Alex posted this on his excellent blog ( ) and asked if we'd be interested in publishing this via our network. Alex, the floor is yours..

The industry head of careers and classifieds at Google is quoted in this month's Recruiter magazine as saying:

"The Hays and the Adeccos of the world haven't got it right. Where are they online? They are feeding the jobs boards."

Lovely. I'm sure Hays and Adecco are delighted to have their online approach critiqued in such a constructive manner! In fairness to the chap from Google, it looks like he's been quoted at "recruitment society" event (? have you been to one of these?) as opposed to having an open pop at them... I suspect he may be surprised that his comments have made the press (not to mention this blog obviously.) Don't fancy being Google's Hays account manager today...

Anyway, do you think he's right? Do you think Hays and Adecco are behind their larger competitors? I'm not so sure they are.

My take is that there is just so much coming at the recruitment industry at the moment - everything from impending economic meltdown to disruptive technology - that it is very tricky for recruiters to know what to and what not to adopt in their online strategy. Trying to stay ahead of the curve on this isn't easy. Trying to do this for a huge business like Hays, Adecco or any of the other big recruiters is a heck of a job. Think about it - decide to run with one of the new routes to market, get buy in from various stakeholders in the business, sort process changes/ set up and then go for it. Back the right horse and you're a star. Make the wrong call and consider how much time (and therefore money) it would cost a big recruiter to adopt even a free service.

As much as there's now a huge amount of choices and an ever changing market, not getting the right approach online will cost any recruiter hugely over the short, medium and long term. It really is rock and a hard place for some of the larger firms. As well as having to make calls on social media approaches, business networking (I did promise not to mention Hays/ Mark Ions in this post...), getting their own website right and sorting out a sensible job board strategy, recruiters also have to deal with the disruptive approaches coming at them (very regularly now) Here's some examples: - crux of this site is to allow the client to post the vacancy as well as what fee, recruiters then decide whether to work it or not. If they do its submit CVs. Want more detail on this? Click on - I like this one.... Its a community site specifically for the life sciences sector. Its got the lots, career management, job ads, training/ development options and a LinkedIn style connect function. Where does the recruiter feature there? It may not come as a surprise that the CEO is an ex recruiter... - hugely disruptive referal bounty site. Now attracting more entrants to the market - worth a look, the latest entrant in the US. Zubka is the daddy mind you - its been classed as "ebay for jobs" and in the UK is the closest thing to a "brand" in that market.

The list is almost endless... Flip yourself into the seat of the CEO of a listed recruitment firm.. Some big decisions ahead. No doubt many of the new sites/ offerings will launch in a blaze of glory only to fizzle out. Some of them are going to make it. As a recruiter if you miss the boat on this then you're really playing catch up.

What will really bring all of this to a head is the market slowdown. Most now acknowledge this is already upon us in the UK. Check out the comments on the Michael Page results on Yahoo Finance and the article in today's Times (links at the bottom of the post)In summary, MP's numbers are still very good (those of you who found this blog from my Xing or LinkedIn profile may accuse me of being a tad biased!) Few would argue that things are going to be tough in the UK over the next year or two.

During the last slowdown, we saw the Recruitment Process Outsourcing firms take a grip on the market. Love or loath RPOs? Think their day has come and gone? It doesn't really matter - the part of the market they are in is unlikely ever to go back to the straight agency market. This slowdown is likely to see another portion of the market go to the internet. How many businesses do you think are plotting how to cut agency spend at the moment?

Can the bigger firms have the same sort of agility as the smaller ones? Can they trial concepts? Anyone noticed what BLT are up to these days? Worth checking out Whether a big brand recruiter can or can't is almost irrelevant. They will need to adapt how they work to suit the increasing part the net is playing in jobsearches. Can they have a basic structure that is black and white in their online strategy and top this up with a "grey" area where they can trial new initiatives? I wonder.

Maybe the key word here is "adapt"

All of the disruptive media in the employment space is exciting stuff... All promise to be the catalyst for dramatic change... Consider one example. - on the face of it, this looks like it'd bring momumental change to the market. Job driven market, lots of candidates - from a client perspective its great: "Lots of recruiters want my business, I can use this site to drive the cost down." in principle this is really simple. In reality I'm not convinced. Why?
1. If recruiters need just agree to the terms on offer, can you imagine how many "hit and run" merchants will send CVs? Its not sounding like a positive experience for mr client
2. If the client is solely interested in driving cost down it stands to reason that a service oriented, quality recruiter would more than likely be thinking "thanks but not thanks" leaving lower quality firms to work the assignment. Again, as a client I would not be convinced that this the savings would outweigh either the inconvenience or the risk of not getting the best candidate for the job.

So what's the summary then?

3 key points for recruiters considering their online approach:

- Adaptabilty
- Flexibility
- Integration

Keep those three on the agenda... Simple hey, but can big firms act like smaller ones...?

Carve Consulting: social media, search, employer brand reputation m...

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