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Recruiters: Your Days Are Numbered

by
Lior Shamir
Dec 10, 2012, 6:04 am ET

Recruiting can be boiled down to three critical ingredients that make up the mix: sourcing, screening, and verifying. A traditionally manual function of HR, process automation is snatching the reins from bloated HR divisions and outside recruiters.

According to Bersin & Associates, spending on outside recruiters represented a third of recruiting budgets in 2010; however, due to high commissions (averaging 21% of a new hire’s first year salary), spending halved in 2011 in favor of sourcing talent directly on social networks.

Of course, fancy recruiting IT is imperfect and can not (yet) replicate the intangibles of a seasoned recruiter. Plus, someone has to pilot the software — push the button, as it were. But make no mistake, the tech industry is going after 100% of the pie. And that means cutting out the middleman.

We’re already seeing signs of disruption.

For example, dedicated social recruiting tools such as BranchOut, Jobvite, and HireRabbit are shifting the responsibility of recruitment away from recruiting professionals and toward company employees, who get rewarded for connecting their networks to their employers. In effect, recruiters are being marginalized by collaborative filters within large networks of engaged users.

HR associates are also at risk. From the business owner’s perspective, every hour spent on payroll, benefits, compliance, workers’ comp. etc. is an hour lost on delivering value to customers. So more businesses are outsourcing — not just the HR function but their entire workforce — to professional employment organizations such as ADP.

Recruiters: Billions in venture and acquisition capital is being poured into enterprise software — HRMS, HRIS, HCM, ATS, and other acronyms associated with your future paycheck. Silicon Valley snuffed travel agents a decade ago. Will you suffer the same fate?

Look around the corner and you’ll see that the Heidrick & Struggles of tomorrow is more data analytics than corporate politics. More technician than tactician. LinkedIn “seats” will be filled by computer-science degreed derrières. Recruiting as we know it — a scrappy and gut-driven racket — has reached its expiration date.

 

photo from Bigstock

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  1. Mitch Sullivan

    OK.

    So how does the data and the software convert someone who is relatively happy in their current job into changing employers?

    Or is that what the F4 button does?

  2. Alex de Soto

    Mitch: Conversions will be handled by persuasive, masterful professional recruiters who will oversee the HRMS, HRIS, HCM and ATS Overlords and who have access to their Super Dashboards of information and company-specific HR-related services. A conversation with a hot prospect might go something like this:

    “Jane, not only can we we pay you 20% more than you are currently making, which will place you in the top 10% of men and women in Neuroscience, but we can also get you into that local swim club you’ve always wanted to join and help place your three kids in (name specific schools) which are the best schools in the city. I think you’ll ace our assessment tests and interviews based on your past performance and employment record.” [Some personal information pulled from Jane's social graph.]

    I don’t see the human recruiter completely going away. So their days are not numbered, even if their numbers might be significantly reduced. Their roles will no doubt evolve as technology continues to develop.

  3. Mitch Sullivan

    For every evolve, there will be some devolve – I guarantee it.

    Presumably, you don’t mean reduced, you mean change sides. right?

  4. Thea Bensel

    As an internal recruiter that specializes in social media recruitment, I have to ask – where is the data that supports technology replacing recruiters? While I agree that HR Generalist duties are easily outsourced, I don’t agree that the recruitment industry has reached its expiration date. An experienced recruiter has both HR Generalist and sales skills. Technology cannot build relationships, overcome a broken hiring process (easily exploited by recruiters) or sell to candidate/client. Maybe you missed this fact – networking is the #1 way to find and get a job. Hiring managers hire from people they trust (which is not always HR) or hire candidates they like/referred. Hiring managers are still VERY skeptical of social media, and a connection on social media is not the same as having a F2F relationship. Recruitment will evolve, like it always has, to overcome the new challenges that it faces.

  5. Ken Goldman, CPC

    I don’t often comment on articles such as this but Mr. Shamir is so far off the mark I have to. One of the key “critical ingredients” he fails to mention is a professional recruiters ability to ATTRACT good candidates and close them. Great candidates have options – always have and always will, and they know it. Using fancy search strings and name souring as only a very small piece of the pie. Recruiting is a contact sport my friend, and no app will replace it.

  6. Martin Snyder

    “Recruiting as we know it — a scrappy and gut-driven racket — has reached its expiration date”

    You wanna bet on that? I believe you have confused “hiring” with “recruiting” and they aint the same, by a long shot.

    Moving from one tribe to another is deeply wired and it is not gonna suddenly re-wire in one generation because of the huge increase in digital information. Some version of this post appears every year, and recruiting just becomes more and more central and visible as a key driver of business success.

    My prediction? Recruiting and HR finally get the divorce they have needed and Marketing gets the kids.

    Of course Social Networks, Mobile, Big Data, etc. will move the range of roles that require less active recruitment- but how far will that needle go? So far, it has not moved much.

    In fact, I will suggest otherwise: the novelty is off of social networks and the social value of such connections / interactions is going down.

    I read something yesterday saying Klout scores were more important than IQ in the modern job world. It’s to laugh.

  7. Paul Lipman

    I have heard this argument since I became an Agency Recruiter 16 years ago.

    Your premise is incorrect (unless you are just talking about people who are not working, not happy where they are at, or actively looking)

    “Recruiting can be boiled down to three critical ingredients that make up the mix: sourcing, screening, and verifying.”

    You are minimizing the “sourcing” aspect AND forgot the part about showing them why the new opportunity is better than where they are at now. As unemployment rates dip lower and lower, and the skills required to perform a specific role become more and more unique, targeting the right individuals becomes more and more difficult.

    To quote a well-respected Trainer in the Industry, Danny Cahill, “You don’t pay me to merely find the people. Any firm (or job board or internal recruiter or job ad) can do that. You pay me to secure the person. You pay me for my process: Research, Target Planning, Interviewing, Reference Checking, Countless Phone hours Qualifying Candidates, Salary Negotiation, and Even counter offer and fear-of-change training. I am in their heads until the day they start (and long thereafter)”

    In addition, the recruiter is there to find the talent that is happy, content and often NOT LOOKING. Answering a job-ad or social media requires pro-activity on the candidate’s part. Recruiters develop relationships with people who want to hear about opportunities, but are not actively looking for one.

    Seasoned recruiters guide the candidate (AND the employer)through the process, helping to steer them to the opportunities that are a good match AND the right career move.

  8. Mitch Sullivan

    I’d also add that nearly all of these types of articles come from people who’ve never worked as a recruiter.

  9. E To Dav

    Ah yes, it is the 2012 version of the “you are obsolete” article. I think I have read this in 1997, then in 2003, and more recently in 2009. It is always an exciting read…and I keep taking my GMATs so I can find a new profession, but those layoffs never come.

    I am excited by new technology, but I only think the new technology (which is still pretty awful by the way) will complement my job and not replace it.

    There are many reasons for this. First, finding the right person is not a quantitative, binary exercise. Yes – you can plug some data into a computer to find a skill set; but technology has not yet been able to answer the question of do they have the right level of decision making skills that we need? have they created something? what is the right kind of environment for them? do they come from a company that would translate into our environment (note this goes well beyond industry)? etc. I am willing to concede that technology has made it much easier to scale down and target the right profile, but a recruiter should be able to scale down 20 people who might be a fit on paper to the four who will be the best fit. Right now, I am looking for a person to lead our consulting organization. Now, technology can get me 200 people in the US who have led Consulting organizations in technology in a similar space; but I need somebody who can triple our business in two years, somebody who will be able to add new products and offerings, somebody who will be able to market and sell the organization differently that the way it is positioned now and somebody who can centralize some of the costs that have been aggregating from our acquisitions. Some of this can be data mined off a resume; most of it can’t. Second, most of my recruiting is passive. Not off of job boards or people who apply. This is something that technology cannot do.

    So, I welcome all new technology that helps with this because recruiting technology is pretty bad right now. However, I am confident that even if this cuts out a lot of what I do now, my job will be around decades from now.

    I look at this argument as similar to people who think that place is unimportant with the communication strides we’ve made in the last decade. People think cities, malls, and physical offices are obsolete. But, if anything we’ve grown more clustered around cities and people than before the internet. The agglomeration effect of people and services have led to innovation for millennia. People cluster around people because we are social and innovation takes place at unplanned, spontaneous times that happen around other people. Now, we will continue to make place less important, but we will never see a dramatic decline of agglomeration effects. I see this as analogous to recruiting because people can have virtual meetings, office hours, etc. all online, but nothing has replaced the face to face meeting. You just get more done and communication is more effective face to face. Recruiting is social by nature…unless you are a total introvert, you will want somebody who can sell, create relationships, be positive to be around, who can think creatively and somebody that has potential to grow into a leader for your organization. In my experience, there are two things for just about every role 1) can they do the job and 2) are they the right person fit for all the intangibles I need. The first one is easy and binary and that is where technology will help. The second component is much harder to find and technology will have a hard time replacing social interaction to answer those questions.

    I look forward to the 2015 version.

