Home > business > Digital Recruitment Sheds Light on Lazy Head Hunters

Digital Recruitment Sheds Light on Lazy Head Hunters

Use Advanced Search to find candidates

Use Advanced Search to find candidates

It must be very hard to be a recruitment consultant or headhunter these days unless you are adding a lot of value to your clients. It’s so much easier to find a selection of candidates for a role, and then filter through them to a build a shortlist before inviting them for an interview. For a few hundred pounds per month, as an employer, you can access a site like ‘Monster‘ and search through a vast database of candidates.

You can also use services like ‘LinkedIn‘ to find prospective candidates to where business people will list their career history, skills and experience.

In certain sectors of the economy there is bound to be a larger supply of candidates then there are positions open. Many of my oldest friends are in this industry and make a good living from it. But with the vast majority of recruitment consultants are not very good at illustrating how they add value to their clients.

Every day our office receives calls from recruitment consultants trying to help us fill the roles we have open and which are advertised on our web site. I admire their enterprise for calling and trying to place their candidates with us. But their calls meet with our policy on not using headhunters to recruit new people.

Our experience with headhunters has been disappointing. When we have accepted the terms of a headhunter who then sends us candidates for our project manager or developer roles, their candidates were no better than the individuals we found through the online services like ‘Monster’ or through networking.  The difference is that you pay a large percentage of the successful candidate’s first year salary to a headhunter and you can save yourself some time trawling through the online services.

But the fact is that many headhunters send us the same candidates that we have found ourselves through the online services. Furthermore, we can find potential candidates through LinkedIn for free, bar the time spent contacting them.

So, the difference between paying 25% to 30% of the first year’s salary of a successful candidates salary through a headhunter and what you pay to trawl through ‘Monster’ yourself is so wide that you would expect a recruitment consultant to add something more valuable than if you did the leg work yourself. You would expect them to have vetted them to check their suitability, skills and experience for the role. This is simply not the case in our experience.

Digital technology and social media tools are shedding light on the mediocre and poor headhunters who add no value to the challenging task of hiring good people into a business. In the current economic climate, recruitment companies are going to have to work hard to show their value to clients. They used to take the leg work out of finding candidates by going down to the Jobcentre for you or placing ads in newspapers for juicy sounding jobs to attract prospective candidates.

You can do most of this yourself by simply learning to use the advanced search functions in the online job sites now. Top recruitment companies now have to do more for the large fees if they want to survive rather than using hope and ‘mud-throwing’ as a strategies to get a candidate to ‘stick.’ You would, at least, expect them to have a rigorous selection process themselves. The good ones will do this. Most of them don’t.

  1. 01/04/2009 at 9:48 pm

    Excellent post! If this group does not reinvent itself they will be the next group to be disintermediated by the web.

    • 01/04/2009 at 9:59 pm

      Hi Courtney,

      Thank you.

      Yes, they will find it increasingly difficult to run their businesses if they do not adapt their services quickly to show real value to their clients.

  2. Matt Hackett
    02/04/2009 at 10:00 am

    I certainly agree with your observations and experiences. Being in recruitment, and specifically within digital marketing, where many clients and candidates are very clued up in digital technology and social media, then we do have to adapt and change quickly, probably more so than recruiters in other specialisms.

    The point you make is one I have come across on a fairly regular basis and seems to get brought up every time there is a new advancement in how people can recruit. When Monster and similar generic job boards were first launched about 10 years ago, people were commenting that is would be the end for recruitment consultants. What previous experience has shown is, however they very rarely bring to a complete end more traditional methods, but make them sharpen up and, as you say, adapt their services.

    There has always been the option for clients to recruit directly, and although the methods have become cheaper and more accessible with advances in digital media, I genuinely believe there is still the need for professionals offering recruitment consultancy. The main issue has always been those recruiters who don’t consult and who just rely on having a database and sending CVs which match a few basic points with those outlined on a job spec, cross their fingers, and hope they get lucky. From my experience these are the minority, and tend to be the less specialised recruiters who don’t really understand the market or discipline they are recruiting for.

