03 August 2009

Raising the bar - what recruiters need to dramatically improve

It's been an interesting week of reading on the Recruiter Daily website. Job seeker advocate website EvenItUp! has been very public in countering the opening of voting in the SARA awards with their own job seeker survey as well as publishing a 10 point job seeker charter. 

The RCSA has hit back with a stated public commitment to ‘increase its focus on candidate education to address some of the common criticisms and misunderstandings about the recruitment industry'

Even after a very public denial via ShortList 4 months ago by CEO, Luke Mullins, Gemteq Executive continue to receive a lot of negative blogger comments about alleged fake job advertisements being posted. 

Just what the recruitment sector needs right now (not!) - resourceful and organised agitators generating unhelpful publicity just to put the icing on the cake of awful profit results, huge staff turnover and no sign of an upswing in hiring! 

I don't believe this is a time when we can afford to be defensive. All the issues raised by stakeholders should give us cause for reflection. 

As an industry, there are certainly many things we, need to dramatically improve in. 

Here's my recruitment industry report card and a few thoughts on each area: 

1.   Managing candidate expectations
Does any other free service generate such a bad rap as recruitment? Candidates pay nothing (nor should they or by law, can they) and yet still many complain about what they have experienced at the hands of recruiters. 

I'm not saying there aren't legitimate grievances out there, but a majority of gripes could be minimised if recruiters were significantly better at communicating and managing the expectations of candidates, both verbally and in writing. 

Current rating: 5/10

Summary: Hasn't improved quickly enough to match the increasingly savvy and demanding candidate market 

2.   Interviewing
Interviewing is like serving is for a tennis player or spelling and grammar for a journalist - fundamental to great results! Yet many recruiters still go into interviews not having thoroughly read the candidate's resume, then ask woeful questions like ‘tell me your greatest strengths and weaknesses'. They then also fail to provide any useful feedback to the candidate about their interview performance or what happens next. 

Current rating: 5.5/10

Summary: Extensive training needed immediately 

3.   Educating clients about ethical standards
We have all experienced the frustration of a client continuing to deal with a competitor agency in spite of unethical behavior. Yet how many recruiters consistently provide their clients with a copy of the RCSA Code of Professional Conduct and also explain the areas where breaches most commonly occur? Hmm. I thought so. 

Current rating: 2/10

Summary: Have you read the RCSA Code of Professional Conduct? 

4.   Sourcing candidates
There's nothing wrong with job boards. It's just that increasingly, the best candidates are found by other means (mostly via direct sourcing using social media sites, Boolean searches and personal networks). Most recruitment agencies are stuck in the ‘post-and-pray' world while innovative corporates like Deloitte, Coca-Cola Amatil and others, are dramatically reducing their agency use because 95% of the time, they can recruit the required talent better, faster and cheaper themselves.  

Current rating: 5/10

Summary: ‘advertising is the tax you pay for being unremarkable' - Robert Stephens  

5.   Writing job ads
If I read another ad that promises an ‘exciting opportunity' for a ‘dynamic, motivated individual' who is ‘flexible', a ‘team player' and with ‘excellent communication skills' and a ‘can-do attitude' ... I think I will scream.  

Current rating: 4/10

Summary: Buy a thesaurus.   

6.   Getting paid for what you do
How many hours, over the past 12 months, have you invested in working on assignments that you didn't fill? Was your investment worth the $0 return? Are you happy to continue down this path of only getting paid for about ¼ of your month's work? 

Current rating: 3/10

Summary: What products or services do your clients provide gratis

7.   Investing in professional development
‘Trial and error' is a very slow, expensive and potentially demoralising path to achieving high performance. Given how financially and personally rewarding success as a recruiter can be, it seems ludicrous that individual performance improvement is left to chance and hope. 

Current rating: 3/10

Summary: Greg Savage and Tony Milligan believe in, invest in and conduct a lot of training. Greg Savage's and Tony Milligan's respective businesses are highly profitable. I suspect they are onto something ... what do you think?



The recruitment sector in Australia and around the world, is currently facing a huge challenge. 

It's not the GFC. There have been plenty of downturns and recessions before. 

It's relevance. 

A lot of money has been made by a vast majority of recruiters using a business model that has been unchanged since recruitment agencies began. Sure the technology is vastly different (card system anybody?) but the fundamentals remain the same. 

Agency finds client. Agency wins job. Agency finds candidates. Agency makes placement. Agency sends invoice. 

The bar has been low for a long time. 

I can't wait to see which recruitment company is willing to swallow the truth serum or reality pills, then invest the time, skill, commitment and money it will take to truly raise the bar, permanently. And by doing so, set a shining example for the rest of the recruitment sector. 

Who's game?

2 comments:

  1. Perhaps the RCSA should become useful! What you are forgetting is those firms with the highest instances of unethical behaviors are the ones that pay the RCSA their fees - they aren't going to chew their noses off are they? All good to show clients, but what part of it can ever be enforced and by who? The RCSA ha!

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  2. The RCSA investigates all allegations of unethical behaviour made againts its members when those allegations are made in writing. The RCSA does not have the resource to be the 'policeman on the beat'.

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