Buying recruitment services. Does anybody stop and think?!

My jaw dropped. Well, almost.

I was doing some research into a company I’ve decided I want to work with (they don’t know yet, so don’t let on).
They work in a sector with a notorious skill shortage. It has always been that way and probably always will be (assuming the world doesn’t end because of Brexit). They clearly have a big pain-point when it comes to people and, well, I can fix a lot of it.

Anyway, I was looking into a recruitment agency they use. This agency has 9 consultants recruiting nationally and at last glance had over 700 live vacancies. That’s not a typo – SEVEN HUNDRED. I got my calculator out & that’s nearly 80 each.

Well good for them. I imagine they know their market really well, they are great at working with candidates and I bet they don’t discount much. They should be making a small fortune.

I get their model, I’ve been in it – you don’t work your jobs, you market your candidates.
More jobs, more adverts, more candidates, more marketing, more jobs……..and so on and so forth.

But if I was a ‘client’ of theirs, what do I get?

I know the answer.

You get the opportunity to look at CVs as this agency gets them. Along with anyone else that may be interested.
That’s it. Nothing more.

Employer branding? Forget it. “Our client………….” blah, blah, blah.
Pro-active search and engagement? Ha, ha – these guys even declare a ‘no head-hunt policy’. Can’t go offending your competitor down the road (they are a ‘client’ too you see).
Advice on candidate attraction? Mmm, “you could do with upping your salary a bit” is probably as far as that goes.

So why the hell would a company struggling to hire choose them?
I pretty much know the answer to that too.

Everyone else does, so you’ve got a security blanket right there.
The whole burden of recruitment is dropped on HR (like they want it).
Either nobody can be arsed to try and find something different/better, or at best doesn’t think it exists.

Lazy or incompetent, take your choice.

Does anybody stop and think!?

Rob Lipscombe

Rob is a founding partner of Advanced Talent Strategies with in excess of 20 years’ experience in talent acquisition and people management.

Working closely with senior management teams across multiple sectors Rob provides advice on churn/retention, employee engagement, internal acquisition processes, onboarding and insights into competitors. One of his core skills is developing strategies to build sizeable teams where talent is in short supply.

Successfully selected and implemented an internal applicant tracking system, delivering a significant ROI, streamlined function and GDPR compliance.


Written by: Paul Withers

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