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I have attended all 5 ATCs held in Sydney. They have all been very interesting in their own way and a valuable source of trends and case studies for my speaking, writing, training and coaching.

I am still digesting everything I learned at the event, so before anything escapes my over-flowing brain, here’s a quick summary of my initial conclusions:

  1. LinkedIn is VERY serious about dominating the recruitment market for top professional talent

LinkedIn were a platinum sponsor of this ATC. On the first morning of the conference, Sjoerd Gehring, the Global Head of Sourcing for multi-national management consulting firm, Accenture, gave a compelling presentation on the effectiveness of LinkedIn. This presentation alone would be enough for agency recruiters to truly understand how organisations can and will use LinkedIn to reduce their reliance on recruitment agencies. Some quick highlights;

  1. a)Accenture cross-referenced their recruitment agency-sourced hires in the USA to LinkedIn and found only 29% did not have a LinkedIn profile.
  1. b)Accenture currently have a combined 395,000 members in their Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter talent communities. A majority of people joining are at Manager level.
  1. c)Accenture is piloting a LinkedIn algorithm which takes all Accenture vacancies (approx. 4000 open jobs) and searches in each of the 110,000 Accenture employees’ 1st level LinkedIn networks (a total of 4.3 million 1st level connections) for the purpose of identifying a member of their employees’ network  as a potentially suitable candidate for a vacancy at Accenture.
  1. Work with top talent on their turf

The most revealing presentation of the whole conference was from Jason Kerr, founder of Kerr’s company has developed an application (The Talent Hive) which allows companies to follow the careers of those candidates who have given that company (via a one-click opt-in process) permission to track them on either LinkedIn, Facebook or MySpace.

The beauty of the application is that the two major problems of traditional candidate databases (data storage and data freshness) are completely removed. Each search is done with real time data and the program instantly converts the employment related data, found in that search, into a standard format for each candidate. has also developed the technology to predict the likelihood of a candidate leaving their current employment simply by assessing the frequency and content of activity that the candidate is engaged in on their nominated social media site. The ATS/CRM and job board industries have just seen the sunset of their respective business models.

  1. Forget cold telephone marketing to the Big End of Town

Just in case you haven’t worked this one out for yourself, a number of speakers and delegates said it’s a waste of time recruitment agencies picking up the phone and cold calling Recruitment Managers at big companies. They aren’t interested in talking to you. Working your way into contention via existing contacts is the only way to go if you insist on marketing to blue chip companies.

  1. RPOs have contracting and temping firmly in their sights

Paula Baskus, the Asia Pacific MD for Alexander Mann Solutions, used a case study to demonstrate that sourcing and running a contingent workforce via an RPO provider, is the next place to look if you want to save millions of dollars in ‘agency margin’. Having commoditised permanent recruitment, RPOs have now got their sights very firmly on agency dominated temp and contract recruitment.

  1. Job boards are so last century for finding the very best talent

Watching the presentation and then watching the LinkMeJobs presentation the following day, made it very obvious to me that any business model that relies on candidates making pro-active applications for jobs, is destined, in the not too distant future, to have a very low margin future, if any future at all.

Within this decade, top talent will stop applying for jobs because their next job will come to them almost every time. An ANZ Recruitment Manager said to me, over a coffee, that if he found out that any agency he used was placing an ANZ vacancy on a job board, he would probably never use them again because ‘if a job board posting is that agency’s immediate response to sourcing the best candidate then they obviously don’t have any depth of specialisation in that particular candidate market. We use agencies to access their own unique networks, not duplicate something we have already done, or could do, ourselves’.

6. Use video and transparency to bring your branding efforts alive. 

James Elliott,National Recruitment Director atDeloitte Australia, spoke about the importance of making the Deloitte employer brand authentic through the use of videos (Deloitte recently held a Deloitte Film Festival to showcase the Deloitte culture) and also using social media in all its many guises to provide prospective employees with a genuine insight into what working at Deloitte is really like.

