Why ‘agency recruitment’ is totally screwed

Why ‘agency recruitment’ is totally screwed

The recruitment agency business model is grotesquely dysfunctional.

It is broken.

Yes. It. Is.

Certainly for permanent recruitment.

We are just so used to it, have it so imbued in our psyche, that we don’t appreciated how farcical and damaging it is.

For everybody.

Multi-listed, contingent job-orders benefit no-one.

Clients, naively thinking they get a better service because they get agencies to compete, actually get a far worse service because they are actively encouraging recruiters to work on speed, instead of quality.

Recruiters suffer because even if we want to, we can’t really ‘partner’ or ‘consult’, or ‘value-add’, and in the end we only fill one out of five jobs, if we are lucky, destroying profit in many cases, and the careers of recruiters too, who simply burn out, chasing rainbows.

And, the often ignored fact, candidates suffer the most because they do not get service or due care from third party recruiters, who are too busy chasing mythical job orders in competition with five other recruiters, to actually focus on the candidates needs. That’s right. If recruitment worked like accountants, or lawyers, or doctors, or even real estate agents, where the service provider is not working on each case in competition… our recruiters would work on 20% of the orders they currently do, but fill 300% more! And who would benefit the most? Candidates! Yes candidates, who would no longer be treated like cattle, but rather like crucial partners, as they should.

No wonder candidates are increasingly avoiding job-boards, and recruiters, and transferring their job search energy to web-searching, social media, and other tactics.

Yes, that’s a screwed system all right.

But it is getting worse as recruitment evolves.

Have a look at my wizz-bang chart below (Yes, agreed, I am not a PowerPoint expert. But I did this at my desk at home, late at night after my third bottle of Boags, and trust me, it may not look pretty – but what it represents is uglier still.)

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 1.37.04 pm

Look at the left circle. It represents all the candidates available for recruiters to place in jobs. Look at the little segment on the right of that circle. That shows the tiny proportion of suitable candidates that recruiters actually access. To this day, most recruiters focus on so called ‘active’ candidates, those that come from job boards, or who are already on the database. There is nothing wrong with these candidates per se, except that they represent only a tiny percentage of the available people. What is more, because they are actively job-searching, they will in all likelihood be working with other recruiters already, or possibly well down another recruitment process.

Which means that you are not likely to place them. You understand that don’t you? It’s not only jobs that are ‘in competition’. It’s candidates too. And in a candidate tight market, a good talent that you have exclusively is a walk-in placement. Do you even think like that? Do you know who you have exclusively? Do you ask? Do you seek to find these people?

Look on my chart at the massive pool of candidates most recruiters do not access. There is your opportunity!

Now look at the right circle. This represents the majority of clients’ commitment to actually filling the job. We all know that most clients do not give their agency recruiter full commitment. That is what the shaded segment represents. Tiny commitment. In fact, many use third-party recruiters as an afterthought, or in competition. The vast majority of the commitment clients give to filling roles, goes somewhere else, such as the internal recruitment team, or using LinkedIn, or their own recruitment strategies.

So right there you have an incredibly dysfunctional situation.

The majority of recruiters access only a tiny percentage of the good candidates, and what’s more, secure only a fraction of the clients’ commitment to filling the job.

What other professional would deal with the customers on such a flimsy premise? Who else would invest the time and resources, that we recruiters do, on the tiny off-chance that a fee might be generated? But it gets a lot worse.

Not only do most recruiters run their businesses on the same basis as someone playing a lottery, they do it in competition with five other agencies. This is ridiculous. Some very significant recruitment companies with massive turnover, still can’t make any profit because such a huge percentage of their staff time is spent on fruitless work that results in no return. In fact many such businesses are now going bust. Their cost base is too high for their income generation ability. And this is why! Their business model is screwed.

And it’s a vicious cycle of discontent. Clients get increasingly irritated because they are dealing with low-level recruiters, who don’t do a thorough job. Ironically the fault for this lies with the client, who asks recruiters to compete on the same job, thereby dumbing down the process. Recruiters get disillusioned, desperate, burnt-out, and take shortcuts, which continues the cycle. And of course worst of all, candidates suffer.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. In the chart above lies tremendous opportunity, if you look for it. The prize goes to the recruiter who can develop strategies to access those candidates in the segment of the circle that are not active. The skill of bringing top hidden talent, that clients can’t find themselves, to the hiring table. That is the Nirvana we should all be seeking.

That is where the fun and the money is. And of course those recruiters who can blend technology with the craft of recruitment, and who can secure a greater percentage of the clients commitment, via retainers, exclusivity, or other partnership arrangements, will differentiate right now, and into the future.

So, the winners will be those recruiters who recognise that the way we work now is terminally dysfunctional, and who act to access the parts of my circles that most recruiters do not.

Excellent! Got that off my chest. Time for another Boags…

This topic is crucial to our industry. Please have your say below.


If you enjoy ‘The Savage Truth’, connect with Greg Savage on LinkedIn.


About Greg Savage

Over a career spanning thirty years, Greg Savage has established himself as a global recruitment leader. Greg is a regular keynote speaker at staffing and recruitment conferences around the world.

