This article originally appeared on LinkedIn
My perception when I started out was that recruitment was a professional service that was often not done professionally, albeit charging professional fees. It was an immature industry and the client (or in some cases the consultant!) was king.
Has the industry changed for the better over the past 20 years?
I think it’s difficult to argue against that. If you look at it from an employee perspective, we’re incredibly fortunate to have a great recruitment industry that affords people a lot of choice as to when and where they work.
The arrival of the web brought us real time, instant communication. We can apply for jobs at the click of a button and speculatively email our CVs and covering letters to employers. When we started, it was still faxes and envelopes! Advances in technology have also opened the door to flexible working, which has revolutionised the concept of work-life balance.
We’re also very lucky to have such a flexible labour market in the UK, an incredible asset that we maybe don’t appreciate as much as we should. Most countries would give their right arm to have anywhere near the flexibility that we enjoy. The challenges experienced by our European neighbours such as youth unemployment and employment contracts are all linked in some way to a rigid labour market.
As for the image of recruiters, while we have been (at times unfairly) tarred with a ruthless sales brush, I would say that a recruitment consultancy is no different to any other professional services firm. At least, the bulk of feedback I’ve always received has been very positive so I can only base my views on those conversations.
Of course, it’s up to us to uphold integrity and ethics while continuing to deliver the level of service that companies expect. That means having a strong focus on quality, which in the main has improved considerably over the last 20 years. And I expect that level of quality to continue to improve over the next 20 years too.