04 May 2010

Rec-to-recs: What should they deliver?

The recruitment-to-recruitment industry (r2r) in Australia was born in 1992 when Rosemary Scott, bored with her brief taste of retirement after selling Scottstaff a few years earlier, decided to launch Scott Recruitment Services (SRS).

The concept of recruiters using a recruitment agency to source their own staff, wasn't one that was warmly or rapidly embraced.

Graeham Pratt (Ashworth Consulting) both Mary Dowrick (Dowrick) all opened r2r businesses in the mid 1990s and were the forerunners of a swarm of aggressive, new entrants in the r2r space.

This coincided with the rapid growth of the recruitment industry, which piggy-backed Australia's mid to late 1990s economic recovery and subsequent jobs growth.

Fast forward a dozen or so years and the r2r market is slowly recovering after what can only be described as a nightmare past 18 months.

One of the higher profile agencies, Marker Consulting, went into administration in May 2009 on the back of a collapsing r2r market and unpaid superannuation to current and former staff.

The sale of the Dowrick business in early 2009 had complications, turned messy and the final result was that offices closed and for the past 12 months, Dowrick has been a sole owner/operator virtual business.

Hughes Recruitment was sold by Tink Hughes in February 2009. Twelve months later, she purchased the business back.

The ProShortlist website claims to list all the current r2rs in the Australian market, and there's 32 company names on the list. Most of those appear to be businesses with one or two employees and no permanent office.

It seems Rosemary Scott's experience of working through previous recessions has stood her in good stead as she is the only player left with any sort of claims to having a national business (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth).

So after all this chaos and change, does the r2r industry have a future? Is it still relevant? Does it provide a worthwhile service? Is it value for money? Does it need to change?

My answer to these five questions is yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.

So what needs to change?

Well, I believe clients of r2rs need to demand more rigourously screened and assessed candidates. It's been too easy for r2rs to simply conduct a cursory interview and then refer the candidate to a client or clients with nothing more than the candidate's resume and a few comments or bullet points in a covering email.

The major area of improvement in providing this higher standard of screening and assessment, is in the type and amount of hard data that should be easily obtainable from effectively interviewing an experienced recruiter. Here are some suggestions for what an effective r2r agency should detail with their candidate referrals:

1. Their billing history
Both year-to-date net margin/gross profit (temp) and/or perm billings as well as previous full-year results. Any consultant who cannot (or will not) provide this data to a r2r consultant, shouldn't be referred.

2. Their target and actual KPI's
Calls, visits, interviews, floats, jobs generated and job filled ratio are just some of the activities and results that recruiters are (or certainly should be) performance managed on and therefore provided to any prospective employee.

3. Their business development record
If the consultant is being considered for a role that includes business development (both new clients and within existing clients), then information about the number of new clients won, value of work won, growth of billings within clients and growth in the share of client recruitment spend, with clear timeframes, should be included.

What about the clients of r2rs? What do they have to do to raise the bar for themselves and by association, their r2r partner(s)?

I would suggest that documenting a clear job description and performance expectations (both results and behaviours) is a very good start. Just as important is providing a competency map, model or framework to the r2r and asking them to provide a candidate rating for each competency in that model.

As we all know having a certain amount of experience at doing something provides no guarantee of competency (so why do recruiters keep asking for X years experience in their ads?) therefore making assumptions about an experienced recruiter's level of competence is just asking for trouble.

If you are interested in hiring potential high performers, whether in recruitment or elsewhere, then Daniel Goleman suggests in Working with Emotional Intelligence (Bloomsbury, 1998, page 113) that high performers within organisations possess the following three motivation competencies:

• Achievement Drive: striving to improve or meet a standard of excellence

• Commitment: embracing the organisation's or group's vision and goals

• Initiative and Optimism: twin competencies that mobilise people toseize opportunities and allow them to take setbacks and obstacles in their stride

I doubt I would get too much argument from recruitment company owners and managers, that these three motivation competencies are an important part of the make-up of a high performing recruiter.

So, if nothing else, demand that your r2r provide a thorough competency assessment against these three competencies for any candidate they refer!

Clients of r2rs need to ensure they provide the r2r with the specific behaviour that they regard as, at least, satisfactory for each competency. The r2r consultant then knows exactly what answers to look for when assessing the competency in an interview and then validating it in a reference check.