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123 Responses to Why ‘agency recruitment’ is totally screwed

  1. Allea Marie Santiago October 23, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    You really did a great job on writing an article highlighting the changes happening in the industry of recruitment or staffing. There are a lot companies who are just doing old habits in recruiting and hiring individuals. And one thing I have notice in some agency they are not giving enough training to their candidates before engaging them to work. They just give short briefing, it is okay to giving short briefings but you have to assess also the jobs needing enough training to perform effectively. I have this friend looking for a naperville staffing company,Now we are checking some of those staffing agencies. Thank you for educating me about Recruitment agency.

  2. David Maxwell January 6, 2015 at 6:17 pm #

    Where to begin. An insightful article with a lot of insightful comments.

    There are fundamental issues with modern recruitment that are certainly exacerbated by the modern client/supplier relationship in recruitment.

    My father founderd an “Employment Agency” in Qld back in 1965. He grew it to be the third largest in Australia by 1972 – yes an immature industry at the time, but by 1972 he employed 24 consultants with an annual turnover exceeding $1m back when the median house price in Brisbane was $14,000.

    How’d he get that growth? He had 2 sets of clients – the customer and the applicant – and a strong focus on customer service for both; and very importantly, a deep understanding of both the candidate skills and client needs – search engines and keywords were not even words in the dictionary.

    However, in my experience as an IT and PM contractor over the last 25 years, it’s usually been left up to me to “sell” myself as a valuable product while the modern recruiter often knows little of the client’s actual needs.

    Personally, I have viewed recruiters as my sales & marketing arm at a reasonable cost of around 15%, rather than pps as some do. However, few recruiters have done much to earn that 15%. My father used to be able to charge 25 – 35% for people at my level, but it was NOT a keyword search process – it was an analysis process that his consultants undertook.

    So what’s my point? While having to become commercially competitive, the level of service and value-add that recruiters have brought has diminished.

    Back in 2005, I predicted to one client that by 2010 client/server software would be dead and replaced across most businesses by browser based – ok, wrong by 3 or 4 years; in 2010, I had a meeting with a product manager at a well known job board and predicted to him that online job boards would be defunct by 2015 and replaced by Google & private job boards- ok probably wrong by 3 or 4 years; now I’ll go out on a limb and say the recruitment sector will be defunct by 2020 unless it can re-establish itself as the necessity it once was. I’ll probably be wrong by 3 or 4 years, so no need to change professions just yet.

    My point is that with global keyword searching, social media access, online CVs and networking like LinkedIn, skype, etc available to every employer, how the recruitment industry can turn the tide will soon be a question of industry survival, not just attaining a 20% placement rate.

  3. Mark Tate February 2, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

    Very well said.

    Personally I absolutely hate recruitment agencies and they should be banned from operation in Australia,
    All they do is give an employer a reason to treat a worker unfairly and unless you do the “yes sir , no sire , three bags full sir ” you are out of there with in an hour and what ever agency you are with will no longer have anything to do with you after that even if they do know you did nothing wrong, they look after there clients and no one else. They certainly do not care about there workers.

    When ever I read about an agency that has gone out of business I cant help but break out in a smile. When Adecco go out of business it will be be cause for a very big celebration.

    Any one who reads this and is looking for work PLEASE BOYCOTT ANY AND ALL RECRUITMENT AGENCIES.

    Any employer looking for workers do your self a favor and hire them your self, you will have far better chance of getting good long term and loyal workers, it may cost more at the starts but it will work out much better for you in the long term.

    Unfortunately though there are just as many potential employers out there that do not care about there workers as there are agencies. They are the ones who feed greedy recruitment agencies.

    • Ben February 3, 2015 at 5:19 pm #

      Hi Mark,

      Before I proceed, I am;
      – A career recruitment consultant
      – 4+ years specifically recruiting in Sydney
      – Worked in 2 environment, large and boutique, and have friends in MANY other companies

      I read your response and it frustrates me, not because you are wrong, but because you are so right but not right about ALL but right about a certain small percentage that give the rest a bad name.

      It is the same prejudice statement you can make about anyone, or anything, all people from XXX country are fat and lazy or you were cheated by a shady guy from XXX country, therefore do not ever deal with people from there. It just isn’t true, you had 1 bad experience with 1 person in 1 company, perhaps the statement should be never use that 1 person.

      Whilst I read your message and feel bad that someone has given you this experience there is the flip side to the coin, it clearly reads as if you were fired from a contract, perhaps the issue is not Adecco but your performance?

      If it was simply an unlucky situation, they loved you but lost budget that unfortunately is the world of contracting, perhaps don’t contract at that organisation.

      In my experience, recruitment is no different to any solution sales industry, no different to a management consultancy who helps solve business issues. A professional recruitment consultant will understand what you want, what their client wants and play a match make game for the long wrong (we don’t get paid if you leave!).

      Now this post is excellent because it states what the market is like, the larger, Adecco, Robert Walters, Michael Page, Hays type companies hire inexperienced consultants looking for a visa and run them with KPI’s (watch Boiler Room, Glen Garry Glen Ross movies to get an idea) and on top of the thinly spread consultants (and they are not consultants, they are told me be specialists on day 1) try and help you. And they are told to work every role, against competition etc.

