And I want you to show me……
Sadly for me, this was not the summer of love when it came to my dear old friend and acquaintance – the HR Recruitment world. Now I know this will come as a shock to some of you reading who I had the pleasure of meeting. You’ll recall how we laughed and giggled our way through stories of people we both knew, I drank my strong black coffee respectfully even if it tasted like liquidized tar and you thrust your business card at me like the Marlboro man hands out cigarettes. Sometimes you invited me to meet your colleagues who, on arriving, looked about 11 years old and then proceeded to ask me the same questions but in the theme of an interim. Like a recruitment ‘whose line is it anyway’ gameshow..
We went about the formulaic HR recruitment dance in one of your small, unlit, sweaty meeting rooms that was too hot. You asked me those same series of closed questions I could have answered staccato on the phone before you insisted that we needed to meet. We had to meet it was put to me. “No meety, no assignmenty” you said. At the end of our dance, you qualified me in equal terms with the signature ‘we have nothing for you’ in a way that sounded like ‘I’ve realised that you won’t help me make my commission this month so please leave now’. We stood up, you asked me who else I was meeting that day and how far I had travelled ? You always ask me that. You looked like you didn’t care for my answer so I played a tape recording of my 2009 interview response of the exact same question to save my energies for other recruiters later that day. You promised to stay in touch. You never did.
What a candidate experience ? In fact for the HR Recruitment market what is a candidate experience ?
Sometimes you surprised me by phoning afterwards. There was a chance that my 14st of middle aged blubber could help you earn some commission and that set my heart racing. There was a role, you didn’t really understand it but it said role at the top of the page and you’d agreed a rate for it too. You needed an even newer CV from me that covered the 48 hours since we last met and like Challenge Anneka I had 180 minutes to get it to you. The phones began to ring and then my light bulb moment went on – this was a Financial Services opening, guarded by some soulless RPO, who were dishing out the same piece of paper to their PSL. Like bounty hunters the talent search consisted of rallying together as big a multi agency as possible to find that elusive yet available person from the active market.
Despite this I submitted the CV and normal service resumed. You ignored my calls and got irate when you were inadvertently tracked down by me by mistake. No news is certainly not good news. Inside your black hole of recruitment activity, people were being interviewed, offers were being made and roles were being cancelled and redefined. But none of this touched me. Once again, I was cannon fodder in the war for a short term recruitment fix and only the winner would provide the funds for that 2012 Monsoon dress to be replaced.
You see, I’m a pragmatic man, I recognise this saturated and sizeable HR recruitment market operates in a dysfunctional bubble to meet a current need. That model is outdated and with experiences like the above (all too familiar) deserves to be consigned to the history books. Bad enough for a candidate, suicide if you are a client where this mediocre model delivers mediocre results far too often. However organisations need to get off the groove of short termist boom and bust, distressed hiring that is killing their future growth. It seems too many HR recruitment agencies are happy to bounce around the HR market and feed off this dysfunction charging enormous fees, destroying employer brands and wheeling and dealing in the same small, active talent pool. Transactional fees keep the bills paid and who cares if the hire isn’t sustainable, that’ll just create more revenue for more distressed hiring. And so it goes on.
Thankfully, there is a ripple effect taking place that will consume the poor performers in this market and potentially take the whole market down too.
1. There is a recognition that recruitment should move from the high street to in-house with technology enablers becoming more accessible and affordable (plugged into an ATS) which allows the ownership model to be scaled effectively in-house.
2. Candidate experience thankfully shows signs of moving mainstream as a clear differentiator for organisations in a highly transparent market. Agencies invariably too often provide a candidate-centric (for the lucky few) with little eye to the detail of the client brand or DNA.
3. Referrals will become commoditized and take root in talent strategies. Good people know good people and the power of social collaboration means that sharing these will bypass the high street HR agency where only the active market hangs out.
4. Data analytics will grow increasingly important allowing for science-based decisions on hiring to become the norm. Cost containment and increased quality will drive from this and I see nothing that the current high street agency model to provide value in this area as its too fragmented and focussed on pure transaction.
As for you my dear old HR recruitment friend ? You could continue to offer the experience outlined above, hoping that dysfunction and organisational short-sightedness continues to be your best friend. You could continue to operate an incentive model that drives too much focus on commission and the associated short term behaviours to the detriment of higher salaries and annual bonuses, more experienced recruiters and a focus on a truly consultative model that would provide more sustainable talent outcomes for key, niche clients.
In other words, you could react to the disruption and offer a value to your client that goes beyond the one-dimensional quarter to quarter hiring frenzy that served you well in the past. That world is dying and if it consigns with it these awful candidate experiences then the sooner the better.
Finally, as a candidate, as in life, there are choices :
Choose BetterPlacedHR, Choose PSD, Choose Digby Morgan, Choose Oakleaf Partnership, Choose MDH, Choose Badenoch & Clark, Choose Consult, Choose Three Partnership, Choose BiE, Choose Advantage Resourcing, Choose Penna, Choose Frazer Jones, Choose Hoggett Bowers, Choose Hays, Choose Leathwaite, Choose Fortune Hill, Choose Korn Ferry, Choose Spencer Stuart, Choose HRStaffSearch, Choose Carter Morris, Choose OasisHR, Choose Annapurna HR, Choose Michael Page, Choose Morgan McKinley, Choose Archer Mathieson, Choose Eton Bridge, Choose Green Park…..
But why would I want to do a thing like that.
Choose your future. Choose your own network. That’s what I did and that’s how I got placed.
Until next time.
p.s If you are a HR candidate and have been affected by issues of recruitment agency black hole syndrome then please be aware that putting the effort into building your own personal brand and professional network can help provide a way out.