Collaboration versus competition

Tagged:IT recruitment
Collaboration versus competition

We recently attended a networking meeting in Manchester. It quickly became apparent that we would require certain contract documentation that we just didn’t possess. To our surprise one of our ‘rivals’ offered up the information we needed and sent us templates to use. To say we were mildly surprised would be an understatement.

There will come a time when IT recruitment companies choose to collaborate and share their resources (and clients) with others in order to survive. Like all successful organisms, collaboration is far more successful than outright competition and the same can be applied to the recruitment industry.

We recently attended a networking meeting in Manchester, also present were various rival agencies, some we had either worked with in the past or fiercely fought against more recently and many were run by former colleagues.

During the course of the meeting it became apparent that we would require certain contract documentation that we just didn’t possess. To our surprise one of our ‘rivals’ offered up the information we needed and sent us templates to use.

To say we were mildly surprised would be an understatement.

They had no immediate professional advantage in doing so, in fact by providing us with this information it could be argued that they were enabling us to better compete with them.

But that wasn’t their prerogative.

It put into clear perspective how recruitment agencies don’t always have to fight it out with each other. By adopting a basic level of collaboration both companies can profit either immediately or in the future.

For instance, if there was ever a time when we might find ourselves competing in the future with this agency over ‘ownership’ of a candidate for instance, the first point of call might not be a threatening letter of legal action, but perhaps a chat, over coffee and an opportunity to talk it through.

For clients, having agencies competing and fighting over a limited number of candidates might well be to their benefit, but it’s certainly not always to the benefit of the agencies themselves.

Recruitment is a competitive world, let’s not escape that fact, but there is a distinction between a recruiter doing their job correctly and professionally and them actively fighting with a rival agency for supremacy. Do the former well and the latter shouldn’t even be a factor.

Human society has relied on collaboration to get where it is. If there had only ever been fighting and wars we wouldn’t have the interconnected, communicative, global society we have now. Regardless of what the news tells us, human dominance has happened because of the sharing of ideas, on a huge scale.

Sharing administrative information is one thing, but stepping forward should recruiters actually withdraw from the battle line sometimes and perhaps share more? What are the benefits?

It’s true that identifying and engaging IT talent is becoming increasingly difficult, there are fewer great candidates out there and all of them are in great demand. Mini victories against rival companies might be celebrated but there will always be a next time and another fight. It certainly benefits the clients but not necessarily the bigger recruitment industry it serves.

In marketing it has been termed as the ‘collaborative economy’ – one in which the basic premise is that through greater cooperation with one another, business can achieve more, faster.

Clearly this goes against much we know, and rely on, within recruitment, but as more one-stop recruitment shops open and fees get lower, poor recruiting practices are displayed, diluting the true efforts of recruitment companies dedicated to sourcing and preparing candidates for clients.

It’s a question that goes a lot deeper than this blog post and it certainly isn’t a full blown debate yet, but it is difficult to disagree with collaboration in principle.

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