Like many other sectors trying to deal with dwindling placements, rec-to-rec is very much client-led now, which raises problems for both candidates and recruiters alike

Rec-to-rec recruiters are repositioning their offering as placements dwindle and the number of candidates in the marketplace increases

Tim Connolly, director at A La Carte Search and Selection and chairman of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s recto- rec sector group, told Recruiter:
“The market has changed completely. It was very candidatedriven and now it’s completely client-led,” adding the company had experienced a 10-fold increase in candidate applications.

Vic Chuntz, chief executive of rec-to-rec recruiter Aston Taylor, said the company is screening 300% more candidates per position compared with last year, adding clients were only “hiring genuine billers and ‘Rain Makers’ “.

Analysis from BDO Stoy Hayward’s Recruitment Industry Benchmarking study shows employee numbers remained flat compared with last year in August, September and October. However, they dropped 1.8% in November and 7.8% in December, indicating decreasing opportunities for placements.

Catherine McMillan, director of rec-to-rec recruiter McMillan Bates Consultancy, told Recruiter the increase in applications was having an impact on the profitability of placements.

“We are so inundated with candidates it’s difficult to manage. The burden of the volume is tremendous and it’s bound to impact profitability,” she said, adding the company was still giving advice to unsuccessful applicants.

However, while the number of candidates applying for recruitment roles has increased, finding suitable candidates is difficult.

Simon Waters, director of senior rec-to-rec recruiters Waters Barnes Associates, agreed, telling Recruiter that clients were only interested in
proven billers.

“The market is extremely tough if you are not a hands-on biller. For years they [the clients] have advocated hiring servicing people, rather than sales, but this has changed.”

McMillan explained that more stringent client criteria had come hand-in-hand with decreasing demand.

“They are looking for high billers, people with good business development skills,” she said, adding the recruitment experience and the stability of CVs has to be proven in every instance.

Recruitment specialist jobseekers who do meet clients’ stringent criteria are being fought over. Patrick Brookes, ex-global operations manager at a technical recruiter, told Recruiter he had spoken to between 10 to 15 rec-torecs, but was only prepared to deal with three after being deluged with responses.

“They haven’t looked at your CV. With 20 years’ experience, I don’t want to be offered a temporary consultant position,” he said.

To gain exclusivity over wellqualifiedcandidates rec-to-rec recruiters are increasing their use of split fee agreements (, 19 February).

Connolly said: “If you find an amazing candidate, and there aren’t that many, having a partner with more opportunities [for them] means you are okay to get them exclusive.”

Rec-to-rec recruiters are aligning themselves with the sectors which show the most activity.

Nick Bancroft, managing director of rec-to-rec recruiter McCall, told Recruiter the turnover share of its different sectors had changed dramatically over the past year. In Q4 2008 its IT division accounted for 39% of revenue, a 13% year-on-year increase, while the financial sector dropped from 32% to 5% of turnover and providing “virtually nothing in terms of actual value”.

McMillan added that her company was looking at international placements and has seen an increase in public sector and IT placements.

There is almost no demand for trainee or graduate consultants, according to rec-to-rec recruiters. Chuntz said there were “almost no requirements” for entry level candidates of this kind, adding this could create a “major problem” over the next few years.

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