Increasingly it’s becoming clear that a real recovery in recruitment demand is looming over the horizon. In Australia we are seeing little surges of temp demand, and in Asia our job order flow at Aquent is strengthening slowly but surely. Europe is more problematical for the moment, but certainly the RCSA (Recruitment industry body in Australia and New Zealand) must believe an upswing is probable, as they have asked me to speak on that very topic over the coming months right across the country.
Perhaps one of the most important things we need to understand is that when the recovery comes, it’s going to be a different market. In the boom it was a ‘delivery market’. Orders came to us freely. Referring candidates fast was the decider. Recruiters were able to horse-trade talent around town, and secure placements almost in spite of their consulting skills, rather than because of them Many recruiters lost the hunting and sales mentality during the protracted recruitment market boom, which by my estimation lasted at least from 2002 till 2008, but if you take a longer view and count the 2002 slowdown as merely a blip, then probably it lasted a 15 years or more!
And of course that lack of business development and relationship-building acumen is what has hurt many consultants in the downturn, and forced lots of them out of the business all together. But we lost something else in the boom market and I believe it’s going to hurt us even more as demand returns. Many recruiters have totally lost skills in client and talent control. And what I really mean by ‘control,’ is the ability to influence outcomes, to manage expectations, to negotiate compromise and to broker deals. It’s these skills that the successful consultants will need as things pick up.
You see, I am convinced that we fell into bad habits during the years of plenty. We must be careful that we don’t become married to yesterday’s tools and techniques, because we might be in for a nasty shock if we complacently believe that we can simply revert to methods we used pre-recession. "Phone-jockey" tactics, like cold calling as well as relentless job board advertising and email blasting of resumes, for example, are methods that may have become outdated. The future is not so much cold calling, but more niche networking.
Recruiters will need to be skilled with building online relationships. But there is a catch. Online is not enough. The fully rounded recruiter will have the smarts to integrate their online activities with real world relationship building, via live networking and referrals. When all is said and done, the ability to impress and influence, personally, will be the key.
So get ready for the switch. Yesterday’s ‘delivery market’ becomes tomorrow ‘relationship market’.
Are you ready to cope?