Imagine No Recruiters…I Wonder If You Can?

(This blog originally appeared on, click here to see the comments that it attracted)

Every day I go over Putney Bridge on my way to work. This may seem like minutiae of my daily commute in South West London but a couple of weeks ago Putney Bridge became the focus for millions of people all over the world, as it does at the beginning of April every year. The reason?…it’s the starting point for the University Boat Race, and has been for 154 years.

Now you may think that two teams of amateur rowers from the UKs top 2 universities battling it out for 20 minutes over 4 ¼ miles is hardly a reason for so many people to be transfixed, and it has to be said that in the 21st Century I’m not sure of the event’s cultural and sporting significance, which makes me think…

…would anyone miss it if it wasn’t there?

Seriously, the rowing teams of the 2 universities would, some alumni of the universities would, and bar and cafe owners in Putney would…but who else? A lot of people watch it because it’s on and it’s a tradition…but traditions sometimes end.

How about 3rd party recruiters?

I was looking through the most recent figures in the UK from the REC (Recruitment & Employment Confederation) and see that in 2008/09 the total number of permanent placements was 582,803. We’ve got a full time workforce of 21.16 million and estimates of average staff turnover range between 10% and 20%…let’s take a conservative estimate of 15% which would mean 3.17 million job changes a year, of which only 18% were therefore through 3rd party recruiters.

It’s amazing to think that all the permanent recruiters are out there competing for about 20% of the job move market. Put another way, 80% of hires are NOT made through recruiters…that’s 4 out of 5. Sounds incredible doesn’t it?

Which makes me wonder…

…would anyone miss us if we weren’t there?

What do you think?

Would 80% of hiring processes remain unaffected?

Would the other 20% of clients/candidates find each other without us?

Could companies use the money spent on agency fees to create their own talent pool?

And how could we add value to the 80% who don’t use us?

I realise that I’ve used an estimate, but even if we revise upwards a bit and get nearer to 30%, that’s still a lot of hires (70%) not made through 3rd party recruiters.

So the question for perm recruiters is…

A lot of companies clearly don’t need us or use us…could the rest learn to live without us?

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