  10. Robert Dromgoole

    Ken & Mitch beat me to it. An ATS has NEVER made a hire. I suppose for companies where you have thousands of interested people and a sorting problem, you can hire an Admin and they can run the assessment engine and offer a formulaic offer process. Let me tell you something, there were sales people in Ancient Greece, there will be sales people 5,000 years from now. Process doesn’t make a hire. Technology doesn’t make a hire. It’s sales that separates. Sure, the industry may break out into those who actually need to ‘recruit’ talent, and those who process. I see that happenings. But you’ll never automate a sales process.

  11. Martin Snyder

    The same is said every year about auto salespeople and real-estate agents and yacht brokers etc. etc.

    When people make the Big Decision, they want human service, and again, it will take awhile for that cultural change to happen (as in probably never).

  12. Ken Winters

    Yes, the industry is evolving, but no, it is not becoming extinct. We unveiled a solution in May and memorialized our position with the unveil video: “Recruiting is and will always be a human powered business. In our lifetime, technology will never replace the human relations and network building required in recruiting.” In summary, like every other industry, contingent recruiting is moving towards pay-for-performance.

  13. Scott Kahle

    Lior, I noticed on your LinkedIn page that you are the Marketing & Business Development Consultant for VibeDeck. I have to wonder why a Business Development role would be required when the sales message of VibeDeck could be posted on web site, sent out via email marketing campaigns and processed online without any human interaction at all. Don’t you agree?

    The first thing I thought when I saw the title of this post was “here we go again” another post about technology replacing the need for recruiters. I remember first seeing this when Monster went live in the 90′s. Rather then echo the points already covered above by many of my peers, I’ll make the following point.

    As long as companies compete and hiring the best and brightest is key to a companies success the recruiting role will always require a human who can handle the human interaction part of the recruiting process.

  14. Keith Halperin

    @ Lior & Everybody: You’re right
    @ Lior & Everybody: You’re wrong.

    First of all: most hiring involves people, positions, and companies that are not particularly special. These don’t require a skilled professional to deal with. Furthermore, the percentage of people in this category (don’t require a skilled professional to deal with) tends to increase over time (at least with the largest employers, see Gerry Crispin’s studies.) That being said, the need for skilled professionals (such as those mentioned) will NOT go away. I have a rough rule of thumb: if you’re not prepared to pay at least $50/hr or pay a 30% fee for someone to do a recruiting service, you can no-source (eliminate it), through-source (automate it) or out-source it (send away) for less than minimum wage. If you deliver high-touch, high-value add services (as just described), you have nothing to worry about. If you’re providing low-touch, low-value add services for high-touch high-value add prices (like having newbie recruiters finding run-of-the-mill resumes on boards that you charge 25% fees for) or providing onsite interview scheduler/coordinators for $30hr), all YOU have to do is to keep finding the greedy, arrogant, fearful, or ignorant/incompetent (GAFI) employers who are willing for you to gouge them.

    Cheers,

    Keith

  15. Ken Goldman, CPC

    Looking at Mr. Shamir’s employment history, I think we would all agree his post was more for self promotion than anything else. He is not what anyone could consider an expert in Recruiting or HR in general. Good luck with your latest business endeavor Mr. Shamir!

    Marketing & Business Development Consultant – VibeDeck
    September 2010 – May 2012

    Marketing & Business Development Consultant – Audiolife
    September 2009 – December 2010

    Marketing Director – MyDrifts
    July 2008 – May 2010

    Content Manager – VIRV TV (RayV)
    August 2007 – August 2008

    Website Manager – We Are Listening
    November 2004 – August 2008

  16. Scott VanGorden

    I agree with Mr. Goldman. This a bit of self-promotion from a app developer that attempts to do what he is describing here. Cunning and clever but misses the mark by a substantial distance.

  17. Tom Fosgard

    First off, I love these wild predictions of the future. They are bold and thought provoking. The fact is, though, hiring managers have always had the power to recruit for themselves but most (like 95%) don’t. It takes work. And all these tools take A TON of work. Frankly, I don’t see recruiting ever getting to a place where it is so systematic that we don’t need recruiters. How could it? For one, we’re dealing with people and every person is different. For two, we’re always going to have companies that will be fighting for the attention of the best candidates. How do you automate that?

  18. Lior Shamir

    @Alex, @Thea, @Ken – I agree that recruitment will evolve.

    @Mitch – I am not a recruiter nor an expert.

    @Martin – The low-end of auto sales and real-estate brokerage has been disrupted by direct-to-consumer tech, and moving up the ladder from what I can tell.

    @Scott – VibeDeck provides musicians with the tools to sell and promote their music directly to their fans, thereby cutting out the labels and distributors typically responsible for marketing and sales, respectively. That is precisely my point.

  19. Shaun Windram

    I’m losing count of how many times recruitment has died. First it was the Internet, then it was job boards, now social media and fancy software is wielding the axe.

    Guys, all this evolution has done is changed how we go about our business, now we use digital media instead of print to advertise and our network are greater than ever…I’d say your death bringing evolution has actually made life easier for us. People are simply easier for recruiters to find and engage with now.

    Don’t you find it quite strange that with all this technological evolution, those who are best at using it, are recruiters? Ironic, eh?

  20. Scott Kahle

    @Lior,

    Your point is that technology has replaced the music labels in the same way that technology will be replacing recruiters in companies hiring process?

    or

    Your point is that VibeDeck doesn’t need a business development person, like yourself, because they have technology that takes care of closing business deals for them?

  21. Ken Goldman, CPC

    What bothers me more than Mr Shamir’s ill-informed opinion is the fact that ERE actually posted it! Sure, they knew it would get a rise from people but still! I remember when ERE actually had good content.

  22. Keith Halperin

    @ Ken: ISTM that Lior wasn’t particularly self-promoting, but if he were: THAT’S THE POINT OF ERE ARTICLES. With a few exceptions, the articles are infomercials and advertorials for whatever the authors have going for them, whether it’s their products, services, or themselves. If we restricted articles to those which clearly reflect a sincere, non-self interested desire to inform and educate, most contributors would be gone.

    IMHO: lets accept the premise that anybody who writes an article here isn’t adverse to a few dollars or pounds or whatever coming from it; that they just shouldn’t be too blatant (as they sometimes are) and that when they are, yours truly shall be alert to the situation (as I sometimes am) and will address it (as I sometimes do).

    Cheers,

    Keith “Not Adverse to A Few Consulting Gigs and Speaker Fees Myself” Halperin keithsrj@sbcglobal.net

  23. Ace Recruiter

    @Lior once you confirmed “you’re not a recruiter nor an expert” in this domain, your opinion became null and void. Write about something you have experience with and a more complete thought process should follow.

    Silence (when you know not what you talk about) is Golden.

    I read an article the other day from someone who also had no recruitment experience and can draw upon similar consistencies between what you wrote and the other author wrote, that neither of you know what you’re talking about.

    @Scott Kahle, awesome point!

    ERE, better content screening should pursue before a misinforming and discredited article like this one hits the website. Many respectable professionals peruse and share content from here.

  24. William Blazejeski

    The best people in the industry have jobs and aren’t looking and need to be hunted – thus the term “headhunters”. Headhunters aren’t going anywhere, period. I use every single social media technique available to my advantage but am yet to see one that serves its ultimate purpose better than I do – finding great candidates.

  25. Todd Raphael

    Ken, thanks for the comment – I generally try to err on the side of being a community leader vs. being a rigid gatekeeper. In other words, I don’t try to screen out opinions that I don’t like, or that others might not like, and so on. Of course – that doesn’t mean I want to leave the gates so open that we post everything; in fact, the majority of articles that came in over the weekend and the last few days I either did not use or asked people to change considerably. But I thought it would be more valuable for me to publish the views (that are probably shared by at least some others) of a fellow who’s starting up a recruiting technology company than to say to him, “no, we will not allow this opinion.” As always, I’m happy to have you or anyone else submit something, or happy to chat/brainstorm ideas. Todd

  26. Shantanu Lajmi

    Technology can help you make better decisions- but cannot eliminate the decision maker! We are talking about Human Capital here and that; I certainly believe is more complex than other online products/services sold to reduce dependency/cost on middlemen. How are you going to assess a Candidate’s core competency based on what he writes on social media? Does every company have staff that can match the skills of a hardened recruiter? I would though, like to look at the brighter side though of technology…the quality, productivity and accountability would definitely improve for Recruiters. As for all the HRMS, HRIS, HCM, ATS investments- that will ensure HR Analytics playing a pivotal role in the days to come.

  27. Brian Pedersen

    No conflict of interest in Lior’s aricle… He is marketing an automated employment pre-screening product, of course he is going to purport that agency recruiters aren’t going to be needed any longer.

  28. E To Dav

    Lior – As much as a disagree with the article, you should be able to speak about recruiting as much as you want. Recruiting is something that every piece of the organization touches. You may not be an expert, but most great changes and opinions come from people on the outside.

    I know most people have an opinion and just the fact that it comes from the outside does not make it any less valid.

