One of the sessions started with the following premise: "Why is it that an industry charged with the responsibility for selecting staff for its clients, can't do it predictably for itself?” The debate here honed in on the need for a step change in the way that our industry goes about attracting, retaining and developing those working in recruitment. This is at the heart of the work currently being taken forward in the UK by the IRP.
Practical discussions honed in on performance management, in particular the need to reward activity rather than just financial outcomes , and on ensuring that recruiters develop and refresh knowledge in the specific niche sectors they’re recruiting into. One of the big US agencies had a 'golden rule' of each new recruiter doing 40 hours of briefings, events and conversations with clients in their niche sector before being 'unleashed'. Helping to drive this sector expertise remains one of the key aims of the REC’s 21 Sector Groups.
Another theme was the need for recruitment professionals to be aware of the broader employment landscape in order to add value to clients and find different ways of sourcing candidates. Working in co-operation with public employment services can form part of this and there is growing interest from many countries over how to make public/private sector partnerships work on the ground. This is about driving new commercial opportunities for agencies as well as helping to drive recognition for the industry. Feedback from recruiters and federations in India, South Africa, France and Jamaica underlined the PR benefits in being seen as a genuine partner within government. The REC/DWP Partnership Agreement is held up as a shining beacon of best practice which is why we were to speak about this in one of the conference sessions.
Social media loomed large as one of the areas where recruiters can stay ahead of the game and make a real impact - for example, by acting as a 'news ninja' or creating LinkedIn polls to generate data and content. For individual recruitment professionals social media is a means of not only sourcing candidates but also of creating a personal brand. As one of the speakers made a point of underlining, "people buy from people they know and people they trust". There is no doubt that social media is an effective way of creating connections with potential clients, as well as with candidates and peers.
All in all, plenty to reflect on from the conference halls, breakout rooms and lounge bars of the Westin Harbour Hotel. The on-going dialogue with the 'United Nations of recruitment' - i.e. with recruiters from around the globe and national federation - will continue to inform the work of the REC and IRP. The aim is to pick up on latest trends and best practice from around the world.
A common thread through all the discussions in Toronto was the need to enhance perceptions of the industry and to continue driving professionalism through the training, qualifications and continuous development of front line staff and managers. In this respect, the work of the IRP was seen by conference delegates as absolutely crucial and truly pioneering. A blast of global recognition never goes amiss! I'll raise a glass of crisp Moosehead lager to that. Cheers!