by Oliver Duke
Having spent over a decade in the recruitment industry I have seen a significant shift in the way recruiters interact with their candidates. While this is only a personal opinion, on the whole I believe that recruiters have become increasingly lazy over the last 10 years and I mainly attribute that to technology developments in the sector.
Since the introduction of CV job sites such as Monster, TotalJobs etc recruiters have only had to set up the appropriate filters and they can sit back and receive CVs newly uploaded which match the selected criteria. Another probable cause was the arrival of LinkedIn which has created a situation where all recruiters now claim to be headhunters by sending an InMail message highlighting a job offer to an individual who is not necessarily actively seeking a change of roles. When it comes to LinkedIn it is a useful tool for business networking, I do however think that reaching out to a prospective candidate in this manner is very impersonal and could potentially discourage some individuals from starting an engagement with said recruiter.
A decade ago there was still a sense of recruiters being proactive, picking up the phone and making calls to network with good candidates. It could be a call to a candidate you are actively working with, or have recently recruited into a position, asking who else they can recommend for your networking. Market mapping to target key industry players followed again by a call to engage with them around who they would be interested to work for would also build unique candidate networks. If you knew you had a valuable commodity candidate, but no immediate vacancy for them, you would try and create an interest in the market for their services by calling a few companies to highlight their exceptional profile. The key thing was spending a large part of the working day on the phone, building your knowledge base about the market and networking. This I feel is a skill which many more recent recruiters in the industry have lost, or never properly learned in the first place.
In my view a good recruiter is someone who can not only identify unique talent, but actually engages with them to build meaningful relationships and credibility within their sector.
As someone who now operates in Executive Search I get satisfaction when I engage with a potential candidate for a brief where the individual is not present on LinkedIn (Yes there are still a fair number out there!), or their profile does not reflect their experience. That is because I know that the majority of recruiters would not access that individual because they make it difficult for the recruiter to find them or match their experience to a job brief.
Industry at times plays its part in creating an insipid and reactive recruitment industry, by creating Preferred Supplier Lists (PSL’s) and encouraging practices where the lowest bidder and fastest finger first “win” the opportunity to provide candidates to the client vacancy for 12.5% fee. It is also naive for a company to believe that allowing multiple recruiters to supply candidates for their vacancy will allow for a positive, consistent message around their vacancy to be carried to the market.
I have on many occasions heard candidates bemoan the fact that they receive calls by multiple recruiters telling them about the same jobs, or that the LinkedIn recruiter messages they receive appear to be spam which they often ignore. The fact is that changing roles can be stressful, a good recruiter will build rapport and a relationship with their candidates to ensure they are only engaging with them about the right role, with the right company and at the right time.
While I don’t foresee that further advances in technology will make the recruitment industry redundant, I do believe that recruitment businesses need to differentiate by investing in training their employees on engagement techniques and valuing their time, in order to improve the image of the industry and drive quality through improving relationships.
My top advice to new recruiters is to spend time getting to know the key talent in the market you operate in, always ask for a networking referral and emails are OK to confirm things but shouldn’t be your first point of call to start a dialogue.