Even though the three high performance motivation competencies, identified by Goleman, would be the same competencies desired by owners and managers, the length and breadth of the country, the actual specific behavior sought will differ. These differences will depend upon the company or team culture and the performance expectations of the actual role.

The high performance competency of commitment might, for example, in a high-growth, middle-market, Sydney recruitment agency, translate to a behaviour of regularly working past 6pm and socialising with clients and candidates in the evening once or twice a week. This same competency commitment, in a suburban Brisbane industrial agency, for example, might involve working until 6pm once or twice a month and being rostered on to take after-hours calls once per fortnight.

One of these behaviours, demonstrating commitment, is not better than the other - they are just different and unless the r2r knows what specific behaviours are sought by each client, then they are just guessing whether there is a genuine competency match each time they make a candidate referral.

Competency mapping is not especially hard to do ... it just takes a bit of time and a lot of commitment, to see through.

So, as somebody committed to a thriving recruitment industry (and by association a thriving recruitment-to-recruitment industry), here's my challenge:

To recruitment company owners and managers: Provide much more specific information, especially a competency model, to your r2r and request (demand?) that this information be used to thoroughly assess each prospective candidate before they are referred.

To rec-to-recs: Ask your clients for a competency map that details specific behaviours, attached to clearly defined competencies. Then ensure that you provide the documented evidence that your referred candidates possess both the requested minimum previous performance level (ie hard data) and the minimum competency match.

If both these challenges are taken up successfully, then I predict much happier clients and much happier rec-to-recs because the rate of r2r-placed candidates that stay at, and perform for, their new employer, will soar.

38 comments:

  1. Ross,

    Excellent post. I have tried to use r2r consultants twice in the last few years. Both times with far less than satisfying results.

    We try to eat our dogfood, and wanted to retain a r2r to find someone for Mindset. The concept of retained search seemed alien to both companies and we were forced to use a contingent model. I guess we got what we paid for. It seemed a shame that the worst behavours of flick and stick contingency recruiters were exemplified by the two r2r recruiters we attempted to use.

    Unfortunately for them, once (twice in our case) bitten, twice shy. I doubt we'd try one again.

    Aaron

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  2. Ross,

    I have to say that having been placed in my current role with a very good r2r, your comments have left me feeling that you are really writing this with the large recruiters in mind.

    I joined a small but highly reputable business, one that was keen on what we should be telling our clients to hire on; cultural values, outlook, experience and fit - not KPI, skill based hiring, sales calls made.

    Are we really now in a cynical world where the "big boys" have turned the hiring process of recruitment professionals into a sales focused arrogant and money driven led campaign - where only the best performers on paper (who invariably do not truly "consult") get the jobs.

    My r2r had a good relationship with the client, understood the brief, introduced me into a professional process which allowed me to explore their values as well as them mine. I will and actively do recommend my r2r because he wasn't about "flick and stick" but about relationships, patience and not wasting the clients time with people who weren't right.....there's a lesson there somewhere.......

    T (Melbourne)

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  3. With the prevalence of recruiters on LinkedIn, there is absolutely no need to use a R2R anymore. I can see this recruitment specialistion dying off. Every single recruiter I know of is on LinkedIn, overseas and in Australia.

    I certainly wouldn't use a R2R to find my consultants. Most of the rec-2-recs are usually failed consultants in another specialisation anyway and go into rec-2-rec as they think it is an easy touch. CV circulators the lot of them!

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  4. No, my post is not just relevant for or targeted at the recruitment agency 'big boys'. Achieving target billings and target KPIs should be a goal for all recruiters regardless of size, specialisation or location.

    Large recruiters may set these targets higher because there are more support resources (eg admin staff, advertising budget etc) so achievement or non-achievement of billing or KPI targets doesn't mean the recruiter concerned is 'good' or 'bad' as it's all got to be taken in context (eg cold desk, new market, etc).

    What I am arguing is that whatever these results (billings and KPI) are for the recruiter being represented by a r2r it should be gained by the r2r and communicated to potential clients. It's up to the client to then decide what that relevance, if any, that specific data has for them in assessing that recruiter's fit for their team and organisation.

    It sounds like you had an excellent experience with a r2r who made the right referral for you so if you would like to give them a plug then go right ahead.

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  5. Happy to give the plug - Hemisphere Consulting, Andy Norton.

