A digital recruitment tool
From an industry perspective, the recruitment industry is also starting to adapt with the digital age.
Greig Cranfield, a digital specialist recruiter at Razzbri, recently launched Yudoozy, a separate recruitment service that’s targeted specifically at freelancers.
“It’s a platform for contractors or freelancers to go onto and start up a profile, and it will allow them to update their availability and the skills they’ve been working on recently,” he says.
This is essentially based on a similar premise to Freelancer.com (or creative crowdsourcing agency Victors & Spoils), but it will specifically target the local market here in New Zealand, providing a link between agencies and freelancers and removing the need for a recruitment consultant.
Given that recruitment agents’ fees can at times be quite high, this approach provides a faster, more affordable means for employers to find freelancers.
So could this also work for employers seeking full-time workers?
Cranfield doesn’t believe so: “The fees that go into permanent recruitment are still warranted. There’s a lot of time and investment that goes into getting to know a client and then being able to sit down with someone and then map out their personality and strengths and whether they’ll get on with that client. When it comes to freelance, there’s not so much a need for culture fit, because they’re just there for what might be two weeks. In freelance, it’s about skill, availability and the hourly rate charged.”
The changes in the industry have been accompanied by the introduction of new vocabulary, as workers search for ways to communicate what it is that they do.
“As with any evolving industry, there are certain terms and buzzwords that come into fashion and are used in abundance to mystify certain aspects,” says Howl.
And, according to Lawton, this charlatan trend can cost employers unnecessarily large sums of money: “What I see a lot of is companies paying up to $10,000 for a website, when all the designer or developer has done is bought a $50 WordPress site, reskinned it, added some PHP plug-ins and charged an extortionate amount for it.”
And speaking to other recruiters in the industry, it soon becomes evident that examples like these aren’t exceptions. Jacqui Barratt, director at Auckland-based recruitment agency Font, says that she has also noticed a similar trend of charlatans deceiving prospective employers. But rather positing all the blame on jobseekers, she points out that employers are also culpable to some degree.
“When anything is new it leaves a lot of room for people to create smoke and mirrors and some would say it’s a case of the blind leading the blind,” she says.
To avoid employing the wrong candidates, employers need to ask specific questions during the interview to determine if the jobseeker’s skillset matches the employment brief, says Barratt.
“Don’t talk generalities, talk specifics,” she advises. “And you can only do this if you understand what’s required so involve the specialists or the hiring manager in the interview process. Also seek references of the work completed and get them to show you examples of their work.”
The problem, however, is that the industry is changing so quickly that it’s difficult for employers to connect what they want with the skills available in the job market. And as the digital age continues to change the job landscape, it’s only becoming more difficult for employers to pinpoint exactly what they want out of their employees.
“I read an article the other week that said around 65 percent of the job titles that will exist in 2050 have yet to be created,” says Howl.
Although this is just speculation, it gives some sense of the challenge that employers face in terms of finding the right people for their companies.
“I believe this pattern of charlatans has room to continue unless there are clearly defined parameters and standards that are put in place to sort the wheat from the chaff,” says Howl.
He suggests a system of standardisation akin to the bar exam used in the law industry. However, when looking at how the law is struggling to keep up with the rapid speed of digital development, it seems that this industry also has its own range of challenges for which solutions are yet to be found.
But perhaps this is also the strongest argument for the continued relevancy of recruitment agencies. Because in the same way that Gumbel and Couric had to ask an ‘online expert’ what the internet was, today’s business owners increasingly rely on recruiters for information on the skills they need in their companies. And this makes recruitment agencies, especially those that specialise in digital skills, a valuable tool in a business landscape where things are changing rapidly.