International Campaigns and Recruitment Media – The Challenges!

An old industry acquaintance dropped me a line the other day, suggesting that LinkedIn was the only decent solution available to recruiters anymore.

I disagreed….

Don’t get me wrong, as I have said in previous posts I think that LinkedIn has made a huge impact on the industry, but it hasn’t actually changed the way that recruiters work. LinkedIn may have made headhunting and networking a much easier process, but the majority of my client’s candidate placements are still made through advertising (with job boards or publications) and direct applications to their own website.

The next thing that occurred to me was LinkedIn’s international limitations. It may be the most successful professional networking site globally, but it plays second fiddle to Viadeo in France and Xing in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

That got me thinking about the huge challenges involved in putting together an effective international recruitment campaign.

We have WJN sales offices in the US, Germany, the UK and Australia and I communicate with my colleagues in these regions on a regular basis. Since we launched the Job Network it has been very interesting to see the divergent paths each office has had to take in terms of sales strategy and marketing initiatives.

Over the last couple of years I have discovered just how different recruiting environments are across international borders and this blog is going to focus on some of my observations.

To be very clear from the start, these are my observations only and are purely anecdotal. Any comments people may have are extremely welcome below the line!

I’ll start closest to home…..

The US and the UK:

I have lumped these two countries together because, as with so many aspects of our respective cultures, we are so similar and yet so different.

I met a client of mine yesterday who noted that five years ago his top choices of recruitment media for the UK would have been very different from those for the US.

Today, as he pointed out, they are broadly the same.

The rise of LinkedIn and has meant that these are a mainstay in recruitment campaigns across both sides of the pond, our common language and the rise of relevant publishers in the recruitment arena (Wiley, Nature and the New Scientist etc.) has seen a convergence of resourcing strategy.

It’s a two-way street of course, and the UK has exported a number of its largest recruitment consultancy brands westward.

Both labour markets are extremely fast passed and flexible and this has meant that there are many similarities in our respective recruitment industries.

The biggest difference I have found is that Internal Recruitment and RPO’s are still much bigger in the US than in the UK, with companies less likely to outsource to recruitment agencies. Regional media is also a big factor in the US (for obvious geographical reasons) and is still incorporated into most campaigns, regardless of specialism. This tends to mean that recruiters in the US, after they have booked their mainstay media, look to a variety of differing attraction methods and are more open minded in their approach. Innovation is expected and budget is more accessible as a result.

The UK’s environment is far more agency orientated and companies haven’t embraced in-house recruiters over here in the same way they have in America. RPO involvement is also still relatively rare. Where internal recruitment is in place, they frequently outsource their hiring requirements to consultancies.

Big recruitment consultancy brands still hold sway in the UK; with Hays, Reed, Michael Page, Randstad, Adecco, Man Power and SThree being some of the bigger solution providers. The US has a distinct lack of major recruitment consultancy brands, with companies of this type more likely to be boutique and regional.

By their very nature external recruiters are less likely to spend on untried media. It is a risk and bad decisions eat into margins which are under increasing pressure. This has made it harder for new media to break into the UK market place. To set up a new solution and (more importantly) to get recruiters to start using it, involves a huge amount of investment. In the UK this is exacerbated by the long lead time involved in getting recruiters to part with budget. Free trials are now the accepted norm in the UK, whereas (in my experience) US companies seem more likely to take a risk with spend.

Innovation in the UK has taken second place to efficiencies in processes and ROI. This is largely as a result of the sheer number of competing agencies over here, and the increasing downward pressure on rates of commission. Many consultancies have used experience from the UK’s competitive environment to succeed internationally, and this includes the US as much as mainland Europe.

A negative aspect of this efficiency is that it stifles a plurality of recruitment media. In earlier days of my career, a 100% return on investment was enough to guarantee a media renewal; but with increased competition and better analytics (for recruiters and media providers) I am now frequently quoted 400% or above as being the bench mark.

This proficiency has led to some world beating products being developed. Broadbean (a prime example of multi-posting excellence) has recently set up offices in the US, and is already working with a number of major brands. Likewise, our developers, Madgex, have opened up offices in the US and are doing well with a platform optimised for efficiency.

Multi-posting technologies, advanced ATS systems and a strong focus on operations have made the UK extremely efficacious, but I believe it lags behind the US in terms of a plurality of innovative media solutions.

In summary I would conclude that the US maybe exporting innovation to the UK, but its importing efficiency in return.

That’s it for this week; my next post will cover the complex recruitment environment in continental Europe.

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