    In addition, there are still a lot of clients and candidates who like to have that 3rd party involvement to help them manage their recruitment journey, but I agree that there has to be an added value provided. Those who can show they understand both their clients and candidates needs are the ones who I believe still have a place in the recruitment process.

    I’m finding that, although challenging, it is an exciting time to be in recruitment, and it will be interesting to see what the recruitment landscape looks like this time next year.

    • 02/04/2009 at 10:11 am

      Hi Matt,

      Thank you for a well thought through and interesting comment.

      In my case, for the last few roles I have had in businesses, I have neither been placed by a recruiter nor been contacted through placing my CV onto an online service. I have found all of my roles through personal contacts and networking. The beauty of this is that it allows both the employer and me to measure each other up and lower the risk of making a mistake by knowing each other’s reputations and capabilities.

      This is, of course, what most employers would like their recruitment consultants to do for them, and many do, as you state. Digital technology will simply cut away the recruitment consultants who do not carry the necessary filtering and assessment of candidates.

      There will always be a place for good recruiters, of course, with a ‘rifle’ methodology to placing candidates. But there will be no room for recruiters with a ‘shotgun’ methodology.

      Thanks again,


  3. 03/04/2009 at 8:43 am

    Jonathan Hirst has made some very good comments about this article which give an insiders view of the recruitment. Here are his comments from his blog:

    “It’s hard not to become defensive when reading articles about recruitment consultancy – on the whole they are emotive pieces usually written by people who have had a bad experience and want to get things off their chest. Another reason you often see these articles would be because a PR hasn’t got anything else to write about and wants to ruffle a few tail feathers and make the headlines.

    Thankfully with Will’s article it seems to be much more balanced. I can’t quite understand in a blanket ‘not using headhunters to recruit new staff’ – there are good reasons why companies use recruitment businesses and perhaps the engagement between recruiter and client hasn’t been the best in this instance – it’s impossible to say who is at fault. However he makes a very good point about the use of social networks to source/attract new staff. As recruitment consultants we have been doing this for some time and, if done sensitively, can produce good results. The likes of LinkedIn, Plaxo and now twitter have enhanced the way we target potential candidates for our clients. However, this is not the be all and end all, merely just another channel.

    Most decent recruitment business (and I’m not going to drop our name now just to demonstrate we are one of these – decide for yourself…) have a number of sources from where to attract candidates. They’ll be advertising across a wide variety of job boards, not just the Monsters and Jobsites of the world. They may even still be engaging in some press based activity. There’s likely to be an SEO strategy or ongoing PPC campaign which will drive awareness and some form of social media strategy although strategising in something that is changing so fast is difficult! They may have engaged a PR agency to raise awareness – call it a traditional TTL marketing campaign if you will.

    In addition they should have a relational database that is kept up to date and accurate – most don’t. They will have built up a team of consultants with 2+ years of service each who have built relationships with candidates and clients – most don’t. These relationships are the difference. The knowledge, empathy, interest and enthusiasm generated by dealing with someone over a period of time or acting as a candidates’ career manager goes far beyond the traditional perception of recruitment consultants that they are just in it for the money. I have been in recruitment for the past 15 years. It’s never been about the money – that followed the enjoyment of the job and success that it brought.

    Finally (do I hear you sigh with relief) remember that recruitment businesses are agencies – as are design, digital, advertising, PR, travel and estate agencies. As individuals, we could do all of these things ourselves – we could book our own holidays, sell our own houses, design our own adverts – but, we don’t. We leave it to experts who do it for a living. Pick the right one and you will get added value.”

    You can visit his blog using the link below.

    Will Hawkins


  4. 07/04/2009 at 7:17 pm

    Thank you for your comments. Much appreciated!

  1. 15/07/2009 at 10:24 pm

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