The changing face of recruitment in a contemporary landscape
Thomas Bray, content & marketing for Talem Recruitment
Recruitment agencies have accrued somewhat of a bad reputation over the years. The stereotypical high street agency has in the past been scrutinised for shoddy candidate care and fast client turnaround. The term ‘spot business’ - where a hasty solution is provided instead of looking at the long-term, has tainted the image of some agencies and unfortunately shaped the perception that recruitment agencies can be vague, cold and rushed.
Despite there still being a need for a general, ‘jack of all trades’ approach on the high-street, more recruitment agencies are waking up to how a niche and specialised service can increase value and improve focus. The traditional agency usually has numerous consultants, who work on various desks, which span across most employment sectors. And although some remain successful in what they do, many lack precision and fail to supply both clients and candidates with a sophisticated service that can really tap into a customer’s needs.
A rise in technology has completely overhauled the recruitment industry – for consultants working in an agency, for clients looking to work with an agency and for candidates looking for work from an agency. Nearly all job searches take place online, which has seen the footfall into brand branches seriously decline. The bustling scene of a 90s agency has been replaced by online job boards and social media, and following this change many recruitment agencies have either changed tact or faltered.
In metropolitan cities such as Manchester, Bristol and London, there is a real appetite for specialist recruitment agencies that offer bespoke services. Instead of having a variety of desks that every agent is comfortable to cover, agencies have spent time investing in consultants who are experts in their field and can provide a more analytical approach. Some of the more innovative recruitment agencies have added further client services to their arsenal, including the deliverance of business development packages – involving the likes of organising candidate assessment centre days or providing help to improve a company’s presence online. The merge of traditional recruitment solutions with additional services that aim to improve other parts of a client’s business has helped to reshape an agency’s relationship with their clients. There is a lot more trust and an added feel of consultancy involved than before, which in return sees an agency & client relationship last longer.
More emphasis has been put on understanding a client both personally and commercially. It’s now a major advantage if an agency can really get to grips on a client’s history, heritage, culture, identity and goals. The same goes for candidates too - there’s a greater understanding about who they are and what they want, and candidate care is paramount for an agency to thrive, especially when reputations are at stake and there are so many more avenues for feedback to be given and seen – e.g. social media and review websites.
Before the surge of social media, recruitment agencies would leave much of the onus on people coming to find them, with word of mouth or previous experiences determining whether it was a good agency to visit or not. And although this process is still evident, recruitment agencies have had to become a lot more pro-active by reaching out to candidates rather than waiting for a CV to land on a desk. Social media sites, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, help consultants to seek suitable candidates (and clients). So instead of printing out 100 flyers that advertise current vacancies, agencies are using social media tools such as paid promotions to pin-point their intended audience with the help of candidate behaviour analysis and targeted keywords.
LinkedIn offers a simple yet effective way to search for and connect with potential clients and candidates. The great thing about a platform like LinkedIn is that you can acquire a decent understanding of an agency within seconds, simply by viewing recommendations from previous clients/candidates and monitoring what kind of information they promote. With so much of recruitment being achieved online, it’s no surprise that more and more agencies are employing marketing executives to help them stand out in a highly saturated market. Whether it’s social media gurus, website copywriters, graphic designers or PR experts – these positions have never been more relevant than they are today.
Maintaining contacts and a regional stronghold on a particular high-street is no longer enough for an agency to thrive. The ability to stay in touch with the modern business landscape not only remains desirable but is now pretty much a necessity. It’s never been easier for a recruitment agency to become lost, so if the past five years have taught us anything, it’s that the market requires accuracy, specialism, a willingness to understand a client or candidate, and at least one employee that can spearhead marketing campaigns online.