The business lunch seems to have gone the way of the fax machine, filofax or knocking off early on a Friday afternoon, a relic of a bygone time. I’m lucky if I get two in a year, so two in a week is riches indeed, and two in consecutive days comes around as often as Halley’s Comet.
But this is the situation I found myself in last week. Given the fact that my companions were people I had known for many years, and I was not needed to impress them with either my etiquette or flashness of the restaurant, the conversation naturally turned to families, shared experiences and laughter.
However, work was briefly touched upon, as we discussed how recruitment actually hasn’t changed over the years. The technologies involved certainly have – no more lineage ads in the local press, interrogable databases rather than reams of paper – but the basic premise remains the same. The recruitment industry exists to find candidates jobs and to source candidates to fill client vacancies.
Yet in an environment where the personal touch is often the only key differential, there is an increasing drive towards making the industry more impersonal. Skype interviews, word search programmes to “read” CVs, the difficulties in actually taking to a person, all these (and more) are becoming the norm in dealing with candidates.
This was brought sharply into focus a week or so back when I was introduced to a client for the first time. They do not recruit often, but every time they have over the last twenty five years, they have used the same person to do so, with satisfactory results every time.
This time around that person, who happens to be a long-standing friend of mine, is not allowed to deal with this client due to the restrictions of his role with his current employer. He was therefore forced to pass on the assignment to one of his less experienced, less able and frankly less interested colleagues. The outcome of this is not difficult to predict; the client has been lied to, ignored and treated with casual disdain, and has so far failed to recruit.
We are therefore Plan B.
Plan B is not a bad place to start from as you cannot fail to provide a better service, merely by not repeating the mistakes made by Plan A. A major failing of the big recruitment firms is the arrogant belief that they will always be Plan A.
However, there are only so many times you can fail a client before they move on. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be a need for the major recruitment firms, because they are plenty of businesses that I wouldn’t want to work with due to their attitude towards recruitment consultancies.
But there are an awful lot of excellent recruitment consultants out there who are currently offering outstanding levels of service as Plan B. And they have the experience and personality to turn those Plan B clients into Plan A ones, and be shining lights in an otherwise murky world.
What’s more, this band of recruitment consultants do it a) because they are good at it and b) because they enjoy it, and they will be around for many years to come, dealing with the same clients, on the same contact points, offering the same levels of exceptional customer service with a personal touch.
Ecclesiastes chapter 9, verse 11