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April 02, 2014

Is the Current Recruitment Model Bust?

The 25th anniversary of the birth of the Internet reminds us just how recently traditional methods of recruitment advertising became redundant. Most of us can vividly remember the days when employers advertised vacancies in the local and national press either using a recruitment agency or doing it themselves. Applicants invariably had to write in with a paper CV. Looking back with today’s perspective, the whole process now seems terribly cumbersome, time consuming and expensive.

Today that model is pretty well finished but rather than being consigned to history it is more a case of “The King is Dead – Long Live the King”. The principal change, of course, is that digital has replaced paper and recruitment agencies and HR professionals have simply had to adapt to the new environment.

For their part, recruitment consultancies have set up their own websites and this presence has been augmented by standalone job sites like Monster and TotalJobs. In an attempt to retain its income from recruitment advertising, the press has also started its own websites to advertise vacancies on behalf of existing and new clients.

Just when it looked as though this was going to be the newly established format for recruitment advertisements along comes Social Media with sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook suddenly encroaching on the advertising space. This has perhaps presented recruitment advertising professionals with their biggest challenge yet since SM has effectively seen advertising morphing into notifying and employer branding suddenly assuming major importance.

Social Media is virtually akin to meeting a friend in the pub and him telling you about a suitable job vacancy that he has heard has suddenly come up. You can respond by asking such questions as what the salary is and what the company is like to work for. In other words, vacancies are now effectively being networked rather than advertised in a traditional way.

These notifications are usually characterised by a conversational style, pithiness and urgency. They invite a quick, direct response bypassing the usual channels. A large number of these short, sharp notices are posted by actual employers themselves while many others are from recruitment advertising agencies inviting interested parties to click on links to a website page or an email address.

So does all this spell the end for recruitment consultancies? Well the better, longer established firms have already proved by their longevity that they can move with the times and adapt to rapid changes in the marketplace. This means that they are able to use Social Media more astutely than their clients, be able to build employer brands and be able to develop ambassadors for those brands. When one considers the many changes that have already taken place since the Web was created, the only thing that we should probably assume is that there are many more mini-revolutions to come and agencies will need to make sure they remain ahead of the curve as these unfold.

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