… asks a thought-provoking article by Robert Wright, a UK Recruiter and guest blogger at “Undercover Recruiter” ( http://bit.ly/17taWvb). The answer is of course a resounding “YES”.

Wright makes a compelling case of why the recruitment industry is so reluctant to innovate when it comes to digital marketing. The comment section under his post proves just how right he is. “I will put a group of old timers up against any new school crowd any day”, says one commenter. “How can we effectively use social media to generate business?” wonders another one. And my personal favorite: “If my old school garden hose works perfectly well; why would I need to get rid of the hose and hope to find some other form of watering my garden?” from a commented by the name of Jerry Albright. No one, however, seems to answer Wright’s main question, which is this: “Are there changes afoot that are becoming serious challenges to the traditional recruitment model and if so will the leaders in the industry have the skills to innovate in response?”

I was going to leave a lengthy response in the comment section, but decided to reply with a post instead.

The main challenges (or opportunities to some) facing today’s recruiters are threefold:
 
  1. Supply VS demand. Our recovering-from-recession market is becoming more and more job seeker friendly. Job seekers are bombarded by offers from numerous sources and can afford to be more discerning when deciding which recruiters to listen to and which to ignore.
  2. Competition. With the low barriers of entry and hardly any overhead cost, the industry is also becoming saturated with more recruitment firms than anyone can keep track of, so clients too are becoming more selective.
  3. Changing demographics. Baby boomers could usually care less about your online presence. However, they are retiring and the “digital generation” is taking over.
There are also new positions that companies now look to fill – digital marketers, SEO or SEM specialists, social media and community managers are all increasingly in demand. If your recruitment firm’s social media output is unimpressive, how likely are you to attract these candidates? To a client looking to hire such talent, a recruitment firm with a strong online presence, and hence know-how in the digital space, will have a much bigger appeal than a traditional recruiter still trying to figure out what the acronyms stand for.

Faced with a lineup of potential vendors, hiring managers and job seekers have the luxury of choosing their service provider based on fit. Gen Y is the new wave of entrepreneurial talent and so far tends to run the more “sexy” industries – web agencies, marketing firms, cutting edge technology shops.  If you pitch these guys, yet a quick search on you reveals a bare LinkedIn profile (or not even) and a cheesy web site with pictures of a handshake and a woman with a headset (all very typical imagery in our industry), chances are you won’t get through the door. As this generation takes over other industries, the wide playground of recruitment firms with an old school mentality will continue to shrink.

In other words, Mr. Albright: time to replace the hose, or soon someone else will be watering your garden.  

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