Recruiting Agencies Will Never Die BUT Some Will Surely Fade Away

By Carmen Jeffery

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Let's face it - no one who isn't a recruiter has time to drill down, direct source and hunt for good talent.

Everyone can post and pray, that's easy, it's like dragging a fishing net behind a boat.

You'll surely catch something but will it be what you want?

It may be there hidden amongst thousands of useless throw away morsels, but do you have the time to sift through everything?

What Recruiting Firms Bring

Here is where recruiting firms come in, they have the time, they have the talent and they have the tools and they all have acclaimed market experts. 

Here is where GOOD recruiting firms come in; they have cultivated long term relationships in your target market, they direct source, they find hidden talent and they pull from clean up-to-date databases with artfully developed search strings; they write well-crafted email campaigns, they may even post and pray BUT it's more for PR than anything else, it's a huge bonus when a good hire comes from a posting. Sifting through applicants is usually a secondary course of action.

Mediocre Recruiting Firms

Mediocre recruiting firms employ recruiters who have been taught how to use complex ATS systems and depend solely on their ATS to source (Job Diva comes to mind, don't get me started). These uber systems have spiders that pull talent in from various job boards and populate candidate databases (albeit inaccurately). Recruiters then pull in nets of talent using search strings, they then send out massive emails promoting the job they are trying to fill and see who answers. A cluster of annoyed candidates who have been wrongly targeted will send nasty emails back and a ton of unemployed or under employed candidates will reply only to be met with a 5-10 minute phone screen and asked to sign a representation agreement before they are blasted off to the client with whom they have a Master Services Agreement. 

These recruiters miss out on learning the art of sourcing and essentially throw spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks, repeating the same mindless cycle over and over, day in and day out. It's these recruiters who are going to go by the way side, I'm sure they’ll just fade away? Why? This kind of recruiting can be done by an internal recruiter who in essence is a database jockey. They get paid a low base salary to sift and sort, while a more senior recruiter takes on the tougher search assignments. If they get bogged down, they hand the search over to a market expert who they know will find what they are looking for and often these experts are not confined by master service agreements that prevent hiring manager contact and other restrictions to the recruiting process. 

The Growth of Internal Hiring Teams

We know that more and more corporate clients are building their own internal teams. They are also hiring outsourced recruiting companies to manage high volume recruitment. Sometimes these outsourced entities use the mediocre recruiters I've mentioned earlier and by necessity have 10-12 agencies all throwing spaghetti against the wall together. These poor outsourced recruiters spend tons of time with hiring managers and then look to the volumes of resumes sent for their openings trying as hard and they can to sift and sort through agency submissions until they find a candidate. What a wasted layer and a wasted expense.

The new breed of talent executives are saying forget these agencies, hire three kinds of internal recruiters most of whom come from executive and contingent search. First are senior recruiters who have great client interfacing skills and head hunting abilities; second are master sourcers who can find hidden talent and support the senior recruiter; third are junior recruiters who can troll the fishing net, jockey and help administer and populate the ATS. It’s with this shift to building strong savvy internal recruiting teams that some agencies will fade away. Who needs them?

What About the Recruiting Agencies That Will Never Die?

The recruiting agencies that will never die are the ones that can get to a calibre of talent no one else can. They have developed long term relationships with designated talent pools - be they generalists or specialists. They have talent pools primed, with up to date information and a KEEN eye for sourcing new talent. Agencies that have fantastic candidates within their reach, who can uncover hidden talent and find passive talent, are the ones who are here to stay. These are the pros. They meet their candidates in person and they conduct telephone screens thoroughly before booking their interviews. They NEVER send a candidate to a client unless they have met them or if the client has asked exclusively for candidate sourcing.


What makes a die hard Recruiting Agency?  Great leadership, recruiters and account managers with the following traits:

1) A consultative approach that demonstrates the curiosity and dedication to know the client intimately and gather impeccable hiring specifications.

2) Having the savvy to direct source talent through a variety of headhunting methods, one of which must include picking up the phone and recruiting people at their place of work.

3) Being adept at social media, knowing the tools to apply and where they are effective.

4) Demonstration of impeccable phone screening skills, much of this is hunch based and intuitive, you don’t have to grill a candidate to see if that are a fit. Time isn’t always quality.

5) Having the ability to manage the client and the candidate through the entire recruiting cycle, this includes offer presentation and references. Good recruiters are assertive and never let any stage of the cycle out of their grasp.

6) Ensuring time lines are set and stuck to for resume feedback, interview feedback, interview stages, offer sign back and start dates.

7) Having the courage to fire bad clients. If a client is hard to work with, chances are they’ll be a bad employer and have issues with retention. 

8) Valuing candidate and client relationships equally making sure to cultivate long term trusting relationships founded on trust, integrity and honesty.

9) Creating solid team environments where:  best practices are shared, wins are celebrated and lessons are learned from losses; performance management is based on empowerment not fear and bull pen antics; there's a legacy of outstanding success and long employee tenure - if recruiters and account managers are led by consummate industry professionals with impressive track records, they build sustainable and successful books of businesses (why leave?).

Carmen JeffreyCarmen Jeffery is a self employed recruiter in Toronto, Canada. Loves building teams, sourcing executives and working with growth companies. Follow on twitter: @CJsearch4TO


Image credit: Lucas Jans and Quozio


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