09 March 2010

Maybe recruitment agencies aren't so bad after all

The decision by recruitment agency critic and job seeker advocate, Diane Lee, to discontinue her EventItUp website coincides with the release of the inaugural Executive Monitor report, a joint research project between Phillip Tusing (Destination Talent blog) and niche job board SixFigures.

The report is a summary of the findings from a survey of 1332 Australian executives gathered across the final two months of 2009.

The significant data to highlight from the research specifically with respect to recruitment agencies is the following:

1. 64% of respondents had found at least one job in their career via a recruitment agency.

2. 23.2% of respondents had secured their last job via a recruitment agency (just shading Personal Contacts to rate as #1 in this category).

3. Of all respondents who had used a recruitment agency for their job search at any stage of their career, only 28% regarded their experience as Mainly Unfavourable or Very Unfavourable. Whereas 44% of respondents rated their impressions of recruitment agencies as either Very favourable or Mainly Favourable and the remaining 28% responded as Neutral or No Opinion.

4. Of those respondents who had no personal experience of recruitment firms, only 40% rated their impression as Very Unfavourable or Mainly Unfavourable. This would seem to indicate that these non-users of recruitment agencies are forming their impressions from what they hear from colleagues, friends and family. So we could reasonably conclude that a minority of what they hear is negative.

To put it plainly: Regardless of whether or not they had secured any of their positions via a recruiter, the majority of all respondents were not negative about recruitment agencies.

This is some welcome good news.

Of course, it would be foolish to dismiss the views of a significant minority who are far from fans of recruitment agencies. The opportunities for service improvement in the recruitment industry are many and there are plenty of people who are willing to share how things could be better for both the job seeker and the client.

However let's ensure we keep things in perspective - recruitment agencies say ‘no' to job seekers many more times than we say ‘yes'. A ‘no' could be a rejection of interview based on the resume submitted, a ‘no, we are not short-listing you for our client', or ‘no, after interviewing you the client doesn't want to take your application any further'.

We are constantly disappointing people in an area that most people regard as important and are very emotional about - searching for a new job.

Our critics may howl at the RCSA and the Federal Government, urging them to somehow ‘fix up the recruitment industry' but as hard data demonstrates, there is nothing going on in the recruitment industry that more regulatory intervention will solve.

Listening to our customers and responding to their genuine concerns and complaints remains the way forward. If we choose not to then there are plenty of alternatives that job seekers and clients can choose (and are choosing) to take recruitment agencies out of the job-seeking equation.

In most cases, the free market remains the most powerful form of regulation for our sector.

7 comments:

  1. Thanks Ross - not sure how EvenItUp made it into this article though....

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  2. If the survey participants were gathered from users of the Six Figures site (and I don’t know if that’s the case), wouldn’t this skew the data a little?

    I would think that candidates applying for 35k jobs are less likely to be the recipients of "exceptional customer service" from recruiters than those who are in the 100k+ bracket. Or is it silly of me to suggest a recruiter might treat a candidate differently based on how much commission they are likely to make?

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  3. I'm purely working off your stats Ross, I haven't done further verification of the research.

    Not sure we should be touting:
    "Regardless of whether or not they had secured any of their positions via a recruiter, the majority of all respondents were not negative about recruitment agencies."

    They're not negative but they're definitely not overwhelmingly positive either!

    If 40% of people who've never used us before are unfavourable and 28% of people who've used a recruiter's services are indifferent (indifference would imply we've added no value and that's on top of the other 28% who are unfavourable) then to me that signals a massive failure. Less than half of our customers actually valued the experience. What other business can survive with these market impressions?

    No matter how junior or how "unusable" a candidate is everyone should receive the same servce. You never know who they know or who they'll become.

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  4. " as hard data demonstrates, there is nothing going on in the recruitment industry that more regulatory intervention will solve"

    That's a non sequiter, Ross. There is plenty that regulatory intervention could solve, though it would be a very blunt instrument.

    It's up to every recruiter to raise the perception of the industry by taking care of their candidates. If they don't do that then the industry can expect regulation. Why? Because "Australia", or "Singapore" or "New Zealand" is a brand. If a candidate applies for a job in Australia and does not get treated with respect then the Australian brand gets dragged down. And we are competing with the world. The world is flat . . .

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  5. Ross,

    There is an intentional and malicious attempt by a limited few out in the industry to damage the reputation of the recruitment industry so that there exists the ability to create a valid argument for further regulation of something that does not require any. Of course, regulation would create additional revenue into the coffers of government but I am curious, which bodies stand to gain the most from further regulation? As a side note, myself and several associates have developed a website titled Review Recruiter www.reviewrecruiter.com.au

    Unlike most forums here in Australia, the moderators are intent on presenting a positive impression of the recruitment industry to Australians. I’d encourage anyone in the recruitment market to use this forum as a vehicle to promote their own brands. We receive enough knocks as it is without the BS that’s going on in the industry. If we don’t start singing our own praises, it appears that few will.

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  6. Hi Ross,

    Some great observations here.

    From my perspective there are two crucial services that good recruitment agencies provide.

    1. An intermediary service
    Very similar to brokers in other businesses like insurance, mortgages and car sales, recruitment agencies provide a valuable service to people to save them time and/or money as well as providing a concentrated level of full-time expertise and experience in an area which (for either employer or candidate) is only occasionally part time.

    2. Marketing
    A professional recruitment agency will also know how to market employers to the right candidates and vice-versa. I have had client employers complain to me about recruiters who send them candidates who don't come anywhere near the brief, which loses them all credibility and, inevitably, the account. Our marketing role also adds expertise and experience, and saves clients and candidates time and money.

    Just like any business, there are good and bad recruitment agencies, and like other businesses, as competition increases, good ones are more likely to thrive and survive while bad ones look for something easier to do!

    Regards,

    David

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  7. My own experience demonstrates recruitment agencies need to lift their game. I got knocked back by recruitment agencies on about 20 occasions - not even an interview. So far I have now applied for similar positions directly with 3 employers and got 3 interviews, I was unsuccessful in two (although made an E-list for one of them) and am awaiting the third.

    Goodbye and good riddance to recruitment agencies, if I was an employer I would never use them.

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