Running a recruitment business these days is starting to feel quite different to how things were 5 years ago, and for good reason…

One of the broader criticisms over the years has been that recruitment businesses have relied too much on instinct and gut feel for its decision making and externally projected insights, which I feel is well placed and has led to a great deal of boom and bust in the industry. Sadly, this has also done more harm than good reputationally. This is despite the fact recruitment firms will typically generate huge repositories of data in their CRM that could be used to create insights to support its own business decision making or for the benefit of clients and candidates. This is an all too often wasted opportunity in my view, especially given the cost of such platforms. It is often stated that the most valuable asset of any recruitment firm is its data, though I’ve only rarely seen this value played out in the day to day running of the business.

As a case in point, take the quarterly and half-yearly salary survey cycles that we see as a regular industry fanfare and, for good reason, our clients and candidates often rely upon. My view is that, whilst a useful general gauge, I do find much of the content and insight too broad and not sufficiently corroborated and the supporting narrative essentially a recycling of widely distributed viewpoints. Quite often the written content is claimed to be ‘backed up’ by data sources, which I am not denying, though I’ve never felt confident that the insights are truly robust and empirical.

I certainly don’t mean any disrespect when I share this viewpoint and neither do I wish to open a can of worms since I have worked for some highly reputable firms over the years, and have supported the creation of many a salary-survey myself.

What I am saying, however, is that the industry does need to wake up to modern day demands when it comes to data and the expectation that any customer-centric organisation needs to create a much closer synergy between its data sources and marketing operations to add more value. This is for the simple reason that the recruitment industry can no longer afford to operate as if immune to the trends that most of our client community is now subjected to and - linked to this - because inevitably, our clients will expect more of us.

As a case in point, in the current business climate, I wouldn’t feel comfortable providing any published customer insight without being able to precisely identify the data source, which would need to be suitably deep, segmented and fine-tuned based on the particular purpose or audience. I guess the observation I am making is that even 5 years ago I probably wouldn’t have felt this level of expectation, which is I feel an indication of how business culture has changed – even in recruitment one might say!

The reality is, I feel strongly that recruitment firms are missing the point by investing large sums of money to create a platform solely for the benefit of their own staff and I believe it’s this misconception that has led to some of the challenges we have seen around data integrity in the past. If we can start to treat our data as being of benefit internally and also of value to externally, then surely this will influence the energy we put into ensuring we dedicate the right care into maximising quality since there is a more tangible mutual benefit.

I am delighted to be operating in this kind of progressive culture at Salt, where data plays a key role in how we add value both internally and externally. In fact, this blog was inspired by an email update I just received highlighting, in data specific terms, how our website SEO strategy is performing across a variety of sophisticated and insightful criteria.

It’s great to embrace the data revolution in recruitment finally!