      My suggestion would be look at the skillset you have, what industries have you worked, what is your qualifications. Find a specialist company who recruit solely that, find an agent who has been doing it more than 3 years, ideally a resident of Australia who has ties to the country and is in their best interest. Also, if its a contract, that’s the risk you take. Recruiters do not guarantee jobs, we just get you interviews and you get yourself the job.

      As for the market I have stuck by this statement, good candidates get jobs, I have rarely met an outstanding candidate who didn’t have a number of roles on the go, the issue is sometimes not the market its in the individual.

      If any one is interested in understanding the market directly from the horses mouth so to speak feel free to ask away.

      Please no abusive unhappy recruitment experience message, a genuine ask is all I am happy to respond to.

      • Frank February 15, 2015 at 1:55 pm #

        Well said.

        As far as people like to move to world forward, current institutions exist for a reason…… Because in most cases they work.

        I’m not suggesting not everyone or every company meets muster standards, however to dismiss the status quo simply because something else delivers a new option doesn’t really deliver enlightenment.

      • Mark Tate February 16, 2015 at 9:42 am #

        Sorry Ben but there is nothing you could say to me that would make me think any better of recruitment agencies and 4 years experience is really not that much when I have had over 30 years experience dealing with them.
        Yes I do understand what you are saying but I just do not believe in much of it, firstly I do not think that recruitment is a true market as it totally relies on the vacancies that other industries create without creating any vacancies them selves, in other words you guys do not create any work or contribute to the job market in anyway, you just leach of it.
        As for Adecco please no further insults to me thinking it could have been my performance, I know that is not true and you have no idea.
        I do totally agree with your statement that good candidates get jobs but I would take it one step further and say that good candidates do not need or use recruitment agencies to get them jobs, you guys are just not in anyway necessary to the job market and if you truly think you are then you are very deluded.
        I still very much believe that recruitment agencies should be banned from operation in Australia and I personally will do all I can to make this happen.

        • Jules October 3, 2015 at 10:57 pm #

          Well explained Mark. By the way will someone inform these agents that it is licence, not license! We all make typos but can’t they just pull their driver’s licence out and check! As for good candidates getting jobs! I doubt that claim. How many of these consultants have a degree or even a diploma?

          • Mark Tate October 4, 2015 at 12:09 pm #

            Never met one yet that has a degree although plenty try to act like it, a few do have trade certificates though not that it is any big deal.

            No one with a degree would lower them selves that far to go work with them when they know they can do far better.

            Good candidates do get jobs but they will do it without the use of stupid ripoff recruitment agencies.

          • Greg Savage October 5, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

            Oh dear Mark, your bitterness and prejudice are showing a little too much. I appreciate you may have had some bad experiences..but to tar an entire profession with the same brush is like any other kind of bigotry. You are also just ignorant on the degree thing. Thousands of recruiters have degrees.(Tens of thousands in fact Every single one in the 60 person company I have shares in are graduates. I have two degrees myself come to think of it. Not that having a degree makes you a good recruiter mind you! Get a grip before you let your fingers near that keyboard again, won’t you?

        • PJ January 21, 2016 at 12:34 pm #

          I know it’s a year later but you seem to be lacking insight Mark. Also have you always been on the tools, or have you ever run a business, because if agency’s were not bringing anything to the marketplace then why would contractors use them.

          Lets look at 4 positives that agency’s offer to the work place.

          1. they allow businesses to ride the peaks and troughs of seasons. During a busier season it will work out as a more cost effective solution to take agency guys than to hire new in house staff to do the same recruitment.
          2. agency’s allow a company to pay there payroll in 60 days, as opposed to when they the workers are being paid. This means that they can better manage there cashflow.
          3. workers compensation liability is in the hands of the agency, thus helping a contractor to reduce costs.
          4. A good agency will help a contractor win more work, because when an emergency happens and a contractor needs men an agency can provide instantly thus helping a contractor to look better to there customer.

          All the best

      • Azure Lee July 28, 2016 at 2:52 am #

        Dear Ben,

        I hear your response to Mark and I echo with it.
        I am enthusiastic in beginning a career in HR currently, however I have yet to be able to clinch a role due to my loosely related background.

        My email is azurelee.zc@gmail.com
        If you don’t mind, kindly drop me a mail.
        I have some questions about HR recruitment and was hoping you wouldn’t mind being that friend.

        Thank you.

    • Lisa Delaney February 15, 2015 at 10:08 pm #

      OMG Thank you, Thank You, Thank You, You seem to be the only recruitment person who gets it I have been dealing with multiple agencies who insist that I take time off work to come and get on their books, then I never hear from them again…unless they are asking me to find candidates for them.

      Then I see them advertise roles that they have said they would contact me for but apparently if you don’t reply to the ad, you have no chance.

      Why put people on your books if you are never going to contact them again?

    • Peter February 16, 2016 at 7:49 pm #

      You people make me smile


      Simple fact is that many candidates do not possess the skills to job hunt effectively in the first place, no more than they do in say selling their own house, if you wont use an agent to find you a new job then why use one to sell your house, just stick a board in the ground!

      The other main factor here, in which I agree with you, is that most employers do not care enough, they claim to and splash it all over their website but when it comes to even informing a candidate, via an agent or otherwise, the reasons ‘why’ they were unsuccessful at interview, after taking a day off work, preparing like mad, entering a stressful situation etc etc, they cannot even be bothered, and they talk about ‘candidate engagement’!

