The world of recruitment is changing, with you as the candidate right at the centre of this. Agency recruiters have to demonstrate deeper expertise and knowledge as they can no longer claim to have an exclusive database of people and biographies – LinkedIn has put pay to that, with four out of five professionals in Australia having a profile on the network.
Tougher economic times mean companies have been focused on cutting costs, with recruitment spend coming under the microscope. One Sydney-based firm, for example, recently established a two-person in-house team to "direct source" candidates for the same cost as it paid recruitment agencies last year for just three hires.
These factors have led to the rise of the internal recruiter (either an employee, or an agency recruiter working exclusively onsite for one company) and the increased specialisation of agency recruiters at the expense of generalists. As a candidate, this means your relationship with recruiters is changing, so the way you search for work is also changing. Here are six things to look out for:
Financial services firms increasingly use a “multi-channel” approach, using both direct sourcing and agency recruiters at the same time. But for a candidate, applying for the same job through multiple channels is a real no-no – interest in you will suffer. It’s vitally important to keep a record of where your CV has gone (company, contact, why and when) to avoid duplication.
Given that transparency and retention of information is greater than ever nowadays, make sure you are consistent when discussing salaries, employment dates, academic results, reasons for leaving a role, etc. This applies as much when contacting in-house recruiters as agency ones – internal teams now use more sophisticated candidate databases than they did in the past. And there are multiple points of reference (eg historic CVs held on databases, reference reports and LinkedIn) that can be used for verification, so you don’t want to miss out on a great opportunity by being seen as untrustworthy
Of course it’s still fine to make your first contact with a recruiter when you apply for a job you see advertised. But given high competition for positions in financial services right now, try to elevate yourself above the crowd by getting introduced to the recruiter through a warm mutual contact. Referrals remain the best channel for high-calibre people to apply for jobs – plus I guarantee you will be treated more personally, too.
As they become more specialised, agency recruiters are increasingly working on jobs that are highly confidential and never publicly advertised. In the current market, therefore, it is important to know the ‘go-to’ agency recruiters in your field (friends and colleagues will tell you this; job boards will not). Build a transparent relationship only with these select few recruiters, so you are well positioned to find out about ‘hidden’ opportunities.
With in-house teams expanding, it’s a competitive market for agency recruiters. To succeed, they now have to offer candidates more than help with specific vacancies. Recruiters can talk you through the current market, advise on timing your move, give independent insights into specific companies and hiring managers, and offer best-practice guidance on things like CV writing, interview tips, and salaries – all before you actually apply for a job.
In this employer-led job market, firms can afford to demand a near-perfect match between the candidate’s skills and the job description. This means the old golden rules of job hunting are now more relevant than ever: only apply for roles which are aligned to your strengths and expertise, and make sure your CV and cover letter are tailored for each position.
Dominic Moore is a director and co-founder of recruitment firm 325consulting in Sydney.