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RPO biggest worry for recruiters

The poll of around a hundred recruitment owners and directors at the recent launch event of the Elite Recruitment Network has revealed the six key issues facing the recruitment sector today. 

When asked what was keeping them awake at night, the top six answers were:

•             RPO and margin pressures – how can recruiters move up the value chain

•             Attracting new talent

•             LinkedIn data and the problem of ownership

•             International expansion – Europe or further afield?

•             Winning new business

•             The rise of the in house recruiter

The launch event included a panel of experts which comprised Ann Swain, CEO of APSCo, Jonathan Wright who spent ten years as CEO of Alexander Mann Simon Church who has had main board experience with a number of recruiters including ReThink former S3 CEO Russell Clements and Elite Recruitment Network Chairman John O’ Sullivan.

There was a lively debate around the issues identified – Clements, for example, felt that in house recruiters and the rise of LinkedIn should not be seen as a threat: “In house recruiters will never be as good as a motivated recruitment consultant and they will never get to be subject matter experts like a niche recruiter.  Also let’s not forget the candidate here – as far as LinkedIn is concerned the client is the only customer – consequently intermediaries will never be a threat because no other service is as compelling to a candidate as the free service which we provide to  them.

On the RPO issue, Swain felt that it was the recruiters themselves that could end up doing damage to other recruiters. “Far too many firms are trying to buy market share at crazy margins – and until we work together and shout about the fact that we are worth our fee then the problem won’t go away.” 

Expanding internationally was another hot topic and the entire panel agreed that one of the key things was to ensure that the person running the new office had the DNA of the business firmly embedded before embarking on a new office in a new location.

Attracting new talent seems to be an endemic problem throughout the industry. “ Prior to 2008 there were 120,000 people in the recruitment industry – now there are less than 70,000 so if all we are doing is all chasing the same people then we aren’t going to get very far,” said O Sullivan. “We have to improve the image of recruitment as a profession and attract some new blood and we will be launching Elite Academies shortly as one way of addressing that problem.”

James Osborne, chief executive of Elite Recruitment Network, said, “Our launch event showed us that above all recruitment firms need to adapt and evolve to changing markets – if all they do is introduce easy to find candidates then their days are definitely numbered.”


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