Recruitment Consultants: as Dead as the Dodo?

Countdown by Stéfan

Hiring companies are moving away from jobs boards and recruitment companies and moving towards social media as their dominant recruiting tool.

Between current economic conditions, the evolution of the internet and dwindling HR budgets, the traditional approach of finding a candidate is becoming increasingly redundant. Are we counting down the days to the demise of the recruitment consultant?

A recent online survey, the Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey 2010 asked 600 participants between May and June if they plan to use social media. 92% of those answered that they were planning on using social media to find future candidates.

The social networking site most used by companies for recruiting was, not surprisingly, LinkedIn (78% of respondents), followed by Facebook with 55%. Twitter saw most of the growth over the 2 years since the survey was last carried out in 2008. It was used by 45% of respondents in 2010.  

On the most part, spending on more traditional recruitment tools, like placing ads on jobs boards and using third-party recruitment firms had either decreased or stayed constant. On average, 58% of companies had successfully hired employees via a social networking site.

For the majority of companies in these trying times, given the choice, they would forego the traditional route of hiring staff through a recruitment agency. The expense alone is often enough to put hiring managers off - usually 3 months of the new hire’s annual salary.

Often outing feelers out into a company’s own social media network will bring back more relevant results and will find candidates with a knowledge of the organisation and with suitable skills to boot.

Recruitment consultants may be paid employees with specialist recruiting skills but there are instances where an unscrupulous recruitment consultant who is simply out to make a quick buck, at the expense of everything else, often including the client and the candidate, will put forward a candidate purely for the sake of it.

There are also times where a recruiter may not put a candidate forward for a role simply because they don’t have the relevant experience needed to interpret or understand what they can offer.

Or, they haven’t really got to grips with what the client needs. Most of the time a candidate‘s details are pulled out of a database via a keyword/tag search without being given a thorough once over.  When writing a CV, don’t bother with the long-winded finely crafted prose, appeal to the search bots rather than human eye. Shove a list of bullet points in there and you’ll get further.  It seems that way anyway.

When it comes to looking for specialist digital roles, say an experienced search manager or PPC marketer for instance, they are more likely to be filled by recruitment consultants. Specialist agencies that employ consultants with experience in a particular niche are worth their weight. Consultants can properly evaluate the candidate’s level of experience and succinctly apply that to the needs of the client.

Chad Hurley & Foss Aboukhadijeh

There has been one recent high profile instance where an actual job offer was been made via social media.

A young developer and Stanford University student built YouTube Instant; a YouTube version of Google Instant.  YouTube Founder, Chad Hurley offered Feross, the super star developer, a job offer via Twitter.

Feross is currently settling into his new job at YouTube. Talk about cutting out the middle man.

Photo (cc) Stéfan.


Recruitment Consultants: Alive and Well

The role of the Recruitment Consultant is very much alive and well.

To firmly grasp this issue, it is important to have a strong understanding of HR processes as they relate to recruitment strategy and social media. I have work experience as an HR Generalist for a international engineering company and in my current role I am an Analyst in the software industry.

Social networking tools have rapidly transcended various aspects of organizational life. That being said, let us not  be blinded by the 'shiny-ness' of these tools and instead focus on the value that they may add to an organization's recruitment efforts.

Yes, companies may be moving away from job boards and other traditional methods but this does not mean that the role of Recruitment Consultant will disappear. The article states that organizations will be recruiting via Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter in addition to the company's own social networking site. If an organization wants to recruit top talent, someone is still needed to keep an eye on these sites.

In summary, social networking is a useful tool for companies seeking qualified applicants but will not result in the demise of the Recruitment Consultant. 


Hi Lindsay, I totally agree

Hi Lindsay, I totally agree with you. I recently wrote a blog post in response to some of the points made in this article: Please feel free to join in the discussion on my blog!


Evolve or Die

Hi Suzanne - interesting headline "Recruitment Consultants: as Dead as the Dodo?" -and I think your message here is simple - evolve or die.

In some cases, managers are very busy running their businesses and cannot dedicate all of their time to recruitment - which is why they work with a recruitment consultant which they trust and respect. In order to gain that trust, recruiters will have to harness the power of their networks using digital channels such as LinkedIn and really prove that they can access high-quality candidates. Otherwise, just as you point out, the 'traditional' recruitment agency model will be a thing of the past.

Candidate perspective overlooked?

The sky is not falling down. Sure employers are pushing the direct model and social media looks like a magic bullet, but there's little upside for the candidate. It's often to their advantage to have an agent represent them - recruitment consultant's market knowledge and connections speed up the job hunt process, they sell candidates in to hiring managers, help prep for interview and negotiate the best deal. For free! 

Jobs Boards or Branded Distribution Channels?

Interesting top-line survey results, although I haven't had a chance to dig into which sector the HR folks they interviewed came from.

There's two key points here:

Firstly, that there are "good" and "bad" recruitment consultants. The "good" ones provide a brilliant service to their clients, the "bad" ones tarnish the whole industry.

Secondly, jobs boards are taking advantage of social media as much as any other business. Many - Chinwag Jobs included - are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other niche social networks and communities.

The trick is to combine these channels and engage with the communities, interact with them effectively and provide effective support rather than just sending out job ads. Still lots of work to do on that front for everyone!

Another tool for adding value

Hi Suzanne

I read this with interest, especially as I work for a recruitment company!

I agree that the way businesses find candidates is changing, but that's also true of recruitment companies.  

Here at Propel, for example, we're rejuvenating all of our web activities to broaden our network and give our clients greater reach into it.

We're also using social media to further improve our understanding of the space we work in - which happens to be the digital industry.  As you can probably guess, there's no shortage of content for us to tap into.  By plugging our consultants into the communities around the space, we greatly improve their knowledge, and therefore their usefulness to our customers.

So I don't see social media as the end of recruitment consultants, but rather, another tool to help us add value to the hiring process. 


The only reason social media is beating recruitment consultants is because they are too stuck in their ways and not active in seeking new information, sources etc. The days of business 'landing on their laps' is well and truly over.

As a professional industry you would expect them to be harnessing this social media to stay one step ahead, not three steps behind.