As you know, the staffing industry as a whole has had it’s nose bloodied in the last few years and many recruiters did not have the training and tools that they needed to survive in a tougher market. I’ve heard estimates that as many as 30-40% of the firms that existed a few years ago have closed shop and thrown in the towel. Based on how bad some of the recruiters of the late nineties were at relationship building and candidate development, this exodus was a natural and beneficial process for our industry. So, if you’ve made it this far, pat yourself on the back as you have been nimble enough to get through a rough period and are in a great position to benefit from the coming upturn. The days of “easy recruiting” may be gone for good, but overall, it seems that our industry is poised for growth and prosperity.
The Internet is here to stay and has changed some aspects of our profession permanently. Those recruiters who became lazy and viewed this as their primary tool for locating talent are probably not here anymore as companies realized that they could find the same people off of a job board. The Internet is a powerful medium for recruiting and it has it’s best value in assessing the skill oriented jobs that can be easily assessed by filling out forms and answering questions. So for many junior level and medium level technical positions, it may be the preferred method for employers to use.
But it cannot replace the value that recruiters can provide in assessing “subtle skills” such as leadership, boardroom presence, ability to motivate staff, and energy level. And in most cases, it still is primarily used as a glorified electronic newspaper ad which can help companies locate the very best of the ad lookers- but not the happily employed high achievers. To attract these people still requires pro-active effort on the part of a skilled professional. Our value still lies in being able to find talent that the company cannot find on their own.
When the economy comes booming back, those who have refined their skills and made adjustments to their search process will prosper. We need to make sure that we offer exceptional value to our clients on each search and don’t cut corners. I speak to many firm owners and recruiters in my work as a coach and a surprising number of them are focussed on “closing deals” much more than adding value for their clients. Clients are much more sophisticated than they once were and the recruiter who can build rapport, gain trust and show true concern for the client’s point of view will have a major advantage over his or her peers. Clients want a more sophisticated recruiter, someone who can act as a consultant and surprise the client by delivering more than what was expected. Relationship building skills will be a bigger ingredient in future success. We are in the “service age” and clients want problem solvers who can help them save time, save money and increase productivity. Recruiters who can do these things have an exciting future ahead of them.