The changing face of recruitment

The changing face of recruitment

As an SAP consultant signing for work (contract or permanent), have you ever wondered what value does recruitment agent add to the process of your signing up for a role?

I heard a recent interesting podcast from Jon Reed. Though the podcast was very relevant to the USA market for SAP skillset, it was poignant study of recruitment strategy for SAP consultant worldwide. While I worked in the USA as an independent consultant, I faced some formidable problems finding the right projects with the right requirements that would pay me for my experience. The clients paid handsome amount of money for the right talent; but the recruitment industry spun the wheel and got just the “appropriate” talent that maximised their profits rather than provided value for money to the end client.

For every requirement of SAP skillset, the end-client’s preferred Recruitment Company would scout with 3 or 4 of their network recruitment companies (if they are not able to find the consultant with the right fit). These would in turn scout their network and so on. They would all place the same ad on the job websites. The consultant who finally gets presented to the end client would (through the process of “survival for the fittest”) be the one who could reasonably perform the role and command a lower rate. The multitude of layers that this consultant contracts thru would each take up small portion of the final rate paid by the end client. More so, the consultant starts work at the client site as a consultant of the preferred recruitment company. Such smaller network recruitment agents (called “body shoppers” in local parlance) proliferate in USA. Their revenue comes exclusively from placing consultants with their network recruitment companies. And yet, they play a role of mailing resumes across the next layer of network companies.

These network companies make most of the loopholes in USA work visa laws thereby squeezing the consultants of their rightful share of fees.

The logical corollary, in this game of survival, is for the consultant to embellish his resume to fit the role. In many instances, they are encouraged to do so by these network companies because of the “incentive” they earn by placing the consultant. There have been instances of consultants using colleagues (as proxy for themselves) to stand-in for phone interviews.

All this is due for a large overhaul. The change will come through market force rather than any change of law or tightening of visa laws. Clients have begun to suspect candidates placed by recruiters – many of them want face-to-face interviews. Most want verbal references from previous projects. Clients want to see value for the money they spend. Senior, experienced consultants who get edged out in the market dynamics want clients to know they are the right people for the job. The process is not getting rid of recruitment agents but enabling more transparency in the process of recruiting and fewer layers.

One of the models tried in USA is online collaborative meeting place between companies that drive demand and consultants that have the solution. Consultants can place their profile online for a small price; their profiles are vetted by the editors of the site for accuracy. Consultants are allowed in many cases to advertise their hourly rates. Companies can browse these websites to pick the candidates of their choice. The editors of the website could typically charge an advertised fee for placing the candidate.

The key to the survival of these websites is the vetting process they adopt; what are the key indicators they use to rate the consultants. The “pioneers” (according to the podcast) of this process have listed a few: SAP certification, experience, communication skills, Industry knowledge, and process knowledge. Customers are looking for value-for-money in this new economically challenged world and the recruitment process better catch up with that.

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