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The recruitment market: transaction or partnership?

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When you enter into a transaction with a business, you very rarely consider any communication beyond what’s necessary; nor do you put much thought into forming a working relationship off the back of that transaction or purchase. Once the job is done, boxes are ticked and both parties proceed on their own path.

You might be asking what this has to do with recruitment. After all, short of paying for a job advert or vacancy listing, the recruitment process is far more complex than a standard transaction, right?

Perhaps not.

In fact, we would argue that the UK recruitment market is the most transactional recruitment market in the world, with clients continually choosing to share the load of their vacancies across as many recruiting agencies as possible in an effort to offload the work and get the job done quickly and efficiently. What this means is that vacancies are being filled by recruiters who don’t know the company well, who can’t vouch for the working environment or culture when the candidate asks, and who frankly feel undervalued by a client who simply won’t suck it up and commit to a productive partnership.

It’s like a Tinder date gone very wrong, but they keep coming back for more.

What does the transactional nature of recruitment mean for clients?

If you went on a bad Tinder date and they made you feel like a transaction or just another person on their list of dates, you would probably tell all your friends and that other individual would gain a poor reputation among your networks. And recruitment partnerships work in much the same way - with clients increasingly gaining a poor reputation for making the following mistakes.

For one thing, by not committing to a working partnership with one or two select recruiters, they operate only on the very surface of what can be achieved with a stable partnership. Vacancies are filled but recruiters are made to feel like they are being pitted against a wide selection of other agencies in the field, with the client simply going for the recruiter who works fastest and gets the quickest results. This is not the way to build up a reliable or productive recruitment process, and it’s certainly not the way to ensure that every position is filled by the optimum candidate.

For another thing, these same clients are often driven by price - and will drop a recruiting partner at the click of a button if they can find a cheaper alternative somewhere else. As you will likely appreciate, appearing cheap is not an attractive trait.

And then you come to the concept of time and wasted effort, which over time leads to a very poor experience for the recruiter and a very negative review for the client. As a recruiter, there is nothing worse than channelling resources, time, and effort into advertising a vacancy and going through applications, only to be pulled from the job by the client when they find another recruiter to have acted faster or on a lesser budget.

And it doesn’t end there.

The damage that the transactional market is doing to recruiters

We’ve already covered the frustrations caused by clients who treat recruitment like a transaction rather than the potential for a growing partnership that benefits both parties. But the important thing to recognise is not the mere frustration that is caused by this behaviour, but rather the way in which a transactional recruitment process damages the reputation of the hiring company and thus stands in the way of recruiters wanting to work with them.

By treating recruiting agencies like a carousel of potential hiring parties rather than building a fruitful partnership and understanding between the two, there lies a lack of the basic employment information that is increasingly demanded by the candidates themselves. While a productive working relationship and partnership between a client and recruitment agency leads to effective, cohesive, and productive placements, if the recruiter is only used because they are cheapest or quickest, they won’t have built that same repertoire and so won’t be able to answer the candidate questions on culture and working style.

So, it is fair to assume that a transactional recruitment process leads to:

  • A poor reputation on the part of the hiring client, showing them as non-committal and thus pushing recruiting agencies away
  • An increasingly challenging working environment for those recruiters who do work with the client, as they are pitted against each other with some clients hiring up to 10 different agencies at a time
  • Little cohesion between the recruiting agency and the end client, making placement much more difficult
Why a Partnership is the best solution

A recruiting partnership not only saves face and the reputation of both the client and the recruitment agency, but it also ensures that the best candidates are placed in the best roles every time. It guarantees a high level and efficient process for both parties, marks an adequate level of respect on both sides, and increases relations across the business industry.

For clients operating across a couple of different industries or working types, partnership with a couple of long term recruiting partners will ensure that you have a finger in all the relevant

So, the next time you come across a client looking to pick up your services as their recruitment solution, pitch the idea of a working and long term partnership. It will certainly save everyone some hassle.