The demise of generalist recruitment

The demise of generalist recruitment

There are many opinions in the ever-changing recruitment landscape about where value lies in using recruitment agencies. This is a topic that is constantly up for debate, particularly in specialist areas such as payroll.

The fundamental issue comes down to exactly that, can recruiters really add value to the recruiting process? What I mean is do they bring something additional to the table that may otherwise be unavailable to an organisation with a specific requirement.

The majority of large ‘generalist’ recruitment businesses are based on a low cost/high turnover model with a reliance on a ‘one stop shop’ philosophy to be utilised as a place to secure anyone from an HR administrator to a financial controller. Whilst this may have appeal for a large organisation that expects to have (and budgets for) extraordinarily high staff turnover, my observation is that the job market in general has become a lot shrewder, sophisticated and cost conscious. Organisations are also looking for more than contracting a recruitment business to provide what they could do by advertising on SEEK.

The best performing organisations today have become infinitely wiser about what they can do for themselves in terms of sourcing the best people and also where they can get specialised assistance if required. The specialist market now demands genuine ‘experts’ that have access to a specific network of proven professionals that are not necessarily trawling through SEEK ads for the next available job. They demonstrate clear differentiation and are providing value to their clients well beyond the next recruitment transaction.

Someone said to me recently that a successful and valuable recruiting service in the current market needs to be ‘an inch wide and a mile deep’ in a tightly defined specialisation. Based on some of the stories we hear about generalist recruiters providing inappropriate candidates for payroll jobs, the ongoing supporting evidence of this seems conclusive. 

Tracy Angwin is the founder and managing director of the Australian Payroll Association.

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