Is LinkedIn Eating the Recruitment Industry – or Sharing a Nice Meal?

I read with interest the article “How LinkedIn is Eating the Recruitment Industry” on ERE.Net. The author, Michael Overell, raises salient points. LinkedIn is taking a piece of the pie from traditional recruiters and I saw this in action recently when I utilized LinkedIn Recruiter ($10K cost per year) at a client site, instead of a recruitment agency ($20K – $30K fee per placement). Agencies should evolve to showcase their value as expert recruiters, not keepers of private (increasingly out-dated) data.

LinkedIn’s ripening demonstrates the power of technology in recruiting. Rather than “Eating the Recruitment Industry” in a ravenous manner, I would call it “snacking”, hors d’oeuvers style. Agencies have lost a portion of market share to a range of platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Avature, but these software companies don’t have recruiters delivering services to clients (yet), only products.

Another food analogy that could be proffered is LinkedIn are frequent lunch companions with the Recruitment Industry, sharing a nice meal together having utilized each other’s existence and participation for business gain. In the main I see the relationship between LinkedIn and Recruiters (agency or other) as more symbiotic than competitive.

Conversely, Recruiters have been enjoying a few free meals at LinkedIn’s expense by tapping the site for business development and as a free candidate catalogue, since the whole of LinkedIn’s profile database can be accessed without paying a cent via Boolean and Google advanced search.

Trevor Vas, a recruiting veteran, recently commented at an industry think tank event that recruitment will become more “self-service” thanks to technology. I agree, in a peckish way. The online generation are comfortable transacting without hearing a voice and social media platforms are the vending machine enablers. However, the concept of technology completely bypassing human service provision still seems as far-fetched to me as a fully automated kitchen. It might be fast, convenient and cheap, but quality will be missing.

LinkedIn is a software tool, like the key ingredient in a recipe. You still need someone to drive the software either internally or externally, just as a trained chef is required to follow a recipe, if you want the food to be edible. Without someone mixing and preparing the right ingredients you end up with a half-baked mess, a serving of poorly executed recruitment process, a bowl full of bad hire, or a starving department due to no hire at all.

To get something done you have to allocate a resource to the task.  Can you find an accounting package that will complete a month end process without an accountant? Can you replace the need for a human to manage a full recruitment process to ensure an excellent hire? Specialist knowledge counts. Managers aren’t necessarily experts at recruiting, or the software, nor do they have the time.

Recruiters have been paying for a few of LinkedIn’s dines through their premium accounts and promoting the site. Now businesses are paying for the privilege of attending LinkedIn’s banquet as well. It’s seems like a happy party atmosphere – LinkedIn, Recruiters, Candidates and Corporates. Let’s hope the abundant buffet continues, for everyone’s benefit.

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