Aardvark Swift's MD Ian Goodall on why the rise of social media will not kill off recruitment agencies

JOBS IN GAMES: Agencies – “We’re not dead yet”

Continuing our Jobs In Games special, in association with OPM, Aardvark Swift’s managing director Ian Goodall explore the rise of social media, and ponders its impact on recruitment agencies.

Social Media… Internal Recruiters: Is this the end of the road for Recruitment Agencies?

We’re in a recession; companies are under pressure to cut operating costs. HR is under pressure to reduce agency fees, but still deliver hires. So, many are bringing some, if not all of their recruitment in-house. Seems sensible.

After all, internal recruiters have access to the same social platforms (including LinkedIn) as any agency does and with advancements in web technology, and the rise of social media usage, social recruiting is gaining pace. So if you can do the social recruiting yourself, why pay agency fees? Surely this is the end of the road for the external recruitment agency?!

Absolutely not. Let me tell you why…

The idea of the external recruiter role being made redundant because of outside forces is by no means new. The same statements were made when online job boards arrived. They undoubtedly revolutionised the recruitment landscape. Why pay someone to recruit for you when you can do it yourself? (sound familiar?)

But ten years on and recruitment agencies and job boards still both exist – the two complement each other. Agencies/consultants have become job board experts, knowing which ones to use, which to avoid and also how to use them. Agencies have the knowledge to be able to write effective copy specifically for these platforms, and what combination of job boards to target. Agencies that have embraced job boards have come out on top and it is in fact agency vacancies that dominate and drive the success of job boards today.

I’m confident the same can be argued in the debate over social media putting an end to recruiters. The two will coexist because whilst some in-house teams will take the social recruiting element in house, this can’t be done by all companies. Many smaller businesses don’t have the resources in house to build and maintain a strong social presence, or the spare capital to hire an internal recruiter to scour LinkedIn for those excellent candidates who aren’t actively seeking a new job.

And it’s not just about money. Many honest HR Managers will admit they aren’t as knowledgeable in specialist areas of their business as specialist recruitment consultants (genuine specialists, that is!). Access to LinkedIn and other tools without the knowledge and time to use them doesn’t deliver great results.

An effective social recruitment strategy takes time and effort if it’s to be successful. Finding candidates for roles isn’t easy or quick. As agencies adopting these practices know, it’s about building up a following, ensuring you have the reach and then maintaining regular contact. Building talent communities and a subsequent talent pipeline takes a huge amount of time and money, and it requires the correct skill set to do so.

Most in-house recruitment teams don’t have the capability to do this on the same scale as good, modern recruitment agencies. A specialist agency can build a pipeline of candidates to meet the demands of many companies, not just one – so the economies of scale allow agencies to invest more time in these activities.

Another major reason HR/in-house recruiters will always struggle to recruit as well as agencies is that recruitment consultants, unlike most in-house recruiters, are incentivised. They only earn the big bucks if they fill vacancies. Typically, results-driven people will always push harder to find that elusive candidate.

With incentives in place, the same cycle seen with job boards is inevitable. Modern, adaptable recruitment agencies that embrace social recruitment will become the experts in social recruiting. We’re already seeing evidence of this. Agencies will lead the way in social recruiting, and agencies, social media and in-house recruiters will all happily co-exist.

So, we’re not dead yet.

This piece originally appeared on our sister site MCV.

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