      Before you shoot the agent, take a close look at the ’employers’

    • Canadian Recruiter March 9, 2016 at 2:53 pm #

      You’re a moron….generalizations are lazy and you are clearly misinformed.

      • Greg Savage March 9, 2016 at 3:18 pm #

        Vaugh I wrote a comment to you, thinking this remark was aimed at me. I deleted it in 1 second but you may get a notification.If so, apologies, I see now you were addressing Mark! 🙂

    • franz chong March 31, 2016 at 10:06 pm #

      Without mentioning company names They take like forever in most cases to find the clients work and unless they specify what exactly they want they will be put into any old place.It’s not all that much different from say work experience we had in schools.I got offered things like Drakes Supermarkets run by Foodland in SA and Charlesworth Nuts but it was unfortunate that my case worker was not very understanding about what I wanted plus the flexibility and control I have during all those years in Pizza Hut as a Home Delivery Person when looking for work.I went back to my old job till just a few months before the store closed down and then switched job agencies.slowly getting somewhere and with someone whose more with it about what the late seventies and throughout the eighties generation are looking for in a job given the guy who I have fortnightly appointments with at the moment is a thirty something whereas the previous one would be somewhere in his fifties by now and would have graduated school around the time most of this group of workers were babies toddlers or not even born yet.

    • Lyn October 10, 2016 at 4:10 pm #

      I personally think its far better to do what we did in the 70’s. Go direct to the HR division of the company in question. I would loathe to be desperate for any type of office work now. I did recently contemplate looking for 2 days casual but it appears too stressful and time consuming on the internet. I certainly don’t feel good about launching my resume on the internet !

      Old School worked, bring it back. Thats what HR Divisions were for. Nobody knows better than than those working in the respective environment as to what is needed by a future candidate.

    • thomas February 26, 2017 at 2:26 am #

      the thing is look outside this box the big companies and corporations want it exactly like this they want a slave typed workforce who are disposable as a tissue with no rights no benefits and especially this someone who they dont have to honor they dont care who does the work as long as its done then they pay their peanuts the whole job scene is ruined

  4. Irate OFW March 13, 2015 at 5:48 pm #

    I’m a foreigner. Does not have a Caucasian sounding name. And is forever discriminated against by “these” recruiters. I have more credential than most of the people they interview but Alas. They are taken aback by their fear of the unknown. Thanks alot guys. *two thumbs up*

  5. Mick D May 13, 2015 at 10:17 pm #


    Your’s is a common problem and one that can and should be addressed. Although it seems a strange concept the candidate should come before the job, not the other way round. To do that you need to pool the best candidates, both those actively seeking employment and the passive candidates Greg has referred to. In addition these candidates should be presented for the skills they bring to the table and not because they have the right sounding name, skin colour or gender. Solutions that focus on the candidate and market them in the best possible light will be the ones that succeed in the new digital market.

  6. Dario May 19, 2015 at 8:51 pm #

    In my honest opinion the great problem is how recruiters are trained and how they treat people.Job seekers are cattle for them,nothing else.Often,especially in IT are,they have no idea what they are looking for.They see all those languages,requirements,acronyms and thei completely ignore the meaning.I know they are working and it’s a job but the 95% isn’t qualified and they don’t do anything to improve their abilities and knowledge of the are they are working in.This is a massive problem for job seekers and agency.Recruitment firm should select better their empoyees,not just fill a desk to collect personal informations and sell curricula

  7. Whizzbang July 20, 2015 at 8:58 pm #

    Agreed, there have been a growth in chain agencies selling each other candidates and all taking a slice. No wonder candidates in IT are so unhappy with agencies, we are seen, as mentioned earlier, as cattle. When I started full time contract work in 1998, agents actually understood the technologies, the skills required and considered us as assets and not numbers. In addition to this rates are frequently manipulated these days, “Market Rate” is just a scam used to get the lowest price and maximum slice for the agency, the many other practices such as CV trawling, advertising non-existent roles, trying to knock contractors rates down in negotiation due to “lots of interest in roles and that we should be more competitive etc.

    Since government are keen on hammering us for tax as an easy target it would be nice if they could reinvest some of this to put legislation into place to control agencies and the car dealer tactics they employ. A lot of highly skilled people have left the market due to these practices and this needs to change.

    I suppose like anything else in life money will attract con artists and those that will exploit the position they hold providing lesser skill individuals in the name of personal gain.

  8. Randy July 22, 2015 at 12:22 pm #

    Well, it all comes from a mercenary mindset, where most agencies are driven by money, money, money. And clients side are driven by costs,costs, costs. The disconnect now is that clients thinks that all agencies are out to earn a quick buck through a fast close/placement. Agencies on the other hand, driven by competition, will play the ‘fastest fingers first’ game, forsaking quality.

    In order to drive costs down, clients will expose their job orders to as many agencies as they can, to get the ‘spread’, nevermind the depth, which is more important. For agencies, in order to drive sales up, they will grab as many job orders as they can, so as to make sure the probability of closure is statistically on their side.

    Both sides are playing a short-term gain mentality that benefits nobody.

