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What Internal Recruiters Really Want From Agencies

By February 23, 2012No Comments

Nice to see so many of you at the SEEK bash at Auckland Art Gallery last night.  An interesting venue that certainly went a long way to refining the more debauched hedonism of the SEEK Annual Recruitment Awards at the tail end of 2011 (sadly).  And who says we recruiters are an uncultured mob?  I saw many recruiters meandering and ambling their way amongst pieces of New Zealand modern art last night, although I suspect that the toilets being at the other end of the galleries may have had a lot to do with it too.

I was also encouraged to see so many internal recruiters in attendance.  Into the lion’s den they ventured, and remained surprisingly unmolested by all of us snarling agency types, which they clearly relished.  And there was one conversation piece that repeatedly came up time and time again in my internal recruiter chats last night.  In fact it was almost universally the opening gambit of our encounter, the universal ice-breaker, and said with not a hint of sheepishness, but declared out loud and proud.

The top topic of conversation?  How much they have succeeded in reducing recruitment agency spend over the past year.  Every single time, albeit with varying degrees of relish, but always with unashamed pride:

University of Auckland?  “We’ve cut a 1/4 mill. from our agency spend in the first quarter of 2012 alone.”

Telecom?  “We have halved the number of agency contractors in our business over the past year and recruit more and more directly.”

BNZ, Vodafone, ASB and more – all a similar story.  But here’s the thing that really interests me:  Recruitment agencies are growing.  The agency rec-to-rec side of my business is as strong as ever and quality recruitment talent is in incredibly high demand.

So who is to be believed then?  Because surely both sides can’t be right.

Well in fact they can.  The other interesting thing that the internal recruiters were telling me last night was that they would never seek to totally eliminate agency spend entirely.  They still see value in keeping that sourcing channel open, along with their plethora of new channels at their disposal these days.  But now more than ever they are able to closely monitor the value they are getting from their agency supplier and demand better quality of delivery and service.  They still want to partner with top agency recruiters, but the word “partner” was the watchword last night.  Less and less can agencies get away with bypassing increasingly savvy internal recruitment teams and go direct to hiring managers.  No more is it acceptable to flick B-Grade CV’s as an “ad-chase” to businesses with which you have no understanding or relationship.

But don’t resort to throwing your hands in the air in despair, because there is some common ground still, and those willing to stand up and be counted will still get an audience, and maybe even some business, from the more savvy internal recruiters out there.

SEEK are in a similar position to lots of agencies.  They are constantly being told that their days are numbered.  The future is Linked In and its increasing suite of premium products.  But the reality is that SEEK is going as strong as ever, testament to which was the event they kindly put on for us all last night.  Keep an eye on trends (going mobile according to SEEK’s GM Janet Faulding) but don’t believe the constant doomsday hype.  Agencies have plenty of life and fight left in them still, but only with consistent delivery of quality services coupled with a true partnering approach to the client/supplier relationship.

And because it’s Friday, and many of you might be feeling a little jaded or delicate this morning, here’s something to make you laugh.  Thanks to the internal recruiter that shared it with us!

Have a great weekend.


Jonathan Rice

Director of New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice & Co, co-founder of freelance recruiter platform JOYN, and people-centric technology firm superHUMAN Software. Recruitment innovator, agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.