Are Today’s Recruitment Agencies Just Talent Marketplaces?

By Stephen Harrington, Country Manager, Ireland

Since the fourth quarter in 2020, it has been a bit of a roller coaster for many of those in the recruitment industry. With many companies hiring aggressively and candidate markets becoming extremely competitive, it has become a very lucrative time to be an agency recruiter. Indeed, I have heard many agencies talk about record-setting quarters and increases in their own headcount—including Russell Tobin.

All “win-win,” you might think? In many cases, sadly, that’s not true.


For many recruiters entering the industry, including some seasoned veterans, the modus operandi has become about finding talent and bringing it to any client or prospective client who might be interested in hiring. In talking to my senior-level colleagues in the industry, I often hear them talk about how they’re no longer worried about “clients” when they can simply bring these hot candidates to a market starved for talent.


This style of recruitment seems akin to a candidate marketplace. Instead of representing the client’s needs, these recruiters believe they can just build up a stockpile of promising candidates. After all, if companies are so desperate to hire, why add more value beyond giving them a broadly appropriate professional?


To me, this system appears broken. It may be working for the recruiting agencies making money with this strategy, but it certainly fails to help hiring companies who hoped for agencies to work with them as trusted partners.


It is also very short-sighted; agencies are sacrificing medium- and long-term sustainability in favour of cashing in today. Greg Savage referred to this exact point in his recent article about the rise of the million-dollar recruiter. For many professionals in the staffing industry, including myself, this seems deeply wrong. We should be developing ourselves into a modern, client-focused service industry, one that creates long-term value for the companies we serve.


That’s why at Russell Tobin, we strive to be a trusted service partner, maintaining highly engaged client relationships and providing flexible solutions that are always aimed at enabling a “win-win” scenario. Through solutions like Embedded Partnerships, recruitment coordination, talent pooling, recruitment-as-a-service, DEI sourcing, and more, we offer a fundamentally different kind of relationship than the normal agency’s “pay-if-you-hire” model.

Ready to find out why those differences matter—and how they can make an impact on your bottom line? Reach out and discover what Russell Tobin can do as your partner in business success.