more honest description of what they do. I notice that Techspace now describe themselves as a “IT recruitment and technology company”, which is a fair assessment of their services. I’m pretty sure this is a newish development as I seem to remember no mention of the word “recruitment” previously. Likewise, Optimation have opted (ho!ho!) to launch a separate recruitment brand in Presto Resourcing. Good on ’em. Many of these firms actually start as bona fide consulting firms. However, after utilising a contractor to help complete a project, the allure of clipping the ticket versus hiring and retaining a bench seems just too much to resist. There is still just so much money in IT recruitment.
As a career recruiter, I know how negatively our industry is perceived. However, would it not be more satisfying improving our reputation by providing a fantastic service, as opposed to pretending to be something that we’re not? It was Shakespeare who said a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. In this instance, it’s a recruitment agency, not a rose. And it doesn’t smell sweet. It smells of Lynx Africa and stale cigarettes.
If I’m honest, I still don’t think I understand the difference between an IT Consulting firm offering resourcing, and an IT Recruitment company. If you work for one, or once did, perhaps you could help a brother out and comment below?