    I had a relationship with Andy that stretched back over many years and we had discussed my long term objectives - which he delivered upon.

    Nice comments from the other Anon by the way, not stereotypical in anyway... "Most of the rec-2-recs are usually failed consultants in another specialisation anyway and go into rec-2-rec as they think it is an easy touch". Just because you've had a bad experience, shouldn't mean you should be so close-minded and assume they're all the same! If clients thought like this, we'd all be out of business because they wouldn't use recruiters!

    T, Melbourne

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  6. Tony Crane5/5/10 12:29 PM

    I'm Tony Crane, the founding MD of Hemisphere Consulting. I rarely read recruitment blogs and dont think I have ever posted on one, however there were a couple of points on here which have prompted me to respond;

    T, Melbourne, thanks for your comments on Andy in our Melbourne office. I would like to think his service levels and his understanding/knowledge of the Melbourne market typify the approach that I wanted our business to be about when we launched in 2002.

    To the other "Anonymous" posting at 7.30am, far from being failed recruiters, our small team of consultants have all been successful and high revenue generators in their recruitment careers. Above and beyond that however, and of much more importance to me than their billing history are qualities they possess; high levels of integrity, service driven mentality and an ethical approach to everyone that they deal with. We genuinely believe in delivering a service which is unbiased and impartial.

    We are not perfect, but we do try to go 'above and beyond' for our clients and candidates.

    Certainly 2009 was a tough year for all, no more so the recruitment to recruitment market than any other, but when directors or consultants of search/selection firms said to me last year "I would hate to be in your market right now", I could (and did) respond with the utmost conviction that I would much rather be in my market than theirs. Why? Well, our firms enjoys a huge amount of repeat business, we have a client base that willingly engages us on a retained basis, we have very little fee pressure and we have very little competition in the market (even if Ross Clennett's figure of 32 R2Rs is correct, and very few of those would be 'real' operations, it is still a very small number)

    Would I prefer to work in an accounting recruitment firm with at least a couple of hundred other recruitment firms and a thousand recruitment consultants as competition? No thank you very much.

    To 'Anonymous who wouldnt use another R2R after two bad experiences', I can empathise. Before setting up this business I was a hiring manager with two executive recruitment firms in London and Sydney and had virtually no success in working with anyone who wanted to take the time to understand what I/we were looking for.

    Personally I liken it to Financial Advisers. I went through five poor experiences over 10 years before eventually finding one who listened to me, wanted my business badly enough and tailored a service accordingly rather than try to sell me the only methodology they used. He still has my business today.

    Thanks for listening....

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  7. I'm going to add my 2 cents worth by agreeing with the anon post by saying if any recruitment sector is going to go under in the future - it will be r2r's. We pride ourselves on being recruitment consultants ourselves - this is what we tell all our clients and why they use us. If we then cannot find our own consultants to work for us and have to engage a r2r to do the job - heaven help us ! With LinkedIn and the hundreds of other outlets & portals to be able to find good consultants in this market, if you can't find your own - get out of the recuitment game.

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  8. Tony Crane5/5/10 1:47 PM

    Anonymous (though I would prefer to address you personally), your comment still misses the point that the whole premise of recruitment consulting involves two sets of people with similar yet different needs. Surely the candidates your recruitment firm works with value the advice and service from yourself and/or your consultants.

    Most certainly recruitment firms should be able to find their own consultants, and some do, including our own clients, quite successfully.

    However, much as chartered accounting practices, law firms and other organisations should be able to find their own specialist accountants and lawyers et al (after all isnt that what they specialise in) it just isnt always that simple.

    Anyone looking for career move (not just a job) just doesnt always have the time to assess the market themselves, and if gainfully employed they certainly want to keep a level of anonymity which cannot always be afforded them by direct approaches.

    The point is that recruitment consultants should also feel they can rely on the advice of independant specialists; a firm or an individual who can play an active role in managing their careers much as the recruiter does with their own candidates -whatever market or industry they specialise in.

    After all, if we cant provide a decent level of service to one of our own kind - heaven help us.

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  9. absolutely spot on Tony. I can only assume that our final Anon is a high performer who has been with one business a while and worked their way up...... or something a little less complimentary......

    Every consultant goes through a life-cycle of their own - usually maturing to the level where they want to give more to a business rather than just being either "sales-led" or "money-motivated".

