I’ve had a number of reasons to ponder the future of recruitment this week, particularly on the agency side, and it’s been a week of incredible conflicts. This time of year is always a time for introspection, as things wind down a bit towards Christmas, and the general sense I get is that agencies are getting quieter, with less roles to go at. On top of that there seems to be a general sense of weariness from a tough year’s trading, the gains made during 2010 – 2011 dwindling and dissipating again as global economic woes continue to pound and buffet our own small and effectively powerless economy.
I suppose this introspection has been mostly provoked by an article I wrote this week for the HRINZ magazine. Their December edition is focused on recruitment and they asked me to pen my thoughts on the small topic of The Future of Recruitment! I’m always gaining influence and ideas from those around me and a lot of what I heard at the recent RHUB NZ conference contributed to my thinking. As did last week’s graduate recruitment seminar held by Talegent. As do various blogs and articles I read, clients I consult to, candidates I talk to. Even the conversations I have with my wife who has recently returned to internal recruitment…
So here is what has got me thinking…er…less than positively about the prospects for agency recruitment:
- Most of the talk at RHUB seemed to be coming from internal recruitment leaders who claim they now only use agencies for between 1% – 3% of their roles. They genuinely wonder why on earth anyone would want to work agency side.
- This was followed up by similar comments at the HRINZ Recruitment Special Interest Group on Tuesday. The attendees were 90% internal recruiters with the only agency representation I could see coming from Frog, Randstad and H2R.
- I am yet to hear a single positive comment from any of the successful agencies on the new All of Government recruitment services panel. Apparently after all of the kerfuffle and goings on, many Government agencies and departments are still yet to sign up and join in, including MBIE who ran the whole tender process to begin with.
- LinkedIn continues to gain momentum and with their increasingly sophisticated Talent Solutions products have planted their flag much more firmly in the internal recruitment camp than the agency side, who were the ones to initially help them expand and grow.
- At the Talegent seminar last week I shared a room with a large number of smart, professional and innovative young recruiters all focused on the competitive Grad recruitment space for large corporates. I couldn’t help thinking that 5 years ago at least three quarters of the room would have cut their teeth in agencies, whereas now these guys have gone straight into internal.
- This week I have learned of three more senior figures in the New Zealand recruitment sector leaving their roles in agency. Some to go internal, and some to leave the industry entirely.
- The SME market that agencies are rightly targeting as better prospective client bases are clearly not in good shape either, with the surprise leap in unemployment to 7.3% suggesting hiring and growth amongst these businesses is tightening even further.
Before you join me to wallow in self-pity and start slashing your wrists with your rusted old Mont Blanc pens, is it really all so bad? I for one still love agency recruitment. I love what I do, I work with some brilliant clients doing great things for New Zealand businesses. November is shaping up to be one of our best revenue-wise all year and the pipeline for 2013 is starting to grow.
As Julia Stones reminded us all after the HRINZ evening, we in recruitment can get a bad name, but many of us out there persist with operating with integrity and quality delivery and we can still hold our heads high that what we do really does change lives.
And how about this? Last night we held our second Recruitment KickStart seminar for people interested in entering the agency world of recruitment. Run by our very own Estelle Bosson, it was well attended with ten aspiring new recruiters who, given the truth about recruitment “warts ‘n all” came out energised and pumped about the career they could face. As did the recruitment agency owner who came to talk at the event, in doing so reminding himself of everything that he felt passionate about recruitment.
OK, let’s face it, agency recruitment is under attack from all sides. Many want to see it fail. But it won’t. Sure, it will need to adapt, become more agile, cope with less roles, more specialised assignments, possibly even unbundled services. The way you recruit might need a shift in mindset. The overheads will need a tweak and the pricing may need to be more creative. But there are too many good people doing awesome things in recruitment agencies for it to suffer more than a temporary setback.
Let me hear your thoughts, whether agency or internal side, about where you see the future pathways for recruitment agencies. I feel much better for getting that off my chest, thanks for listening. The sun is shining across New Zealand today, get positive and have a great weekend.