I’ve worked in and around recruiters for the last 30 years. I’ve been a director of a national recruitment business, and up to 3 years ago all of my career had been in third-party agency sector. the last few years nearly all of my clients have been corporate, because the corporate sector has been quickest change, but I’m not by any means anti-agency, or one of those ex-recruiters taking a pompous attitude about those recruiters who are still running a desk. I write this post because I’m concerned for the future of some of the recruiters out there who are showing no sign of change despite what the market is telling them.

this isn’t about social media, or the really slow adoption by some recruiting firms. The big challenge is coming from direct sourcing particularly in the EMEA region. Most of the businesses I know who have historically used external recruiters for the majority of their hiring are starting to look at bringing recruiting in-house, Whilst it is easy to think that this is all about reducing the cost of hire, the answer is a bit wider than being just about the £’s or $’s. If that was the case, the low or flat fee recruiters who have set out to buy mass  business by slashing margins would be doing much better than they appear to be when you cut through the hype. I know very few businesses who feel this offers them that much benefit, cheap is rarely little more than that.

The 4 issues they are looking to solve by bringing recruiting in-house are:

> Maximizing employer brand and telling their own story.

> Value. If you are offering little more than a CV service then how can you justify the fees?

> Pipeline. sourcing beyond immediate needs and forward planning. Building relationships now.

> Staff referrals. Seen as the best source of hiring, now extended by social referrals.

This doesn’t mean however that they wont use an agency for hiring, they just won’t make you their first port of call. You can continue trying to justify why you are different and do more. i know all the arguments. I’ve made them enough times in the past, or you can look at what companies are willing to pay for, and position yourself to offer it. What hiring companies are willing to pay for are:

> Expert knowledge of the market to offer real advice. Being a real expert means being immersed in the market you recruit in, making connections who can keep you current, and being a real consultant rather than a salesmen.

> Building unique relationships so that you can offer candidates they can not reach through conventional sourcing.

> A real network rather than a candidate base.

You need to be in a position to offer knowledge and candidates these companies just can’t access, and that means building relationships, moving from recruiting as a transactional sales process through to having a real network in the niche you recruit.

I hope agency recruiters can make that change, looking beyond the sale now mentality, and make the changes whilst they have the option.