The majority of the time, external recruiters are surplus to requirements.
I am not naïve enough to suggest that recruiters are required (or welcome) in the recruitment of every role. The HR team of the company has plenty of tools at their disposal to source potential candidates, and, especially where roles require a like-for-like replacement, they know what they are looking for and where to find the right people.
Whenever I take a brief for a role, I am curious as to why the company are not recruiting for themselves. It goes without saying that they enjoy my gentle wit and charming personality, but that isn’t what they pay for. There are three very simple reasons why HR turns to a recruiter, and it is in the exploration of these reasons that we discover our value.
The first one is a simple truth for any service business. Clients often don’t have sufficient time to dedicate to the cause. Don’t get me wrong, they can handle 80% of the roles that are relatively straightforward, but for the trickier roles which require a significant amount of headhunting “passive” talent, they often don’t have the bandwidth. Recruiters take on the burden of blind alleys and last-minute rejection that come with the territory of a difficult search. These things do take time, but we have countless strategies to ensure that we get the right person to that desk as quickly as possible.
Secondly, even though you might argue that social media has brought candidates and employers ever closer, access to those candidates is still an issue. The best people get hundreds of cold calls about “opportunities” every year, from employers and recruiters, and unless you have a relationship with them, it is hard to capture their attention for more than a few seconds. Recruiters have long-standing relationships with the most successful people in the markets – clients view that as being useful.
Knowledge is probably the key reason why HR teams turn to us. Many industries and functions are undergoing tremendous change currently, and as we spend 90% of our time interviewing candidates, we keep informed about the latest developments. Our screening ability for technical or specialist roles is that little bit more sophisticated because we will have recruited for them many times before. An internal recruitment person may only get one or two such requirements every year – for us, this is our bread and butter.
Recruitment is often described as a sales role (i.e. persuading companies that they need our services). I actually think that if we could be a little bit more honest about whether or not we are truly required, we would be that little bit more valued. Agreed, it is nice to take on a role that you can fill within a week and collect a fee, but isn’t this where the money-grabbing recruiter image comes from? If clients filled these roles themselves and (gratefully) gave the recruiters the difficult ones, maybe our image within the market might be that little bit better?
In any case, I go home happy every day in the knowledge that my clients need me. I suppose that is what going to work is all about.