Data recruitment
By Mark Dexter
18th August 2015

Click here to read part one of this series, where I explored how it all began for me in the recruitment industry. Now I want to look at modern day recruitment and what it means for recruiters.

RECRUITMENT IS NO LONGER A SALES ROLE!

Sure, all recruiters have to sell as part of their role but that sale is now very much a two way sale. Or multi-faceted as I prefer to say.

I believe that everyone in the commercial world has to sell as part of their day job. But I’m not talking about cold calling, bashing the phone type selling. I’m talking about selling yourself, promoting yourself and the company you work for in every single communication you make. That may seem obvious to some readers, but it’s still the case that some people just turn up to work, do their job, go home again and get paid.

So as I’ve just said, recruitment is a multi-faceted sales role. You have to sell a role to your candidates and in turn, have to present those candidates in the best light to your clients. You have to manage, nurture and develop your business relationships, with your clients and your candidates, potential or otherwise. This is a constant sales process.

Underpinning all of this though is the reason I wrote this piece. You have to have something to sell, a product, or you might as well be whistling into the wind. In recruitment, this product is your data. Data that you have turned into meaningful information. YOUR information. Information that can be of great value to your clients.

I’m going to borrow a line from one of the recruitment industry’s gurus here, Greg Savage:

“Talent is not an online commodity. Identifying candidates is not the same as recruiting them. It’s the ability to bring talent to the hiring table, and manage the process that clients will pay us for.”

The internet has turned people’s career history into one huge shared database. A large majority of professional people have some sort of CV online somewhere, be it on a ‘traditional’ job board (traditional? How long has the internet been around?!), on a work related social media site such as LinkedIn or perhaps just on their own personal home page or blog. In addition to this, people talk about their work on social media; they might contribute to industry forums and they might even post guest articles to other sites in pursuit of building their personal brand.

This makes their career history fair game to every recruiter and in-house recruitment manager. They can be contacted by anyone with an internet connection about a role, relevant or otherwise, at any time of the day or night.

But this is not recruiting, or being recruited. This is random data farming with very little information to go on for the potential recruiter. If the CV is on a job board with a specified availability or notice period then the chances are that person is actively looking for work and so will be able to choose from any number of possible roles.

Hopefully you can see where I going with this. The modern recruiter needs to gather all of this information and store it, probably on one of the plethora of applicant tracking systems (ATS) on the market. In the agency world, these ATS are normally integrated with a CRM system to manage the links between a client or prospect database so that the right people can be introduced to the right people at the right time.

Sounds simple? In theory it is simple. Isn’t everything? But it takes time and effort to develop a candidate database and then manage it so that you know when someone with a particular skill in a particular geography in a particular salary bracket is likely to be looking for a new role. With probably thousands of candidates registered with an agency (sometimes hundreds of thousands), it is a herculean task to keep on top of the skills, work situations, personal circumstances and career aspirations of each and every one of them.

In practise, it is pretty much impossible but it doesn’t mean that you don’t continually develop processes and use technologies to keep as close to people as possible. In addition you need to keep your funnel open as new people pick up new skills in your market so they need to be introduced to the database and their details managed and tracked over time.

This raises another question; how much of the information held is actually of any value? Is there really any value in holding onto a CV that is many years out of date? But that topic is relevant to any industry and probably a whole blog on its own so I’ll park that thought for now.

You may have noticed that I’ve not mentioned sales for a while. Let me take you back to the paragraph when I said that you need a product to sell. It’s not as simple as ‘build it and they will come’ (it’s a competitive world after all) but once your prospective clients get wind that you can supply them with their most precious resource, namely human resource, in an efficient, quality-led manner, then they will come to see the value of all that data management you have been investing in.

We compete against sales led recruitment companies all of the time, and the chance is that some of them are winning more clients than us, at least in the short term. But my firm belief is that the recruitment businesses that truly understand the data they hold and can turn that data into meaningful information, will prove themselves to be more valuable to their clients in the longer term.

Do you agree? Is running a modern recruitment business really akin to running a data management company as I believe? Or is there still a place for traditional sales led recruitment businesses in the online world of today? 

What have I missed? I’ve intentionally not gone into too much detail on exactly how we manage our candidate data (we have our intellectual property to protect after all!) but I’d love to hear your views on recruiting in the socially connected world.

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