Death of Recruitment

by Dave Nerz

tombstoneAccording to many, the end is near for independent recruiters. The reason…technology. The predictions indicate recruitment as we have known it will cease to exist because employers will get what they need from the new breed of technology tools being created. Some call this Recruitment 4.0.

I am not a believer in the death of recruitment. Here are a few of the reasons I think recruitment, independent recruiters, recruitment networks, and headhunters of various types are here to stay:

  1. The end has been predicted about every 5 years for as long as I remember. The predictions have never been fulfilled. The death of independent recruiters was predicted 50 years ago with the creation of national agencies like Kelly and Robert Half. Death to independents did not come. The demise was signaled more recently with the onset of job boards…in fact, Monster had the intention of replacing the independent recruitment business as a goal when it was created. In spite of intentions, death did not come. Social Media, LinkedIn, in-house recruitment, or anything else you want to add to the list have been unable to dislodge the independent recruiter from the mix that makes the market for employer and job seeker succeed.
  2. New jobs require personal intervention by a recruiter. Firebrand’s CEO, Greg Savage offers an example of why recruiters will continue to be a part of the solution. Mr. Savage recently indicated that in his business, 50% of the roles he recruits for didn’t even exist 3-5 years ago. New jobs and new markets require the guiding hand of a recruiter. Recruitment evolves effectively and efficiently to solve new challenges in a way that electronic tools and social networks cannot. The business model shifts, but it does not dissolve or die.
  3. Global needs are growing and again require the expertise that only a recruiter can offer. Recruiters act as translators, market researchers, and match-making consultants for global jobs. An employer based in North America wouldn’t even know the right job boards to use for a search in China, Australia or in Vietnam. Employers armed with the great social media tools of the day could spend 6 months becoming expert in the local market just to fill one job…not an effective model to run a business. In the NPA network, in excess of 10% of all business done was a “cross-border placement,” meaning the candidate, the employer and the job were in different countries. Those roles will continue to grow as a percentage of placements for the industry.
  4. Contracting and short duration project teams or on the rise. These are positions and work types best suited to a recruitment agency. Employers don’t want to become expert in finding talent for a short duration project team. They will continue to hire an independent expert to do that work.
  5. Highly specialized positions and true headhunting require a recruiter and are not able to be accomplished by social media and a LinkedIn connection alone. Top performers that are fully employed and satisfied do not change companies based on an email or a social connection. Only the real work of a seasoned recruitment professional will cause a top quality candidate to take the required leap of faith into a new employment situation. When you find the computer program that does this, please share your secret.

Independent recruiters continue to evolve and migrate into new niches and new ways of adding value. Tools are more likely to come and go than the recruitment profession itself. My current concern is not survival, it is whether there will be enough independent recruiters available to handle the talent shortage that is inching ever closer. As Baby Boomers retire and employers seek talent to replace the science, engineering and management talent that is exiting, the death of recruitment will remain a threat still unfulfilled.

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