Resourcing partners remain vital in the digital age

Although social media platforms and digital technologies offer organisations new ways to hire personnel to bypass recruitment agencies, resourcing partners still have a critical role to play.

Johannesburg, 13 Dec 2019
Sue Richards, IT Consulting and Resourcing Manager, JMR Software
Sue Richards, IT Consulting and Resourcing Manager, JMR Software

In the era of lifetime employment, which essentially ran from the end of the Second World War until about the 1970s, the vast majority of vacancies within organisations were filled through promotions and lateral assignments. Today, probably less than one third of positions are filled in this way. While changing approaches to jobs in general has clearly played a role, the most likely reason for this is that today, it is simply easier to search online to find an external party who meets the enterprise’s skill and experience requirements.

Social media platforms make it easy for a business to identify potential candidates for job openings. However, the ease with which you can use something like LinkedIn and job boards to find a suitable candidate is balanced out by the fact that companies too often end up being inundated with piles of CVs from job-hoppers to sift through. In addition, most search results don’t focus on highly sought-after "passive" candidates: those who are not actively looking to move. 

It is these passive candidates who are often valued, high-level employees making worthwhile contributions to their current place of work, with high levels of specific industry knowledge, who can add real value to companies. LinkedIn has recognised this gap in the market and has tried to address it by launching its LinkedIn Talent Solutions offering.

According to JMR Software’s IT Consulting and Resourcing Manager, Sue Richards, the biggest challenge here is that businesses feel they are saving money by undertaking such a search themselves, rather than approaching a company which specialises in resourcing within a specific industry. This type of company has developed valuable relationships with large numbers of quality candidates, who are experienced professionals and have already been vetted.

“What businesses seldom take into account is that by eliminating the services of a resourcing partner, they find themselves in the quandary of having access to a seemingly infinite candidate pool, but being unable to find the right candidate, because of the loss of the curation and filtering services provided by such a partner. In fact, in-house recruiters often waste valuable time and effort pursuing individuals who are only testing the water, only interested in finding the next stepping stone to increase their salary but not necessarily their skill level,” says Richards.

It is, of course, easy to understand the attraction of the social media approach, since the local market already had over 5.5 million South Africa-based professionals registered on LinkedIn at the end of last year. This is half of all people employed in the formal economy, and virtually all the highly skilled professionals in the country.

“Between internal HR and in-house recruitment teams using tools like LinkedIn and job boards to identify and engage with the right talent directly, and the fact that many IT professionals prefer to market themselves, believing that resourcing partners and especially recruitment agencies won’t properly understand what they do, it is no surprise that online has become so popular. The fact of the matter is that specialist recruiters working in one industry only often have a much better understanding of the role to be filled as these resourcing specialists have often worked in these jobs and/or spaces themselves before becoming recruiters,” says Richards.

“Social media platforms are also used by potential employment candidates as a means of searching for generic information about their potential employer and its operations, while two out of three potential candidates also seek out pointers on cultural values and future company strategy. 

"Half of these potential candidates will go as far as viewing the social media profiles of existing staff members at potential employers, to learn more about the organisation's culture and workforce, using this information to their benefit during interviews.”

Of course, continues Richards, “despite the supposed benefits outlined above, the most successful and cost-effective resourcing initiatives will still be in businesses that recognise the value of having meaningful relationships with one or more specialist resourcing partners, who have a real understanding of the projects they are busy with and the resultant staffing needs, and a large network of skills to recruit from. This is especially true when sourcing scarce skills and senior candidates with specific industry knowledge. 

"The perception a business has of an applicant for a top-level position changes, depending on whether they apply via an online platform or use a consulting firm to actively and discreetly market them for the position.

“However, one of the biggest reasons to utilise a resourcing partner is also the most basic: With the sheer amount of applications usually received, weeding out the chancers and identifying the most suitable applicants, conducting background and reference checks and, in some cases, technical assessments, has extensive cost, time and resource implications,” suggests Richards.

Moreover, specialised recruiters work with both employers who are searching for talent and professionals who are on the hunt for career opportunities. This means they are ideally placed to be "in the know" and operate as an intermediary between the two parties.

“Ultimately, resourcing partners understand employer needs, candidate expectations and the effects of supply and demand on the job market, as they offer a unique personal connection in the age of LinkedIn and job boards. That said, resourcing partners have to ensure a digital presence of their own across the various social media platforms and should seek to leverage today’s technology. But they must strive to keep the personal approach of the past.”

An online presence is vital, adds Richards, as a recent study from the Aberdeen Group indicates that, at least as far as the millennial generation goes, nearly three-quarters of this group found their last position through a social media platform.

“Furthermore, despite some 91% percent of employers already using social media to recruit, most believe that it will become an even more significant platform for recruitment in the next five years. This means that employers now have a growing number of channels and tools to connect with talent. However, without a decent ‘middle man’ in the form of a resourcing partner that knows both the talent and the tools intimately, they still have no way to ensure that they obtain the best candidate for the job, with a quick turnaround time, every time,” concludes Richards.