Over the past couple of months, I have had the pleasure of sitting down and meeting (virtually) HR and Talent Acquisition Leaders for some of Investigo’s most trusted clients, ranging from FTSE100 companies to exciting SMEs. 2020 threw up a whole host of challenges for everybody in a professional and personal capacity, and those lucky enough to still be working in the recruitment industry may have experienced the toughest year since the 2008 financial crisis.
Yet as competition for recruitment agencies continues to increase in a perhaps already saturated market, the challenge of adding value to current and prospective clients becomes more difficult, not least when unemployment rises and open vacancies decline. The rippling effects of the pandemic on the economy are being felt by almost all professions, so the question remains, how can agencies continue to add value to their clients including and beyond the talent they provide?
The conversations I had brought up a range of interesting and important topics, however by far the most common theme that arose was the issue of honesty. I find it surprising that even today, the trait most synonymous with giving the industry its sometimes dubious reputation continues to be a problem. Honesty is an integral form of any two-way relationship, and the lack of this can take many forms in the recruitment industry, yet seems to always bring the same result, which is the breakdown of trust between the agency and the end client. During the conversations I’ve had with leading talent acquisition professionals over the last three weeks, I’ve heard some amusing yet shocking tales of problems arising surrounding fees, candidate ownership and lack of feedback to name a few.
Now, a lot of the aforementioned can be discussed from initial interactions between recruitment companies and prospective clients. For example, in my experience honesty really is the best policy from the start. However, as we know, relationships take time to build. In this context, understanding between consultant and end client, be it the talent acquisition professional or relevant line manager for the open vacancy often yield progressively better results over time. It can become easier for the consultant to understand the type of profile and personality that fits certain businesses, and also certain areas of said business. As this knowledge of the client and its needs are built up, in theory this will lead to a more efficient process for the client, something else that seems to be strongly desired by those engaging with agencies. At risk of sounding obvious, the highly coveted abilities of managing a process efficiently while simultaneously providing high quality candidates is the at core of what matters, and data indicated this is improved over time with open and honest communication.
Another important topic that arose on multiple occasions was around Diversity & Inclusion strategies, something that Investigo and many of our clients have been working particularly hard on over the past 18 months or so. It’s important to recognize the benefit that clients and consultants have by talking about these issues to implement plans, whether it be blind CVs, training programmes or regular insights. While Investigo produce an incredibly interesting D&I magazine that covers a new topic each edition and partner with D&I consulting firm Vercida Consulting to ensure our efforts yield real world results within our clients, we recognize there is still more to be done. Today, it is not only large FTSE organisations that have been taking notice of this, but also SMEs that are increasingly open to working with agencies and consultancies to work on how their D&I strategies can be improved.
In the spring and summer months of 2020 when open job opportunities were down, it became more difficult for agencies to add value since hiring new talent was not at the forefront of anybody’s mind. Successful consultants, however, could still provide value add in a number of other ways, for example providing remote working and onboarding advice, general market updates for relevant niches and updated salary surveys/employment information. This, among others, ensure that the agency is helping to guide its clients through a tough period to help them get an edge when the time does become right to begin hiring again. This doesn’t just go for the middle of a pandemic or a market related downturn, but tailored approaches should be used to help individual clients’ needs at the right time, rather than a blanket spread.
As we head into a new year and put 2020 behind us, it has become abundantly clear that strengthening relationships will be key to ensuring the right talent can be placed into the right places. Investigo would like to thank all the clients we worked with during this difficult period and are excited to continue this into 2021 which will hopefully bring more success for everyone. I’d also like to thank those I spoke to who helped reiterate what the focus should be to ensure Investigo are able to provide the best possible services to our clients.
Darius Beglarbegi | firstname.lastname@example.org