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Where are the recruitment agencies now?

Has the internet created a better way of recruiting in the accountancy profession? One old timer thinks not…

November 2017

The last time I was actively looking for a new role in a new company the year was 1999. For an ambitious, recently qualified CIMA accountant the trending issue was Y2K (concern that every IT system on the planet going to crash as we hit midnight on millennium eve). Mobile phones were starting to hit the shops in a big way and Tiger Woods was on top of the world.
To get a job then you had to hit the streets, not the keyboard. Michael Page, FSS and Robert Half were some of the players in the accountancy recruitment market. They all had ‘stores’ in every town and city. The only way you knew about jobs was to look in the back of trade journals and magazines, or get out and walk the streets, selling yourself to these companies. They also provided a great source of pay comparison, which was always important!
So you can imagine my shock when I turned to the back of those same journals and there was nothing there; when I looked for some of the old company names – gone. Like in many other industries the internet had structurally changed the service and business model – but for the better?
Back in the day, the recruitment specialist would need to really understand their client, and really understand the delegate. It was like a non-romantic dating service, which it is still today (of sorts). However, the key difference then was the depth of understanding and interest the recruiter needed. They knew whether you would fit the culture and the needs of the role because they had met you and spoken to you.
Now it seems I need to update my LinkedIn profile (there needs to be a course on that), carefully wording it so that it shows I am looking for a new job, and also including several achievements that other people did but I reckon I can take credit for (everyone does that, don’t they?). All I have to do then is wait for recruiters to get in touch, although I never know whether they have a job for me or not. It all seems so impersonal. But it is the way things are done now, so I guess I will have to get in line with it.
What the internet brings to industries like this is a much wider market; it’s much easier to search through roles and delegates, but surely that makes the filter process that much harder? If you have 1,000 CVs rather than 100, how on earth do you know you are putting the best person forward?
Maybe it is more like online dating than I had originally considered; there’s a lot more options but lot more trial and error than ever before in finding the right match (not that I have tried that yet!).
Good luck to the younger generation. If I could offer one piece of advice that is timeless it is this: take time to speak to people and listen to people. In the end it is still people that buy people – and that is the same in both the job and dating market.
• A 47-year-old seasoned finance professional

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