    Some of our larger recruitment colleagues (and I've worked for two of the biggest so can speak from experience) are too caught up in achieving targets and doing their day job to have the time to totally consider a move that will be right for them.

    So in short (or long now!) as much advice and external management of your career and potential moves are welcome - not aggressive headhunt calls by someone who has their best interest at heart!

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  10. This sounds like a 50/50 battle here as I agree with the anon that wrote agencies should find their own talent. We have used r2r's in the past & found them to be quite poor and employed less that average recruiters who failed in their chosen markets and have fallen into what could be deemed the easiest sector to recruit for - r2r.

    We have no problems attracting talent and in this period of post 2009 layoff's, have many direct applications coming in daily. I would like to think we are "one of the big ones" as descibed in another post - but do agree that if we can't find our own staff as recruitment professionals ourselves, then I would seriously question the make up of our staff chartered with that role to do so.

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  11. As one Anon said to another "is a high performer who has been with one business a while and worked their way up, or something a little less complimentary......" ..... just to clarify, I have run & managed some of the largest recruitment businesses in Asia & Australia.

    I appreciate that R2R's have plenty of satisfied clients & good luck to them but I still think we as recruitment experts should be the ones who can find thier own talent.

    Is this not what we tell our clients & customers that we are highly experienced in doing ? I just cannot fathom how a recruitment agency cannot locate their own talent nor draw good consultants towards them via internal procedures which are specifically built to do so. Paying a r2r to do the work that we are specific experts in troubles me.

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  12. Good article again Ross & looks like we have some lively debate going on here.

    I'm going to weigh into the equation by also saying that as an experienced recruitment professional, running multiple recruitment branches around the country - I would not use a rec-to-rec as this is my profession, what we are good at and if we can't find our own staff - how can be claim to assist the customers we deal with in finding people for them ?

    Same goes with consultants looking for new opportunities. I wouldn't employ someone via a rec-to-rec as I see that as a lazy way out for a consultant. Any good consultant, who is worth their weight in gold, should be a strong business developer and if they cannot source out their own next opportunity, again I would question just how good they actually are.

    Good luck to Rosemary Scott, Tink Hughes, Graeham Pratt and Mary Dowrick that you mentioned - all pioneers. But the social technology & networking age has now arrived that if an agency cannot find their own talent today or are too lazy to try to do so, I hope the rec-to-rec's still going currently make lots of money from them while they can.

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  13. I’m a Rec to Rec and I’m shocked by some of the comments in this post.
    Good Rec to Rec’s may not be a dime a dozen but they do exist.
    Regarding the apprehension around Rec to Recs “if I recruit...” If you’re recruiting the same manner as a Rec to Rec in your industry you’re not very good. We have a different market and our recruitment process is very different. I can understand why you would assume the processes and approach are the same but they’re not and assumptions don’t make intelligent business decisions.
    Working on behalf of candidates I can inform you I’ve recruited resourcers through to 500 mill turn over Directors. Generally the people that don’t see the value are the ones at the lower end of the scale.
    Are you worried about cost?
    As a manager you should realise recruitment is a tax deductable business expense. My role for 3 years was mapping researching and meeting with every single top billing IT Recruiter in Sydney and I can tell you many of these so called celebrities are working with multiple resourcers on PSA accounts that they had nothing to do with obtaining. Do their resumes reflect this? No.
    Let’s go back to the cost:
    Say I charge you 10K for my fees then you claim tax and my offering has cost you 6.5K.
    For someone I can verify has generated 400K in a financial down turn possibly with less backing, no resources and from a cold desk. For 6.5K Is it worth it ?
    Let’s say you as a “Global Manager” get on the recruitment trail for a specialised consultant. For arguments sake you can market map and hold over 1000 meetings in 4 weeks as opposed to my 3 years. Is your wage and time off for 4 weeks worth more or less than 6.5K?
    I can only deduce from your comments you aren’t who you say you are “Anonymous” I don’t think you could run a bun fight in a cake shop.

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  14. As a recently employed Talent Manager for a Sydney based recruitment company and new to this side of the fence (I'm from a traditional HR background), I was asked the other day by my MD should we engage a rec-to-rec to help us in our search for consultants.

    I was shocked by this request & a bit blown away that a recruitment agency would seek the assistance of a recruitment agency to recruit staff. Suffice to say, we shall never be engaging these bottom of the rung ex-recruiters to do a job that we specialise in ourselves.

