The IOR vs The REC – What Good Can Come Of It?

So sat in the blue corner, are the Recruitment & Employment Confederation‘s (REC) – and their top dog with the big salary; Kevin Green; said something a little silly at the IRP awards last week. It was reported slightly incorrectly, and so recruiters are up in arms. The implication being that non-REC members (i.e. 80% of the industry) are `dodgy`. Oops. Watch recruiters go nuts on LinkedIn. A high proportion of independent Recruiters have standards, and many of us don’t believe that the REC is standard-bearer – so it kind of stank. The REC is old-school, it is institutionalised by it’s obsession with politics, lobbying and the protection of the big recruitment players who fork out the largest sums of membership fees year on year; regardless of their own mis-doings. They just don’t represent small independent recruiters who were all once called by an REC exec “cowboys”. So, the `dodgy` tag doesn’t exactly please too many either. 

Apart from anything else, the tone of a `Industry Body Leader says Industry is Dodgy` headline, is hardly good communications strategy for the recruitment fraternity. Doh. 

So from the red corner, wade in the IOR (the Institute Of Recruiters) – for the uninformed, this is the new kid on the recruitment industry bureaucracy block, who said last year, they “don’t want to be another REC”, and then have subsequently acted like another REC for the past year. The IOR don’t miss a trick. They’re more social media savvy than the REC. They’re like the REC, but with an iPad – but haven’t found all the cool apps yet. If there’s an opportunity to pounce and endorse anti-REC feeling, there is a 3-pronged attack; at least; that enter the scene faster than Jimmy Savile in a… oh, ok, you make up your own jokes there.  


The net result? – it all looks a little ugly. No-one takes the higher ground – because they fight like cats. Or, in truth – the REC rarely fight anymore – they just present gaffes at will, and the IOR steam in wielding recruitment body baseball bats. 

Looking on, are recruiters. 1000s of them, almost with some kind of compulsory decision to pick a side. The irony is, it’s the same kind of decision the US have at the moment over deciding between the same old one who lost the plot, and the feisty new one who’s clearly lost his marbles. In truth; Ronald Reagan and George Bush jnr have been Presidents of the USA; and likewise the REC have held fort for many, many years. These decisions don’t always pan out too well.

The IOR have a massive opportunity. The REC is clumsy, old, creaky and irrelevant. But the IOR has made some early friends, and lost some. The `Genuis Team` is a cluttered collection of dis-interested contributors with average content and very occasional blogs, let alone very occasional lights of genius. It’s also picked some bad running mates. James Caan is big PR, but hardly any recruiter’s view of a recruitment execution advisory source – business management, maybe – but `ask James Caan` is likely to get answers written for him. His recent pearl of wisdom to recruiters on using social media included the golden nugget of “Use Linkedin”. I know, breathtaking innovation. I’ve been asked to contribute on a couple of occasions by their CEO, Azmat Mohammed – but until they get the format of the Genius Team structure right, then I just couldn’t do it. I kind of want to help, I like the IOR guys in some ways – in fact – I hope I have helped in some quarters over the past year – but there’s a journey to go to have proven credibility. Yes 2500 members in 16 months is good numbers, and credit to their efforts as an `alternative solution` – but no testimonials of actual business changing contribution, and membership is a longer relationship where the proof will start to arrive 2 years down the line, for those who chose to believe in the IOR; and who make a decision about the merits of continued membership. 

The thing is, the reality is that recruitment companies DON’T have to choose. In fact, it could be argued they’re probably best NOT choosing. Certainly the strength in knowledge, proficiency, standards and delivery of smaller independent recruiters is far greater than a professional body can ever deliver. We standard alone with pride and courage, and don’t need acronyms to enhance our gravitas in our marketplaces, particualrly acronyms our clients have never heard of. 

So. The REC are stuck, they’re a political beast, and will not change. But will the IOR see the openings? We don’t want bureaucracy, political soundbites, schmoozing on radio-shows and mixing with MPs. We don’t want reams of courses, qualifications and promises of clean-ups. We want representation in the business world, within the industries where our clients sit, and where the reputation of the industry is damaged. 

We don’t want the IOR slating the REC, and slating bad recruiters and targeting `cowboys`. We want industry champions, standing up for the industry and the good in it. They need to recognise the tone of business opinion, and fight the hard battles, not the easy ones – ensuring the recruitment industry is represented at the heart of business innovation and forward-thinking; embracing the challenge of social media and how recruiting can play such a respectable and valuable part in the midst of that that. We need them to champion maturity, specialisation and consultancy in recruitment, rather than kids off call centre floors being told to make recruitment a sales job to win any jobs, at all cost. 

2 years from now – I see it being REC vs `another` REC. Fighting over political attention and airspace in the boardrooms of Hays, Reed and Manpower. 

I want the IOR to be better than that. The industry deserves better, and demands that we are not fighting 2003-related arguments in 2013, but instead looking at where we matter, where we evolve; and lead that evolution.  


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