It Pays To Be In The Conversation

I recently attended a seminar for in-house recruiters entitled Recruitment Mix Effectiveness. It was hosted by Talent Puzzle, an enterprising and forward thinking young business at the forefront of the recruitment tendering marketplace. I was glad to be invited as it provided some useful insight for me into what inhouse recruiters are thinking and talking about.

These conversations are happening more and more now, and I find it fascinating that, by and large, third party recruiters do not seem to be part of the conversations.

Maybe they are excluded, maybe they are too busy chasing and filling vacancies…whatever the reason I do know that future recruitment models and methodologies are being discussed, and they are none the wiser. It has become apparent to me, whilst interviewing with consultancies, that most seem quite oblivious to what is being talked about…they just aren’t part of the conversation.

RPOs, social media, direct sourcing teams are all irritants and barriers, yet another roadblock on the way to business as it used to be, and it has really shocked me that hardly anyone questions, or even acknowledges, the bigger picture…

The way that companies are going about acquiring talent is changing – the methodologies, expectations and processes are developing on an almost weekly basis – yet most recruitment consultants still try to transact business as if nothing has changed.

From a seminar full of insights and lightbulb moments, I will select 2.

1) It’s behaviours not past experience

There was a very powerful presentation from Roger Philby of Chemistry Group about measurement of quality of hire. From the opening stat that 75% of hires are wrong, to the closing summary of measures (in order of importance/relevance):






this was an impressive case for measurement of quality not cost. I have written on previous blogs about my frustrations with using past performance as the measure for future delivery and here was a thought provoking series of case studies that pretty much underlined my point.

Point to recruiters : Stop hiring based on previous billings and start hiring for the values, insights and emotional intelligence that will enable someone to be successful in your unique culture.

2) There’s nothing that a recruitment supplier can do that an internal recruiter can’t do for themselves

This was something that Simon Ward, Head of UK Recruitment for Legal & General said and it certainly caused some consternation. He did qualify it by saying that the key was in what the internal recruiter CHOSE to do themselves, and also pointing out that third party suppliers were friend, not foe. However his most telling soundbite, in my opinion, was

‘Third party recruiters can’t articulate what value they add, so we beat them up over fees’

Point to recruiters : know what value you add and what you can do for a client that they can’t do for themselves. If you can’t do either, then move on…there are no long term, productive relationships to be formed.

I could go on. Another seminar, another transferral of ideas between inhouse recruiters, HR Directors, alternative recruitment model providers, futurologists and social recruiters…and good old transactional recruitment companies are nowhere to be seen.

Oblivious? Yes.

Irrelevant? Maybe.

Part of the conversation? No.

Maybe they’re just too busy trying to make money to find out what their clients want from them in future.

Mind you, if they don’t know what their clients will be buying in future then maybe those income streams will be drying up a little quicker than they anticipate.

9 thoughts on “It Pays To Be In The Conversation

  1. Mervyn

    One particular sentence in there jumps out at me:

    “There’s nothing that a recruitment supplier can do that an internal recruiter can’t do for themselves”

    I’d just add a few words.

    “There’s nothing that a recruitment supplier can do that an internal recruiter can’t do for themselves – and better”

    1. Throwing down the gauntlet Graham! The key here was that it was a matter of what internal recruiters chose to do for themselves. Simon did see the relationship as a partnership with third party recruiters as friends not foes.

  2. Lots to reflect on here. But I think the point around recruiters not being clear on how they can add value is so often true. Which only reinforces the assumption, wrongly in my opinion, that all recruiters are pretty much of a muchness.

    And if hiring companies are honest they will know this assumption is wrong (just an easy option). When they get crap service they are happy to tar the whole industry with the same brush but when they get great service recognition should be more forthcoming. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not crying out for frequent pats on the back, but hiring employers need to work together with recruiters to ensure that all aspects of the hiring process are brilliant – and that includes the initial (and critical) front end briefing process. It’s often rushed and treated with little respect. And to change that has to be everyone’s responsibility. All too often there is an adversarial approach from recruiters, be they agency, in-house or RPO. Time to work together more?I think so. I hope so.

    That said, agency recruiters do need to think how not just to evolve but to reinvent themselves to a degree. It keeps me awake at night thinking how we can do this, but I’ll continue to seek it out and not rest on my laurels!

    Great post Mervyn.

    1. Interesting points Andy, I doubt many other recruiters lose sleep thinking about how to better improve their service. You are one of the most passionate and dedicated recruiters that I have worked with and one of the few whose clients can probably genuinely say adds value.

  3. Great post there Mervyn, and sounded like an interesting session! Wish I’d been there. The priority order of effective metrics stands out a lot to me – it’s the order I’ve used in my recent hire of a developer for my team. That said, it would depend potentially on the role – some organisations can’t get away from a “got an emergency and need someone to deliver effectively from day one!” scenario. In this case, highly relevent past experience would have to sit higher up the priority list I think, although there’s an argument for bringing in contract skills for this type of role, with an aim of recruiting for perm later using the priority list you gave…

    Anyway, an interesting read Mervyn – thanks!

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