Time to join the 21st century!

A recent conversation with a client went something like this…..
‘Craig, I need someone now! We’ve just picked up a major PSA client with volume roles. At the moment I’m working the desk and it’s taking me away from what I need to do…’ Note the tone of desperation in this Manager’s voice…..
‘Sure, John, we’ll get on it straight away. It may take a while to find the right person. Would you consider a Contractor to help you out in the meantime?’ There I said it… the dreaded ‘c’ word….
‘Um…. No…. We don’t really do Contractors Craig. I’ll muddle through until we find someone permanently.’
‘Are you sure John? I’ve got someone who can start on Monday and will be able to give you six months? They have 18 months experience, but are committed to going to university next March…’
‘No….No… We really want someone permanently. Contractors leave whenever something better comes along, they will probably take our database with them, and it’s just not worth the effort…’

We ‘to and fro’ for a few more minutes, I won’t bore you with the details – bottom line is the Recruitment Industry is……. Contractorist!
That’s right ‘Contractorist’ (Contractoristadj. Describing a person or institution who discriminates against Contractors.) – OK, I made that word up, but you get the general idea….
Let’s look at the main arguments against contracting in agency recruitment:
1. Continuity and Tenure – Most contracts are 3-6 months. This doesn’t allow effective relationship building within accounts
2. IP – The recruitment industry is a Sales industry where client and candidate data is the most important asset of any business. Contractors may take this information to their next employer.
3. Training Time – Teaching process, database etc. would take too long
Now…… Let’s look at the facts….
Fact 1 – The average tenure of a Consultant in an agency recruitment in Melbourne is……… wait for it…….. 13 months!!!! That’s right 13 months. I know many recruitment owners/managers may say their retention rates are much higher, but you can’t argue with the stats. We randomly selected 82 resumes from our recruitment consultant database to put that data together.
Fact 2 – 17% of Contractors in the IT industry ‘go perm’ after accepting a 6 month contract. And a further 62% have their contracts extended for (at least) another 6 months. (IPro data 2009). Yes, I understand the IT Industry has little in common with agency recruitment, but this stat shows that at least 79% of all contractors within the IT industry remain with their employer for longer than 12 months… So, if we accept the premise that 79% of all contractors remain with their employer for over 12 months, and the average tenure of a full time ‘permanent’ Agency Recruitment Consultant in Melbourne is 13 months we begin to see the arguments against using contractors beginning to lose their allure…
Fact 3 – I don’t care who you are, or what you say – it can not be productive, efficient or cost effective to have a Manager sitting on a desk to the detriment of their other duties, (which may include running their own desk).
Fact 4 – Permanent Employees pose as great a risk to your IP as Contractors. They have the same access to sensitive data – and, as shown they will probably stay in your business for a similar length of time….

Contractors do have a place in Agency Recruitment. Whether they be on a project basis, or as a stop gap whilst you make your next strategic hire.
It really is time to practice what we preach to our own clients, and open up this important pool of talent to our industry.

Have a comment? Agree or disagree? My goal is to promote discussion on relevant issues facing our industry, and I would love you to throw your 2 cents in!

About Craig Watson rec-to-rec

My 15 years experience in the commercial recruitment industry has allowed me to form deep and successful networks. Until now the Rec2Rec industry has failed to deliver adequately to its clients. The simple solution is that I will respond to your specific business requirements by understanding them. My philosophy is less Rec2Rec and more Rec4Rec. In my Training and HR business I hve worked with some of the largest organisations in Asia Pacific - providing HR strategic consulting aligning people and culture needs with commercial requirements. I have a proven background in Rec2Rec, HR Strategic Management, Career Training and Recruitment, Senior Management (National Level) with extensive People Management and Training/Mentoring experience. Over a career spanning 15 Years I have gained my experience at HMS (UK), Adecco, Hallis, Drake, Accel and most recently my own venture - HeadStart. I am at cutting edge of Rec2Rec, Training, HR and Recruitment best practice - with additional experience in Organisational Development, Retention, Reward and Recognition Initiatives. In the current recruitment industry landscape of various cultures, expectations and job descriptions, allow me to help you in navigating your next career move. I have consulted to leading organisations as to HR solutions strategy across a breadth of industries - aligning expectation with reality.
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5 Responses to Time to join the 21st century!

  1. Steve Johnson says:

    Nice One Craig! I have a friend with 4 years IT recruitment experience who wants to stay in agency, but in a contract capacity. Te only please he can get contract work is in-house

  2. Hi Steve – it doesn’t really make much sense does it?

  3. Well said, Craig. I had a chuckle at ‘contractorist but it’s so true. Way too much short-sighted thinking by recruiment agency owners and managersI am sure there would be plenty more people niot leaving the recruitment agency sector if there was a strong contract market.

    BTW – looking forward to reading more blog posts from you very soon, Craig

  4. ah ‘contractorist’ never a truer word has been spoken Craig

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