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  15. Carey Eaton6/5/10 4:10 PM

    Its been a while since I was a recruitment consultant but at the time I always maintained that any recruitment consultant who wanted to find another recruitment consulting job and needed a third party to help them go about it wasn't worth hiring. And any recruitment specialist who couldn't directly recruit their own staff wasn't worth working for.

    Observing the whole industry from SEEK, I've come to appreciate that moves people make from big-end-of-town-generalist to niche-specialist to search are moves that rarely go as smoothly as people think and the skills / approach / cultural fit involved are different and suit some much better than others.

    Accordingly, there is probably quite a good case for rec to rec specialists to help people with these sorts of cross-industry moves or recruitment campaigns.

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  16. Gee Ross, this is getting a bit touchy isn't it !

    I'll chip in & say we used to use rec2rec's, but with the surplus amount of consultants on the market at the moment, I couldn't possibly see the need to anymore. I do agree with you that they are going to have to lift their game significantly in the future to get us to come back as traditionally they have been somewhat of CV pushers looking for a fee.

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  17. Luke Carolan6/5/10 4:23 PM

    lol,

    I like your spark.

    Anonymous, I apologise.
    I didn't realise your perspective was from a HR Recruitment background. I understand why you would have difficulty in seeing the value of market specialised recruitment.

    I do agree it's not required for all businesses

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  18. Hi I am new to this board and must say I am very concerned regarding the comments of Anonymous as it devalues the nature of this site!

    Upon reading your final post anonymous your comments seem much clearer to me, I was wondering how any industry professional could possibly contribute such low value comments. From a HR perspective I completely understand your perspective, being in the office all day dealing with junior recruiters calling you to read off scripts and press for your business can be a strain on any individual. Being a lowly HR professional who has no bearing on the industry, has no control over who is employed, has no grasp of the candidates as you have no market specialisation can provide a skewed view of the industry.
    I can only suggest you get some market vertical specialisation, create a respected name for yourself within the industry which, would take in excess of 5 years and start earning some real money before posting any more comments as to be honest your comments have no value.

    Anonymous but with value!!

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  19. Luke Carolan6/5/10 4:59 PM

    Anonymous Talent Manager,

    Ex HR employed as a “Talent Manager” am I safe to assume you’re employed to “Recruit Recruiters”

    We call that Rec to Rec...

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  20. Ummm, I don't think all the anonymous posts are from the same person ?? One states he/she is from a HR background, but I think all the rest are from different people.

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  21. Throughout my career when I have considered either changing positions or hiring staff, I have always talked to R2Rs as well as looked at opportunities/ looked for people through my own methods.

    As a candidate, I found that the R2Rs were able to give me invaluable market information about the internal goings on of various organisations - including the culture, management style, comparison of commission structures etc. They would listen to what I was looking for and tell me if I was wasting my time in looking at one opportunity they had versus another (which was great because I was busy working hard so didnt want to waste time looking at inappropriate opportunities).

    As a hiring manager, I was provided with candidates whom I may not have had access to otherwise(whilst I was focused on training people and running a recruitment team and business)- also with that came frank appraisals of those candidates.

    This debate seems a little ridiculous to me - I agree with what Luke is saying. An R2R is focused on networking and researching that market space every single day and will therefore have far superior market knowledge than someone recruiting any ole position that comes along.

    Some of the comments I believe are a little unprofessional, naive and troll like eg: "I was shocked by this request & a bit blown away that a recruitment agency would seek the assistance of a recruitment agency to recruit staff. Suffice to say, we shall never be engaging these bottom of the rung ex-recruiters to do a job that we specialise in ourselves." Im sure it wont be too hard for the R2Rs to now work out which recruitment company has recently hired such an enamoring 'Talent Manager' in Sydney :) I think someone has a lot of learning to do about the industry and personally the MD of the recruitment company should maybe be giving a little more guidance and industry training in this instance - but then maybe the MD was testing this person - a test I would say with a sorry ending!

    Im not saying you shouldn't also look for people yourself - why wouldn't you? Of course you would! In recruitment, its in our nature to always be recruiting. But why wouldn't you also engage an R2R who can be your brand champion on the ground?

