From the Front Lines: The Convergence of Methodologies and Technology

Apr 18, 2002

We hear and read so much about what the recruiting world will or should be, and much of the information, frankly speaking, comes from the theoretical side. That’s not a bad thing; in fact, it is a very positive and necessary exercise to imagine what should be and how we should be doing it. But it’s also worth taking a moment or two to search the market and find some interesting stories from recruiters who are out there on the front lines. In this two-part article series, I’ll be exploring both sides of the front lines. Today we’ll take a look at an example from the agency side, and in my next article we’ll turn to an example from the corporate side. Whether you’re an agency or corporate recruiter, learning about what some of your peers are doing out there to compete in a world of changing economic conditions, technology, and competition will certainly open your eyes to some new ways of thinking. Many of us in recruitment come from a background of agency recruitment. Even if we don’t, we’ve surely worked with an agency or at least had many opportunities to voice an opinion. The recruitment agency, after all, has played a very important role in the recruitment supply chain over the past 50 years. Many of the processes we have in place for sourcing, attracting, and closing candidates were born from daily activities within the agency environment. But the world is changing, and many in the traditional recruitment agency have had a tough time of it recently?? some more than others. I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with Bob Van Rossum of MarketPro in Atlanta. MarketPro is one of the recruitment firms that are making it. Bob’s forward approach to his “agency” business is a useful case study for anyone in our industry. Bob is using the convergence of traditional recruitment activities and technology in some interesting ways to scale MarketPro’s recruitment results. Their processes may not be new to many of you, but even so, they’ll serve as a testament and confirmation to technologies and recruitment processes you’ve put in place. For others it will be the first time you’ve heard about these approaches to the recruitment process, and they can serve as a roadmap for your future. Bob’s wife Melissa started MarketPro in Atlanta six years ago. Her approach was focused and successful. She had no staffing or recruitment background, but saw a tremendous need in her city and region for recruiters who could deliver marketing professionals to a growing market. Melissa was confident she could do the job because of her experience in marketing, her extensive network of contacts, her capacity to understand and screen top candidates, and, in short, her ability speak marketing’s language. Not new to most of us, but it’s always refreshing to see how focus and domain experience can carry the day. Bob began running the day-to-day operations of the business in 1999 and immediately saw the need to scale the business. Bob did not have a recruitment background either, but based on his business experience he saw the opportunity to scale the business through technology, versus the old agency model of filling chairs with more recruiters. For many this has been a constant source of attrition, high cost, inconsistency, and change. Bob’s goal was simple: “to maximize our internal people resources while minimizing the time it takes to fill a position.” This has been “the holy grail” of the recruiting agency business for a long time. But until recently, it was difficult if not impossible to master. “We’ve been able to reduce the time it takes to fill a position to 43 days, versus an industry average of 103,” Bob told me. “This allows us to increase placement volumes without increasing recruiters. Our clients are happy because they are assured positions are filled quickly, and our recruiters make great commissions.” The question is how he does it. Bob alludes to two reasons:

  • Domain expertise. Expertise within a particular domain builds great credibility, referencable accounts, and repeat business.
  • Technology. Technology replaces parts of the recruiter administration process, giving recruiters more time to focus on productive activities.

The value of domain expertise in the recruitment process is self-explanatory. As our economy returns to normal, recruitment managers?? both corporate and agency?? would be well served to consider recruiting their own domain talent for the companies or market segments they serve. We often train domain knowledge and have success, but we may need to consider the value Bob has created at MarketPro. “We speak the language of our corporate customers and the prospective marketing talent we meet everyday,” he said. “Because of our expertise we have high credibility, as well as great repeat and referral business.” Maximizing Your Greatest Resource: Recruiters “We use our website to build candidate relationships, to market opportunities, and to screen, respond, and deliver the right candidates to our desktops,” Bob said. “This screens the majority of active candidates, sends the right candidates directly to our desktop, and as result, gives the recruiters more time to source passive candidates on the market. We get to this sourcing faster than other agencies because they typically spend their time going to databases of resumes, screening, contacting, etc. We’ve automated it all and as result fill positions much faster.” MarketPro uses its website to proactively build relationships with prospective candidates. Candidates can profile quickly and anonymously. As a result, this regional recruitment firm of six adds 600-700 new candidates on their website per week. The real value to Bob and his team, however, comes from the automatic matching and marketing of positions emailed to candidates and the subsequent screening of candidates when they submit, since candidates have to answer very specific qualifying questions. The questions are automatically scored and the candidates are give an immediate response and distributed to the appropriate recruiter. A talent community that is constantly increasing. Automated marketing, submission, screening, response, and distribution. Bob and MarketPro have found that, when streamlined, these aspects of the recruiting process allow their recruiters to accomplish more in a shorter period of time. I used the opportunity to get Bob’s take on the future of the agency recruiter and his answer was immediate. They’ve begun to offer unbundled services, charge flat fees for tiered services, and are offering more for full sourcing and candidate delivery faster. Technology has certainly changed models in other business segments. But it appears that good old recruiting will never die, it will just happen faster and with greater reach. MarketPro has the same approach many of you have adopted or are experimenting with and for the purposes of space here Bob’s description just scratches the surface. I’ll bet there are many of you reading this saying, “Yeah, but we do this and…” I believe you, I want to hear from you, and I want to know your story. There is a sea change upon us in the world of recruiting, one in which successful methods of the past will incorporate new and as yet unseen technologies, making the transition and transaction of candidate movement immediate, global, fast, competitive, and increasingly important. Recruiters like Bob are taking dramatic bold steps and are experiencing success. What are you doing? Drop me an email at, because I’d like to hear about it. Next time we’ll take a look at a similar example from the corporate side. In the meantime, good recruiting!