Fast Track Recruitment

Being A Recruiter - Part 2

Posted by Mitch on 21st November 2012

postinternet photo Im-from-the-internet-post-1250x937_zpsdf50a235.jpg

In Being A Recruiter – Part 1, I talked about how recruitment was simpler. Companies and agencies had fewer sourcing channels, most of it was in traditional media (local, regional, national and trade press) and all of it was expensive.

Just like the Internet many years later, agencies were better at using it than companies.

Because there were fewer places to find people, companies hired more people with transferable skills.

They hired some of them from recruitment agencies – but the agencies had to work harder to sell their services because agencies were still relatively new and some companies hated the fact that people had become commodotised.

Trouble is, most of these same companies didn’t know how to advertise properly – largely because they disrespected their audiences by referring to them in their adverts as “the incumbent”.

Then the Internet happened.

Everyone said the Internet would spell the end of recruitment agencies.

But they underestimated how bad HR were at recruiting. That and the job boards loaded the pricing in the agency’s favour.

That was when the people with most to gain from recruitment fees staying the same (ie..recruiters) started embracing Internet technology and laying claim to the new frontier.

People became increasingly easier to find; especially when Web 2.0 came along – and so what recruiters did to maintain their fee levels was move from being horizontal market specialists to becoming vertical market specialists.

Because now the candidates were within easier reach. This marked the end of transferable skills.

Now they were selling candidates that already knew how to do the job before they’d even started.

Now they were calling themselves “Headhunters” but not charging their clients 30% with a third upfront.

Clients loved it.

Recruiters loved it.

Candidates, not so much.

But the candidates have to move jobs sometimes.

So, if they had to leave their job because they hated their boss, at least now they could choose the next one from the constant phone calls/emails they’d receive from a specialist recruiter (aka the newly re-branded Headhunter) who had a job, paying more money, with a competitor.

Meanwhile, in the background, hyper-capitalism had taken off and everybody was making money. More clients used more agencies who contacted fewer candidates.

The job got so easy that all recruiters had to do was flash a few de-personalised CVs via email to a few select competitor companies and wait for the bidding to start.

Recruiters got worse at selling, because they could.

Clients got worse at buying, because they could.

Candidates got worse at learning new skills, because they kept taking sideways moves into similar jobs.

But they earned more.

Everybody was going niche.

Then the penny finally dropped and clients started bringing recruitment inhouse because using the Internet had gotten so easy that they figured they could do what the agencies were doing, for less money.

And they were mostly right.


Then the crash happened and suddenly there were too many agencies all saying the same thing and too many candidates suddenly out of work.

Which brings us up to today.

So what does the future hold for agency recruiters?

Part 3 is on its way.


By Sean O'Donoghue on Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Great post Mitch, definitely appreciate all you are saying here… and look forward to the final instalment on what the future may hold….

I’ve got a strong hunch that you’re vision of the future will be quite different to all the other tosh that I’ve read from a lot of “fortune tellers” in our industry!

Keep up the good posts!


By michael on Thursday, 22 November 2012

Excellent post I have gone through each stage starting as a recruitment consultant myself just as the internet was taking off for agencies, I am now working for a recruitment software company that helps companies recruit direct (cutting out the middle man). With all the information readily available to people who know where to look finding the right person is no longer the challenge, it’s dealing with the amount of cv’s / application forms and convincing the candidates that you are the employer of choice. Most HR departments still have a steep learning curve but they are getting better every day, do I think the end is in sight for recruitment agencies, well no but being in the industry I am I see first-hand more and more companies are realising the benefits of recruiting direct.

Keep up the good work and I look forward to your next instalment.

By Darren Ledger on Thursday, 22 November 2012

Sometimes Mitch it feels as though you take my thoughts, decipher them and put them into a context which makes sense.

Great post, as usual succinct, to the point and right on the money.

By Mark on Thursday, 24 April 2014

Brilliant Blog Mitch! Spot on!

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