Subscription Options

January 5, 2010

Could candidate advocacy disrupt the recruitment industry?

The recruitment industry is aching for a change.

recruiters operate on the client side and on the candidate side. They cold call, drop brochures and try to build a relationship on the client side so they can deliver their product. And their product is... you!

All too often the real target isn't even you, it is your CV. And once they have that they can parade it around in front of a multitude of clients, along with several dozen others, to show them their depth of talent.

But having sat on both sides of the recruitment game. It works very well commercially and is built on a numbers game. X cold calls = 1 opportunity, Y candidates = 4 interviews = 1 appointment (say) and so on.

As with any numbers game it ends up being a high pressure affair.

The problems? Candidates often pull out at the last minute, you sometimes get the same CV several times from a range of people, you get issued with sub standard candidates in teh hope that you won't ask any furthe questions and so on.

On the candidate side you often feel as if you are being shoehorned into a role that doesn't quite fit you, for a deal that you weren't quite asking for, and then you are abandoned to your fate as the "body supply" game moves on around you.

There must be a better way...right?

What about if the market changed? What about if, instead of the market being companies looking for workers, it turned into workers looking for better opportunities? What about if, instead of representing the clients interests, you became the candidates advocate?

I think the key to improving the recruitement industry is to take it smaller instead of larger.


1) Take on a very local focus initially, with a very limited sector, and only specific mangerial roles within that sector. (For me it would be engineering, say, and probably just in my city.)

This sort of thin slicing means that you will be far better informed about the market, the requirements and the requirements of this area, but it also means that you are likely to be looking at a lower fill rate than the standard recruitment model. (At first anyway)


2) Find people in similar roles currently and start to meet them. Start building the map of up and coming stars of your industry, in your geography, and within your network. (A LinkedIn reference)


3) Go and meet them! Not web forms, or office admin staff with a hand full of forms, or even a CV by email. Go out physically, buy them a coffee and get their measure.

Are they happy where they are?
If not, great if so, what would get them to move?
And if hey would move, what would the ideal situation be for them?
Are they ready to move into the executive levels yet?
What are their current financial considerations? How reasonable are they?
Are they listed with any headhunters or recruiters as yet?

If candidates are the product, then you are getting them when they are still in the raw materials stage. They weren't considering a move as yet, so they are interested from a totally positive viewpoint. There are no hard luck stories and no grudges. Just a person wanting to take their career to the next level.

Think of this as dating. Maybe one or two dates to run through industry issues and potential opportunities, just feeling out.

Then the commitment.

Do you trust then enough to stamp your name firmly behind theirs? Do they trust you enough with the next steps of their careers? Is there enough trust here that both parties would be faithful to the deal?


4) Now, finally, you can go and talk to clients. But not with resumes in hand. You go to explain who you are and what you are doing, and to make sure that they know you are NOT a recruiter but a candidate advocate.

Your experience tells you that this approach leads to relationships that work. Both in the short term and the long term. And you would invite them to engage you when they had an opportunity or a role they wanted to fill.

You explain the people you currently have with you. that they are hand picked, and that they are looking for a step forward for whatever reason. You explain how you believe they would be well suited to this company. And then you wait...

No hard sell, no foot in the door stuff, and no chance of not being able to get their attention again at some point.

All hirers, even the highest level ones, prefer to deal with people they can relate to. people they trust. be trustworthy, and bee a peer instead of an underling, and you are more likely to have a second and a third conversation.


5) Once your first, and / or second appointments have come off start to collect names as referees. Start to work with the people you have placed, as you already have a personal relationship with them. And the process continues from zero.


This industry needs a change not only because of the impersonal nature of the process. But because it plain does not work for anybody except the recruiters.

I would be very keen to hear what the leading edge out there are actually doing in this space?

If you enjoyed this post please consider subscribing to this feed, or you can subscribe to Consulting Pulse by email.