Mention online recruitment to an executive recruitment company, and reactions are mixed: “Online doesn’t work for senior executives.”
“Job boards are rubbish.”
“Someday LinkedIn will be how everyone gets hired.”
“There’s no substitute for face-to-face.”
Online recruitment has indeed produced a revolution in how people look for jobs, and how companies hire them. Not even 20 years ago, CVs were distributed by fax or post, and job advertising existed in only a few types of printed media – daily newspapers, and business and trade journals.
Today, most executive recruitment firms would struggle to deal with a hard-copy CV. Print advertising is in long-term decline and social media waging war with the job boards to decide which will dominate and survive.
Ever since the mid 1990s, when the first job boards came online, some observers have predicted the demise of the recruitment industry. If employers and prospective employees can connect directly and easily, what role would the recruiter play? That “disintermediation”, however, never happened.
What happened was the recruitment industry became expert in the use of job boards and adopted them as their own, as a way to provide a faster and more cost-effective service to clients. One leading UK executive job board reports 90% of its adverts are posted by recruitment agencies on behalf of their clients, rather than by the clients themselves.
The same predictions, and the same dynamics, are now at work in social media, particularly with respect to LinkedIn, the business/professional networking site. We see, in turn, the same adoption of social recruitment by agencies looking to improve their service to clients. While LinkedIn initially focused its recruitment offerings on direct employers, but more recently (following the money) has rolled out platforms and products specifically for the recruitment industry.
Executives Online’s ‘21st Century Recruitment’, published earlier this year, surveyed 1,200 managers and executives across the UK and continental Europe to discover companies’ preferences, tools and methods for identifying senior talent, and compared their answers to those given six years earlier.