A few years ago recruitment had become stale, with recruiters doing the same thing, chasing the same pool of candidates, using the same job boards etc. Many of the "big boys" were just doing 'blanket' keyword searches , followed by many irrelevant calls to candidates, who naturally just got more disillusioned with recruiters and their methods. Recruitment companies were investing heavily in young graduates to populates their desks to simply 'churn out' calls and work the pure numbers game - they were paying no credence to experience, they were simply looking at the bottom line. There were of course,proper recruiters still out there, using all the methods they had been trained to do years before, all centred around the word communication - do you remember those days when recruiters had to actually speak to and engage to candidates at length and meet with them??
Companies also noted the changes and also began to become very negative towards recruiters, who they saw doing little work for a large fee - in their eyes they were simply not 'earning their money'! Recruiters were obviously making lots of money for less work, for example - placing an advert on a job board and sending the best three responses to the client, claiming much work done on a cv search!! But the one simple question from the client at the interview undermined that (and still does) - "so how long have you been working with XX agency then?" It is no surprise then, that the last two years has seen a massive growth in direct recruiting by the companies, is it??
So what has changed then? Well, I think the magic words web 2.0 have made the difference. Social media and specifically social networking have really heightened the need for recruiters to get back to what they do best (well the better ones anyway!!) and that is communicate and talk to their candidates and their clients. They need to be adding value to the clients, they need to understand their candidates - more importantly the candidates need to understand and 'buy into' the recruiters themselves.
Recruiters are not there to sift 100's and 100's of endless unqualified cv's, they are they to identify talent for their clients and make sure that these clients understand that. After all, that is how they had the real value. Social networking, with sites such as LinkedIn, MySpace and Facebook have really opened up the floodgates of prospective candidates, with many people using the popular phrase 'passive candidates' to describe this now readily available source of people. But just because candidates have become more visible, it doesn't necessarily mean that they will be as amenable to having recruiters contacting them. I strongly believe that many (if not most) people who have joined a social network, have not realised that there details are now exposed to every recruiter in the known universe!!!
So who will benefit from this huge pool of unsuspecting 'passive candidates' ? It will be the recruiters that are skilled in communicating, that have genuine people skills, that have the depth of knowledge and the recruitment experience that are starting to shine once more. Clients are again starting to appreciate the value of a true recruiter, and with the 'war for talent' effecting the marketplace so dramatically, these 'old fashioned' recruiters are again some of the most sought after skills in the industry.