Does the Recruitment Industry suffer from short termism?

I read a blog post and the content got me thinking about the recruitment industry and how much of it appears to be very short term in its outlook. I don't mean to generalise and I know there a lot of good agencies who don' t take this approach, but a lot do.


Clearly recruitment businesses are there to make money - but I think the focus is too much on the generating fees rather than delivering a good quality service. For me its always been the case that if you deliver a quality service then the fee/income takes care of itself.

Focusing on fees over service, leads to a short-term approach which I think is an unsustainable way of running a recruitment business. Depending on the size of the recruitment business (i.e. with your larger recruitment organisations) it may be sustainable but will undoubtedly have an impact on your reputation.


So, why do recruitment businesses have such a short term view? Perhaps they don't actually set out to be short term but there are many factors which either directly or indirectly lead them to follow this


Here are some of the things which I think lead to a short-term approach in recruitment:

  • Too much focus on sales/revenue targets - in their own right targets are no bad thing and do provide focus and a clear idea of where you want to get to as an individual and as a business. However recruitment businesses need to give more thought to what goes on in the process to achieve these targets. (i.e yeah its great to make a placement but if in the process you haven't actually done a very professional job, and its at the expenses of establishing a more valuable medium/longer term relationship then is it worth it?)
  • Lack of quality - there's a lot of focus on speed of response within recruitment. Yes its important but not at the expenses of doing a proper job. Throw cv's at a client hoping one candidate will hit the mark isn't a good long term strategy. It might get you a fee but how often will it work, and the client will soon go elsewhere for a better service, if all they receive is a cv forwarding service from you.
  • An inability to establish client commitment - I have seen many consultants (and have done the same in my earlier days within recruitment) speak to a company/manager who says they have a vacancy which other agencies are working, but are happy to receive some additional cv's. The consultants rushes off knowing they are already up against it, sends some cvs across and hopes for the best. Does the consultants really have the commitment of the recruiting organisation to use them? Is this time well spent? Have they cut corners to get cv's across because they are already behind their competition?
  • Clients - Yes clients need to look at how they deal with their agencies. You can't expect a good service if you don't give agencies enough information or time. Also by using multiple agencies you in effect create a cv race which ultimately diminishes quality. Clients also need to know how to deal with agencies; often HR professionals who aren't recruiters give the impression that they will use an agency when in fact they won't and they should just be honest and say so. (unless you are very clear with recruitment agencies they will assume there is a chance of business with you; which will most likely make things more difficult for you in the future)
  • Inexperienced consultants - to often recruitment businesses let inexperienced consultants loose on their clients or prospective clients. I think they can struggle to provide the quality of service
    due to their lack of market knowledge and experience. This can be frustrating for businesses using the agency and therefore reduces the likelihood of a longer term relationship being established.
  • Anyone can work as a recruiter - currently it's too easy to be a recruiter. I'm not saying it should only be for certain people, but currently the industry falls short of some of the other professions
    like accountants, surveyor, architects etc who need to meet much
    greater levels of examination before they can operate within their
    respective industries and under their professional bodies. This 'ease
    to entry' attracts people for the money and creates massive competition
    which I believe leads to lower standards.
So whilst I think many recruitment businesses can be very short term in their approach to recruitment with the focus being too much on fees; I also think there are other factors, as illustrated above, which
contribute to this short term approach.


Do you think the recruitment industry suffers from short termism?




NB. this article was originally posted on my blog:

Views: 429

Comment by Leigh Cosgrove on January 5, 2011 at 4:21am
Jerry - For me the point is more how a recruitment business (i.e. the senior management) focuses their consultants attention and the measures used to determine "success". As Alex says in his post recruitment businesses are there to make money and let's face it most of us are in the business for the same reason but using metrics that only focus on the amount of money the consultant is generating that month is counter productive. You are forced to focus on your immediate pipeline in a very short term way which can have an adverse affect on long term relationships and sometimes quality. The problem is that relationship building (and I am talking the long term, sometimes slow burning) is not a tangible quantity making it difficult to measure. Cash is the easy metric and one that most consultancies put the most emphasis on. It is a brave and wise manager who values and acknowledges the bottom line, quality of service and the long game of relationship building as equal parts of success.
Comment by C. B. Stalling!! on January 5, 2011 at 9:34am
@ Jerry I agree with you
Comment by Alex Brock on January 5, 2011 at 10:01am

Thanks all for contiued comments. I agree with Sandra that 'Quality' is different depending on who is measuring it and therefore there is no 'one' rule for what 'quality' looks like.


When I was talking about quality - it was not just the quality of candidates, I'm interested in the whole service being offered i.e. the value add elements, differentiating yourself from other agencies/consultancies and taking a more long term approach. I think Leigh sums this up nicely in his latest comment.


I think its dangerous for recruitment business to assume that because they have a healthy bottom line it means they are providing quality. For example you can have a healthy bottom line over a short term period with your revenue generated from multiple clients - however if the quality isn't there then this can quickly change in the medium and certainly over the longer term.

Comment by Leigh Cosgrove on January 10, 2011 at 4:38am
Rayanne - is that the cheque (sorry English spelling) writer as in the boss or the client? If it is the client then I think you are right because let's face it, if they think there is a lack of quality then it will probably be the last time they get their cheque book out!


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