Has Using a Recruitment Firm Lost its Value?

The good folks at IQPC (organisers of the recruitment and retention conference) sent me the results of a survey they conducted at their conference last year. One of the questions attendees were asked was whether recruitment firms still offer value.

The attendees voted. The verdict?

Not unlike the recent hung parliament delivered by a divided electorate, opinion on recruiters is evenly split, with 38% agreeing or strongly agreeing that they add value, and 41.6% disagreeing or strongly disagreeing.

Significantly, a fairly large number (20.4%), independent MPs in political speak, are sitting on the fence ready to tilt their opinion to either side of the opinion balance (refer chart). In effect they are waiting to be impressed, to be cajoled, and won over.

There are a few lessons here:  

The first task should be to concentrate on already happy customers.

Recruitment firms should focus on further delighting those who already believe in their value, for two reasons. Firstly, happy customers put bread on the table. It is also much more cost-effective to completely delight a fan than try to win over the doubters. Secondly, happy fans, in particular the small 5.3% who strongly value the service of recruitment firms, are critical in influencing those sitting on the fence.

Those in neutral mode, by default, are going to be suspicious and wary of recruiters (which is why they are sitting on the fence in the first place). When one is undecided about a product or service we seek the opinion and assurance of our peers, but seldom from the suppliers themselves. It is a far better strategy to have happy clients spread the good news.

Besides, it’s going to be very difficult (but not impossible) to win over those who already have a negative view of recruiters. In any circumstance, changing someone’s opinion and winning trust (especially if it was forfeited before) takes time. The smarter strategy would be to concentrate on the current fan base and mobilise them to vouch on your behalf.

Chart: Using a recruitment firm has lost its value? image   

Other interesting tidbits:

  1. 26% said recruiting from overseas is a powerful tool to win the war on talent.
  2. 52.2% believe using social media helps recruitment strategies
  3. 74.5% think HR metrics are essential to measure the success of recruitment

Have a look at the survey results.

(Note 1: Sample size was not provided to me, but it’s likely to be around one hundred, the size of a typical conference crowd)

(Note 2: IQPC also produced two podcast to promote their conference. Here’s an interview with Rebecca Houghton, National Recruitment Manager, BUPA)

3 replies
  1. Ross Clennett
    Ross Clennett says:

    Interesting stats but ultimately meaningless without some sort of context. How many attendees at the conference? What are their specific roles? What type and size of organisations? How much recruitment do they undertake. HOW are they using recruitment agencies (ie PSA panel, informal panel, exclusive etc). Which agencies are they using? What are they paying for the various services they are buying? What % of their business is temp, what % is perm?

    Given the growth of the recruitment agency market I can only conclude that there must be a lot of less-than-satisfied decision makers who continue to use recruitment agencies.

  2. Phillip Tusing
    Phillip Tusing says:

    Good point Ross.

    I was not given the exact sample size. The data seems to be generated from a questionnaire mailed to conference attendees (typically around 100 people).

    I don’t think it is a comprehensive study by any means. Nevertheless, I thought some of the findings are interesting. But I still stand by the premise of my argument i.e. concentrating on happy customers.

    We at Destination Talent are conducting a more exhaustive report to find out how employers engage with their recruitment suppliers. Watch this space http://destinationtalent.com.au/research/8/2010/6/8/recruitment-satisfaction-report-2010-11

  3. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    The question “Has Using a Recruitment Firm Lost its Value?” is so open to interpretation that even if we did know more about the voters the results would still probably be meaningless

    In my 15 years experience in recruitment I dealt with many clients who moaned about paying recruitment fees but continued to use us relentlessly for years on end. They loved the service we provided, they just didn’t like paying for it.

    They probably hated paying their lawyers and accountants as well 🙂


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