  29. Keith Halperin

    @Ace, Ken, Todd:
    If we limited articles to only those currently working as corporate or contract recruiters, would there be ANY regular contributors? We certainly have many current/former contingency and retained recruiters who frequently tell us how they think we should do our jobs, but who out there is currently working in the minefield of corporate recruiting at the individual contributor or lead level- who is over-worked and under-resourced, facing dysfunctional hiring practices, unreliable candidates, capricious hiring managers,and unsupportive/weak superiors, and who knows that you should keep one eye on your back to avoid knife stabs and the other on the way out? (Your place isn’t like that? Can I come work with you?)

    Cheers,

    Keith “Lives In the Real World of Recruiting” Halperin

  30. Steve Levy

    As a long-timer on ERE (even longer than Keith H. has been trying to sell low cost sourcing via that talent cess-pool called “the job board”) I’ve seen the demise of the recruiter come and go…

    Yep, the good ones are still here and the crappy one’s aren’t (crappy being the operative for both in-house and out-house recruiters).

    Shaun: B-I-N-G-O

    For certain you can automate processes but for the bulk of HR tech, automation almost always involves automating inefficiencies – so you get stupidity in bits and bytes. Kind of like infographic resumes which are for most, stupidity in color.

    Time to call someone…

  31. S. Lamo

    My issue is that the author admitted that he is not a recruiter nor an expert, therefore telling us that our days are numbered is ridiculous. Most good recruiters are hardworking and have learned the industry the hard way throughout the years. I probably have floppy disks and Atari games older than the author.I started recruiting before there was ever such a thing as a PC. Like someone said earlier, an ATS system doesn’t pick people, nor does it sell jobs, prevent counter offers, fix fall-offs, chase bills etc. as long as theyre are hard to fill jobs, there will be good recruiters.

  32. Trisha McGovern

    YOu guys are good.. I couldnt think of one more thing to say except – I am very happy to have folks like you as my collegues touche.. Maybe we should give Mr Shamir a project and I am sure he will write a differnt article

  33. Robert Dromgoole

    Todd already defended ERE, but let me come to their defense. Lior, THANK YOU for writing the article (even though I disagree with it). It’s difficult creating content, especially thought provoking content. The fact there are 30+ comments on this piece means ERE did a great job in some ways. We’re talking about how technology fits into our sales profession. GREAT. I haven’t read any mission statements ERE has, but my bet is the crew wants to advance our profession, keep us informed, and share all kinds of views. I appreciate what ERE does. So keep the articles coming, as well as the alternate points of view. I’m just glad ERE is here, otherwise we’d lack a peer-reviewed publication and be relegated to HR Magazine. Lets face it, we’re just interested in that content as much. Keep up the great work ERE!

  34. John Le

    You couldn’t be more wrong!! What a rubbish article and a waste of time reading it – some substance maybe in social recruiting being a good compliment in the future to REAL RECRUITMENT, for REAL RECRUITERS but the rest Lior Shamir, you’re kidding yourself for thinking computers, software and platforms will fully replace a good consultant or even an average headhunter! If you have to ask why then my point exactly!!

  35. joseph napoli

    They’ve been saying our days our numbered since the days of Monster.com, Careerbuilder, Dice, etc. And here we are, hilarous!

  36. joseph napoli

    I absolutely love all of the above responses. Eric Johnson, couldn’t agree more myself. Our jobs as recruiters are to put holes in candidates and if they don’t go down, we very professionally present them to our client. How are computers going to do that? Again…hilarious.

  37. Eric Johnson

    Joseph,

    Thank you for including my name in your post. You will notice that my comment has been taken down….by a human!

  38. Olga Ocon

    Dear ERE!

    GREAT JOB in getting our attention and us to sign up for an account in order to comment!

    Eric Johnson – you are brilliant! I read this and laughed! The day a machine can replace me – well that will be “THE DAY!”

    While I’m at it – LinkedIn has not replaced recruiters – in fact they are about to get a great wake up call! Linkedin Built its brand on the backs of small recruiting firms and now they have turned on us! Their tools are unaffordable and limited. Privacy settings are a joke!

    Stay tuned folks!

  39. Josh Bersin

    I hope this article is a bit of a joke. Sure there’s disruption occurring, but the premise shows a lack of understanding of the market. Recruiters are not going away at all, they just need new skills and have many new tools.

  40. Robert Dromgoole

    I find it ironic, that on the Fordyce Letter site today John Zappe has an article with facts & data about how search firm employees are at RECORD LEVELS:

    http://www.fordyceletter.com/2012/12/07/search-firm-hires-at-an-all-time-high-temp-numbers-continue-to-climb/

    … ” the BLS said the number of workers employed by search firms and placement agencies has also been on the rise. Search firm hires for the 12 months since October 2011 rose by 5,500 workers. Placement agencies increased their staffs during that same period by 13,600 workers. Data for both groups is through October 2012, the most for which numbers on these two sectors is available.

    Search firms now employ more workers than at any time in the last decade, a sign both of an improving economy as well as the growing reliance of employers on outside recruiters.” ….

  41. Justin Reid

    What a load of nonsense.

  42. Richard Borland

    “According to Bersin & Associates, spending on outside recruiters represented a third of recruiting budgets in 2010″
    So Bersin & Assoc just report on the data and don’t make the inferences that Mr. Shamir does.
    Perhaps there needs to be some thinking that reduced budgets may be a tad related to the economy?
    With this model of drawing inferences from data showing decreases in budgets, all service industries will be fully automated very shortly – after all, automation reduces costs. Welcome to the machine – not.

    I also recall similar articles 15 years ago stating that code generators will make programmers extinct, workflow tools will make managers a dying breed etc. etc.

    Just because we are linked through social networks, does not make them “social” – they are virtual.
    Are your Facebook friends really your friends?
    Real people will always be connected through real people and will always need real interaction.

  43. Colin Giles

    Totally unthought-of article written by a seasoned “Recruiter Hater”! Lior what is your problem with the recruitment industry? Are you just trying to promote your brand of technology? Your article points to Technology over taking the Human side of what a serious recruiter does for a living, how is your technology going to meet candidates? How is it going to match culture and personality? How will it deliver an offer and sell against a counter offer? The problem with your brand of technology and your way of thinking promotes people being lazy, people thinking and acting like battery hens and producing substandard work – But in conclusion that really sums up your brand of technology – people hiding behind computers and delivering reams of data!

  44. Mathieu Cornillon

    It is funny to see how someone who doesn’t understand recruitment at all think he can predict how the market will evolve in the future.

    I thought journalists were supposed to understand what they were writing about before publishing some radical statement like this.

    As a recruiter myself I believe I don’t have to worry about my future, in case I become useless as a recruiter I could still become a fake writer as it doesn’t seems to require any specific skills at all.

    Some great tools like “Word” should be enough to write an article of this quality. It doesn’t seems to require any ideas, studies or investigations to publish those days!!!!

  45. Chris Struggles

    Do you even know what Heidrick and Struggles do? I do. I work at Heidrick and Struggles. What we do is provide Due Diligence and Due process in critical talent hires. We hire Chief Executive Officer, Board Directors and Rain makers. We consult with the elite of the world to make sure that Blue Chip companies continue to thrive. When these hires don’t work, we answer to the board. We are leadership advisers. Technology can’t and never will be able to do this. I think this article shows how shallow your understanding is of “True Executive Search and Leadership Advisory.” Please, next time you write an article and want to “name a recruiter” then do that. Please don’t use Heidrick and Struggles because clearly you have no idea what we do.

  46. SUDEEP SINGH

    We have seen such articles since ages, every 2-3 years someone comes up with these stories. We have been hiring for variety of multinationals in the past 12 years. There are ups & downs but the effort that a recruiter puts to close a position is commendable compared to the automated tweets & posting done by the internal client teams.

    Only time will tell as to what happens to the industry, but writing an obituary so soon is pretty early.

    Good luck folks !

  47. Jared Darrens

    Although its hard to hear as a recruiter, I agree with a couple of conditions. But perhaps your piece would have been rewritten with a title like “Recruiters, innovate or die.”

    Firstly, there is no doubt that linkedin and facebook is disrupting talent acquisition. At its current pace, within the next 5 years within most of the western world talent will first be identified through social media.

    Recruiters, whose value is then left to conduct due diligence on talent continue to have tools like psychometric assessments through http://www.shl.com , in-interview ipad interview guides through http://www.smarterhire.com.au and countless probity checking services. Technology is commoditising the expertise that recruiters used to get 20-30% fees for.

    Recruiters can’t and don’t have the access to big data that allows the above companies to predictively model high performance characteristics (competencies, experience, demographical data) and match those intelligently against candidates. Technology companies understand this which is why such a significant amount of VC funding is being invested in “B2C tech plays” that disrupt what has been a very lucrative industry.

    It’s no doubt that recruiters will still play a part, but just like in the apt travel agent analogy, it will be smaller, much more specialised and they better have the best technology at their hands otherwise they will loose the competitive advantage to another firm that does.

    Recruiting is a much harder profession now, that trend will continue. Although its very hard for me personally to hear, I can see that this industry will definitely be the buggy whip of the future.

  48. Lior Shamir

    @Josh – Thanks for the comment. I try to read everything you publish.