  9. David Ealson July 24, 2015 at 2:58 pm #

    What Greg is saying has more than a grain of truth, but its not the agency creating the problem. Its the Recruitment Manager thinking they are clever and very commercial by introducing competition; so it all becomes the race to fill and bill. When I set up this company I made two decisions. No bun=fights as to competing with other agencies OR the client; everything is exclusive or I wont work it.Secondly only work with one or at most two players in a sector. This means you can head hunt from the other players. The key to this is picking winners. Those companies in growth and not decline. I have not always been good at that
    My advice, ifit looks like a bun-fight, it will be one. Walk away. Have the Kahunas to tell the client that you wont participate, and that you wont work with them while they are game playing. Its amazing how many call you back after a week and ask you to come and talk!

  10. Kim August 11, 2015 at 4:14 am #

    I’ve been in recruitment off and on for thirty years. I was very lucky to have been trained so very well prior to all the technology we have today and it is a skill set that unfortunately for me many companies are too short sited to appreciate. I have worked in both UK (where I started) then for approximately 20 years in Australia and have recently returned to the UK in the hope it would be different here and I am so disappointed that even when I go for my interview and really go into a lot of detail about the company I want to work for and how I would really like to work the desk/position they are all excited but when I get in that seat it changes. Have just had to resign from a company that I really believed were not “bums on seats” to find out that is exactly what they were and what’s more it left me feeling like I was lacking, I’m no good etc. so thank you Greg for sharing because that’s exactly what I’m talking about. That’s what I want to do and it’s what I know I can do. Let a company come forward and give me the opportunity and I will show them what real recruitment is about. Yes it takes me longer but if I go out and meet with the client, if I personally interview the candidate, if I write the advertisement I know I can guarantee almost 80% of the time I’ll get the placement and with it the trust, the referrals, the client for life. I’m looking now at starting up on my own.

    • Rebecca April 14, 2016 at 10:59 pm #

      Hi Kim,
      Out of interest, did you set up on your own?
      I’m in a similar situation and found your attitude refreshing.

  11. Rajesh August 18, 2015 at 12:51 pm #

    Beware agents like (deleted) – abusive and try to exploit you

    (Rajesh, I am not going to publish slanderous comments and you should be cautious about making them)

  12. John September 7, 2015 at 7:20 pm #

    I came across this post a little while ago, but have decided just now to make a comment. I also feel that we need to do everything possible to generate awareness of what agencies are doing. I live in the UK, and pretty much the same devious things go on over here too.


    I like the way you put ‘career’ recruitment consultant, nice touch I thought to what is basically exactly the same job. “recruitment agent”, “recruitment consultant”, “recruitment agency”, it’s really all the same thing, just with a different job title that’s all.

    ‘but right about a certain small percentage that give the rest a bad name.’

    It might be a small percentage over there, but over here, I’d say about 95-98% of agencies are bad. There’s probably only a tiny percentage that are ‘good’.

    I think really what frustrates/angers me is that you effectively have ‘sales’ people deciding whether your CV should be forwarded to the company or not. Now, with specialist agencies this might happen to a lesser extent, but it still does happen. Fake jobs is the other gripe I have with agencies. Lack of detail in job descriptions (which can be an indication that it doesn’t exist). And the jobseeker wastes their own time enquiring about these ‘jobs’ also.
    And don’t even get me started on the mistakes in job adverts…. and it appears to be getting worse. Some of them are absolutely diabolical. And it really puts me off even bothering to enquire about them.
    And how agents have even got the nerve to dish out CV advice, when half of them cannot even be bothered to read your CV in the first place, I don’t know.
    Personally, I think that the vast majority of recruitment agencies (if not all), should just be simply put out of business. They may claim that they’re multi-million pound, international business etc etc, but that doesn’t mean to say that they’re doing things right.
    I am also reading more and more evidence from former job seekers turned employers, that because of the way that they were treated by agencies in the past, as employers, they now refuse to use them to fill REAL vacancies!

  13. Jules October 3, 2015 at 10:48 pm #

    The major problem with recruitment consultants is “age”. My husband works in the oil and gas sector and he has invarioubly had to apply for positions that are handled by very young, very under skilled people whose life experience is often limited. While I agree that young staff are of value, more often than not, applicants over fifty are overlooked in favour of youth. I know this is a fact because we have a friend who was in the industry in her twenties. The use of recruitment agencies does not ensure the employer gets the best worker.
    Why? Because many recruiters are given a set of criteria to follow. Due to lack of life experience, they tend to be arrogant, niave and frankly, poorly educated.

    • franz chong March 31, 2016 at 10:13 pm #

      Try being a thirty something trying to moving on from Pizza Driving given within 15 years the industry will practically be dead.I have been trying to do so for years but short of relying on backpacker boards for temporary jobs not a lot is out there.The rest of the positions you see in a Wednesday or Saturday paper are for people with highly sought after qualifications.Most places don’t have this discrimination rule on age but it sadly does exist.Maccas once you are over 21 DON’T WANT to know you in many cases,The Cab Industry with some exceptions very rarely has a Aussie,European of some Kind,Vietnamese or Chinese doing the driving these days and there are other examples I could use.Most Recruitment Agencies unless you know them through a family friend are useless.Don’t trust the ad’s you see on TV about certain organisations.

