The latest thinking, news and events from the world of Recruitment

Recruitment – Transactional or Transformational?


There is a fundamental shift happening in the recruitment sector at the moment, and I for one am very excited by it…

I have been working in and around the recruitment industry for over 20 years now, and without doubt, the playing field has evolved significantly from when I started out as a fresh-faced consultant back in the mid 90’s.

Without going too far down the “when I was a lad” route, I would like a quick show of hands for who can remember the days when we had to queue up at a fax machine to send out CVs or receive a job spec from a client? Who can remember the sheer panic every Thursday afternoon trying to get our job ads the most prominent spot in the recruitment section of the Sunday papers before the deadline cut in? Who can remember pounding the streets to hit KPIs of 20 client visits a week because that was really the only way we could properly interact with customers?

Things have of course changed – technology has seen to that – but something far more seismic is starting to take place now and recruiters who aren’t waking up to this shift are getting left behind.

As the gloomy veil of the recession began to lift a couple of years ago and the new economic canvas was exposed (full of optimism, growth and potential), so too did a reality check on the recruitment industry. In many cases, those recruiters who had survived and thrived in the past started to slip down the league tables and a new type of recruiter began to emerge at the top.

So what is going on?

Well, to get straight to the point, those recruiters who are finding it tough now in the post-recession markets have over the past few years become far too transactional in how they work – in how they engage with customers, in how they recruit talent and in how they are generally behaving in the workplace.

It is almost as if, for some, recruitment has evolved into being a type of “talent conveyor belt”, the systematic processing and moving of people from one place to another… repeat … repeat … hitting KPIs… repeat … repeat… clock in… clock out…

Put it another way, ask yourselves these questions:

  • Why is it that some recruiters find their jobs quite mundane?
  • Why is it that some recruiters even deny the fact that they work in recruitment?
  • Why is it that even in a candidate tight marketplace, we are willing to lower our margins to win business?
  • Why are we happy to do predominantly contingent recruitment when it is harder than ever to find candidates?

These are all symptoms of a transactional recruitment mind-set and you can ask a hundred more questions along the same lines and you’ll get the same answer.

Now, there is nothing wrong with running a repetitive, orderly recruitment process, but the more systematic we become, the more transactional our recruitment processes are, the more we devalue our roles as recruiters and the more we will therefore become superseded by technology… and it is already happening today.

Let’s first of all remind ourselves of two very important things that very often recruiters working on their talent conveyor belts tend to overlook:

  • When recruiters place a jobseeker into a new role, they are in some way having a significant impact on that jobseeker’s life – is that transactional or transformational?
  • When recruiters place a jobseeker into a new role, they are significantly increasing that organisation’s chances of achieving their strategic company objectives – transactional or transformational?

What we do as recruiters is Transformational. Fact. It is pretty damn amazing!

I know that may all sound just a little too grandiose for some of you reading this, but if you don’t honestly believe that, then you are in the wrong industry.

We are working with a very different demographic of jobseeker now, with a very different demographic of buyer, in a very different type of market, all fuelled by technological advances and shifting economical patterns. We therefore need to change, adapt and step up to become more transformational in how we sell, how we engage and how we recruit…

  • If you are finding it harder than ever to find candidates, don’t just spend more time looking in the same place (transactional) but penetrate deeper into new talent communities (transformational).
  • If you are finding it harder than ever to engage with new customers, don’t just ask them a few more “open questions” (transactional) but challenge their thinking and give them insight (transformational).
  • If you are finding it harder than ever to get customer loyalty, don’t just send them a marketing newsletter each month (transactional), but go and spend some time with them face to face solving their pains (transformational).
  • If you are finding it harder than ever to differentiate yourselves from your competition, stop selling to your customers based on price (transactional) but on Return on Investment (transformational).

…and so this list goes on.

This current wave of economic growth and prosperity that we seem to be currently riding creates huge opportunities for recruitment organisations and whilst our customers and candidates are demanding a far more transformational service from us than ever before, those recruiters that are turning away from their conveyor belts will emerge as the transformational leaders in a new era of recruitment. An era where we truly value what we do and in return are valued for what we do… and that is very exciting.