Recruitment as catalyst for economic growth
Influenced by the entrenchment of democratic rights in South Africa and steady economic growth since 1994, consumers are increasingly demanding a high level of service in all facets of our daily lives.
Expectations are no longer limited to stores, hotels, restaurants and plumbers - we now expect quality service from institutions such as our local city council, from banks, hospitals and schools, from the SAPS and SARS - and efficiency in any of these sectors is rewarded with customer gratitude and loyalty.
In the private sector, the service industries are on a major growth trajectory. This is a requirement that is also beginning to take hold in the recruitment industry.
Several aspects of the valuable service provided by recruiting agencies are well-established: specialised recruiters have the resources to select, interview and place skilled candidates far more efficiently than a company's HR department; they can take the leg work out of screening and selecting candidates and arranging interviews; and they can enter into preliminary negotiations for salaries and conditions of employment on the company's behalf.
However, in this industry, there is a level of service value that is in great demand but remains in short supply in SA.
Isobel McAleenan, MD of Ambit Recruitment, believes this value lies in the kind of personal service, which will not only allow for the matching of the right person to the right job, but elevate recruiters to the dimension of making a real contribution to the growth of a company and the growth of South Africa's economic environment.
Here, business acumen is key, says McAleenan. Recruiters should have a thorough knowledge and understanding of the state of the economy, the state of the industry in which their clients operate, the challenges of our skills shortages, a knowledge of market conditions and market timing, the technical requirements of the industry and, above all, a clear understanding of a company's longer-term strategy.
Bearing in mind that every new personnel member impacts on an organisation's vision and growth, the recruiter has a responsibility to ensure that each candidate has the potential to strengthen a company's performance. This is where the personal nature of the recruitment service comes in.
McAleenan explains that the recruiter can provide a very personalised and customised service, by forming a partnership with the client in order to meet that client's specific needs. As is always the case with partnerships, the relationship will be unique and the recruiter should tailor methodology and service objectives accordingly to deliver a superior level of service.
A number of factors and methodologies come into play here, but the fundamental principle is that the relationship between the recruiter and the client should be one of integrity and trust. The recruiter is entrusted both with impacting on the company's most precious asset - its people, and with selling the company's brand to potential candidates, and the client needs to rest assured that the recruiter will act with integrity in these matters.
Loyalty in the relationship is also crucial: the recruiter needs to act at all times in the client's and candidate's best interests, while acting as the company's ambassador to job seekers - which means being sensitive to the company's ethos and objectives, respecting client confidentiality and protecting the client from the many pitfalls of the recruitment process.
McAleenan recommends the recruiter enter into a written contract with the client/partner, which outlines the recruiter's credentials, methodology and deliverables and, in particular, identifies the ways in which the recruiter can add value for the client.
However, it is also crucial for the recruiter to maintain close communication with the client and for them to communicate regularly; the depth of the relationship and the levels of insight and understanding shared by both parties play a critical role in the effective outcome of the process.
This sharing of information works both ways, says McAleenan, with the recruiter in a strong position to counsel the client on what is prudent and to share market intelligence. The recruiter can even nudge the company into becoming an employer of choice in the job market.
The benefits of such a relationship have a ripple effect. The recruiter wins client loyalty, the client is ensured the best personnel available, candidates enjoy the opportunities and representation they deserve, productivity and motivation within the company is enhanced, and company performance is boosted.
McAleenan is adamant that, aligned with a company's vision, and armed with professional know-how and passionate commitment to the job, the personal service recruiting agency can indeed unlock capacity and support a company's drive for growth and performance enhancement.
* Isobel McAleenan is MD of Ambit Recruitment and a recruitment training solutions provider for IM Training Solutions. She can be contacted at (011) 886 8988.