It was more than a loaded question that a close pal asked " Are Third party Recruiters becoming redundant especially in this connected world? Everyone knows everyone else, and with social media, job boards, it is easy to find people and fill in positions without any external help". And before I could even retort after the long sip of the coffee -at the crowded counters at the NHRD conference, he was drawn into another huddle...
So, when I stumbled upon interestingly, some deliberations in the online world -with a more pointed debate "Is Linked in eating the recruitment industry?", the coincidence seemed too uncanny...
(A must read. It has caught the fancy of many a player in the HR ecosystem. The 40 odd comments provide a lot of insight..further vindicated by over 1800 shares on Linked in, 430 tweets and close to 150 likes(?!) on Facebook!)
True, disintermediation is the driving force for many Internet based businesses. And there is no debating that social media democratises access to talent and ' in connecting talent to opportunities on a massive scale'!
And the real threat to third party recruiters, from Linked in specifically, is that it encourages companies to develop their in-house recruitment teams.
However, I think there is more than meets the eye presently.To me, Linked in is yet another tool-very important is today's context, and like any other technology necessary but not sufficient.
Yes, it is definitely more sophisticated than a mere job portal that provides similar data for 'same set of keywords'. It is entirely dependent on the user, and his network of connections-and throws up options up to their third level of connections.
It has a great toolkit ( inmails, status messages, groups, Linked in today. etc) -but the onus is on how one uses it..
And as in any business networking group, it is not enough to simply show up-you have got to participate and do the things necessary to make an impact. As the real work still exists- finding a way to actually connect to the person on the other end of that profile. (Remember there aren't any contact numbers/emails ids unlike that in a job portal!). And the onus lies on the respondent to accept your invite or not.
Which essentially boils down to the brand equity of the person (or the company one represents.) In the connected world- those with a higher visibility, and credibility have a lesser cycle time to convert leads. While the Accentures and Pfizers find it easier-it isn't just a walk in the park for the rest!
Lest we forget, unlike commodities that are usually the raw material in most automated processes, we are in the people's business. Someone with aspirations, desires, wants, likes, and with a mind of his/her own -to decide whom to be engaged with. And emotionally.
The erstwhile recruiter will have to grow out of being a transactional person. And become a trusted advisor. Yes, the low lying fruit is always there for the picking. Beyond that, it is the management of relationships that is going to be the difference. And the human touch- in reaching, engaging, and ability to influence.
The recruiter of tomorrow will need to have a great EQ, also be tech-savvy and use a multiple of technologies, manage knowledge and data, be conscious of the network, reputation, brand, industry knowledge, client culture & process, and need to refine the service offerings consistently to stay ahead of the curve..
My belief is :
a) A lot of these sentiments has probably been more pronounced in the context of the 'cautious hiring' in the last couple of years. Most companies have held back new projects, and so have had the luxury of 'back-filling' and 'replacement hiring' in a relatively quiet hiring market...as also very low attrition!
This defensive tactic of 'cost cutting' will need to questioned-and companies may need to be aggressive in focus sing on 'quality of talent' -if they need to change the status quo!
b) Should the present economic situation prolong, my gut is that better companies will need to raise the bar further and replace some of the 'passengers' -with new blood- or 'game changers'.
c) I cannot resist not using a qoute from Warren Buffet " It's only when the tide goes out that you learn who's been swimming naked". Today -managing one's career is just as critical as any investor preserving wealth...with a lot of thought going into preparing, protecting and investing.
Do we see the recruiter in an avataar of a 'personal banker' advising High Networth Inviduals?
And considering that the odds would be in favour of the 'employee' to choose which employer to be engaged with, it will be an interesting space to watch..
Please do let me know if there are any blind spots!!