Mark Denton

Recruitment is all about data - or is it?

When I started in recruitment 25 years ago, there was a book written by a very influential and indeed successful recruiter who claimed that databases and computers would never play a part in the recruitment industry. Times have clearly changed.

Looking back, recruitment always used to be about data, and what you as an individual remembered or had ‘in your book’ was your personal database. It was all about who had the data. How good your relationship was, to a large degree, secondary. You were not often competing for a conversation, especially when the core channel was the phone!

“When I started in recruitment 25 years ago, there was a book written by a very influential and indeed successful recruiter who claimed that databases and computers would never play a part in the recruitment industry. Times have clearly changed. “

However, memories are fallible; books were lost or difficult to index and cross-reference – so it was only a natural evolution that saw the IT database become king. And, in parallel with the rise of the database, recruiters started to acquire additional skills; communication and relationships became more important, as did the insight you had to the data. Recruitment became more about who was in the position to contact the right candidate about the right opportunity, at the right time.

Of course, in today’s web-based, social media environment, these dynamics have evolved further still.  ‘Public’ databases (e.g. LinkedIn) are much bigger than private databases; they are open to anyone – both internal and external recruiters; and contact details and search criteria are available at an affordable price. Everyone today has access to a certain base level of data, which devalues it fundamentally.

So if the value of the recruiter is no longer the data, what is it, today?

More so than ever before, the value of a good recruiter is about insight and an ability to engage. Value lies in understanding the context of the industry, a role that needs fulfilling, and the motivations of the individual candidates. The market for permanent, senior roles is becoming smaller, so knowing where to invest time and energy to find and place the right individual is critical. And alongside this, communication skills become key. Today’s successful recruiter is the one who is listened to – where there are many all trying to have a conversation. 

So where next for recruitment?

I would go as far as to say that the role will fundamentally change further. I wrote a previous blog on how the recruitment industry is moving from the employer and coming to the employee. As the dynamics continue to evolve and technology continues to change the way we work, the successful recruiter will be one who is a trusted partner with the insight to marry together the right organisation with the right individual throughout their business and career lifecycles respectively.

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