The dark days of recession now seem a distant memory. A lot of recruitment consultants that I speak to are enjoying strong growth in their perm and contract business, this is great news and a well-earned reward for those who have continued to succeed in the last 10 years.
The good days are back, but things are a little different than they were before the recession. Back in 2006-7 clients were so busy accumulating staff that they didn’t really have a chance to think about how efficiently they were doing it – managers knew that if the right CV landed on their desk they were going to have to move pretty quickly to snap them up! This often meant going outside of their internal recruitment process – (if there was one in the first place!)
The recession gave in-house recruiters and HR teams a period of quiet contemplation (occasionally interrupted by screaming managers demanding more cost savings!) Clients in general have now become very competent in using social media; they are all over the job boards and they can now fulfil 100% of their grad requirements.
It is typical that a company which was previously reliant on agencies for 80% of their total perm vacancies now only uses them for 20%. It is also noticeable that large chunks of contract recruitment have been well managed by clients – the ‘easy’, high-volume placements now usually only command single-figure mark-ups and clients use agencies or RPO solutions to simplify payroll and provide protection from inferred employment.
Demand for recruitment is now for the hardest 20% of a client’s perm vacancies and the project critical, scarce skill which is hired on a contract basis. Clients recognise that they need help from experts in particular niche fields with well-established networks of contacts. They know what a great job they do because they have struggled to do it directly themselves. Where clients clearly see the value being added by specialist recruitment consultants, relationships have strengthened and higher fees are being paid.
These changes in demand have left a permanent change to the recruitment landscape. Small recruitment businesses are flourishing – they are focusing in very specific areas, be it industry, discipline or geography and they are run in a hands-on way by experienced recruiters with huge networks of contacts. They are also nimble enough to spot an opportunity and a solution for a client before the same vacancy has been assigned to an appropriate trainee working for one of the bigger agencies.
Clients PSL’s are now beginning to reflect this demand. If an agency has a proven ability in a particular, specialist area the door is always left ajar! In fact many large organisations are actively structuring their PSL to include a blend of large generalists and smaller, specialist suppliers.
The days of easy-money in recruitment are now gone, probably for ever – The money is still there but it is earned by specialists who genuinely add a value greater than their fees. The profession is now seen in a more positive light as a groups of experts working for companies of all sizes which provide an essential service to all successful and growing businesses.