The Changing Face of Marketing Recruitment

Written by: Louis Williamson, Director
Published on: 12 May 2016

The Changing Face


Whilst browsing a general interest discussion forum a short while ago I stumbled across a thread that caught my eye: “Recruiters: Good / Bad / Indifferent”

One of the kinder, or at least most printable, remarks was: “Tyre kicking parasitic lying scumbags just about sums them up”.  Just a tad harsh and maybe a wee bit unnecessary I thought

Whilst it’s always good to receive constructive criticism, it seemed that the key complaint in this particular thread was that a recruiter had requested a face to face meeting with the prospective candidate. At the risk of sounding old-fashioned, I couldn’t help but cast my mind back to my earliest days in marketing recruitment, a mere 12 years ago. Face to face meetings were then essential – indeed, I wouldn’t even consider a candidate seriously until I had a chance to look them in the eye.  Arranging such a meeting at a convenient time for both parties could often take days, if not a week or so.
Still more venerable colleagues recall the days of mailing or faxing CVs to clients, a procedure that I can only imagine to be even more painful and time consuming.

How times have changed …

Fragmentation of the marketing recruitment world

Just a few years ago, before the digital revolution, the process went something like this.  The mid-level contingency recruiter placed a not inexpensive advert in the marketing press and then waited for responses to flood in.  Sometimes these adverts were branded and sometimes not.  All that was required for a recruiter was a working phone line and/or an e-mail address.  Face to face meetings were the default and recruitment was a carefully-considered, detailed and time-consuming process, working with a network of nurtured and valued contacts built up over a number of years.

Today, anyone with a linkedin account and mobile phone can approach candidates and sell them a job. Direct advertising by clients and direct candidate responses are de rigueur, with active candidates able to apply to dozens of vacancies, whether relevant or not, with a single click. Passive candidates on linkedin are bombarded on a weekly basis by a multitude of recruiters, often with unsuitable roles and sometimes less than well-worded demands for their attention. Face to face meetings in Central London can feel like an anachronism with time-poor, busy candidates seeing telephone or Skype interviews as the norm.  In some cases, even clients are switching to telephone or skype interviews for the first-stage screen.

And yet, whatever the approach taken by recruiters or client companies, well-trained marketers are still much in demand and the competition to attract talent as challenging as ever.

How to work in the new world

For the candidate, it’s all about finding the best possible role that meets his or her aspirations, where appropriate seeking professional advice.  For the client, the priority remains how to find the highest calibre candidates as quickly, efficiently and cost effectively as possible.

As recruiters, we need to embrace change.  We need to recognise that the digital world has made it easier for candidates and clients to connect without us getting involved.  We should not however feel that we are somehow being cut out of the process, but should instead ensure we are adding real, tangible value to it for both candidate and clients alike.

Our role is to offer clear, focused advice to our clients; advice gained from many years working in the marketing world.  We need to show that we can cut through the huge numbers of on-line applications being made via linkedin and industry jobsites, building trusted connections with candidates and helping them to focus their job searches.  In so doing, we can mitigate wasted effort for clients in sifting through dozens of CVs and interviewing inappropriate candidates, and help them to spot the best.

Recruitment priorities

Whatever our perspective on the market, as professional recruiters we have an opportunity to make a significant contribution to the marketing industry.

Our key priorities must include:

  • Maintaining the speed of response to briefs with no fall in quality of shortlist as a result
  • Investing real time to understand client briefs and candidate requirements
  • Listening to what we are told and acting upon it to the best of our abilities
  • Operating with integrity, honesty and transparency at all times
  • Keeping the lines of communication open, always happy to offer objective advice

Above all, it is so important that we all rise above the ‘I-want-it-and-I-want-it-now’ Veruca Salt culture and hold on to some of those old values of attention to detail, personal consideration and the nurturing of relationships; values that are ever more important in the transient, fragmented world in which we now operate.

By doing this we can cut through some of the shoddy, ‘quick-bucks’ practice that blights the recruitment world as a whole, not simply recruiters themselves.  We can show that as informed professionals we are not parasitic or not to be trusted, but instead are valued, long-term partners of both clients and candidates.

Related links