‘Le client n’a jamais tort’ translates to ‘The customer is never wrong’ and is credited to César Ritz (1850-1918), the celebrated French hotelier. This predates Marshall Field or Harry Selfridge’s (depending on your view) “the customer is always right” and is a slogan that has held true to the sales industry to date.
In most contexts the customer is easy to define; as the recipient of a good, service, product or idea and in recruitment this is typically personified by the employer who pays the bill for the candidate. However, increasingly the shift in market conditions and the nature of specialisms in the change management niche require us to serve two masters.
In the recruitment industry candidates are arguably our greatest asset and it is perhaps time to offer a recruitment service representing the candidate more, as opposed to solely the client?
Too often one reads of the recruitment industry being overly transactional, and it is criticised for poor customer service; perhaps there should be a greater ‘duty of care’ towards candidates? This isn’t an alien concept- sportsmen, actors and writers all have agents that have their client’s best interests at heart and such a transition would allow relationship based recruitment firms to further develop their offering.
There is certainly a market within the wider spectrum of contingent recruitment to provide an entirely candidate focused offering that helps in either their current jobs or new employment. Following over around 100,000 financial sector staff losing their jobs in the last four years (CIPD 2012), there are unquestionably a record number of individuals looking for work. In contrast the recruitment market is by no means booming, yet announcements of vacancy increases (19% increase in the city in the last month according to Astbury Marsden) illustrate that hiring is still occurring.
The financial services sector is going through systemic changes and the attraction, development and retention of talent is by no means excluded. The observant recruitment firm has an opportunity to capitalise on this and increase their offering to employers and candidates alike.