  14. Mark Tate October 4, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

    Recruitment agencies are the leaches of the workforce.

    They do not in anyway create job vacancies or contribute to the job market.

    The just leach of it.

    The low life of the business world.

    • Stewart Jackson November 25, 2015 at 7:37 am #

      Wow you’re bitter Mark. So does any business that sells services or products leech of the market they are in?

      If recruitment consultancies add so little value why don’t all clients just recruit directly themselves? A lot of my clients are SME business quite often without much of a defined recurrent process and very commonly requiring some education on market conditions and skill set availability.

      You need to let some of you’re anger go.

      I noticed your comment about education previously too, I’ve got a chemistry degree but I think it’s a pretty arrogant statement to suggest you need a degree to be intelligent many of the best people I’ve worked with have left school and started working.

      All the best

    • Catherine December 2, 2015 at 8:27 pm #

      No one forces you Mark to work with an agency. It’s a free world. You can and are free to find your own work, or your own employees.

      I think you are probably just trolling but encase you are simply misguided… I’m a recruiter and on the candidate side, I fact find, I talk at a times to suit the candidate, I establish what they want, suggest what they can get and bring up to date market knowledge.

      I help my candidates explore the market whilst they are in work… I do the leg work and bring them detailed information on a prospective role. This information is current, qualified and presents a candidate with historical, current and future plans of the business – I set up conversations and can be the intermediary for negotiations and help smooth out any underlying problems in the first few months of a new job…. I facilitate the candidate to find a job with discretion so that they can carry on working and not create an issue with their current employer.

      I don’t have a degree (does that somehow make me less able, I don’t think so), and I work very hard and to call me and the work I do as leaching off the workforce, is frankly, simply stupid.

      • Seng S January 13, 2016 at 1:51 pm #

        Hi Catherine,

        I am looking for a recruiter exactly like you. Are you in Sydney, how can I connect. I am serious here.

    • Kate December 2, 2015 at 8:28 pm #

      Mark, you have repeated yourself multiple times through the comments thread. We understand that you have had bad experiences and view recruitment agencies negatively.

      I must say though, based on your grammatical/spelling errors, overall attitude and your statement that ‘nothing you can say to me will make me think any better of recruitment agencies’ – the issue may be you. I have met bad recruiters and good recruiters, just like in any professional service industry. Refusing to change your opinion based on new information is ignorant, and I would ask you to please be more constructive with your comments rather than spiteful.

    • TheRealist September 17, 2016 at 5:21 pm #

      Mark, I couldn’t agree with you anymore, when you think about it, the recruitment industry is an unnecessary industry that makes finding a job a more time consuming and painful process, than what it should be.

      At the end of the day, it’s the employer’s decision as to who they hire for a position, what’s a recruiter going to do, that an employer can’t?

  15. James October 16, 2015 at 7:16 pm #

    I just started working at a small recruitment agency in London. I had a bad experience with one of the larger ones, had my second interview with them but was totally put off by the sharky, pushy sales culture that I was beginning to accept ‘came with the territory’.

    I consider myself lucky to have found a small company that thrives on personality and (hold your breath) honesty. I came here interviewing for an administration role and before I knew it I was working at the company. I just want to say that, sure, most recruiters can give pretty terrible service but there ARE companies out there who don’t subscribe to that culture. Ultimately, we do fulfil a need. Otherwise we wouldn’t exist. It’s just a shame that some of the ‘supermarket’ recruiters end up tainting the more niche and specialist agencies with their cut-throat nature. We’re not all like that, I promise 🙂

  16. James October 16, 2015 at 7:29 pm #

    As an additional point, surely ‘Sales’ in general should come under fire? On at least three occasions I have interviewed for a role that was advertised as administration/customer service etc when it turned out to be 9 hours of door-to-door selling or cold calling. It’s not just the recruiters that can be unpleasant; it’s part of a wider culture of selfish, hyper-competitive indulgence that some people seem to thrive on. It promotes a complete lack of humanity and understanding.These are the kind of people you see on The Apprentice! But, as I said, we’re not all like that.

  17. Nicole November 10, 2015 at 4:39 pm #

    I am working in professional modelling agency from long time. Modelling agencies have their own rules and regulations to work and certain criteria to work. Also models need space to work on their own. There needs to be smooth relationship, then there will be no recruitment issues in future.

    Great piece of information and tips. Thanks for sharing. Cheers!

  18. Ron December 22, 2015 at 1:11 am #

    I feel sorry for those people that have bad experiences with recruitment agencies. There are good and bad like everything else. One just has to interview agencies just like agencies interview candidates to decide who will best represent them. I find that the candidates that are most bitter are the ones that are least placable. Candidates have to realize that agencies are a product of their clients. Clients set the standards not the recruiters. Recruiters would like to place everyone they deal with as that is financially beneficial to them. Many recruiters like myself are degreed and have work experience in the very industry we are placing in. I place accounting and financial people and had 10 years accounting experience up to the Controller level. That certainly qualifies me to screen financial candidates. To wish harm to recruiters because of your own life experience or shortcomings is not a mature or professional response. There are recruiters like myself who my clients come to for staffing advice. Go out and get the best recruiter that can hopefully help you and also do your own networking as you should.

