Sterksen is a supplier of a broad range of recruitment and talent sourcing services. They are a market leader in recruitment for IT- and tech-oriented roles, and the company offers RPO services. In an interview commercial director Erik Hollander shares his perspectives on the RPO market.
What is Sterksen’s core business?
“We have five business units, we offer five services. RPO is one of these five. You could say it is a combination of all the separate services that could best be described as Total Talent Management. We provide clients with an integrated solution for all their recruitment needs. At many organisations you see one central desk or team being set up that handles both the fixed and the temporary demand.
“On top of that we see a trend emerging that the split organisations make between fixed and temporary labour is disappearing.”
“While that used to be separate worlds, this is now being done in one place. Increasingly we find that organisations find that interesting. On top of that we see a trend emerging that the split organisations make between fixed and temporary labour is disappearing.”
In what kind of organisations is that happening?
“First it happens in sectors that have traditionally had a big talent shortage. An example are organisations with a need for talent in IT or technology. When you need twenty developers in two months’ time, I can tell you now that’s never going to happen on a fixed basis so you have to go for a mixed approach. Moreover, we see this happening at organisations where there is a high turnover of people, where volume recruitment is a big part of daily activities. Then I’m talking about retail.”
Could you elaborate a bit on the first group?
“You could think of scale-ups, organisations that are growing very quickly because they received a big investment. Another example are organisations opening a subsidiary in The Netherlands, who need a hundred fifty or two hundred people at once. They have to do a lot, but don’t have the internal structure. They will then be very interested in RPO, since this is a very simple solution.”
What about the application of data in recruitment. Is it going as fast as people tend to expect?
“There are forecasts that this time it’s really going to happen, data will really take over from here. I’m sure that it will be an important part of our jobs, but at the same time our work will always remain a combination of marketing and a lot of human effort. Take for example a student looking for a part time job at a supermarket. I’m sure it works for him to apply through WhatsApp, with WhatsApp saying based on data what location would be the best fit. But on the other hand, professionals want a personal approach with personal attention. That’s why I say data will be an important addition, but it will not replace us.”
The labour market has been very tight the past few years. How did that affect your services?
“When the economy does very well, it’s harder for organisations to set up their own recruitment teams. So what they expect from us is that we offer continuity and flexibility. They expect us to move with the number of open vacancies. Companies don’t hire their own recruiters for an accidental peak in vacancies. The capacity for that peak they can get from us or from another RPO provider. In the Netherlands the labour market has been very tight for a very long time.
“In the past it would take six to eight weeks to find someone. In a tight labour market that’s fourteen weeks.”
“For us, in the industry, that’s been an enormous challenge. It meant we had to do much more work per vacancy to achieve the same result. In the past it would take six to eight weeks to find someone. In a tight labour market that’s fourteen weeks. In short, you have a doubling, twice the effort for the same result.”
Does it mean finding recruiters was difficult as well?
“Without a doubt, though I would note that it’s not hard to find a recruiter, but that it is hard to find a good recruiter.”
What makes someone a good recruiter?
“The ideal recruiter has knowledge of the enormous amount of technical tools that are available and knows how to put these to good use. Moreover, he or she, knows his or her way around social media, knows how to reach specific target groups and approaches them with a certain flair and authenticity that resonates with the target group.”
So, given the scarcity a little bit of a cooldown in the economy would not be so bad?
“The current COVID-19 situation was impossible to predict and of course is not what we would mean with a cooling down of the economy. But we’ve always had seven fat years, followed by seven lean years. We go from crisis to peak to crisis. When things slow down a bit, we in recruitment and selection will say ‘that’s not too bad’, because it means there will be more people for less vacancies. That leads to an increase in our success with filling vacancies.”