    @Jared – Yes, that’s a fitting headline. Excellent thoughts and well put, thanks so much.

  49. Alexander Georgiev

    Maybe not just yet, as long as measurable qualities such as talent, abilities, and accomplishments are valued lower than subjective drivel such as “personal suitability”. Humans will always be better than computers at dressing up the wrong choices.

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    [...] Recruiters: Your Days Are Numbered. [...]

  51. David Lyons

    Obviously machines don’t make placements, people do. Over the years the recruitment industry has honed its skills to ensure that good matches are made and the 100% 3 month guarantees are not necessary, to remove the recruiter part of the equation would be a step back in the wrong direction.. You can have the best of technology, but unless the person using it is savvy, the results are unpredictable and will end up costing the employer more..

  52. Kevin Chappell

    Have heard it all before – post 87 crash, 92 recession, post9-11, GFC outcome. Same story, different message, still here! Mind you if 21% is the average hire cost, the recruitment industry will self-destruct. Here in NZ, fees always have been much less. Fees must reflect value for money and “outperform” internal recruitment costs. Change your business model, get rid of overheads, and charge single digit percentages, and end up with the same in pocket. Do this and you’ll flourish.

  53. Maureen Sharib

    LinkedIn is featuring this on their News page. Kind of like, “We’re not sayin’ it, BUT…”
    That’s gratitude for ya!

  54. Mike Jarvis

    Recruitment:

    It might look like a “a scrappy and gut-driven racket” and I have in 10 years seen it done very badly and very well.

    It has become harder to achieve, as people have withdrawn from real relationship a phenomenon not limited to business – in favour of Portals and HR departments.

    But it is in the relationship where the real value of recruitment consultancy is realised.

    Businesses seek protection from recruitment professionals because of the wolfish behaviour of some. But a good consultant can add value beyond providing a credible candidate for a specific role simply because they are outside the organisation they serve and have a different perspective on it. Perhaps they can see the wrongly deployed manager who covers a lack in other departments and can’t do his job well because of it.

    A good consultant will see this and be able to save the organization recruiting another manager when what they need is a less senior employee. A simplistic example but valid nonetheless.

    Bad recruitment has caused the idea of a recruitment service a lot of problems, HR is a barrier that often is used to recruit, but they are generally not the hiring manager and cannot give an objective non generic Person spec or Job Description, Mangers often write a wish list for a JD that looks like their own history – sadly we are all unique and you cannot employ yourself twice.

    A good recruiter will ask the questions “who can do this Job” and encourage the production of a “Best” and “Next Best” profile, (that’s not second best, there is a difference).

    Software cannot do this “AI” is not true intelligence it is after all artificial, even at the best of times it will need an outside creative input.

    I believe Business must re embrace relationships and trust in general, a recruiter with integrity does exist (hello!), and such an individual can be a real asset to the organisations that they serve.

    Mike Jarvis.

  55. Mark North

    With specialist senior hires this will never work. They want to be found and be told about excellent opportunities by respected Consultants.

    Another article written by an I.T. bod with very little idea of what a recruiter does.

  56. Kerem Ergun

    The author clearly has no idea what a retained Executive Search Consultant does to find candidates. If it were down to clicking a few keywords in social media they wouldn’t be paid so handsomely for their services.

    Of course clever software and the wider adoption of social media will be a job killer, as any innovative push is, but only for those recruiters who still chase the methods of yesteryear. As some of the previous comments already stated, no software or network can track and approach the truly passive candidates who simply don’t litter their profiles with juicy keywords or have no digital footprint deep enough to follow. How will you find the financial genius behind a security when their linkedin profile simply declares them as an employer of some bank?

  57. Neil Whitman

    I don’t buy this argument for a minute. Yes this protracted downturn has cost many recruiters their jobs but I believe technology will allow us to extend our reach and make us more valuable to our customers. Ask any client how many candidates who apply on their own get through an AI gatekeeper but don’t remotely match the job spec and you validate just one small part of a recruiter’s job. The ability to evaluate skills, match a candidate to a corporate culture and close the deal are best done person to person. That and the looming talent shortage driven by the exit of baby boomers spell not doom and gloom but happy days ahead. Let the good times roll AND soon.

  58. Sherri Rosenberg

    I’ve had my own retainer-based practice for over 20 years and have been in search more years than I want to mention here.

    Like many who have commented, technology has changed how we do our jobs, but i think it will be decades before it will replace us.

    My clients hire me because my discernment. It’s not only about my network, but it’s about my ability to know who the “right” person is not only for the job but for the organization. Knowing who will thrive in a particular client’s culture.

    As recruiters we’ve all sat across from a potential candidate with the perfect resume only to know that they are the absolutely wrong fit for the position and the client. If clients just hire candidates because they resumes look right, then the recruiting process will become even more expensive as placements fail and need to be replaced. A great recruiter makes placements that sustain over time.

    The wise clients know that search isn’t a transactional business but a relationship based one. I’m not worried that I’ll be out of job yet!

  59. Andrea Colantoni

    I want to thank Mr. Shamir for this heap of rubbish. It is people like him that make me completely secure in my feeling that I will always have a job as recruiter.

  60. Martin Snyder

    “Recruiters can’t and don’t have the access to big data that allows the above companies to predictively model high performance characteristics (competencies, experience, demographical data) and match those intelligently against candidates”

    What hubris. What misplaced faith in data. There is not big enough data on Earth to model what a candidate wants for lunch that day, let alone which factor(s) will move her at any chosen moment to alter her identity, security, & routine by switching jobs.

    Big Data can let you know the four or six things she probably will order for lunch, but is that actionable?

    Recruiters are ethnographers, salespeople, dipolomats, headshrinkers, and sometimes knaves, and we are a LONG LONG way from software that can fill those roles.

    Look at the difference in trajectory between real estate agents and travel agents. Hint: it’s the low involvement sale that was automated.

    Sure LinkedIn loves this thread- they hate and fear recruiters because LinkedIn thinks they own those networks, and they want those dollars.

  61. Russell White

    Well, I think Lior realises that the demise of the recruiter is a little premature! For years, the tools have been available to accelerate the end of the recruiter, yet I and many others still thrive from this industry in its alleged final death throes!

    The reason being is that recruiters can deal with the intangibles, the emotions, and the unexpected. They can express a lot more clearly and succinctly why an individual is right for a role (or not as the case may be) than a piece of software or algorithm. The recruiter is able to process data using his/her brain on things like will ‘x’ candidate get on with ‘y’ boss – and a million other things to get to the right conclusion. Software, well certainly in my lifetime, will never do that

    As has been commented earlier as we become ever more reliant on the internet then I think there is a likelihood for a greater need of recruiters rather than there being less as society and factors affecting recruitment decisions become even more complex

  62. Ace Recruiter

    The African Dung Beetle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dung_beetle) would have a field day “on” this article.

    Just stating my opinion as well.

  63. marios Zenonos

    Evolution is: – The adaptation to the changing environment.
    The only change will be in the strategy and approach of the recruiter.

    Just as the environment changes, so will recruiters.

    Example:

    Environment Change:
    Companies hire their own generalist recruitment work force. leaving no need for simple low salary positions to be filled by 3rd party recruiters.

    Recruiters change:
    Find a niche market that has a high demand for a certain type of skill set. Focus on that niche. Build a database of candidate who will work with you. Now sell the candidates into the clients that don’t have the skilled recruiters to find the right candidates for that niche.

    1 Change “From generic recruitment to specialist niche recruitment”

    Simples.

  64. Tom Huestis

    This article is amusing. The author makes some pretty big claims while citing nothing for support.

    There is a distinction that should be made right off the bat… Recruiting is sales. Staffing/Hiring is an administrative HR function. And of the four or five acronyms the author busted off, only one of them has anything to do with art/process of recruiting/staffing… ATS. The others are people management systems purposed for post-hire management of a new hire – hardly anything that will replace an in-house or 3rd party recruiting professional.

    As far as an ATS replacing one? Many of the user comments have covered this sufficiently. I would add, though, the main threat to a 3rd party recruiter is in the Fortune 500 space. Those companies have steadily brought the recruiting function in-house as technology has created tools to level the “sourcing” playing field (Linked IN, job boards, etc). “Recruiters” who possess multiple gears and a willingness to make less $$ for infinitely less stress and heart-ache, can bring their skills in-house and add value; that will never change. In fact, technology only pushes those numbers upward.

    But even in that space, it is difficult to scale a recruiting organization appropriately, hence the need for outsourcing to 3rd party recruiters will ALWAYS exist. Technology will change the levels and types of service that a 3rd party recruiting firm will provide, but their days aren’t numbered at all. If anything, as specialization increases w/ the complexity of technology, recruiters will become more critical than ever; their service will just have to evolve.

  65. Modris Reinbergs

    Recruiters are not going away. Current rates are not the 21 per cent cited here but closer to 15 %. When the economy improves, the rates will trend up. The internal HR Director is tied up with training, benefits, payroll, hiring, terminations and the like to spend the countless hours external Recruiters do at social media. If external recruiters provide value they will not go away.

