Jerry Maguire was right, and I don't mean, "Show me the money"

The Role Of Independent Recruitment Boutiques

This week saw the completion of BartleyHeath’s first month of trading and I have been thinking about the role that independent recruitment boutiques can play in a market clustered with large players and increased direct sourcing.

Do we need another recruitment agency?

This was a question often posed to me when I began telling my friends about my intentions to start my own agency. I must admit that initially it was a surprise to have my grand plan challenged but it certainly reflected today’s cost-focused reality that every stakeholder in the recruitment process is questioning the value of recruiters.

The world is better networked than ever before. Social sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook etc., online job boards and forums like Stack Overflow have improved the access to candidates. The generation of employee referrals, direct advert responses, internal deployments and the activities of in-house or RPO recruitment teams are increasingly more efficient and companies are able to lower the average cost-to-hire.

The little black book is now open to the public so why would a company pay 20 - 25% for a placement when they can do it for free?

Agencies no longer have access to the “low-hanging fruit”. Bulk hiring and vanilla requirements are the domain of direct recruiters with brand loyalty that is far more powerful than that of any recruitment agency. We must specialise in a unique pool of talent. To be 20-25% better than a direct sourcing channel we must work with fewer candidates and more clients.

Candidates want real relationships

“I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and I'm not even a writer. I was remembering even the words of the original sports agent, my mentor, the late great Dickie Fox who said: 'The key to this business is personal relationships.' Suddenly, it was all pretty clear. The answer was fewer clients. Less money. More attention. Caring for them.”

Candidates want real relationships. The reality is that a CV is out-dated as soon as it is sent so don’t treat candidates like applicants. A great recruiter will have an ongoing relationship for a number of years across a finite group of specialist candidates.

The opportunity for independent recruiters

This is why I feel the playing field has been levelled:

  • Semantic clustering and algorithms do not work for specialist or sensitive hires.
  • Large recruitment agencies will never be agile enough to offer a truly specialist service. After 7 years managing recruitment teams within a FTSE listed recruitment agency, I can assure you the high monthly cost of running those teams commits firms to high-volume low-cost transactional recruitment. Without volume the model is not profitable and it makes it difficult to retain talented recruiters. Turnover of staff further dilutes the real value of an agency. That value is the relationships a recruiter has with his or her candidates.
  • By their very nature, direct recruiters will be manacled to one organisation. For all the talk of “strategic talent pooling” the reality is that even the best in-house teams will simply manage applicants. These in-house functions have too many pressures to assist candidates’ in the best way to structure a job search or offer advice on tailoring a CV. An agency has the added advantage of meeting a cross section of the market and can pick up trends and analyse demand faster than an internal recruitment team.
  • LinkedIn is a brilliant tool but unlike recruiters, most of our candidates don’t devote as much time to updating their profiles! As great as the network is, it is even better when I source an outstanding candidate that is not in the public domain. That is an example of a unique pool of talent.

At BartleyHeath, we are committed to ongoing relationships with a unique pool of Asset Management technology specialists. We partner with a candidate to access the market and find that person a job. That is very different proposition to simply managing applicants and I feel this will insulate us against the disruptive trends affecting the recruitment industry.

I am always interested to hearing your thoughts so please contact me on one of the many channels or simply call me on 07852595777 or 020 3137 3075.

Mathew