    Frankly I tire of this kind of pontification - recruitment is recruitment - its not rocket science, though there is an art to it. Did the whole R2R space really need this kind of analytics? eg "So after all this chaos and change, does the r2r industry have a future? Is it still relevant? Does it provide a worthwhile service? Is it value for money? Does it need to change?" Still great response on the blog there Ross, you got a response from me too :)

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  22. I was placed by an r2r a few years ago - happy to give them a plug (Marker Consulting).

    The client brief was very specific, with 3 key criteria:
    1. previous recruitment experience
    2. billing history, KPIs etc.
    3. business development experience and achievements

    I had none of the above, but applied for the advertised role and was called in for an interview immediately. Two weeks later, I got the job.

    How and why?
    Because the r2r consultant who read my CV, interviewed me and placed me, saw the "high achiever" trait in my CV and whilst intervieing me.

    I possessed the 3 "motivation competencies" that Ross mentions in his post:

    1. Achievement Drive
    2. Commitment
    3. Initiative and Optimism

    A really good r2r will know how to seek out and find these competencies in potential candidates, then combine that knowledge with his/her client and its business, its culture, values, visions, etc. and there you have it ... a match made in heaven and ka-ching ka-ching of money-making.

    Did the r2r take a chance in putting me forward, knowing I did not meet the client's 3 key criterion? You betcha!

    Why did she do it, knowing her PSA was up for renewal?

    Because a great recruiter, r2r or otherwise has that rare talent of being able to see outside the square. If you have these the "high achiever" trait ... everything else can been taught, learned or groomed (just don't touch my hair).

    Ignoring the client brief?! Dangerous.

    $18K placement fee for ignoring the client brief?
    Not bad.

    Her placement (me) doubling the KPIs and billing expectation in the first month and every month thereafter? Bloody sensational!

    There's a serious shortage of truly talented r2r's.

    I think we need some r2r2r's (Recruiter to Recruiter to Recruiter) consultants to train the r2r's.

    Ross ... you interested in taking that on?

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  23. Luke Carolan6/5/10 5:43 PM

    I would like to say yes lets train all the bad R2R's. But really...

    Do you want your competition becoming more skilled? Stay away from them Ross! lol

    Jokes aside use these following points to assess the quality of your next engagement with a Rec to Rec.

    When either an agency client or a Recruiter engage with a Rec to Rec, use the following points to ascertain their level of expertise and professionalism.

    1. A good Rec to Rec will book interviews with their agency clients before sending the candidate resume or releasing the candidate’s name. The reason for this is it allows the candidate to apply later directly if a fee is unsuitable. It shows the candidate the opportunity is real and that their Rec to Rec has a strong relationship and understanding of their client.

    2. A good Rec to Rec will have fixed rates. All Rec to Recs should have exactly the same rates for all of their clients, no negotiation. This shows they do not show preference based on commissions. It’s the right thing to do for their clients and candidates.

    3. All Rec to Recs should use a “Right to Represent” document and have it agreed before releasing any details.

    4. The Rec to Rec will not represent any candidate they haven’t held a face to face meeting with and they will not present any candidate to an agency they haven’t held a face to face meeting with (interstate recruitment is an exception).


    5. The Rec to Rec will be honest, your Rec to Rec should be informing you of the best way to secure the best talent, availability, discuss what might be holding you back and jointly work with you on a marketing structure that will give you the best chance at securing talent. They will also operate in a similar manner for their candidate.

    Stick to the above and you will ensure you're dealing with the top end of town.

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  24. Brett Iredale6/5/10 6:08 PM

    My 2 cents. Anonymous blog comments are for blouses.

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  25. This is a sad state of the industry when our agencies & r2r's are attacking each other. Some of the comments in these posts have been very negative and personal type attacks.

    Brett you say anon posts "are for blouses" - no wonder why people stay anonymous when they can as the moment something is posted up which other's don't agree with - out come the attacks.

    I've used r2r's in the past both as an employer and as a candidate - but I do see valid arguments from both camps. It's just a shame to see us all on the same side or the recruitment fence having digs at each other when the market & our industry is still trying to recover from 2009.

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  26. It appears a lot of the rec-2-recs have got their noses out of joint on this topic.

