Is the recruitment agent dead?

Written by
Joe Wiggins

13 Jun 2016

13 Jun 2016 • by Joe Wiggins

Finding and recruiting top talent has never been easy, but today’s employers are facing new challenges that are making it tougher to woo the best candidates. The internet and social media have fundamentally changed the world of recruitment, giving jobseekers access to a wealth of information that reveals what it’s really like to work for a business, whether that’s official employee blogs and branded content to anonymous employer ratings and reviews. 

These changes have created a candidate’s market, with potential employees firmly in the driving seat and making informed decisions about where they want to work. Companies are responding to this change by investing in employer branding and recruitment marketing to showcase their culture and values. So where does the traditional recruitment agent fit into this picture? Will the 21st Century ring the death knell for the classic external recruiter or present a new opportunity?

These were the questions posed to a panel of industry experts from Glassdoor, the Dorchester Collection, Intellectual Capital Recruitment and This Way Global, by creative content agency, Southerly, at a breakfast event in May. During an informative, lively debate the panelists shared their views on the role of technology in disrupting the recruitment industry; the value and role of employer branding and the impact of social media on the world of recruitment. 

We caught up with Joe Wiggins, head of communications at Glassdoor, after the event to find out more:

Are employees looking for more transparency, trust and authenticity from employers these days?

There is a huge appetite for data from people looking to find out what it is like to work for certain companies, or do certain jobs, where the best jobs are, what people get paid and what you have to go through to interview with different employers.

At Glassdoor, our mission is to help people everywhere find a job and a company that they love, and we're doing that by using the power of people that are already working there. Employees are consumers, and are very comfortable using reviews and peer feedback to make purchasing decisions. The thirst for user-generated content in the jobs sector is a natural evolution, given that deciding where to work is one of the most important decisions anyone can make.  


What can organisations can do to attract the right talent?

We have found that 69% of Glassdoor users are more likely to apply to a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand. It’s important to remember that your employer brand is the essence of who you are as a company – it’s a reflection of your values and what you stand for. A strong employer brand will shine through in everything you do.

So the most important thing is to think about what you stand for. Then consider whether your employees truly understand that by checking what they are saying to the outside world. If there is a gap in what you say your brand is and what employees feel, think or say then you have a challenge. Maybe you need to think about reinforcing your brand values internally, or maybe it’s a question of broadening participation in social media or other sites to let your personality shine through.

Either way, employers need to be brave enough to let employees speak for themselves, to be brand advocates and not to control what they say.  

Some might view sites like Glassdoor as vehicles simply for disgruntled employees to vent frustrations. What would you say to them?

If you spend just five minutes looking at reviews on the site, you will see that there is a full range of opinions and that Glassdoor is full of constructive feedback for employers. Around three quarters of employees say they are ‘ok’ or ‘satisfied’ with their jobs and companies, so it is clearly not just a forum for those looking to get something off their chest. 

In fact, I analysed the text used in the "advice to management" section from 12 months' worth of reviews from UK employees and the most common sentiment was for employers to "keep doing what you're doing". 

Many people believe that agency recruitment is an outdated and costly model. Is this really the case?

Good agencies are great at what they do and they know how to demonstrate their value. Agencies are brand ambassadors for their clients on the front-line with candidates and so their role will increasingly be to help manage their clients' reputations.

With reviews and salaries out there in black and white, clients have an opportunity to work in partnership with recruitment agencies. For example, if a company has below average reviews, then recruitment agents can help put this into context for candidates so that they don't get scared off. 

In your view, what are the key skills and competencies required for a modern-day recruiter?

In-house recruiters will increasingly need to think like marketing people, and suppliers to these functions (staffing and search) will therefore need to consider how they demonstrate value in terms of pipeline and conversions.

Finally, how do you see the recruitment market evolving?

I envisage a scenario where permanent employment becomes less and less likely for many people, and instead individuals undertake project-based assignments that last days, weeks, months or years. As the focus on creating an employer brand increases, and more businesses start to recognise the important role social has on recruitment, I believe HR and recruitment teams will take the lead in curating their own pools of talent; using the free tools they have available to drive attraction in the first instance, particularly for passive candidates.

They will, however, continue to need extra reach from agencies, specifically for hard-to-fill roles or being connected to active candidates.