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Like any Hollywood blockbuster, how could I resist a sequel to this year’s most popular blog? Given that last week’s post made the hallowed pages of “Reseller News“, I’m compelled to rinse this for as long as possible. Fame is fleeting these days, and this is my 15 minutes. For those of you playing catch-up, I am of course referring to last week’s announcement of the new “Generation Three” iteration of the All of Government “Talent Acquisition Services Contract”. Read the background here.

Since posting the blog, it seems that the waves have rippled further than just a load of grumpy Recruiters – with plenty of commentary from the broader tech industry, journalist, PR guys, and anyone with a LinkedIn account. If the new contract was ever so slightly more interesting and much less complicated, it may have even made the news news. In the most part, comments and thoughts from the industry remain as expected: The contract recruitment industry has been thrown under a bus in order for some procurement numpty to curry favour with his or her equally snivel-nosed paymaster. However, if we step outside of our industry for a moment, the thoughts, comments, and blogs put us in the minority. To the majority who know nothing of recruitment (and I’m including all politicians, almost all procurement professionals, and a good number of internal recruiters), the Generation 3 Contact is a great idea, delivering fantastic outcomes for New Zealand. Here’s why they think that:

  • Firstly, the perception amongst most, is that agency contractor recruiters are a bunch of Champagne Charlies. We make a placement by calling someone we know and booking an interview, and then steal a large percentage of their hourly rate forever more without lifting a finger.
  • Secondly, Unions don’t like contractors as they undermine what they try to achieve through collectivism
  • Thirdly, surely technology exists which can connect hiring managers directly with contractors, without a middleman (I’m trying not to LOL as I type this)?
  • Fourthly, the procurement team probably knows a bit about this and probably consultant experts within the industry
  • Lastly and most importantly, Labour spend too much money on public sector workers. Spending less is good for taxpayers and good politically. This new contract will save money.

To the man on the street, a procurement professional with shit-for-brains and a pencil for a neck, or an internal recruiter who started  their career with the Department of Treaty Settlements as a temp administrator, this all makes sense. Well, just for the sheer fun of it, shall we remind ourselves why these people don’t know their arse from their elbow? Why not!

Some Recruiters do make lots of money. So do some Accountants. And Lawyers. And mobile phone sales people. And anyone who gets to the top of a very slippery ladder. A million dollar biller will earn about $300k a year in this industry. And for every one of these, there’s the rest of us. Many Recruiters work long, unsociable hours, in a job many walk away from in month one or two, only to just break the six figure mark. As for the work that good Contractor Recruiters do, it takes years of knowledge to be able to stand up a tech team in a week. Don’t believe me? Ask your internal recruiter to do it.

Unions of course don’t like contractors. And as a raving socialist, I (usually) support Unions. Unfortunately, great outcomes can’t be delivered to New Zealand tax payers purely by permanent staff. My garden needs a facelift. Do I get a contractor round, or do I employ a full-time gardener to sit on their arse most of the year? We live in a contingent world, and recruiters didn’t create it.

I’ve seen a couple of comments suggesting that technology can replace the majority of the work that Contractor Recruiters do. I have not heard this view from anyone who knows a f*cking thing about what it takes to be a successful Contractor Recruiter. Every few years, a new tech platform springs up promising to do the same thing: connecting managers directly with contractors. And every few years, they go bust. I wish these people would just give me the $2m they spend on development. At least I’d buy a yacht and host a topless volleyball tournament.

According to the folks at MBIE, this new operating model was the result of consultation with industry experts. Beyond, Accordant Group, Hays, Hudson – please put your hand up if this was your idea. Or if you were even asked. I’m guessing not. These “experts” were a government procurement team and best-case, that internal recruiter who started as a temp admin at the Department of Treaty Settlements.

And finally, this is going to save money. Ah of course. Paying recruiters less will mean paying less money. I have no doubt that this new model will reduce recruitment spend on a balance sheet somewhere, and ol’ pencil neck in procurement will get a promotion, but that’s not a true reflection of true cost. Contractor Recruiters who currently recruit for the Government are already making half of what they would make recruiting for non-government. This new model will push a good number of quality recruiters out of supplying government all together. Some good firms won’t even tender. However, the need for Contractors to deliver projects will remain. So what is a government department to do when their highly effective agency recruitment partner no longer wants to help them? They’ll go to a (usually global) Consulting Firm who are not subject to the Talent Acquisition Services Contract. Instead of paying an agency $110/hr for a $100/hr Contractor, they’ll pay Accenture $600/hr for the same Contractor. Said Contractor will still be paid $100, loads of cash will go offshore, and New Zealand will foot an even bigger bill.

Stop the world, I want to get off.