The role of the recruiter is constantly evolving, as market conditions, societal trends and the tools available to those working in the industry change. The industry is certainly a far cry from the days when recruiters would work from a little black book of contacts, and spend most of their days on the phone trying to “sell” a role to a candidate, and a candidate to a client.
This, in turn, has required a shift in both approach and the type of individual that is best suited to working in the industry. “The modern recruiter is persuasive rather than sales-oriented,” says Nel Woolcott, a recruitment partner at Anne Corder Recruitment. “We must engage with our clients to understand the full needs of the business and the role for which they are recruiting. The mark of a good recruiter is to take that insight, go out and find the talent to fill the role. The methods of attraction are different and more immediate; the science is in analysing the CV, spotting the ones that really hit the brief and engaging them in the role.”
Recently, the shift in the economy has put the war for talent back on the agenda, meaning recruiters in some sectors must also be prepared to put in the legwork when it comes to attracting candidates to posts, and able to cope with the inevitable disappointments that happen along the way.
“Many candidates are accepting offers only to later withdraw because of a more favourable package,” says Danielle Asano, managing director of finance, HR and office support recruiter Cherry Professional. “With buy-backs and counter-offers commonplace, weeks and months of time spent recruiting a role can be wasted. The modern recruiter can really add value in this process by continually being in touch with candidates throughout the notice period, keeping them warm and engaged and highlighting any possible obstacles to the new employer. Being an impartial and trusted confidant means that candidates are more likely to speak to a recruiter should they start to get cold feet or tempting counter-offers.”
Technology is also having a huge impact. Figures from totaljobs.com suggest more than a third (34%) of jobseekers now use smartphones to search for positions, and 68% of these then go on to apply using these devices. Recruiters need to ensure they – and their clients –are set up for this, and make more of other associated tools which can help attract candidates, particularly from the more digitally-aware generations.
“As avid users of mobile, recruiters must ensure organisations have mobile-optimised websites in place to ensure that potential candidates can easily browse careers pages and apply for positions,” suggests Richard Shea, managing director EMEA, search, at Futurestep, a Korn/Ferry company. “Employing newer, more innovative methods such as gamification and video interviewing techniques can be highly efficient and engaging with potential Generation Z candidates.”
The emergence of social media and sites such as LinkedIn has also had an impact. On the face of it, this has made life easier for recruiters, particularly in attracting people who may not be looking to move jobs. “Recruitment consultants are now able to approach the dormant employment market,” says Brian Matthews, managing partner at digital recruitment agency The Candidate. “This means those that are tentatively looking for a new role but haven’t yet acted on it can now be contacted by recruiters, opening them up to a huge number of potential new candidates.” Roughly 70% of people on LinkedIn are not actively seeking work, he adds.
Yet this also means they have to adapt to new ways of working to handle much larger volumes of information. “The most successful recruiters are still generally very people-oriented, adaptable, great communicators and networkers, but they’re now also data analysts, increasingly IT and social savvy, and as efficient on the move as they are at their desk,” points out Peter Linas, international MD of Bullhorn. “The modern recruiter must be as comfortable using candidate-tracking systems, job-boards and online social networking platforms as they are picking up the phone.”
Yet there are also core skills that remain part of the recruiter’s requirements. Listening to both clients and candidates is essential, suggests Matthews, as is acting with honesty and integrity. “Instead of sending candidates that aren’t quite right, it’s important to be honest with clients if it’s taking longer than initially thought to find someone that will fit,” he says. “Likewise, placing candidates in jobs that aren’t right for them in order to fill a role quickly may result in them not staying through the probation period.”
Developing relationships with people is as important as ever, adds Lynne Stephen, director at construction and engineering recruitment firm Maxwell Bruce. “They need to be people-focused and consultative, able to empathise, sympathise and read client and candidate needs and requirements, and able to work well with colleagues and peers,” she says. “Problem-solving, creativity, tenacity and attention to detail are absolute musts and, of course, having a can-do attitude goes without saying.”
There will also be other challenges for those working in the industry to get to grips with in the future, as the impact of new business models hits traditional recruiters. “From a financial perspective, freelancers and online-only agencies are driving fees down,” says Sinead Hasson, managing director of boutique recruitment consultancy Hasson Associates. “Also, with companies taking recruitment in-house and some outsourcing the whole process, excluding recruiters completely, opportunities could be set to narrow. These factors will require some recruiters to constantly develop new business models and service offerings if they are to remain relevant and viable.”
Digital networking could also accelerate the trend towards larger businesses building their own in-house recruitment operations, suggests Woolcott, meaning recruiters will be left with more challenging tasks and smaller firms as their staple diet.
“The recruitment consultant can expect to get instructed on the hard-to-fills and the urgent roles,” she contends. “But consultancies will come into their own in support of smaller businesses, which don’t have ongoing and ever-present recruitment needs, but need the same high standards applied to the recruitment process.”
This article appeared courtesy of Recruitment Agency Now