Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Back To The Future

This afternoon I listened to the latest excellent podcast from Lee Whitfield and the guys from Forensic4cast. 

Towards the end of the episode they got into a very interesting discussion about whether forensic tools have evolved so much that this may, in fact, negate the need for specialist forensic investigators.

If you haven’t listened yet I suggest you do as they raise some very interesting issues: 

On a related point, I have been pondering whether the steady prevalence of social media will in fact negate the need for recruiters, even in specialist markets such as mine.  As with the computer forensic analyst, the decline of the recruiter has been forecast on numerous occasions over the years, probably most recently with the rise of the job board which was going to kill us off for good.  As many of you who are contacted regularly by recruiters will know, we are still out there in numbers.

Let me share with you my view of the future.  

Advertising is still at the heart of the recruitment industry in 2011 but in a niche area such as Computer Forensics / Electronic Disclosure advertising has always been a bit hit and miss due to the limited size of the target market combined with the fact that the best people – the ones Clients want to hire – are rarely actively looking so aren't reading adverts.  As an aside, one of my hates as a recruiter is posting a job on say, Forensic Focus, and then other recruiters post what is clearly the same job a day or so later.  Don’t these people realise how silly this looks or do they just not care? The whole advertising of jobs in this area is all very haphazard to my mind and results are usually poor.

I don’t think that recruiters will carry out the actual recruiting in the future as this will lie with the hiring manager (HM).  I see the future recruiter as someone who can advise the HM on market conditions and help the HM to use the correct tools for sourcing certain roles, eg, Boolean search techniques on Google/Bing.  Think about it – the recruiter always used to have a valuable database but with the growth of social media the value of this database has massively receded.  The skill now is finding the best people from the huge social media database available to everyone.  Arguably, the only reason the HM doesn’t do this all the time in 2011 is time and habit.

The way recruiters are currently paid is ludicrous.   If you don’t know, recruiters are paid a percentage of first year salary by the organisation that hires a jobseeker which leads to significant problems with the treatment of the jobseeker.  As recruiters get paid by the hiring organisation, not the jobseeker, this means that the levels of customer service for jobseekers is, well, consistently awful.  This could all be changed really easily by allowing recruiters to act as personal  agents for individual jobseekers, paid by them rather than the organisations they join.  This would mean the recruiter/jobseeker could form a genuine long-term career partnership, based on the same model as sports agents or the people who represent movie stars during their careers.

If the recruiter is still required to carry out a specialist search by a particular organisation, wouldn’t it make sense to invoice for the number of billable hours worked by the recruiter on the specific requirement rather than a random percentage of year one salary?  Doing this would mean that recruiters were engaged exclusively by an organisation and this would again lead to a much stronger partnership between recruiter and HM and much more accountability.  Everyone would gain from this development of the relationship.

In recruitment there is lots of talk about partnership and the awful clich√© ‘adding value’ but this is usually just words.  The reality is that once a jobseeker has accepted a role at an organisation the recruiter usually walks away with a fee and there is no ongoing engagement with the hiring organisation or hired jobseeker.  This can’t be right?

As always, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.


  1. There are several steps an older job seeker can take to make the most of their job search. First and foremost, take a career inventory. Make a list of all the positions previously held. What tasks were completed? What accomplishments were made? One of the biggest obstacles for older workers is that they may be overqualified for jobs they’re applying to, so try to narrow down experience to what’s really important.

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  2. Thanks for your comments, Dan. Interesting.