This post was written by our Co-Founder JuIiet Eccleston

With the UK employment rate at a record high, hiring activity is certainly vigorous. At this time, many businesses are continuing to use traditional methods such as recruitment agencies to help them find the right candidates to fill their available positions as, traditionally, recruiters have been a way to access talent that might otherwise seem hard to reach. But is this still the right approach? Apparently not.

We surveyed over 600 professionals about their views on search firms and found that the majority have concerns about using them to look for their next job opportunity. The results should be an eye opener for firms and HR teams as they might, in fact, be losing out on talent by sourcing candidates this way.

Unsuitable jobs

The main concern for 41% of respondents was that recruiters would put them forward for jobs that they weren’t suitable for or interested in. This is a common problem with agencies that haven’t developed a full understanding of what a candidate is looking for. The risk for businesses is that the ideal candidate might be filtered out by an intermediary who hasn’t recognised exactly what the skills of the job seeker or the needs of the HR team really are.

Insufficient feedback

A further 19% of professionals said that they were deterred from using agencies because they expected to get insufficient feedback about their application. I’ve known of job seekers who have had to chase their applications to find out how far they have progressed or who have suddenly stopped hearing from the agency without knowing why. When professionals handle their own application instead, it eliminates all of the uncertainty: they are the first to know when the hirer has moved them on to the next stage. This is speedier and more efficient for candidates and businesses alike and an approach that jobseekers clearly want to take. However, the inclusion of an agency can often make it difficult for an individual to apply directly, further alienating talent from your business.

Lack of direct contact with employers

The same number of professionals (19%) said that they find the lack of direct contact with a potential employer off-putting. It’s certainly hard to get an authentic feel for a business and its culture if you aren’t engaging directly with the people who work there. Equally, hiring managers can get a more rounded feel for a candidate if they are dealing with them as opposed to a ‘middle man’ and they can also avoid any delays in communication that might happen as a result of a two-stage exchange.

Loss of control

Another significant factor deterring jobseekers from using agencies is that they feel the control is taken out of their own hands, with 12% of respondents saying they’d prefer to be taking the lead on responding to potential job openings. It takes significant trust in a recruiter’s ability to feel confident that they know you well enough to conduct something as important as a job search on your behalf – trust that is clearly lacking for some.

Shake up the norm

This combination of concerns resulted in an overwhelming 95% of those surveyed stating that they would be more likely to apply for a role if it was recommended to them by a peer rather than a recruiter. This is troubling for businesses that are relying on recruiters: it demonstrates that the professionals they seek don’t find this method particularly effective and may not even use them to look for work.

It’s clear to me from the results of this survey that there needs to be a shakeup of the hiring process and this is the core reason why I co-founded AnyGood? There’s an increasing shift in professionals’ mindsets about the usefulness of recruiters and we need to respond to that by empowering professionals and eliminating unnecessary intermediaries. The fact that so many respondents said they’d be more willing to consider a role if someone they knew suggested it to them means that there is a golden opportunity to source talent this way.

Today’s candidates are well-connected and digital networking has made it easier than ever before to keep in contact with our peers. In fact, our survey found that the majority of individuals – over 71% – connect with their professional network at least once a week. Businesses need to harness the power of these networks to not only create a process that truly works for candidates but also ensure that they are speaking to the right people at the right time. After all, nobody knows an individual’s suitability for a role better than the people who have worked with them before.

What are your thoughts on the concept of peer-to-peer recruitment?

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