The global recruitment industry is worth US$420 billion in revenue, nearly half of the total Australian annual GDP. Turnover figures dwarf even that figure and are in the trillions of dollars, making the entire Australian economy, (one of the strongest in the world according to recent reports), look tiny by comparison. A single global industry that makes one of the strongest economies in the world look small; that’s pretty impressive, right?  Not really. Especially considering their chief product is human beings- the very same human beings who generated all that money in the first place.

So why is it that this multi trillion dollar turnover, global behemoth, continues to carry such a stigma? Well, it depends who you ask. If you ask most global corporations, the likes of IBM, HP, Exxon, Accenture, etc., they love recruiters. These organisations don’t have to try hard to recruit the best people. They are like recruiting magnets, attracting a constant stream of applicants without really trying.  They don’t talk about attracting people; instead, they talk about filtering them. It’s a rare occasion when you see the likes of IBM advertising on Seek, or turning to recruitment agencies.

They spend large amounts on systems that allow them to maintain their brand in the recruitment process, to show people respect and to maintain their brand integrity. Yet, even for these organisations, going external is still a necessary thing. So, when the stream dries up, they reconnect with the account manager of their preferred supplier, who has been busy trying to making a living in any way possible including: badgering the rest of the world creating an unpleasant trail of bad impressions through obsessive telesales.

It is the smaller businesses though who suffer at the hands of recruiters, those SME businesses that can ill afford recruitment fees, that cannot afford to compete for the best people and also pay agency fees, yet are caught between a rock and a hard place because they have the need to recruit and are left with no alternative but to do business with them.

Obviously, it is not just bad systems that make good recruiters bad, it is the bad clients, bad candidates, and of course, there are bad recruiters. Without wanting to stereotype, picture this; US$420billion x 0.000001 = Flash suit, flash house, flash car.  This well suits a salesperson’s aspirations. It’s all about money.  So, is there a tinge of jealousy, envy or greed then, or any number of other deadly sins that comes in to play in perpetuating the negative image of Recruiters?

The fact is, we would prefer not to spend our hard earned money with people that we don’t think have earned it. Recruiters are blamed for producing the wrong candidates; it’s all their fault that we can’t get the right people. You have to wonder; if there were no Recruiters, who would be the scapegoats for an ineffective recruitment process?

The fact remains that a very small percentage of recruiters taint this industry, leaving client and candidate alike with a bad taste in their mouth, despite the great work of 80% of the industry. Having recently returned to Australia from the UK, I was in the position of the Candidate. I got a new perspective and I have to say, I didn’t like what I found. I was able to see past the recruiters to the companies behind, and I saw companies tarnishing their own name with ineffective systems. Now, the really important question I ask myself constantly, the panacea question, is this;

With all this money being spent, so much at stake and with all these people involved, when is somebody, somewhere going to build a Recruitment Management System that cannot fail to make a bad recruiter good?

Next week – The evolution of Recruitment Systems and why something so simple, is so hard to get right.

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