  19. Dan February 7, 2016 at 9:21 am #

    Hi all,

    I have recruited in the “agency” world for 4 years before i moved into an “internal recruitment” within a large global I.T firm for the reason that I was good at delivery and had a passion learning the technology that I recruit across. This is reflected in self learning and acquiring vendor certifications that an engineer would hold, enrolling on technology courses associated with my field.

    Linking back to comments made by Mark Tate, my value proposition as a recruiter would be (but not limited to)

    I do hold a degree (Post Graduate in fact)
    Partnering with the business as a trusted advisor for talent acquisition.
    Reducing business expenditure historically to external consulting or staff augmentation contracts for technical staff with niche skillsets by finding them myself for the business.
    Identification of engineers / architects throughout the year (even if there is no open headcount) – at the end of the day, the top firms are competing for top talent.
    Supporting the sales team with discovery
    Technical recruitment across the business, thus reducing time spent by key business stakeholders. They just see the end result (1/2 interviews)

    Im not sure what industry you work in, but a majority of Professional Services industries operate the same IE They pitch to take ownership of a project for a fixed price (professional services engagement and in most instances go to market themselves to find additional resources) or they provide a staff member at a cost to work on client site and resolve an issue (staff augmentation – again often would need to go to market for this resource).

    The above can be applied pretty much to any sector

    Mining – FIFO engineer payed by the hour and billed by the hour to the end customer with x% margin
    I.T. – Datacentre transformation program outsourced to an I.T. integrator – the end customer pays a fixed fee for an agreed deliverable
    I.T. technical resource from a consulting firm (not a recruitment agency) – is essentially subcontracted to another business to fulfil a statement of works billable to the client per hour but the engineer is paid an annual salary.

    I agree and accept some comments may be true about the recruitment industry. I in fact deal with recruitment agencies myself. The few that I deal with on a regular basis show value through knowledge of the technology. You can quickly differentiate between the “technical recruiters” and the “CTRL + F” Recruiters who just do keyword matches in resumes.

    Even though I perform an internal position, we still value external agencies who are good. They still identify skilled engineers that may not have shown up on our radar.

  20. Sumit Anand February 7, 2016 at 4:55 pm #

    Very nice article Greg!!. From your diagram, i can tell that out of my last 5 years when i started my recruitment firm in India, i’ve been able to achieve the commitment and exclusivity from clients side (almost 85-90℅).

    But the challenge that I’m facing and would seek your advice is on the candidate side. Having placed and interacted with so many candidates in our day to day recruitment process, it is becoming difficult to stay in touch with all of them or maintain that exclusivity which we share with our client.

    Can you tell us how can we bridge this gap? We sometimes also refrain to stay in touch with candidates as they would always enquire abt new jobs which we may not have all the time. We do have a database but how do we make it live and active ? I know that if we work on it, it would fetch us exclusive candidates but all that data is in Excel sheet and the only option i see at times is perhaps sending occasional emails to candidates but after a point of time even they would start ignoring it.

    Please advise.

  21. Martin March 26, 2016 at 6:16 am #

    Hi Catherine,

    I like your comments and would like to make contact with you. I am a recruiter in the UK having been offered a position in NSW.

    My email is registered with this site.

    Many thanks.

  22. jo April 15, 2016 at 3:58 pm #

    Most employers want robots, they do not want people who have a brain, so better to create your own work. and the recruitment industry looks for those reptilian traits. Go to a job you might like, if they say you have to go through a recruitment company, then forget it, move on until you find someone who is willing to give you a job. some day very soon, no one will have a job, because the system is going to collapse and those heartless, soulless people will have no idea what is happening, so they will be consumed in the confusion.

    • Greg Savage April 15, 2016 at 4:07 pm #

      Uplifting contribution Jo.. good job…

  23. shaun July 7, 2016 at 5:45 pm #

    Here’s my thing it’s probably far from right.

    But my view is employment agencies SHOULD all be government run.

    try and run it as they are, but take over all agencies by government, and see if the focus is on safety and quality as a whole.

    • shaun July 7, 2016 at 5:48 pm #

      you would think workers would stay longer, be potentially happier, and have a greater likelihood of permanent work.

  24. theo July 9, 2016 at 7:49 pm #

    I had a really bad experience after applying for Android developer jobs. There was an agent who called me back,and asked me if I knew an iOS developer. What the hell man…Another one said that the company I have applied for have an office in Greece(I am Greek). I asked him where about in Greece this office was,and he didn’t know. I also wanted to know how many android developers that company had,and guess what. He didn’t know either!!! In fact he was shocked,when I told him that I am Greek!

    And there was another one from Holland,who sound really angry with me,as he couldn’t understand why I moved from Electrical Engineering into Android Development. For crying out loud. Java was invented by an Electrical and Electronic Engineer.

    There is no way for me to send my CV to those knobs,and treat me like being an uneducated person. I am starting my own business so I will be better.

