1994 was the year I was introduced to the relatively unknown industry called IT sales recruitment! Little did I know or think that some 22 years later I would be recounting my memories and experiences of this ever evolving business which in 2016 saw annual global sales revenue reaching €450.4 billion! (Ciett 2016 Economic Report)
Grosvenor Gardens, Victoria. The starting point from where I would never look back! I was hired as a Resourcer, my role was simply to find IT candidates for contract opportunities my boss gave to me. Sounds easy by today’s standards but back then we did not have the internet nor a CRM system that added any real value to our business. It was all about the fax machine, the postal service, referrals and the good the old Rolodex! Monday mornings saw the most humble and quiet individual turn into a raging lion! Who got into the office first in order to ‘strip’ the CVs received by fax over the weekend was key to your success… Who managed to accost the postman before he got the reception was also seen as a Monday morning task that would put you ahead of your colleagues and thus seen as a ‘KPI’ for your career progression by your boss! It was tough, CV’s would disappear from desks, candidates were ‘nicked’ for other roles and CV’s got ‘lost’ from candidate files which were all held in cabinets along the back wall of the office. This was just the internal completion you faced let alone another external agency who was also was resourcing for your client.
The irony, however, was that in hindsight it was the best training ground I could have had. You learned to move quickly – Close the candidate, close the interview and close the deal! If you were not swift in your actions you would lose! The key to all of this was control and understanding.
In 1995 I was offered a consultant role within an IT market involving a software product called SAP. I had no idea what it was but my research told me that SAP contractors earned more money than the consultants I was resourcing for previously and they also seemed to be a greater demand for this skill! It was a ‘no brainer’ and to date, it is still a market area I am involved in!
However, 1995 saw changes in the business that would influence the way we operated forever! The internet became a sensation overnight and no longer did we need to revert to ‘directory enquiries’ or the ‘yellow pages’ for company contact numbers and addresses. Companies like Jobserve offered a way of finding candidates through online advertising that previously we did via magazines and newspapers!
Around the same time, we saw the birth of what I would consider a proper CRM system for recruitment and of course email addresses replaced the fax machine and the postman! The focus was now all around data and making sure candidate records were up to date, skill coded correctly, all calls to clients and candidates noted and diarised. Failure to comply in this way led to you losing clients to your colleagues. Simply put, if you were not speaking to a contact monthly then it was ‘free game’ for your colleague. The KPI driven business was born!
As the Internet started to take more a foothold in our lives we saw the birth of Social Media sites such as Linked In. Launched in 2002 it was yet another game changer to our business that many today would find hard to live without! ;o)
Over the last 10 years, I have seen more and more recruitment companies enter the market, the profession is now seen as an acceptable area for graduates to enter into (certainly wasn’t in 1994), you can even do a degree in Recruitment! The Internet has more information available to us now than at any other time and the number of social media sites for business is on the increase daily!
So what is wrong with our business today? Some may say nothing, but I disagree!
Clients are bombarded daily with so-called ‘industry recruitment experts’ who recount specific questions that their training states is the way to develop a client relationship. They receive CVs that are fundamentally the wrong skillset for what they need.
Emails are sent out by ‘bulk’ to candidates who do not have the specific skill set the email template states they have. They receive calls from recruitment consultants who have no idea about what they do technically or job offers which are clearly not within their portfolio of offering… This list goes on and I am sure many of your reading this can relate to my comments.
My personal belief is we have lost the human touch and thus our service offerings are suffering as a result. We rely too much on technology to do a job, which as all about people supplying people to people!
I started in this business having to speak to individuals, meet them, understand what their strengths were, their characters, their roles, their responsibilities and what made them tick. Look them in the eyes and build rapport such that they knew me and I knew them.
If a client wanted resource it wasn’t just about the skill set, it was about talking with them to understand what the actual project issue was, the cultural environment and industry sector we would be supplying into and making sure we supplied the solution to the problem with minimal impact on our client's daily activities. They didn’t want 20 CVs on their desks, they wanted us to tell them why they should interview or hire the 2-3 candidates we proposed. We listened to the problem and made sure we found the solution, which captured all aspects of the need, not just the skill set. Once placed we would go and meet the client and candidate and keep in contact regularly. We built rapport such that you were the instinctive point of contact when a candidate needed a new job or a client had another resource need.
In summary, technology provides us with tools that can assist in the ‘day to day’ job but do not lose sight that people buy from people! I am humbled by the fact that to date I still work with clients and contractors I met in the 1990s. They are friends and what better way to do business than to work with friends!
Written by Paul Emmett, Contracts Director Of Consulting Point Search