  66. Keith Halperin

    @ Mike, Sherri, Tom: Well said. Now here’s the thing: ISTM that the angriest opponents to Lior’s premise are executive recruiters. As I previously mentioned, this type of high-touch, high-value-add service is not no-sourceable, through-sourceable or out-sourceable,. It is very valuable and should be highly paid.

    The thing is, VERY FEW HIRES REQUIRE THIS HANDS-ON APPROACH.
    You don’t need a 30%-fee agency to hire a mid-level accountant for a 60-person insurance firm, or a high-school teacher for an 1800 student school, or a mid-level Java SWE for a medium-sized company in LA…These are examples of what the vast majority of actual hires are in this country, NOT CXOs or “Fabulous 5%-ers”

    While the Bersin & Associates study claimed 1/3 of recruiting budget in 2010 (from the responding companies- how many companies, what kind, etc,?) was spent on outside hires, it wasn’t clear:
    1) What percentage of all hires were through outside sources?
    2) Whether these outside hires were best-handled by outside resources or if they could have been as well- or better-handled through less costly means? (e.g., instead of paying a 25% fee to a TPR, the company could have paid Maureen to develop a list of possible candidates, and let the internal recruiters take it from there.)

    Does anybody have figures on actually how many people were hire on a FT basis in any given year, and how many of these hires were through TPR?

    Cheers,

    Keith

  67. zac asimov

    Unfortunately this article is slanted to a particular perspective where jobs are so commoditized that its like buying groceries. In the real world I would argue that automation is in fact reaching it limits in the recruiting industry. Finding, selling, creating relationships with top talent is not being addressed with automation and creating an environment where top talent is either hunting for themselves or not hunting at all (the worst possible situation). Industries where position are so commoditized and where talent is generated via assembly-line education factories is on the bubble. The new generation of management has had to live with the fall-out of putting low-cost resources in position where they are not qualified. We are at the beginning of the shift and when we look to replace all that is broken the recruiting automation tools will be viewed as a contributor to the failure.

  68. Lisa Egger

    Marios – I agree with you!

    I believe companies have evolved in positive ways using current technologies and process primarily in filling less specialized position. What I don’t understand is why they don’t evolve further by hiring specialized recruiter/headhunters in-house to fill highly specialized position? Very few companies have attempted to experience the value in this. Makes no sense to me. Is that because HR holds the power to hire for this position? Companies choose not to adapt and evolve in ways that would add huge value to their organization and it’s worth pondering ‘why’. It’s why good agency recruiters will keep providing value to companies for a very long time.

    I agree with 99% of you – it’s obvious this is self promotion on the part of Lior. I do think he believes what he says, as he is just a newbie in this field…sorry Lior. Thanks folks for reaffirming the value of real recruiting!

  69. joseph napoli

    Eric Johnson! Again, you are so right! In order for us to comment on this topic, we have to physically type in a user name and password or sign up in order to do so…but does ERE have a computer that will do that for us? NO!

    Our days aren’t numbered, in fact, we are…as Al Pacino beautifully put it in A Scent of a Woman…JUST GETTING WARMED UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  70. joseph napoli

    Keith Halperin – wow, now that was a post sir! Nice insight, may I “borrow” it? ;-) All of these posts goes to clearly show that what we offer is WORTH much more than any automated tool, period. God Bless you all.

  71. Keith Halperin

    @ Zac: As mentioned, most companies aren’t “top” and while they may want “top talent,” they can’t reasonably expect to get it. Also, the more routinized, objectivized, and standardized, the better for the vast majority of companies and their hires. Not “one size fits all,” but one very broad set of best practices fits (and makes relatively easy, affordable, and efficent) “most”. That’s the idea behind “Generally Accepted Recruiting Practices” (GARP).

    @ Joseph: You are very kind. Feel free to take whatever you need. from whatever I’ve said.

    Cheers,

    Keith

  72. David Gillies

    The author is just the parallel version in his profession of a cheesy recruiter. The article took no thought or research. His article was all about eliciting a response, and he got one…even if his credibility is dubious at best. He should work for TMZ or some other rag that enjoys eliciting responses and sensationalizing stories.

  73. Peter Conlon

    Most of the previous comments have probably covered the point.
    Companies may have a vision they can dispense with the expense of an external recruiter, but even internal recruiters with expensive IT Driven CMS databases will never replace the professionalism and drive to achieve of an experienced and connected Human Capital Specialist. A great number of small to medium sized business cant afford the time and investment to achieve Recruitment excellence. Yes the whole game is changing but I think it is “tres Nieve” to say it is vanishing.

  74. Morgan Hoogvelt

    Another fantasy article…good ideas, but probably none that will ever happen. The human element is an element that no machine or automated process could ever functionally deal with.

    Moreover, I would bet the Democrat and Republican party has a better chance on agreeing on something than HR/recruiting going away.

  75. Keith Halperin

    @ David: A lot of response is GOOD- I like articles which inspire people to feel and sometimes to actually THINK. It beats being bored by conventional knowledge trumped up as great wisdom or “gee-whizz” promotions on the recruiting snake-oil of the day….

    @ Peter: Once again- most companies won’t need TPRs to fill their hiring needs, but the ones that do will need better and better ones.

    @ Morgan: Many articles on ERE are about ideas (some of which are actually good), but few of which will be applied, often because they’re impractical and unrealistic, because most of the originators aren’t “down in the trenches corporate and contract recruiters, working in real companies with real people”. Can non-corporate or non-contract recruiters come up with useful, realistic ideas for us to use? Certainly. Do we see many? Not in my opinion….

    Cheers,

    Keith

  76. Condescending Wonka Candidate | Staffing: The Worst of Both Worlds

    [...] Interestingly enough, I stumbled along this article by TechCrunch’s Semil Shah, who took the initiative to speak with very important people about this very topic.  It’s a well written article, and it tells us what many other recruiters know already.  The standard aggressive tactics, template e-mails, and blanket statements (a la ideal candidate) really don’t do our profession justice.  Hell, it even has ERE.net talking about how recruiters can be replaced by a big red button that sources and screens people. [...]

  77. Michael Spiro

    Recruiters who never learned how to creatively source or recruit passive (employed, non-job-seeking) candidates and who think that looking at résumés from people who respond to online job postings – the so-called “low hanging fruit” – comprise the bulk of their talent pool … THOSE are the recruiters who will become obsolete as more and more companies use Social Media to find and hire their own candidates and avoid paying agency fees. On the other hand, “Head Hunters” (recruiters who go after non-job seeking superstars who may work for a client’s competitor) will never be replaced by technology. Sourcing, recruiting and closing such hard-to-capture talent is a relationship-based consultative sales process that can only be successfully performed by a seasoned recruiting expert. That may sound “old school” … but traditional recruiting like that has always been, and is still more of an art than a science.

  78. Alex de Soto

    Good point Michael Spiro.

    I think this article’s days are numbered.

  79. Lou Volpe

    I believe i read a similar article a long, long time ago when Monster was first launched. There was talk about the demise of agency recruiting, just as there was talk of the paperless office when desktop computing became so wide spread. All the technology today cannot and will not replace the human factor when it comes to competing for quality candidates. Someone has to pick up that phone and sell the candidate about the benefits of switching jobs, how it will impact their career and persuade them to move their family half-way across the country to take on a new assignment. Surely the industry has shrunk but do suggest it will cease to exist is a bit of a stretch. Some of our clients utilize the most robust Enterprise software yet still find the systems burdensome, extremely complex, very expensive and not able tot deliver what they were promised.

  80. Rob Ward

    There have always been internal referral schemes in businesses, companies that do their own recruitment, but that has never been as effective as recruitment companies

  81. Al Siano

    When I started in the computer industry as a Technical Professional in 1977, there were stories written by those who wanted to express their projections that programmers and software developers would be “replaced” by technology. It was justified with science that made it easy to project code would write code and nobody really needed many programmers anymore. There were cartoons with an “Old-Programmers Home” on them, a place programmers could go once they were not needed anymore when code coded for them.

    Since my days as an engineer (and writing assembly-code long ago), I have led some major initiatives and learned much in technology, leadership, business, public relations even in non-profit work aside from recruiting and being an entrepreneur.

    I suggest we need to keep two things in mind…

    ONE: When people write for public viewing these days, they are often their own editors. The days of a publication having a true professional experience and authority to edit what is published is more rare. Nobody needs to be expert to write on a topic; anybody can just write! Some can write to drive comment.

    TWO: Nothing is more important than the people in an organization. Ask anyone who is a proven strong LEADER about the importance of talent and experience that FOLLOWS and ACHIEVES organizational goals. Many talented people are worth much more than 21% of their first year’s salary and those organizations and leaders who want to attract professionals will pay the fees! If they don’t have a problem filling a job anybody can fill, they don’t pay the fee, simple really. Top talent, the wisdom and skill of a human being is not a commodity; and talented people make choices of what they do. Without a talented recruiter the rigors of Attraction and Communication and getting talent on-board are left to technology, often randomness and people who have many other tasks on their plate most of the time. Those leaders who invest in proven, skilled Top-Flight recruiters do hire-away the best talent from other places every day. The reason is with a professional accomplished recruiter process of recruiting is assured to be ACTIVE and not passive or left to an odd chance to be stumbled-upon in the social media cloud where there is no shortage of noise.

