Companies that allow bad habits to manifest, give an industry a bad name.
However, there is a solution and a way of working that dispels myths and provides clarity to how the recruitment industry should behave.
Our management team got together to discuss and share why the word ‘recruitment agency’ is seen by some as a dirty word. Gloves off let’s explore!
What Is The Image Problem?
Let’s start from asking a very simple question: ‘why is there an image problem?’
Jason Gault, Managing Director for TeamJobs, explained, “There are recruitment companies that are seen as producing commodity work and looking to score points against each other. Relationships becomes devalued when an agency says ‘yes’ to anything. Everyone fills a bucket, looks and behaves the same and companies are seen as just another recruitment agency.”
“Where things genuinely fall down is when an agency hounds a company for business, promises them the world and then fall very short of what is actually expected. You cannot overpromise and underdeliver.”
Karen Brodie (our Bournemouth Branch Manager) picked up the momentum, “To some people, all the industry does is take a CV from the web and send it to a client and then charge a huge commission for something that they can easily do themselves. The reason they use an agency is that they just don’t have the internal resources or the time. This means the recruitment process is pushed to someone else to help fill a role and it becomes an empty, transactional experience.”
Perhaps it has been bad experiences that affect the industry? This is something that Michelle Mitchell (our Sales & Development Manager) highlighted, “If a client has had a negative experience, such as little interaction, no rapport with candidates, or people that are not suitable for the job, this can have a long lasting affect.”
“If your experience with a recruitment agency is best described as pushy or aggressive, then this contributes to a negative interaction. This highlights it is not the industry that just has an image problem, but the staff that give an agency a bad name.”
Michelle continued, “It may also be a generational thing. For instance, my mum once said to me, “People go to recruitment agencies because they can’t get a proper job.” It could be inertia that sticks and people treating an industry with one giant broad brush stroke.”
When looking to highlight an image problem, perception seems to be the biggest issue. The perception being that the industry is seen as a sales process, rather than a recruitment process. Add to this the elements of a lack of co-operation, no interaction and a deficit of trust all contribute to why the recruitment agency does have an image issue.
How Can This Be Addressed?
Accepting that there is a perception problem, let’s look at addressing this. We then discussed on how to address it. The crux as mentioned, is to turn a sales process into a recruitment one.
Rob Bruce (our Technical Manager) stated, “You have to get things right from the outset. For instance, the basics of being approachable, informative and a team of people to make you feel comfortable is important. Whether client or candidate, the level of respect has to be continuous.”
Karen picked up on this, “It’s not just the people but the environment you create. For instance, we have a shopfront at our Poole and Bournemouth offices. This is so the customer service journey starts right away. There is someone to make you feel welcome and say ‘hello,’ not a team of people looking away whilst they are on the phone.”
“A word that gets lost is consultancy,” highlighted Jason. “Companies have to switch from a faceless organisation that helps another company put people in jobs, but to advise. We expect more from our clients now than we have ever done. This is how relationships are formed and nurtured.”
Rob backed this up, “All newsagents sell cans of Pepsi. You can buy one anywhere you want. The one thing we can’t be seen as is a company that represents commodity work. When you work with a client and candidate, the success comes down to the relationships made. This is how one company is different from the other. This is where a positive image is created, or falls to pieces.”
How Can The Word Recruitment Agency Be Seen As A Positive Word?
Amongst the whole team, it was agreed that trust and honesty are key to driving longevity. The minute you half deliver, is when actions undermines the whole industry.
The focus on trust is a very pertinent area. The recent 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, highlights that trust in businesses in the UK is at an all time low and is one of the lowest scoring countries in the world.
Sally Bennett (our Executive Manager) mentioned, “We are all part of a very social industry. The bonds that we all form are integral to the success of the business and the profession. When you are instructed from someone where their is already a respected relationship and the process works in an advisory, not dictatorial way, it genuinely works.”
“We are here to help others recruit in the right way. There has to be a fit and both sides working to a shared ethos.”
The reason there can be negative connotations with the word ‘recruitment agency’ is that the industry becomes seen as just a necessity, not a benefit.
When using a recruitment company as a resource, taking on board advice, attending events (we have our HR Forum) and being part of a wider community is when perceptions start to change.
Forming trusted relationships is key. The success of a recruitment agency is not the wish to work with everyone, but those where there is a fit, a mutual respect and both sides feeling part of a wider team and common goal.