For the last decade or so, the recruiting industry has been one of the best examples of how companies have shifted their sales, delivery and operating models in the age of digital communications.
We trade in the timely exchange of information. Now more than ever, the lightning speed and open availability of this same information has led to a massive shift in how clients purchase our services and from which companies.
RPO, in-house and hybrid solutions have been increasing market share and revenue for the ten largest global companies while smaller firms are struggling to keep up.
How can we compete with world-wide reach and proprietary software, on a term contract with pre-set, heavily discounted rates and fees?
Collaboration, that’s how. Why does it not widely exist on an open network between small agencies, which most of us are?
The real estate industry in North America did a masterful job, many years ago, of controlling the way in which we buy and sell houses. Sellers sign exclusive contracts, the fee is defined, it is non-refundable with no guarantee period. The listings are on a network, available globally. At one time, it was only available to licensed real estate salespeople but now it is more widely viewable. And who cares! The seller is going to pay the agent a fee regardless of who sells the property and perhaps the listing agent will split it, perhaps not if they sell it themselves. The buyer is registered with every home viewing and both agents are protected.
The result is many more sales, as the listing agent understands that 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing. The power of a virtual team collaborating means a higher volume of sales will be closed and closed faster.
I have worked in five countries in recruitment, either full-time or on projects, and the differences are striking.
In Canada, for example, at one time, there was a suspicious, secretive atmosphere between headhunters. Other agencies were not viewed as our professional peer group of valued colleagues: they were competitors to be scorned, feared and disparaged.
This of course led to recruiters damaging the reputation of the entire industry and the notion of headhunters being at the bottom of the pile, along with used car salespeople and grave robbers became hard to shake. There is a reason that doctors stick together, as otherwise, they denigrate their own profession.
It started to change when the first association of agency owners in Toronto formed a group, now national, which met regularly to discuss these issues and today has a proud record of legislative change and of elevating the work that we do. This wind of change allowed us to reach across and talk to the former manager of potential new hires and get a straight reference check for a change. It allows splits, joint projects, RPO collaboration and much healthier competition.
Respect for our industry has now permeated into the minds of corporate Canada and although the US is not as far ahead, it is improving.
It takes energy, time and leadership. The technology certainly exists and those companies with the will to succeed and the determination and commitment not to make fear-based decisions can make this happen.
Otherwise, the smaller firms get smaller and the large firms get larger.