    Remember, anybody with our without knowledge or true awareness can post anything. The last time I checked, programmers are still writing code in spite of the fact that in the 1970′s it was projected that they would be replaced largely by their own advanced code and sent to the old-programmers home. In fact “people” were supposed to be replaced by automation completely — you know technology and computers taking over the world! Oh yeah, I know, some think it is still coming, coming soon to your town automation taking us all over leaving complete doom for humanity. LOL

    The skilled professional recruiters, who will be instrumental in bringing-on the talent needed by any organization’s LEADERS will be around, working and earning and serving leadership long-after all of us this are gone from planet earth. Count on that! A keyword is professional. The cloud and social media are terms that will pass. Know where your power source is for your technology in case it gets too controlling and have a cup of coffee with a top executive head-hunter (not average TOP) if you lead, hire or need to be recognized for your talents elsewhere.

    To Lior’s credit, here is a writer who knows how to get people commenting. My take is there will be more from Lior that will drive comment. When Lior wrote this piece it is likely he was aware of what would happen with various opinion. You see, Lior has talent and thus, asking if a customer who orders a hamburger wants fries with that, that’s not likely in the writer’s future. :-) However those looking for a fry-cook generally do not need top recruiting talent, sometimes it just takes a sign in the window.

    Bringing on top-talent that fits the task when needed where needed often takes a recruiter or a proud head-hunter and always will as long as human beings run the planet and make decisions.

  82. David Gillies

    @Keith Halperin the article said nothing new and inspired nothing new. Same ol’ retread…a worthless, time wasting read.

  83. Dave Nerz

    Oh by the way, without the recruiter audience, LinkedIn does not have a sustainable business model. Do you know where their revenue comes from??? Anyone???

    Seems that “history repeats itself” is just a saying to those that predict the demise of recruiters every few years. Does anyone remember when job boards were going to replace recruiters? It is now recruiters that decide when a job board is done. Once recruiters stop using a board it crashes into financial ruin and obscurity.

    Change, influence, force evolutions of recruiters I am on board with that…end is near is not a realistic evaluation of the situation.

  84. Ed Kelly

    80 billion a year and growing. The industry in general and the contingent staffing industry in particular are in the midst of a historic shift toward greater presence in the American economy. Recruiters’ days in the next ten years will be brighter than ever.

  85. Recruiters: Your Days Are Numbered « Curricula, Gestão do Conhecimento e Pesquisa

    [...] on http://www.ere.net Gostar disso:GosteiSeja o primeiro a gostar [...]

  86. Keith Halperin

    I think anybody who gets this much reaction from our jolly crew deserves commendation, whether or not we agree with them.

    What puzzles me is WHY the high-level executive recruiters who’ve responded so angrily have responded the way they do. THEY don’t have anything to worry about, assuming they’re providing value equal to their cost (and in some cases as we’ve seen, their opinions of themselves)…

    Cheers,

    Keith

  87. John Kreiss

    The days of placing i.e. “throwing resumes out in the marketplace till something sticks” is probably over.

    Corporate recruiters have access to tools like LinkedIn recruiter, and I suspect that this has something to do with the decline in revenues.

    The demand for outside recruiters may decline, but search firms will never go away completely. There is still a need to approach the top talent, and that often still requires human beings to do that work successfully.

  88. Nick Corcodilos

    The only recruiters/headhunters who will be displaced by recruiting process automation are the ones who themselves rely on recruiting process automation — and good riddance. Pushing buttons and waiting for “who comes along” in the database is not recruiting, never was. But woe to the employers who think they can now push a button and rely on process automation to sort all the “applicants” who come along in the database…

  89. Nathan Graves

    Funny… ATS, Social Media, job boards, coldcalling, attracting candidates… no one does it better than paid agency recruiters.
    I hope social media continues to evolve, we’ll continue placing people at our clients using those tools too.

  90. Keith Halperin

    @ Nathan: “no one does it better than paid agency recruiters.”
    Says who? Certainly not the tens of thousand skilled, professional, and hardworking corporate, contract, and INDEPENDENT contingency and retained recruiters. Furthermore, I’d say it simply ISN’T true for the large numbers of agencies who are filled with inexperienced, low-paid jr. recruiters who hire off boards for 20-25% fees to clients who are too ignorant or desperate to know of the lower-cost, more effective alternatives previously mentioned.

    Cheers,

    Keith

  91. Michael Spiro

    Clearly, Keith works for one of those companies that expects to avoid paying recruiting fees by doing their own sourcing. I’m certainly not saying it can’t be done — maybe Keith knows how to do all those things that good agency recruiters get paid the big bucks to do (sourcing, recruiting and then closing true passive candidates). If so, more power to him! However, he’d be the exception and not the rule. Most company-based talent acquisition professionals either don’t have the time, or the necessary skills to do that type of time-consuming, sales-centric recruiting.

  92. Lisa Egger

    Clearly, this is becoming a heated convesation and some seem to be taking this personal! Keith, I agree with you! I don’t agree with everything you write, but I do think you get it. In my opinion, there are lots of lousy recruiters in corporations AND agencies, and there are actually a few good corporate recruiters who get it. There are too few of these and this is where I see a potential for change and evolution. If companies or corporation invested in hiring good agency recruiters, pay them top dollar, couldn’t we start a seeing shift here??

  93. Keith Halperin

    @ Michael: I may have been unclear. TPR can provide high-value services which other forms of recruiting can’t do as well, or not at all. For these services, they should be very well paid (30% or so) and the fees are well worth the price. However, most hires don’t need and shouldn’t require this kind of service. Gerry Crispin (ERE Source of Hire Survey: Big Jump in Outside Hiring in 2011 by John Zappe Feb 20, 2012, 5:45 am ET) indicates that 2.8% of responding large company hires were through TPR. Now, these may have been very important and valuable hires, but that is still only 1 in 35 hires. I’m going to be generous and say that *2/3 of the agency hires were in fact the best/only choice of hires and not due to other factors. In that case, only 1.87% of hires or fewer than 1 in 53 hires really needs a high-class TPR. Why a section of an industry which represents such a small (though I will concede valuable) segment can frequently claim to have a monopoly on recruiting best-practices is beyond me. Fundamentally, except for both trying to put butts in chairs (and even that isn’t always the case) we operate in very different environments.

    Cheers,
    Keith

    *Think I’m being unfair, Folks? Well, take the percentage of 2.8% as high as you like. It’s still at most 1 in 35 hires.

  94. Shravan Kumar

    I really doubt this .. how can a machine replace a thinking mind & smartness…:)

  95. Tom Euinton

    Regardless of the quality of recruiters, or software to pick out filters, Lior’s assumptions would only work if candidates CVs were evenly, and perfectly optimised.

    Perhaps this is an aspect which could become totally standardised, but I doubt it. Effectively it would then become a form-filling process, with no room for creativity on the CV.

    There are also industries for which the technology must be aeons away – how for instance will a computer judge design quality or suitability? Pretty much any industry which has an element of creativity, and so subjectivity, would be extremely hard to filter without an high level of relevant knowledge, and opinion.

  96. Mark Ridgwell

    I totally disagree for a number of reasons – recruitment is a complex process of human emotions requiring great skills of empathy that cannot be automated. And in today’s economy, where a “safety first” mindset prevails, recruiters work hard to build a trusted candidate talent pool over time, nurturing passive candidates into active candidates through trust and understanding. Don’t underestimate the work of skilled recruiters, it’s a difficult and very skilled job that cannot easily be replicated, and the high street travel industry is a ludicrous analogy. Most of our clients leverage social media in the first instance, but 80% of the time, they still revert to us, because we have a talent pool of candidates not accessible to them through social media tools, among other things. Average fee of 21% – really?? Get real, most recruiters charge far less than this across the board.

    As the UK economy tightens more (and it will of course), candidates (perm mainly) will be less and less inclined to move jobs and employers will increasingly turn to skilled recruiters to help fill skills gaps. The demand for 3rd party recruiter support will increase, not diminish.

    Regards
    Mark Ridgwell

  97. Darren Revell

    Since the majority (75% to 85%) of recruitment in the UK is done in the temp/contract/interim space and the law requires the recruiter to provide the temp/contracto/interim otherwise the employer ends up with headaches they don’t want or need.

    Or that the recruitment companies deal with the fact that most temp/contract or interims want to be paid weekly (at the very least monthly) and the employer wants to pay for the work they do 90-180 days after the temp/contract or interims has provided the skills….

    Then what I have been saying for the past 24 years recruiters are more talent funders, through the way they prop up the financial system of providing staff, than they are pure talent finders still remains the major factor for why recruiters are still here and will be for some time.

  98. Keith Halperin

    @ Lisa: Thank you.

    @ Shravan: Most recruiters have thinking minds and are smart? ;)

    @ Tom: Very true, and at the same time, the untrained subjective mind is liable for substantial failures, because of of inherent cognitive biases (see. Kahneman “Thinking, Fast and Slow”) In a nutshell: don’t go with your “gut” unless your “gut” is very well trained in what it’s deciding….

