Who is the Parasite?

One thing I really like about LinkedIn and other social networking sites is the wide variety of conversations they enable and allow you to get involved in, all from the comfort of your desk.  Call me lazy if you like but I have a young family so it’s nice to be able to converse with my peers in this way rather than give up a couple of evenings a week to do it.

One such discussion, on a group for ‘Executive Recruiters’ has recently been hot with activity.  the question posed was:

“How do we stop in-house recruiters taking the names we provided and either immediately going direct via Linked-In, or, linking now and keeping in touch for future use 12 months down the line?”

I won’t bore you with the details but the question included the following statement which had me practically choking on my lunch.  I have highlighted the last bit for effect!:

“This is particularly relevant in niche or specialist industries and within a few years the agency will have “given” its database to the client! A clear case of the parasite (client) feeding on the host (agency) and slowly killing it

We have really lost it haven’t we?!  I mean, as an industry there is really no hope when our peers are thinking in these terms.  Protectionism and defensiveness are both traits of an industry that is losing relevance and finding it hard to justify any value to its customers.  (Sorry, parasites.)

History is peppered with industries that faced the requirement for change in the light of new technology /competition/new markets/economic changes/customer demands (delete as appropriate) but who failed to grasp the fact that the answer was not to protect your current business model.  The US car industry, the Swiss watch industry to name just two – their ignorance and the spectacular consequences of it, are well documented.

The recruitment industry – and I would most definitely, and especially, include the Executive Search element – is no different.  It’s an aged and inappropriate business model that needs to change. Very sad then to see that most of the contributions to this discussion were attempting to trot out all the hackneyed and irrelevant reasons why it should not change and why clients (Sorry, parasites…) should continue to keep using us.

We are in an industry that requires a radical rethink, some ‘blue ocean’ thinking, and we should seek to challenge all the conventions, all the givens that we currently see as our unique points of difference.  It is an absolute imperative that these discussion contributors get out a blank piece of paper and work out what the future may look like rather than sitting around thinking that once the market picks up and the myth of the talent shortage kicks in again it will be back to the good old days.  Because it won’t.

If we spent less time trying to defend our current methodologies, approaches and position in the mix and more time really trying to understand what the market needs both now and perhaps more importantly in the future we might, just might, find a value added place for us to be.

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