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(September 17, 2007) It's been quite a time in the employment marketplace. Sustained low unemployment coupled with demographic shifts and economic consistency makes for an ever expanding job market. As the peak continues, some old notions reemerge. Like individual personalities, our marketplace experiences a sort of emotional deja vu when history begins to repeat itself.
The enduring bifurcation between third-party operations and in-house players is a case in point. If ever there was a perfect spot for friction, this is the Mason-Dixon line. Back in the 1990s, I had some fun getting the two groups together to try to resolve communications difficulties. It was always good for confrontational dialog once the gloves came off.
The disconnect is pretty simple. While both groups are in hyper-reactive businesses with high levels of burnout, the third party players are freed from the boundaries of corporate mindset. That means that they are free to behave in ways that are simply too opportunistic for most corporate organizations.
Like Oliver North, many in the third party universe (Recruiting, not Staffing), are deployed so that a mantle of plausible deniabilty can shroud corporate behavior. You know, "it's not our fault if one of our subcontractors did it." As the labor supply tightens, the use of third parties to end run frustrating internal processes grows exponentially. Just as it becomes crucial for the Recruiting Department to build and maintain deep relationships with candidates, hiring mangers start to break down the system looking for fast answers.
That's where the third party folks have their largest opportunity. By waltzing past the red tape and internal success barriers, external providers gain a particularly powerful advantage at the peak of a business cycle. One can not afford to allocate resources to the recruiting department as if it were always a peak environment. Therefore, internal performance tends to be breaking down just as the conditions for third party success are opening up.
The tensions between the two camps are strong and often poisonous. I am seeing the fissures deepen with each passing day.
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