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  27. I am a rec-to-rec consultant in New Zealand and really enjoyed reading through this lively debate. It's one that runs the same way over here in NZ and one that will never be settled. For me the facts are quite simple. My clients are recruitment firms that are experts in their own fields and rightly spend all of their time building networks, knowledge and expertise in their chosen sectors. My candidates are subject-matter experts who spend all of their time winning business and delivering on that business. Neither parties should have the time or the inclination to totally disregard the service I am able to provide, because this is my market of specialisation, where I have the knowledge, the networks and the contacts that can save so much time and money.

    It seems strange saying this, a bit like preaching to the converted. It's amazing that people who believe in the value of recruitment will so easily disregard it when the tables are turned.

    As for the Linked In arguement, well this is true to an extent, but it's the same as an HR Manager telling a recruiter that 'anyone can post an ad on Seek and get a candidate nowadays, why use a recruiter to do it?' It misses the point entirely. A client of mine recently did just that. He had a specific need on a specialist desk and did a search of Linked In, finding 4 potentially suitable candidates. We have a great relationship so he showed me the list and asked for my contribution. I could tell him straight away that one was leaving overseas in 2 weeks time, one was looking to leave the recruitment industry, and the other two I knew well and could contact directly on his behalf. He had one interviewing with him, through me, the following Monday, because I was able to sell her on his unique culture and the nature of the desk on offer, and he saved himslef a whole load of time and effort to concentrate on his own recruitment matters.

    I would never expect a recruitment firm, or a recruiter, to do absolutely no digging and searching themselves, but if you augment that behaviour with the input of a good rec-to-rec then you really have all bases covered.

    My final point about the sub-debate regarding 'anonymous' posts etc. I'm impressed that the rec-to-rec consultants getting pilloried have the front to post their actual names (props Tony Crane and Luke Carolan) whilst many of the doubters decide to hide. Says a lot really.

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  28. HA - very true Jonathan -

    "My final point about the sub-debate regarding 'anonymous' posts etc. I'm impressed that the rec-to-rec consultants getting pilloried have the front to post their actual names (props Tony Crane and Luke Carolan) whilst many of the doubters decide to hide. Says a lot really."

    That's because whilst many in this industry think that rec-2-recs are a waste of money, we may still need to use them to get our next role !

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  29. Some very valid points have been raised.
    It seems some of the r2r's Ross has 'advertised' have been (in my understanding) some of the worst culprits for 'flick and stick'.
    Does the r2r industry need to change? Absolutely!

    There is a post here saying that with Linkedin, r2r's aren't needed anymore. Well, if that is the case, then we don't need a recruitment industry either, right?
    I'm not sure if you want to be seen actively headhunting key people from your close competition do you? If so, go for it, its only your reputation at stake. Have you thought of the consequences?

    The r2r industry does need to change. My suggestion is; if you don't like the standard of service that you are receiving, then instruct your provider on the standard that you expect. If they don't meet that criteria, then don't utilise their services. The same goes for all recruitment businesses. There needs to be a shake up of the industry, however, I don't mind if it doesn't. As long as everybody remembers the art of 'Positive Referral'. If someone is doing a good job, then refer them to your friends and associates. This is the age-old way of creating a standard.

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  30. Thanks everyone for your comments. I would encourage people not to post under 'anonymous' as apart from not knowing who you are it also becomes confusing in tracking which 'anonymous' is which when responses are made to earlier comments.

    Also, I have edited the original post to correct a mistake I made in the original post. I incorrectly stated that Hughes Recruitment was established in the mid-1990's. The correct year was 2003. Thanks to Lisa for letting me know.

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  31. Adam Walker - Conduit Recruitment7/5/10 11:47 AM

    Superb debate going on here. As an agency owner I have used many rec2recs and I have to say have lost faith in them over the years - however good ones do exist. I don't agree with the comment that as recruiters we should be able to find our own recruiters - we are busy making placements in our specialist field and certainly can't cover the recruitment market too. If a rec2rec contacts you with a proven biller who can add fire power to your team - why wouldn't you have a look. Common sense and basic business sense prevails here over a vision that we 'should be able to find our own'. Yeah we should but if we applied that thought to our clients we should be telling them they don't need us!

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  32. IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE MODERATOR:
    PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE POSTING ANY MORE COMMENTS AS "ANONYMOUS".

    Copy and paste the following link into a browser:

    http://rossclennett.blogspot.com/2010/05/anonymous-posts.html

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  33. Top quote - from Jonathan Rice

    "It seems strange saying this, a bit like preaching to the converted. It's amazing that people who believe in the value of recruitment will so easily disregard it when the tables are turned."