  25. jorgelina Perez de Prado August 16, 2016 at 8:41 pm #

    I always worked for MC Arthur agency in the Childcae industry. I have my Diploma in early Childhood,however trying now to come back into work , I called as I was trying to back into my industry and I mentioned I was interested in finding permanency. The person in charge said that even though I have my qualifications and actually updated my fist aide , my references were too old so if I could do 120 hours of volunteer work in the industry then to call back so I have fresh references. I was like what ? i need to work you know . I have already done my placements in my trainning , is this accepted by the laws to do this ? .

  26. TheRealist September 17, 2016 at 5:10 pm #

    For those you here who have been critical of Mark Tate’s less than pleasant (but sadly accurate) summation of the recruitment industry, I have a newsflash for you, Mark Tate is not the only person out there who is rightly disillusioned and bitter with the crappy recruitment industry.

    Virtually every person I speak to, all have a very low opnion of recruiters and the BS they peddle eg. Fake job ads, CV hunting, discriminating against older workers, and generally wasting people’s time.

    I too will celebrate, if/or when the whole recruitment industry is wiped off the face of this Earth, and what I find astounding is how large companies with HR (human remains) departments use recruitment agencies, what the f*#k do they pay the HR to do?

    To be fair, there are some good, honest recruiters, but most of them are about as much use as a gun without bullets.

  27. gorda December 13, 2016 at 12:20 am #

    I hae a long experience with recruitment agencies: they are generally useless, under educated, unprofassional and it is simply a rotten tot he bone industry that needs to be regulated.

    It is absolutelly valid to “brush the whole industry with the same comb” as it si 90% of the recruiters that give the rest a bad name.

    The only reason companies use them is because of bad habits and a failing HR-department.

    There is absolutelly no benefit in using one; despite their claims of having “different recruitment solutions?” they all lack the competence to make any sort of candidate eveluation what so ever.

    Hiring managers shoudl do their job and hire themselves. The result will be much much better.

  28. James December 15, 2016 at 6:17 pm #

    What an interesting read. “Recruitment consultants” slagging of candidates for calling them out. You are ALL parasites without exception. You add ZERO value, cost both hiring companies and applicants masses of time and money, and most critically almost without exception have absolutely no understanding of the skills you think you are selling.

    There may very well be a small percentage of “recruitment consultants” who act professionally – that’s no defence. Personally I am a consultant in my field. It took 20 years of experience combined with exceptional abilities to be worthy of such a title. Your so-called industry is awash with uneducated 20 year-olds calling themselves consultants. It is utterly laughable.

    Being in the IT industry I see this on a massively magnified scale on a day to day basis; roles are filled by sub-standard candidates. Why? Because the parasitic agencies are taking a huge fee for finding the candidate and this is reflected in ludicrously low salary offers vs skillsets. The better candidates are seeking roles for much longer as they know their worth and have to spend weeks and months trawling through the mountain of shit you freeloaders create.

    You advertise roles based on nothing more than rumour, or even the fact another agent advertised it. You spam email everyone in your databases with the word “server” in their CV for every role in the entire industry, you NEVER return phone calls, do not READ the CVs you have in front of you and consistently insult the candidates you treat like cattle by condescending to them and suggesting they should work for less. This alone says so much – you want to get paid for OUR skills.

    In short the “recruitment industry” has over the past 2 decades managed to usurp the traditional HR department and in the process totally destroy the job market. Get down off your damn high-horses and accept responsibility instead of labelling those you are robbing as bitter and twisted.

    Roll on the day someone has the sense to realise that HR departments could do a FAR superior job of recruitment than any of you if they could just learn to operate a handful of websites.

    Advice: stop lying, stop asking for “references”, stop trying to force candidates to accept lower incomes so that you can make more out of them, stop calling yourselves “consultants”. Try being honest, admit you’re an AGENT, treat your candidates and clients as equals because while you imagine the client pays your bill it’s actually the skilled worker’s sweat and blood. Without us you are nothing. And let’s be brutally honest, if most you had any abilities or skills you’d have a real career instead of leeching of those of others.


    Recruitment consultants are bottom-feeding, parasitic unemployables.

    • Greg Savage December 22, 2016 at 8:47 am #

      James, I have published your vitriolic, idiotic post even though I am one of the “lying, bottom-feeding, parasitic unemployables” that you refer to.

      No doubt you have had poor experiences with recruiters, and no doubt there are plenty of very poor operators in our industry. There are plenty of deadbeats working in the IT industry too (Your profession) but only a bigoted buffoon would suggest that an entire industry is made up of no-hopers. I for one know HUNDREDS of brilliant caring , professional recruiters, personally. People who have changed lives and enhanced businesses.For decades in some cases http://gregsavage.com.au/2012/08/21/the-very-best-recruiter-i-have-ever-known/)

      I welcome all views on this blog.. but please, don’t be a total loser, and try to offer some kind of balance and reason to your contribution.. and don’t spew your vicious slanders on my blog any more..please

  29. Craig February 19, 2017 at 2:05 am #

    Trouble is…..too many jobs are advertised externally but have already been promised to internal applicants. Just to be seen to be legally opening the position. Have seen it constantly happening. Therefore the whole job position and recruitment agency role is tarnished.


  1. Why big companies don't use recruitment agencies - Firstbird - hire smart - November 11, 2016

    […] fill positions as fast as possible. That means they are not looking for quality, and they access the same small candidate pool over and over again. And even after all of this, they are still not the fastest way to hire new […]

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