Demand a little more from recruiters, and yourselves.

I should know by now that attending anything vaguely resembling an “HR roundtable” is only likely to result in my blood pressure going in one direction. The coming together of HR professionals can result in one of two things,

1) Creative thinking, challenging conversations, original solutions.

2) Dumbing down, group think, collective moaning.

You know which one is the predominant outcome, because you’ve been at these sessions too. But that’s not my point. This particular session was discussing recruitment, recruitment providers and the future recruitment market.

As I ate, what was an undeniably good meal, and listened I heard suppliers complain about procurers and procurers complain about suppliers. I heard,

“We want”, “We need”, “We don’t get”, “We expect”.

From both sides.

What I was hearing was the inability of the demand side (HRDs) and supply side (recruiters) to express the value that they wanted and provided. HR generalists are notoriously feckless and lazy when it comes to recruitment. They place vacancies with recruiters (at all levels) because they can’t be bothered to work out what they want, why they want it, or how they might achieve it.

Third party recruiters have, over time, been happy to accept this, make money from it and exploit the relatively soft market. Providing diminishing returns for increasingly unrealistic fees. They accept vacancies without question, see it as income generation and are target orientated.

Where is the definition of value? Can recruiters really define the value add? And do HRDs know the value they want the supplier to provide and demand it from them?

I can’t help thinking that so many of our issues with suppliers are down to our own poor management and laziness. Our inability to reflect, define and demand. Our tendency to act, react and take the path of least resistance.

Successful markets require good supply and demand. We can’t control the supply, but we sure as hell can be more in charge of our demand.



  1. interimity · February 17, 2014

    Neil….what can I say, but I completely agree. And the proof is in my own blogs on the topic. HR has the recruitment market it deserves…. it’s our own fault. What is the weirdest thing is that, as HR professionals, recruitment is our most important task because, if we get that right, we don’t have to spend the rest of our time trying to fix the recruitment cock-up further down the line.

    I have no idea why HR shy away from recruitment – it’s our most visible activity and if we really do partner with our clients they will love us forever. Plus it’s easy to measure the results and show value – which we are constantly trying to do.

    No brainer.

    • Neil · February 23, 2014

      Because they see it as transactional, which is a complete mistake.

  2. ethicalcompanies · February 17, 2014

    The only demand I would have of recruiters is some respect and some proper communication, I have to yet find one that has either.

    • Neil · February 23, 2014

      That’s a good starting point.

  3. Ian Perry · February 18, 2014

    Neil, I think the points you raise not only apply to the subject of HR and recruitment, but a wider lack of clarifying expectations that I have blogged about before.

    Coming back to your post, I qualify my comments in that I am not a practising HR Manager or recruiter. I am however working with a major insurance group to do some training of Managers in their work to firm up the practise of competency based interviewing in their recruitment process.
    So my experiences are limited to working with line managers, and my experience of the internal resourcing staff is that they are working hard to help their internal clients get the best people possible, as well as challenge them about recruiting from a more diverse pool of potential candidates.

    Essentially the work I am doing is to raise Managers awareness and clarity of what “great looks like” and to really clarify that in terms of actual behaviour that they would see demonstrated in an interview, either through the “stories” they tell of what they have done, or in the approach and their engagement in the interview.
    We are encouraging them to go past the vague, lazy language and platitudes that we all are so guilty of using when we try and describe performance of people, and to start thinking about the behaviours, values and motivations they want to see in people.

    So in this experience working with this client, there is a real serious intent to clarify expectations and in this instance the internal resourcing team are doing I believe what you would like to see. I am aware that many don’t do this, or have the luxury of a dedicated resourcing team but I think there is a learning here.

    Be clear about what you are looking for, build understanding of how you will know what makes someone successful in the role and what won’t, and then who ever is doing the recruitment there is a set of clear expectations of what you are looking for, and the means by which you are going to assess, measure and differentiate potential candidates.

    Hope this adds to the debate you are seeking to stimulate.


    • Neil · February 23, 2014

      Great points and it certainly does add to the debate. Language is important and so is thought.

Leave a Reply to Neil Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s