Have you tried applying for a job online recently? It’s a dispiriting mix of anonymous adverts – and yes, I think some of those jobs are fake – and automated responses. Almost no adverts invite candidates to speak to the consultant involved. And this is happening at a time of unprecedented shortages of skilled candidates.
Of course we know why: click and send applications have swamped recruiters with a deluge of inappropriate CVs. But an unintended consequence is that most recruiters have cut back entirely on meeting with candidates or speaking to them unless their CV matches a client specification.
In our two-speed job market, some recruiters have made the choice to operate a low-cost, low-touch model.
But if you want to work at the premium end of the market, this approach is madness. Recruiters will learn far more about the market, possible opportunities and, importantly, off-CV information by having these conversations. If they know the best candidates they can present them better, flex a client specification and pitch in people that other recruiters would overlook. In fact, if you don’t invest time in building relationships with people – not just active candidates – in your market, you may not be here in a couple of years.
When did we give up meeting people to understand their motivations, capabilities and context?
The job of recruiters has come full-circle, in a sense. When any employer can use the same tools and techniques – just look at businesses like Jobs the Word – the value that a specialist recruiter can add is not about the size of their database, job-boards used or what level of LinkedIn membership they have. It’s about who they know: and that means their motivators, salary, family circumstances, niggles, geographic flexibility, and more.
Meeting people is expensive, but having a genuine interest in the top movers and shakers in your marketplace – and keeping in touch with them – pays dividends. You’ll get three times the level of referrals* It maps into meeting clients as well: in one study, a recruiters chances of filling a role successfully went up by 400% if they had met the client in his/her workplace.
Think about it: if all you have to go on are out of date CVs, you might reject Mark Zuckerberg as a college drop-out. And that probably wouldn’t be good for your business.
- Meet the best people in your market – in the flesh – and have some actual content to discuss
- If you want to be a thought leader, do it at conferences as well as F2F events, not just virtually
- Make sure your people know people, not just CVs. They’ll be hiring managers one day.
Alison Humphries is a highly experienced MD and NED, with 35 years at the top of the recruitment sector.
She advises directors and owners of recruitment businesses on strategy, finance, sales and management to maximise performance, enter new markets, prepare for sale and work more efficiently.
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