Why can't we collaborate to find talent?

There is still a fair amount of animosity between recruitment consultants and agencies, but all parties have common talent and resourcing problems, writes REC CEO Kevin Green.

We have just held a fantastic conference called Talent, Recruitment and Employment Conference (TREC) and for the first time we had HR, talent and in-house recruiters in the room with recruitment agencies. Many from both sides of the fence thought that this would be a mistake, as our differences would come to the fore and progress would be limited. However, nothing could have been further from the truth. If we look at the talent and resourcing issues organisations are experiencing then we have a common interest in looking for solutions. 

The recruitment industry is now bigger than before the financial crises and recession. So I struggle to see why so many consultants still see in-house recruiters as a problem? Clients are becoming more clever and sophisticated in their resourcing strategies. They now have many of the same tools, be that job boards, social media or ATSs. The more thoughtful organisations are likely to continue using agencies but only when it's clear about the value they add. 

I was talking to a large IT and engineering recruiter recently who said that they were very fearful about the rise of the in-house recruiter. He admitted that they had lost a lot of easy-to-do assignments to in-house teams, but said they earned greater amounts by focusing on more senior and difficult to fill roles. They were acknowledged more by the client for their expertise and were being more successful because they were only undertaking activity that the clients couldn't or didn't want to do themselves. 

The same goes for the talent and in-house community. You own the recruitment process, the employer brand and decide when to use agencies, so why the animosity? Clearly if good quality feedback is provided, the chosen recruiters work to external professional standards and the unproductive behaviour both sides experience at times will be eliminated. Partnerships work best with clarity, trust and a shared agenda. Helping attract the right talent for an organisation is that agenda. 

Another area of possible collaboration that emerged at our conference was that of employers looking to work with other businesses where they have a shared issue of talent attraction and early-career development. Clearly this would be difficult with direct competitors but similar-sized organisations, with a comparable geographical footprint and skill requirements may be better off working together, rather than competing for the same talent. In the future we could see organisations running shared graduate or first jobber programs. 

The impending talent crisis calls for clients and recruiters to work together to innovate new and different solutions. It's in all our best interests that our businesses have the talent they need to succeed, because this creates further growth and employment. 

So let’s stop being defensive, stop looking for differences and collaborate for the benefit of all.