    Could not have summed it up better... My personal experience is fantastic with Rec2Rec. I am however, extremely picky when it comes to dealing wit Rec2Rec and researched my options first - even asked for referrals.

    Cheers
    Brad Stewart

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  34. You've stirred up a hornets nest here Ross !

    Is this the most comments you've ever gotten to an article ?

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  35. Jennifer C - Melb7/5/10 3:48 PM

    "It's amazing that people who believe in the value of recruitment will so easily disregard it when the tables are turned."

    If comments here say some agencies don't see the need or relevance for r2r's as they can do it themselves - isn't that the same argument we hear from countless clients each day when we do our cold calls to pitch our services ? Yet we spend so much time educating our clients as to the perceived benefits of our service.

    Which would then make me question, are those who are in a recruitment consultancy type role really doing the role as they believe in what they stand for, or just out to make a quick buck ? We are all effectively doing the same job here, but when it comes to r2r's, it's like feeding time on our own children and out come the claws !

    Thank god it's Friday :-)

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  36. I'm old enough to remember print advertising as being the only medium for advertising for staff.

    We have seen the advent of the internet, procurement systems, referral schemes and job boards. All of these prompting is this the death knell of recruiters

    Yet despite all of these advances, I am fielding calls daily from client organisations willing to pay me big bucks to hire top talent.

    Recruiters in a vertical market have a strong value proposition if they are strong recruiters.

    To suggest that this is different in Rec 2 Rec is foolish.

    To comment anonymously is as much value as an anonymous reference check would be

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  37. Wow imagine the recruitment industry having so much debate about whether to use their own service? Amazing!

    In this year of rebuilding, surely lessons will have been learned about poor recruiter behaviour, transactional servicing and what expectations you all have on recruitment professionals.

    Why on earth would you not get a reputable recruitment professional to do that screening for you. And if looking for new fresh talent from offshore, utilise an R2R to source and screen that talent.

    While I agree a recruiter worth their salt can make their own opportunities, a decent R2R will have an umbrella view of where the opportunities lie as well as who is the good talent, regardless of wether they are in your market or overseas. If you want the best for your profession, for heavens sake support it.

    If you expect our clients to use us, then walk the talk.

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  38. Julie Hamilton12/5/10 1:59 PM

    I've read with great interest all the comments from both sides and as a very experienced rec to rec, I'd like to add to the debate.

    I have more companies ringing me than ever before - that includes the volume of work at the height of the last boom. With very little investment in training and development of staff over the past 18 months, there is a chronic shortage of experienced recruiters and proven billers, yet nearly every company provides me with an identical brief and remuneration structure.

    As rec to recs, the difficulty that we face is that nearly every single recruitment company believes that they are an employer of choice and many simply are not. Try telling them that though! Recruitment owners and Managers have to take responsibilty for their businesses and establish a point of difference that will induce high performers to join their company. They need to be open to solutions that don't just involve "find me a top biller who wants the freedom to do it their way".

    My intention is to provide an honest, value added service to each and every company that I deal with but the reality is that we are almost entirely candidate driven. I don't want to make excuses, but I am constantly saying to companies that I can't take on any other assignments or clients, but I am told "that's OK, just keep an eye out and let us know if you see anyone". It is a very delicate balance to have enough clients that we can provide suitable options for candidates and not have too many companies to represent so that we are seen as disappointing. I'm trying to be honest, but many companies won't listen to what I am saying.

    My best and longest clients are those who are open to my feedback (including that which is negative), understand that perception is reality, keep me fully abreast of what they are doing, partner with me to find solutions to attracting staff and recognise that there are occasions where I simply can't supply.

    The premise of To Kill A Mockingbird was to never judge a man (or woman) until you have walked a mile in their shoes and that premise applies to rec to recs. It is one of the most demanding and difficult sectors to work in. You are consulting to specialists who feel that they know exactly what you do and who judge you based on what are often uninformed and unreasonable expectations.

    Like any sector, there are good and bad - I wouldn't for a second assume that my own record is unblemished, but I do operate with integrity and a genuine desire to respect and be respected. Perhaps like in any industry, the detractors should shop around until they find a rec to rec that they can work with and who will assist them to find solutions, not just bodies.

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