    @Mark: You work in a very different recruiting environment than many of us do. Fundamentally, we don’t have time to build extensive, empathic relationships with candidates who might not be hired for months or years. We need to get solid candidates interviewed and hired NOW.

    Also, I interpret that “empathy” in this context means a deep and intimate perception of what this person feels. If this is correct, I do not believe it is necessary to be “empathic” with candidates. What we as recruiters DO need to do is to ask enough appropriate questions to effectively gauge the candidate’s motivations and probable reactions to given recruiting/hiring/employment related scenarios, and be able to convey that to our managers/clients. In other words: you don’t need to be “soul-mates”- you just need to know them well enough so they won’t surprise you/your managers/clients, and most importantly: do what you/your managers/clients want them to do.

    Cheers,

    Keith “Cold, Callous, and Unfeeling” Halperin

  99. Al Siano

    I take back my comment that held the inference that there is no editorial review here at ERE. There is an Editor-in-Chief at ERE. A talented and experienced professional editor in fact who has exchanged some email with me kindly and professionally.

    I do stand committed to the sense that those who don’t currently walk a mile in the shoes of a successful, professional recruiter or search and staffing firm owner/manager, likely can’t perceive the a clear picture of what really goes on in the business and may, next time, choose to collaborate with the “currently active” professionals in our industry before taking pen-to-paper and writing and projecting an end-of-life for us.

    Nobody I know in my business who is committed and successful is jumping-off or falling though the bridge; they are building new bridges, evolving as we always must evolve and stand committed to bringing the difficult to attract, top talent to their new place of employment via our talents, hard work and professionally earned wisdom.

    Let us maintain some perspective, not all recruiting requires top-talent in terms of executive search professionals just like basic medical attention can be handled without a neurosurgeon. This morning for example, before leaving home, a family member had a small cut on their finger and needed help with a band-aid. Not being a paramedic or ER Doctor, I handled the simple task and did not have to seek the bright lights and cold steel and cost of operating room and a surgeon. Why? I needed a Band-Aid and I could handle it! A with Band-Aids in medicine, there are many more hires that do not require the talent and skill level and cost of top-flight search professionals. Yet, make no mistake, when a powerful decision-making executive, under pressure needs to fill a vacancy or vacancies that are or will cause the organization to bleed-out or otherwise fail to succeed, they do not look for low-cost Band-Aids! They are going to call upon those Executive Search and Staffing professionals, inside and outside the organization who have proven to get on top of the task to find, attract and bring top-talent to the table. Top talent, who are often too busy working to be looking for a the next job on their own or are searching in careful confidence, working with search professionals and not blasting their resumes all over via creation and the cloud.

  100. Keith Halperin

    Thanks, Al. Does anybody have figures on what percentage of the total American workforce has been hired through a TPR or internal recruiter reaching out to a candidate who has not openly indicated interest in a new job (through posting or initiating an application/sending a resume). I would expect it to be less than the 2.8% of 3PR hires that Gerry Crispin listed as source of hire in 2011.

    Also, what percentage of the total American workforce has been hired at “employers of choice” *however defined? I’d think this would also be very small.

    So, why do we devote so much time and discussion to recruiting methods and practices which are of very limited applicability and/or feasiblity to the overwhelming majority of us here? It’s as if the Cooking Channel only had cooking shows which involved really complex recipes using truffles, caviar, Kobe beef, or other ultra-premiumm ingredients which hardly anybody could do or perform, or if you had a car repair show which only dealt with working on Rolls, Bentleys, Lambos, and Maseratis. How about more content related to “the real world of recruiting”?

    Cheers,

    Keith

    *Top 100 companies to work for, top 100 companies ranked as far as job applications, etc.

  101. Ken Goldman, CPC

    I just think it’s funny how much time some of my fellow recruiters have to post comments. Shouldn’t we be on the phone?

    Just sayin’………

  102. Michael Spiro

    One thing that I don’t think has been addressed in the multitude of great comments here is the basic validity of the “statistics” upon which this entire article was based:

    “According to Bersin & Associates, spending on outside recruiters represented a third of recruiting budgets in 2010; however, due to high commissions (averaging 21% of a new hire’s first year salary), spending halved in 2011 in favor of sourcing talent directly on social networks.”

    Spending HALVED in one year????? I find that very hard to believe. How was that data collected? What was the size and makeup of their sample? Polls like this are notoriously biased and inaccurate. (Just look at how wrong the pollsters were during the recent presidential election!) And even if the total spending on outside recruiters actually did drop significantly, how can one fully attribute that drop solely to “high commissions” or to companies shifting from using outside agencies to internal sourcing through social networks. Couldn’t the economic downturn of the last few years, the unstable stock market, or a drop in hiring in general have anything to do with that lowered agency spending???

    It seems to me that this article might have simply drawn the wrong conclusions by blindly accepting very unscientific, inaccurate data to begin with.

  103. Keith Halperin

    @ Michael: Hear, hear!
    Besides questioning the validity of statistics (for the reasons Michael wisely gave), we should also question the neutrality/objectivity of the source- i.e., does the originator of the statistics simply wishing to find out something, or do they have something to gain from their surveys results?

    There are at least two other things of this type we should question:
    1) When someone claims their own experience as the basis for objective truth: e.g. “More than 250 clients over 20 years have been satisfied, therefore what I say is is true.”
    The plural of “anecdote” is not “data”.

    2) Even worse is when someone, believing their own hype, proclaims themselves an authority and makes a pronouncement as “the truth” simply based on their own opinions, without supporting evidence.

    Fortunately, we never have any authors on ERE who do things remotely like these last two descriptions….

    Cheers,

    Keith

  104. Lisa Zee

    @Lior, is this an attempt to make friends? The people you are trying to sell your apps to are the very people offended by your comments. Recruiters may work for an agency today but tomorrow they are corporate recruiters. Are you aware that CEOs/Managers actually rely on their advisors (HR and Recruiters) to tell them which tools/apps are worthy? Make friends, my friend.

    As for ‘expiring’ recruiters, the day someone invents a button that can build ‘trust’ between humans will be the day recruiters worry about loosing our livelihood. As long as companies continue to hire humans, the function of recruiting and recruiters will continue to add value and survive.

  105. Keith Halperin

    @ Lisa:
    With friends like recruiters, who needs enemies? ;)

    “CEOs/Managers actually rely on their advisors (HR and Recruiters) to tell them which tools/apps are worthy” Oh, that explains the incredible amount of terrible tools and apps which are foisted on us. I thought it was due to well-healed sales people talking to Staffing Heads (who rarely if ever seem to have to use what they’re buying) into getting something with virtually no input or buy-in from those of us who actually do the recruiting work.

    Trust? “Trust but verify”. Trust candidates to look after their own interests (just like the people at the top do), and work to make those interests coincide with what we want them to do: accept the job under our conditions.

    Cheers,

    Keith keithsrj@sbcglobal.net

  106. Keith Halperin

    @ Lisa:
    With friends like recruiters, who needs enemies? ;)

    “CEOs/Managers actually rely on their advisors (HR and Recruiters) to tell them which tools/apps are worthy” Oh, that explains the incredible amount of terrible tools and apps which are foisted on us. I thought it was due to well-healed sales people talking to Staffing Heads (who rarely if ever seem to have to use what they’re buying) into getting something with virtually no input or buy-in from those of us who actually do the recruiting work?

    Trust? “Trust but verify”. Trust candidates to look after their own interests (just like the people at the top do), and work to make those interests coincide with what we want them to do: accept the job under our conditions.

    Cheers,

    Keith

  107. Patrick Pettengill

    I just posted this comment on LinkedIn and decided it would be best if I posted it here where the original posting came from:

    This article strikes me as akin to a Yahoo news post. It is shallow on the facts, ignorant of the profession and overly enamored by technology for technology’s sake.

    The “art” of recruiting is so much more than this pithy article tries to espouse.

    Recruiting is both an art and a science where professional recruiters, acting as agents for their customers, engage with, build relationships with and attract the ‘best available’ talent. A good recruiter does not simply “Match” buzz words in a search string, they “engage” talent in a courtship. This courtship is two sided: The one side in support of their client’s best interests and the other, in support of the candidate’s career choices.

    While technology is sprouting up that allows the recruiter to more readily find, reach and engage with talent – technology CANNOT become a partner with the talent or the client.

    I have been recruiting for 33 years now and trust me – having the LinkedIn’s and Jigsaw’s of the world to help find and engage talent along with the likes of Bullhorn and BigBiller et al to help manage those relationships – Well, they have not only NOT put me out of business, they have made me a more productive and successful recruiter.

    Here’s to technology!!

  108. Keith Halperin

    @ Patrick:”It is shallow on the facts, ignorant of the profession and overly enamored by technology for technology’s sake.”

    Patrick, what you’ve described is in the *very best tradition of most ERE articles.

