Recruitment companies looking to capitalise on the improving economy should relegate the 360-degree recruiter model to the past, says industry advisor Greg Savage.
Recruiters that believe the economic recovery will, of its own accord, lead to an improvement in their bottom line are sorely mistaken, Savage told Shortlist.
“In the UK, the economy has gone from recession to boom. There’s massive shortages of staff; there’s lots of vacancies – it’s busy. But recruitment companies are not making more money. Some are, but a lot are still going bust,” he said.
“We’ve got to change our attitude. By that I mean, don’t think that all the old tactics that worked in the old days are going to work. [Recruiters have] got to change that. They’ve got to develop a very sophisticated candidate strategy. They’ve got to invest much more in marketing and much less in old-school sales.”
Recruitment companies also need to change the way they divide work among their employees, said Savage.
“I don’t think a 360 model works anymore. We need people who are skilled at esourcing. We need people who are skilled networkers. We need job fillers,” he said.
“Part of the reason recruitment’s dysfunctional and so many people don’t make it is because we take someone who’s an excellent, let’s say, job filler and then we try and turn them into a salesperson. Or we take someone who’s a great salesperson and we say they’ve got to spend all their time esourcing candidates via LinkedIn, and it’s just not their skillset. So we’ve got to divide work up differently.”
One recruitment company already experimenting in this area is Kelly Services which, in addition to its 360-degree consultants, now has a stream of recruiters who only work on PSAs and are remunerated accordingly.
Recruitment merging with marketing
Recruitment companies also need to invest in hiring more talent with digital skills – something many agencies currently lack, Savage said.
“Owners of recruitment companies do not understand… that recruitment is in fact merging with marketing. All recruitment companies have to almost see themselves as digital marketing agencies and they’re not doing that,” he said.
“The reason they have to do that is because the way business is won [and] the way candidates behave is completely different to the way it was. So we have to be very sophisticated in social media, in CRM and in the use of big data. And I’m seeing very little investment or planning in any of those things.”
Individual recruiters have to be “mini marketers”, building their brand and connecting digitally with talent, said Savage, who will explore the topic in more depth during next year’s RCSA Acumen Series.
“A lot of recruitment companies are still recruiting the wrong sorts of people. They’re recruiting [consultants with] old-school recruitment skills who are not equipped to succeed in this new world… – a world of digital marketing [and] a world of different business development,” he said.
“I’ve had plenty of recruitment company owners say to me, ‘but I hired this big biller and he’s not working out’. Well that’s because they are stuck in a time warp. It’s a kind of harsh thing to say – and it doesn’t mean that because you’re an old-school recruiter you can’t adapt; you can. The point is, you have to.”
Digital marketing can help with one of the industry’s biggest pain points: a lack of innovation in business development, said Savage.
“Most recruitment companies lack any fresh business development tactics. Our industry is stuck in a past era. Obviously there are exceptions, but our business development is [generally] around cold calling, sending out emails, direct mails etc. These things have a place, but they are becoming increasingly ineffective. It’s causing frustration with recruiters who’re spending all their time making calls and speaking to voicemail, and that is just not the road forward,” he said.
Savage said candidate sourcing strategies that rely on old-school techniques will likewise leave recruitment companies “exposed”.
“There’s no sign of recruitment being wiped out. In fact, expenditure on third-party recruiters is growing. So as long as recruitment companies and individuals can develop the skills and the tactics to provide their clients something they can’t get themselves then there is an opportunity to be more successful than ever before,” he said.
“One of the biggest issues is that most agency recruiters… don’t have an innovative talent acquisition strategy, and there’s a lack of understanding that the future for our industry is about building a pipeline of talent that our clients can’t find themselves.”
Integrate technology to improve the “recruiter experience”
Investing in integrated technology systems will also help recruitment companies get an edge, said Savage.
“A lot of people think that their database is about tracking applicants and clients, and obviously it’s that, but it’s got to integrate with social media. It’s got to integrate with the back office and payroll, and it’s got to give them the capability to build a rich experience for their candidates. Most recruitment companies do not have technology that improves the candidate experience,” he said.
Integrated technology can also improve the experience of consultants themselves, Savage said.
“We’ve got to be thinking about the recruiter experience. Does the technology work for them? Do they have digital marketing support? Are they getting training? I think that is a huge competitive advantage,” he said.
“I don’t see very many recruitment companies thinking like that at all. They’re all desperate [for staff]… There’s a huge shortage of good recruiters and what are people doing about that? You don’t give them more money; you create an environment where they can thrive by giving them support.”
Savage advises recruitment companies to prioritise their recruiters alongside candidates and clients.
“We talk about the client experience, the candidate experience – well what about the recruiter? That, we all agree, is the key person in our organisation. Well, you want the best people, you’ve got to give them the tools and the environment in which they can thrive.”
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