It’s the end of the agency world….and I feel fine

I read one of those articles yesterday that talked about the death of recruitment agencies. I say ‘one of those articles’  because it seems that there has been a spate of them in the last few years. Ever since people started talking about new technologies, LinkedIn and DIY recruitment tools , there has been an endless stream of doomsayers predicting how it will bring the agency recruitment industry to it’s knees. The same argument was used when job boards became the new kid on the block. Why pay an agency fee when you can do it just as easy yourself?

To all those pushing this argument …… please shut up ! Not only are you missing  the point of what a good recruiter really does,  you also don’t understand what good recruitment is about.

If recruitment is just about  doing it as cheaply as possible then sure, there are cheaper options than using an agency. But few business decisions are based purely on cost alone; in the same way that you don’t just buy the cheapest car in the showroom. Business decisions are always ultimately about getting the right result. And in recruitment terms that is having the right bum on the right seat. Sure, technology can do a lot of the grunt work and in some cases do it better and quicker than a recruiter. Social media means we all have access to a lot of the same information and automation of processes may be more consistent and  more streamlined.

But I have yet to see the piece of software that can persuade an individual to consider moving jobs or attend an interview. Or one that can negotiate between a client and candidate to get a vacancy filled. Or one that will stay in touch with the favoured candidate and keep them happy whilst the decision maker suddenly disappears for a fortnight. Or one that will stop you making a bad hiring decision because it suddenly hears on the grapevine that  the candidate has been sacked from their last role for gross misconduct. Or one that will be referred new candidates because their friend enjoyed their experience with them. Or one that persuades someone to go back on day 2 of a new job because really the first day was just a bad start and nothing more. Or one that will take a candidate out for coffee. Or one that …. you get the picture !

The same argument has been applied when comparing agency and internal. Why use an agency when you can do it in-house at, supposedly, half the price (mmm…)?  No reason at all – if it is done properly. If it appreciates that  the candidates that are going through your awesome,  automated recruitment system  are also being courted by awesome, persuasive agency recruiters offering them other options . From what I hear, internal recruitment functions have some way to go to be as effective in the art of recruitment as those in agency land.

Of course, an agency recruiter has to be bloody good at what they do. Otherwise their fees don’t make sense and the argument falls down very quickly. But if they are delivering a better result than anything or anyone else , then why will they disappear ? So to all those people who continue to preach  the death of recruitment agencies, take it from a successful agency recruiter….. “It’s the end of the world….and I feel fine!”

Luke Collard

16 thoughts on “It’s the end of the agency world….and I feel fine”

  1. Great post Luke – it is all that behind the scenes ‘stuff’ that we do that clients don’t see and probably don’t understand, but of course that is where the value is! The negotiation, coaching, managing, supporting that goes into talent management is a full-time job that requires a huge amount of effort, skill and persistence! Love your post. The recruitment industry is alive & well.

  2. It was the end of the recruitment when the internet arrived, then email, then Job Boards, then Linkedin and other Social media platforms. Yadada yadda yadda, there are 4 + agencies in BRW’s fast starters list, and half them have only been established in the last 3 or 4 years, so before you decide to write an article on the death of recruitment to proclaim self importance, think to yourself, how are these guys on the Fast Starters list if it’s dooms day. great Article Guys. Although one that caught my nerve 🙂

    1. Exactly Nathan -I think most of the authors of these types of articles are not and have never worked in recruitment, and therefore don’t get it (and are really in no place to comment). They come across as pretty stupid to those of us who actually know what’s going on. Thanks for the comments.

  3. “From what I hear, internal recruitment functions have some way to go to be as effective in the art of recruitment as those in agency land.” Hear! Hear! They spend thousands and thousands on clunky, inadequate recruitment systems that lack any intelligence or credibility (Taleo, anyone?) without any thought as to how the applicants experience is impacting on their brand. I’m a Recruitment professional who was recently looking for work and the experience was awful. No responses, automated responses (only when you know the role has been filled) etc etc. No wonder candidates ask that they are removed from databases, organisations are killing their own brand.

    1. Thanks for your comments Ed. I wouldn’t wan to tarnish every internal recruiter with the same brush but, as you say, internal model is not the holy grail that some make it out to be. And neither is technology by itself.

  4. very encouraging post luke. Here in Cape Town (we might be a little bit behind the curve) the whole ‘social media/linkedin/diy’ thing is exploding. I think it’ll take a year or so b4 people realise its not the golden goose and come back to the tried and tested agency recruitment. A friend of mine works in marketing in London and he draws the same comparision between the rise of social media vs tv/press/radio, the former not being half as effective as the trailblazers had led us to believe.

  5. “To all those pushing this argument …… please shut up ! Not only are you missing the point of what a good recruiter really does, you also don’t understand what good recruitment is about.”

    I agree with your comment Luke, but… Unfortunately there are far more bad recruiters than good, which continues to give the industry a bad name. The agency culture of “hit your monthly target at all costs or risk being fired” leads to many consultants doing anything to make a placement, to the detriment of the candidate, client and reputation of the industry as a whole.

  6. Interesting reading and great insight! I haven’t been in the industry long enough to know about recruitment agencies, but I agree! Technology has killed relationships, both personal and professional, even down to job loss with supermarket checkouts with self checkouts. Could this be the same for recruiters… Bit deep but you get the jist

    1. I know this post is a little older, I just wanted to say “Great conversation to follow” I have been doing tech recruiting since 95 and stay true to the fact that no new technology will give any candidate the reassurance or confidence to make a life decision trusting enough to give up their current job/benefits…… a seasoned recruiter with compassion in their voice and industry knowledge is the key. Last I spoke with Brass Ring……

  7. And let’s not forget the ability of the Agency recruiter to get to people that the company internal staff doesn’t even know exist.
    We call everyone that can do the job we’re hired to find candidates for. We call every company that performs the functions and find out who their widget designer is.
    Not sure it’s all together legal for internal recruiters to attack it that way.
    “We’re not dead yet”

  8. Great post. I’ve witnessed a client who tried to oust their agencies over the course of one quarter. Internal Recruiters were instantly overloaded. Hiring Managers and HR recoiled at having 2-3 times their normal level of responsibilities. All in all a fabulous experiment 😉

  9. Top post mate. I understand the idea of companies hiring ‘internal recruiters’ to fill their vacancies, but find it funny when those internal recruiters can’t fill the roles and end up working with us (agency recruiters) anyway. What is the point of bringing it inhouse in the first place? Big waste of money if you ask me. Job board sites like seek are great for your average Joe, low level technical roles (IT recruitment), but if you are looking for specialist, niche skills- you will be lucky to get one or two good responses from your ad.

  10. Great post Luke – if I hear one more post from ‘respected recruitment leaders’ talking about how grave our situation is as agency recruiters I’m going to have a seizure! Cheers for the positivity 🙂

  11. I absolutely loved this, I initially hated it based on subject title but it’s entirely accurate. I feel that my clients are learning to trust on me on CV’s that they would initially rule out and as a consequence they are taking on candidates who could have been missed. Let’s not forget the time it takes to shortlist, qualify and network with the best candidates. Linkedin does none of the above!

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