    Cheers,

    Keith

    *You left out “self-promoting” but that’s already been covered…

  109. Keith Halperin

    @ Patrick: “It is shallow on the facts, ignorant of the profession and overly enamored by technology for technology’s sake.”

    Patrick, you just described what’s in the very best tradition of most ERE articles.

    Cheers,

    Keith

    “You left out self-promoting, but that’s already been covered.

  110. Matt Hoffman

    Lior,

    I’ve pasted the gist of your resume below. What, other than a mind-blowing example of hubris, could possibly make you think you have profound thoughts to offer on anything other than promotion or self-promotion? You’ve had a 9 year career in marketing and business development. Excuse me (and anyone else with even a slight dose of skepticism and commonsense) if I don’t take your professional word for it…

    Marketing & Business Development Consultant
    VibeDeck
    September 2010 – May 2012 (1 year 9 months)LA / London

    Marketing & Business Development Consultant
    Audiolife
    September 2009 – December 2010 (1 year 4 months)LA

    Marketing Director
    MyDrifts
    July 2008 – May 2010 (1 year 11 months)Tel-Aviv

    Content Manager
    VIRV TV (RayV)
    August 2007 – August 2008 (1 year 1 month)Tel-Aviv

    Website Manager
    We Are Listening
    November 2004 – August 2008 (3 years 10 months)London

  111. Keith Halperin

    @ Matt: Once again I mention- being familiar with (or better yet actually DOING) what we do isn’t a requirement of writing articles here on ERE. Almost every week we get pious pronouncements, “gee-whizz” predictions, and self-promoting infomercials and advertorials largely from people if they ever did work as contract or corporate recruiters, haven’t been for quite awhile and don’t seem to have much of an understanding of the way things are for many/most of us, but by and large, we give THEM a pass… Is it because Lior is new to the game?

    Finally, all you Lior-haters: if you think it’s so easy to write an article, well then YOU write one. (Notice how many articles I write? It’s much easier for me to tear apart other people’s articles and comments than write an article of my own….)

    Keith

  112. Matt Hoffman

    @Keith: If that’s the case, I have no use for ERE. Once upon a time, we lived in a pre-social-media, self-branding world where people would never dream of so brazenly commenting on something they knew little or nothing about. My comment didn’t stem from Lior being “new to the game”, it came from me being new to ERE and unaware of this particular faulty game.

    It’s not at all difficult to write articles, Keith. That’s the very reason that know-nothings like Lior write them. All you need is a cursory grasp of the English language and a void of shame to get over the fact that you’re packaging useless thought as expertise. There’s very little downside to writing them, too. All you stand to expose yourself to is a bit of criticism like mine but, at the same time, you’re building your brand — which is exactly what Lior is out to do.

  113. Keith Halperin

    @ Matt: I’m sorry you feel that way. “Once upon a time, we lived in a pre-social-media, self-branding world where people would never dream of so brazenly commenting on something they knew little or nothing about.” When and where was this “Golden Age” before the time when some people are saints, some are scoundrels, and most of us somewhere in between?

    As Moliere said in “The Misanthrope”:

    PHILINTE:
    Come, let’s forget the follies of the times
    And pardon mankind for its petty crimes;
    Let’s have an end of rantings and of railings,
    And show some leniency toward human failings.
    This world requires a pliant rectitude;
    Too stern a virtue makes one stiff and rude;
    Good sense views all extremes with detestation;
    And bids us to be noble in moderation.
    The rigid virtues of the ancient days
    Are not for us; they jar with all our ways
    And ask of us too lofty a perfection.
    Wise men accept their times without objection,
    And there’s no greater folly, if you ask me,
    Than trying to reform society.
    Like you, I see each day a hundred and one
    Unhandsome deeds that might be better done,
    But still, for all the faults that meet my view,
    I’m never known to storm and rave like you
    I take men as they are, or let them be,
    And teach my soul to bear their frailty;
    And whether in court or town, whatever the scene,
    My phlegm’s as philosophic as your spleen.”

    Cheers,
    Keith “I Should Try to Be More Like That” Halperin

  114. Matt Hoffman

    Great reply, Keith. My comment went a touch too far and the poem is apt. Toning down the ire, my point is that, generally, we’re too ready to offer opinions and we’re over-exposed. I’m not idealizing the past — I’m idealizing the distance that existed between us before technology and connectivity killed our empathy.

    I guess the proper response to Lior’s post would have been to queue up an article warning that Entrepreneurs’ Days Are Numbered as we’re all tired of all the tech startup talk and we no longer trust these bold, enterprising sorts to do anything more than apply a bit of smoke and mirrors to create the perception of value, do everything in their power to successfully launch an IPO, fleece thousands of initial investors, watch the stock tank as newly minted mill(bill)ionaires, etc, etc.

  115. Joe Madden

    Couldn’t agree more with Nick C’s comment. Good recruiters that last though the economic ups and downs do just that, recruit. This latest wave of internal ‘recruiters’ (btw – please…you’re not even close, so stop using the title) will ease back into their HR chairs once they get over the fact that they dont run a desk anymore, and will thankfully let us do our jobs.

    ERE’s been courting the HR/Internal Recruiter side of the business for years, so this guy’s article shouldn’t surprise anyone. The guy before him said Monster was going to wipe us out, and he came after the guy that said the same thing about the fax machine.

    If we stick to finding the candidates our clients ask us to find, we’ll all be fine.

  116. Keith Halperin

    Thanks, Matt. Well-said. I say this more and more frequently:
    I fear that the hype in recruiting will continue as long as there are slick hucksters with high-level connections ready to sell the latest recruiting snake oil or “magic bullet” to desperate and not-yet insolvent recruiters and their superiors who fail to recognize that in most cases they are futilely “rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic” of their companies’ ill-conceived, over-blown, grossly-dysfunctional hiring practices.

    Cheers,

    Keith

  117. Dawn of the Passively Active Candidate | ConnectedSearch

    [...] The social recruiting space is hot. Companies large (LinkedIn, Facebook) and small (Path.To, Silp) are creating products that will help you leverage your personal and professional network when searching for a job. The recruiting industry – and the methods companies are using to recruit employees – is changing more rapidly than it has since the arrival of The Monster Board in the late 1990s. It is an exciting, if not somewhat unsettling, time to be in the recruiting industry, as some are predicting the imminent demise of the agency recruiter. [...]

  118. Sridhar Iriventi Ism

    This article is like saying doctors are not required as there are database of diseases, symptoms and medicines just send a query you know the cure approach or like Investment bankers are not required as analytical tools are available. Yes transactional recruiters will face a challenge. But the maze created by technology overloads of HRIS, ATS, Social networks etc can only be unknotted by minds who understand the context of recruiting. Its a science. Lets not ignore the value of scientists because we have plethora of scientific tools.

  119. Lior Shamir

    @Sridhar – That’s a poor analogy. The barrier of entry into the recruitment profession is relatively low compared with the barrier of entry into medical science. In practice, many managers make accurate and successful hires without the aid of a recruitment expert. In contrast, the average person can not accurately diagnose and treat an illness (e.g. clinically assess, prescribe drugs and monitor progress).

  120. Michael Spiro

    Regarding Sridhar’s comment: I think recruiting is actually not so much a science as an art. By that, I mean that subjective, people-oriented decisions made by recruiters who actually talk with and meet potential candidates often determine who best fits or doesn’t fit a particular opportunity. A person’s resume (experience, skills, etc.) is only one part of the puzzle. Matching is something best done by actual human beings — not by computers or software. All of those “scientific” tools (“HRMS, HRIS, HCM, ATS”) as well as Social Media sites merely gather and organize the data. It’s the fine art of interpreting that data, along with evaluating the subjective and often intangible “people” factors, that keeps good recruiters in business.

  121. Richard Kolikof

    Though I have not read all comments on Mr. Shamir’s article, I would like to add a couple of things I don’t think people mentioned. It is true; to find excellent quality talent, you must recruit passive candidates. These are people who are happy at what they do and have not made any efforts to enter the job market. So, Mr. Shamir suggests an automated system where the manager would make first contact. Managers making a cold call without a resume and intent on being recruited, except you have to convince the passive candidate to consider making a move from a job he/she enjoys to another enterprise. Do not see the skills inherent in many hiring managers. And one more thing, judgement is key as a recruiter. If I was sourcing and saw Mr. Shamir’s profile, I would pass. Too many job hops the last 5-6 years. I have clients who would not consider. A software might.

  122. Nancy Robin Gillman, MBA, SPHR

    I think this started happening about 5-10 years ago. Result: wrong people in the wrong positions resulting in dysfunctional companies and economic turmoil.

  123. Social Recruitment – The End Of The World As We Know It? | Douglas Jackson Executive Recruitment Consultants for Call Centres & Customer Services

    [...] can see two such articles  listed here from Lior Shamir; Recruiters your days are numbered  and the other, with a slightly different view from Adrian Kinnersley; Why Linkedin will never [...]

  124. Technology’s Impact on Executive Recruiting « Wanted: Critical Skills!

    [...] a recent article, “Recruiters: Your days are Numbered,” Lior Shamir points out that such software packages as BranchOut, Jobvite, and HireRabbit are “ . [...]

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