How about a new paradigm for recruitment?

How about if I told you I could guarantee I could cut your recruitment spend in half and then link that reduced amount entirely to the performance of the talent I bring to you? If I’ve lost you already, well thanks for reading this far. If not, then give me 5 minutes to revolutionise the way you view talent acquisition…

It has been said that war accelerates history. That belief has recently been applied to our lives – both personal and professional – as a result of the Coronavirus catastrophe. In other words; things that were changing anyway, for example, mass behavioural shift to combat climate change, the move to smart-working..etc will now take a quantum leap forward.

The recruitment model was ripe for change, so I look at this as an opportunity: firstly because this is a period of genuine openness to change and secondly, because I have plenty of time on my hands to think about things…So in the hope that you have too, here’s my proposal:

The big picture

Blue Ocean Strategy, the management philosophy introduced by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne is ‘the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost to open up a new market space and create new demand. It’s about creating and capturing uncontested market space, thereby making the competition irrelevant’.

On differentiation, the approach invites you to look for new uses for your skill-set or asset base in order sell your product or service to a consumer who neither you, nor any competitor in your sector, ever considered to be a target. This allows you to leave the blood-red shark-infested waters of your increasingly aggressively competitive market behind and to swim out into the, well…blue…ocean beyond.

As to cost, Blue Ocean Strategy means ruthlessly stripping out features in your offering that ‘conventional wisdom’ in your sector hitherto believed were indispensable. For example the snack on the short-haul flight or the idea that a cricket match simply must be played over five days because that’s how we’ve always done it.

Recruitment is broken

It’s a passion of mine to apply blue ocean thinking to the recruitment sector in general and to headhunting in particular.

I think we at ExecutiveSurf have been quite successful in getting the message across to our particular market that nobody actually gains (except perhaps for the headhunter’s ego) by using a search firm who boasts a beautifully appointed office in the best address in town. There’s a huge cost saving right there…The recruitment process is not materially improved by cvs reformatted and repackaged into tastefully bound reports which don’t actually offer any value-added meaty intelligence. Ker-ching! And what about all those eye-watering travel expenses? Bad enough if it’s the candidate who is claiming, but good luck to you if it’s the headhunter. They don’t generally go in for budget hotels and low-cost airlines.
Covid-19 has given us a jolt, but since Skype came on the scene over a decade ago, the justification for headhunters to meet their long-lists face to face in said beautiful offices has long since evaporated.

Just a few thought provokers there. Many companies still go for the ‘reassuringly expensive’ line but it’s all looking frayed, if not downright bizarre these days. I’ve said this before and I won’t bang on about it here, but the Blue Ocean, stripping out of non-essential features pretty much halves the cost of traditional headhunting with no qualitative impact on the service at all.

A little secret

There’s a scene in The Bald Primadonna by the Romanian-French avant-garde theatre playwright, Eugène Ionescu where the Fire-fighter comes on stage lamenting how poor business is, claiming that people don’t have fires like they used to. The point being that firefighters need fires, just like dentists need cavities and recruiters need vacancies. Otherwise we’d all be out of a job.

I don’t know so much about putting out fires or filling teeth so let’s consider the recruitment dichotomy for one moment:

It is in the best interest of your recruitment supplier if their placement resigns and leaves her job soon-ish after the recruiter’s guarantee period expires.

Don’t get me wrong. Tastefully soon. Not the day after, or not so soon that the finger of blame can be pointed back at the recruiter. But soon enough that you, the client will come right back to them and give them the same search again. Recruiters love churn. So why on earth would a recruitment consultant make any investment in ensuring the long term success of their placement? The question is not why recruitment has such a poor professional reputation. It is, why are you even surprised? It’s baked in to the model that you are perpetuating.

Dear esteemed client,

Why don’t you link recruitment fees to the length of time your recruiter’s candidate actually stays in the role successfully hitting KPIs and not being tempted away to the competition? How about no placement fee? (let’s not even dignify it with the term Success Fee). How about a fee for every month the job is covered implying a life-time guarantee for the role not the candidate? No up-front retainer fees, no shortlist fees, no placement fees before the candidate even starts, no partial refunds when the candidate leaves before the end of their guarantee period, no need to pay a whole new fee if the candidate leaves after expiry of the guarantee period…
Instead of being a part of the problem, the recruiter now has a vested interest in the long term success of their hire. They might even stay in close contact with their candidate in order to ensure the very best possible outcome for long term success. How cool would that be…?

So here’s my invitation

Let’s talk about halving your recruitment spend and then entirely linking any fees we charge you to the success of the talent we find for you.

Please write to me – – to put some time in our diaries for a chat. After all, I have plenty of spare time these days…


On Topic

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Our Cause

We will fight for a world where everyone feels safe, valued, able to grow, and be inspired by their role and the organisation that they work for. And that starts with us…