How Chameleons Will Win In The New World Of Recruitment

By Bernadette Eichner - Sep. 13, 2015
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Last week I was privileged to be representing RecruitLoop and speaking at the 2015 Recruitment and Consulting Services Association (RCSA) International Conference held on beautiful Hamilton Island in Australia’s fabulous Queensland.

The theme of this year’s gathering of hundreds of recruitment professionals from across Australia and New Zealand was “Recruitment Renewed” and the line-up of speakers all addressed the one constant thing we face in life and business … change. ‘Disruptors’ and ‘Disruption’ were probably the two most often heard words across the three days we were together.

There were gold nuggets of information and advice everywhere (and I’ll be writing about some of those soon) but for now I thought I’d share the essence of my own presentation, “Chameleons Rule: Reinventing Yourself as a Recruiter in the New World of Recruitment”.

Chameleons are tiny little reptilian creatures who have the incredible ability to outdo and trick their predators by changing colour and blending into whatever landscape they’re in.

I’m not saying for a minute that recruiters are small or reptile-like! Nor should they ever simply blend into the background, unnoticed. But our ability to adapt to the changing recruitment landscape is essential if we are going to remain relevant in the changing world of employment services.

In the past few years we’ve seen numerous new players in the recruitment industry offering alternatives to the traditional percentage of salary billing model; fixed flat fee and hourly rate models (like RecruitLoop) are popping up around the world and doing well. Freelancer and other contractor online marketplaces are on the rise globally. And the new, improved candidate search tools offered by companies like Seek, Indeed, or LinkedIn enable employers to bypass the use of an intermediary altogether.

And being online initiatives in a digital world, they are here, on our doorstep, now. We simply cannot put our head in the sand and ignore these changes in the hope they will go away.

They won’t.

Add to this the fact that clients today are more tech savvy and confident to do more of the candidate sourcing themselves and the rate at which entire industries are transforming, or disappearing altogether, and it can be easy to get overwhelmed.

But we don’t have to sack all our staff, turn our businesses upside down and rush out for a prescription for anti-anxiety medication. The challenge for recruiters today is about remaining relevant in the rapidly changing world of work.

And it isn’t that difficult if we pay attention to what we need to do.

The key messages I shared were really quite simple:

1. Disruptors are not destroyers but you need to understand them

There is room in the market for all of us. Clients have different needs and none of us can meet all the needs of all the clients. The smart recruiter of the future will be clear about their own purpose, be clear about what they are offering, learn what tools and technology will best enable them, and be keenly aware of what other providers are offering.

2. ‘Sell’ differently

In his keynote, “Outstanding Customer Service and the Future of Business”, Martin Grunstein encouraged us to “stop selling recruitment and start selling stress management”. I couldn’t have said it better myself! The way we do that is to ditch cold calls, stop hiding behind emails and become true Consultants – trusted advisors to our clients.

This means always “having a reason to call” a client. And the reason is not to sell our recruitment service but to see if we can partner with them to solve their current problem, which is attracting the right talent to join their team. It is about asking questions, actively listening to their responses and exploring possible solutions. Or in the words of Rob Davidson from the Davidson Group, “ask questions and listen rather than tell and sell”.

And develop, continually refine and rehearse a 60-second snappy elevator pitch that can be adapted as required – no more than 5 sentences that intelligently and eloquently tell people who you are, what you do, how you do it and why they should do business with you. Make those sentences count by making sure you understand what will resonate with your audience. And “we make sure we provide you with the best candidates available” doesn’t cut it!

3. Get informed

This is a big one. So many recruiters I train and coach can’t tell me what is happening in the world of their clients. I’m pretty sure they know who won the last season of ‘My Kitchen Rules’ or ‘The Voice’ but they don’t know what is happening in the industries and candidate markets they claim to be specialising in!

The recruiters who will still be in business five years from now are the ones who make an effort to truly understand the industry their clients are in. What is their core business? What are the challenges they are facing? What do they think will be their biggest challenge in a year’s time? What is happening politically that may affect their business? Where will their future candidates come from?

4. Find your active voice – start by removing ‘just’ from your vocabulary

I asked one delegate what company she was from and she said, “Oh, we’re just a little agency from …”. This fired up the acute frustration I always experience when I’m training recruiters and hear over and over again in the role plays, “I’m just a recruiter”; “I’m just calling to see if …”; “I was just wondering if you had time to …”.

When we use the word “just” in these circumstances we diminish everything that comes after it. We are not just recruiters just calling to see if you just needed our help or just wondering if you had time to talk.

If we want to be perceived as intelligent and credible and position ourselves as trusted advisors, we need to be confident and forthright in our communications and proud of our profession.

5. Outdo the algorithms by improving the quality of your client relationships

Algorithms can never replace the human component of the recruiter-client relationship. What they can do though, is give your clients an alternative to using an intermediary – clients can now use the same tools you do to source candidates. The magic smoke and mirrors of old are gone.

Smart recruiters will pay more attention to their client relationships – see points 2 & 3 above for starters! Spending time listening to your client, thinking for them rather than just about them and selling stress management and not recruitment will establish a business partnership, taking you off their provider list and putting you in their trusted advisor circle.

6. Candidate sourcing

The number of channels for candidates to market themselves directly to clients are increasing and the tech savviness of the emerging labour market means our relevance to candidates will decline if we aren’t careful.

Successful recruiters of the future will actively source candidates using a multitude of channels, build solid candidate networks and engage with them via their preferred methods. You might even think about building an online talent community as part of your business.

As Greg Savage reminded us in his presentation, amongst other things, the recruiter of the future will be a master e-sourcer and social networker.

7. Add value

Clients now have many alternatives if they are motivated by price alone. Discounting your fee by a few percent is no longer enough to win the business.

The successful recruiter of the future will find ways to add value to their offering – psychometric testing, a complimentary hiring wellness check, probation review reminders, an “Interview skills for Hiring Managers” workshop and so on.

Which one will you start doing today?

Marketplace Manager, building our recruiter community. I've more years experience in the global recruitment industry than I care to mention. Known to sprout Shakespeare.


Bernadette Eichner

Marketplace Manager, building our recruiter community. I've more years experience in the global recruitment industry than I care to mention. Known to sprout Shakespeare.

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