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All That Glitters Isn’t Recruitment Gold

By April 16, 20155 Comments

Recruiters must evolve. That’s the mantra getting chanted with ever increasing volume around the blogs, speaking circuits and self serving espousals of supposed thought leaders of our industry.

It’s also a mantra I have subscribed to, and championed myself, for a number of years now. But has it got us anywhere?

Greg Savage (largely agency recruiter focused) says we must become marketeers. Paul Jacobs (more inhouse recruiter focused) says being marketeers isn’t enough and we must become even more immersive than that, maybe even gamers, creative designers, in order to snare our most prized prey.

Trade Me Jobs added video capability to their job listings this week. In a move akin to a recruitment agency announcing they are introducing a clever new concept, a 90 day placement guarantee!, this is hardly ground breaking stuff. But still, it provides recruiters another option (that SEEK has had for quite a while) to make their beseeching entreaties to the purple squirrels of the candidate world that little bit more creative, more immersive, more by design.


Still, very few recruiters are heeding this call to marketing arms. In reality the majority of in-house recruiters don’t have the budget, the wherewithal, or the basic desire to go to the effort of lifting themselves from their admin burdened funk and trying something different. Infographic anyone? Augmented Reality app guys? Nah, too busy with my compliance, sorry. As for agency recruiters, with our heads famously planted in the sand, it’s often put in the too hard basket, especially when the lure of placing a quick ad and making a quick fee still, incongruously enough, can actually still bear fruit.

The fact of the matter is that, whilst we pursue some Orwellian theory of Marketeer goood, Recruiter baaaaad, there’s actually plenty wrong with the world of marketing right now too.  While we naval gaze at our supposedly “broken” recruitment model, there has been a piece of research from IBM revealing that 4 out of every 5 consumers feel that brands don’t behave as if they really know them.  Something worth bearing in mind as we stumble blindly along our evolutionary paths towards more marketing-led recruiting.

I spied something on LinkedIn this morning from Madison that highlights the dichotomy faced by many recruiters seeking a new identity right now:


In my opinion this simple survey from Shereen really hits the nail on the head.  All that glitters is not gold, and what we must never lose sight of, as recruiters, is how to actually bloody well recruit.  Clever marketing campaigns, immersive branding, storytelling, apps, guerilla marketing all make you look forward-thinking, innovative and downright clever.  But leading your horse to water is one thing.  Recruiters still need to know how to make the horse drink.

Not for the first time, I defer the final point in this matter to the highly pertinent words of Matt Charney:

“Don’t believe that the changing marketplace or platforms have changed the fundamentals – and you should be investing in training people how to make a cold call, disposition a resume, write a job description or close a candidate, not buying a product aimed at automating recruiters into oblivion.”

Word, Matt.

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.


  • Matt Charney says:

    Word back at you, amigo. Great post – and the rest of the stuff before the pull quote was pretty good, too 😉

  • Matt Pontin says:

    A very nice read Jon. From someone who loves to chase the shinny stuff – but knows that we all have a craft, a skill and that has never changed. Recruiting is hard bloody work – and I for one still use the skills I was taught 20 years ago when I was trained in agency recruitment. That was before the days of “immersive, disruptive and game changing” strategies when we picked up the phone a lot more and met people face to face a lot more too!

    • Thanks Matt, and yes those skills all remain just as relevant today. I do however look forward to hearing about all the new game changing ideas at IT18 tomorrow, good luck with the MC-ing

  • Great blog, Jonathan.

    You missed out that recruiters need to learn how to sell. And have something to actually sell.

    Being good at recruiting is very important, but I think the agency world has devolved into something that does very little actual recruiting, especially if we assume that candidate assessment is a fundamental part of recruiting.

    What most agency recruiters do is pitch candidates on the fringes of other people’s recruitment processes. That just makes them candidate traders rather than recruitment consultants.

    • Cheers Mitch. Candidate trading…well yes indeed and that’s a great turn of phrase for what a lot of “recruitment” has become. Of course this practice is also selling, of sorts, but it’s selling access to, and information on, a candidate as opposed to selling your recruitment consulting service and then being allowed to get on with it and recruit.