Industry view: Attracting talent

By Martyn Garvie, director, Aberdeen Appointments Agency

Recruitment has become a global industry and a vast resource of skill and expertise is now sourced and recruited via recruitment businesses based in Aberdeen.

This ‘export’ and global movement of skills often goes unrecognised but will be increasingly vital if Aberdeen is to remain at the heart of the skills market for oil and gas people.

Because of this I am at times frustrated when I then hear negative comments about the services offered by recruitment consultancies.

It’s not unusual to have people voice their perception of recruitment agencies being a necessary evil; are to blame for all their staffing issues; force up contractors rates; poach staff; are expensive and have no interest in retention strategies. And yet the oil and gas industry is hugely reliant on our service delivery.

Martyn Garvie

Reliant, because the knowledge, effort and service quality that really good recruitment consultants deliver is in direct support of the strategic growth, development and success of businesses across the oil and gas sector.

Unfortunately, the drive to mass recruiting online often prevents this interaction and will reduce the effectiveness of the good consultancies an employer engages with.

Expert recruitment consultancies are closer to both the actual market conditions and the real skills issues in play than most employers are able to be – it is, after all, their job to be.

Making use of this expertise at operational and strategic level within your business makes good sense. But then why does it seem that recruitment consultancies are sometimes viewed negatively?

To quote Oscar Wilde: “What you do speaks so loud I cannot hear what you say”.

It may be that what they do doesn’t actually match all the things they say. And it’s what you do that counts – it’s what you do that people believe and remember. Experience counts for everything.

Anonymous CVs, candidates not contacted, jobs and salaries oversold, staff poached, lack of formal interview process, poor due diligence, reliance on online sources – the list of poor behaviour is a long one.

It’s been hard to find good staff over the last few years so “needs must”? Perhaps. And in a sellers’ market some of this behaviour might be understandable.

Temporarily the market has changed – and more quickly than anyone could possibly have predicted. The move towards more focused recruitment and retention strategies can only be a good thing in the medium to long term.

Recruitment that is aligned with the main issues raised in the Wood Report – effectiveness and cost efficiency – will separate the really good consultants from the others.
I am sure that many recruitment companies will be reluctant to accept this as a positive change. As the market shrinks, poor performers are always squeezed.

Perhaps some of the activities that have caused a negative perception of recruitment agencies will disappear and we will, once again, see employers relying on a professional, crafted service that only the best, most experienced recruiters can give them.

From the candidate’s perspective, many may feel hard done by as they see rates reduced. A reset of rates in this fashion will in itself support a more effective, efficient and quality employment market with salaries reflecting true worth rather than short term demand.
Remarkable people will still demand good pay rates in Aberdeen. We often reflect that this is what we do – find remarkable people to work in a remarkable industry that remains at the heart of the UK’s economic future.


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