7. Mobile, mobile, mobile

I said inInSight #166 that making your marketing, attraction and brand development mobile-friendly was going to be critical and everything I heard at this year’s ATC confirmed this for me. If your website (as a starting point) is a user’s visual and navigation nightmare on a mobile device then you better get it sorted out quick smart. You don’t know what your website looks like on mobile? Time to get with the program (PS: Watch out later this year for the Ross Clennett App – coming soon to your mobile device).

8. Gaming is the next wave of candidate assessment and brand experience

America’s Armyproved that games could provide a huge recruiting return on your investment, if you had a huge budget and needed to hire tens of thousands of the same type of candidate each year.Professor Sara de Freitas of The Serious Game Institute (University of Coventry, UK) clearly demonstrated the huge potential of gaming to dramatically improve both hiring outcomes and the candidate experience of the employer brand. 

I left the event excited about the future of recruitment. It was clear to me that the next few years will see a widening of the gap between those companies that have an effective recruitment and talent management strategy and those that do not.

From where I stand, the old recruitment agency business model is looking shakier by the day.

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Matt Penfold

Excellent article Ross.


What I have enjoyed about reading your blog is that you always keep up to date with whatever is happening in the industry.

I have seen a lot of excitement in the past few months about employment branding and the use of Linked in and Linked In IPO etc…. I can't help but remember the days in the 90s that they were about to introduce Monster to the recruitment industry.

I was a regular visitor of at the time and given there weren't too many blogs and websites around back then, I still remember there was a lot of talk on how the agency use will be no longer needed etc… Lo and behold about 12 years later the recruitment and search industry collectively grew faster than monster and seek and the likes.

Accenture is obviously a leading brand and a great company to work for. I have used Linked in for the past 4-5 years (back then their search engine was much better than it is now). I believe there are two things that are not considered

1) People don't necessarily join linked in to find a job. There is at least 10 other reasons they join linked in. Finding a job is one of them. Otherwise Myspace that has been in the market for much longer actually had a job section. Where is it today? I also believe the words of Warren Buffet when he mentioned linked in could be another bubble. The man has experience!

2) Just because we have a job, an online community with thousands of people in it and flashy videos and lots of paid linked in accounts it doesn't necessarily give us better advantage (I have tried those for the past 5 years and i currently have in the vicinity of 16,000 direct connections on linked in alone). The misconception is that finding a candidate is hard and we need to invest a lot of time and money in building those communities. The truth, in my opinion, is finding the right candidate is the easiest part of the recruitment cycle. It is convincing the top candidate to leave their current role and sign up with your company as opposed to the other three companies who have very similar working conditions to yours and want the same candidate. This is where a "unique" relationship between the candidate and the headhunter becomes the most valuable asset. No amount of linked in and branding videos and communities can compete with that.

Brad Stewart

Hi Ross,

All the talk about Linkedin recruiting top talent… from your observations, do you feel this is also an effective tool for the large number of ‘middle’ management or operational roles such as admin/support that might be recruited? i.e bread and butter candidates – not every agency recruiter has a constant flow of CEO/GM roles etc.

Also – the many examples of success with Linkedin seem to be from large agencies and large corporate’s. My guess is that the use of the new social media such as Linkedin is going to give us smaller teams a real advantage and ability to level the playing field in regards to having the access or ability to source great talent. Call me an optimist! Would you agree with this or is the proof only with the big guys – so far?

I find the development of technology in our sector simply fascinating and am excited about its potential.

Brad – Talent Capital

Ross Clennett

@matt – thanks
@navid – agree, tools will come and go but what remains constant is that the critical skill of a recruiter to 'seal the deal' will not be replaced with technology
@brad – LI are starting with the 'top talent' and will work their way down the corporate ladder for more mid-ranking roles. The traditional large agency advantage of 'a big database of candidates' will become redundant as *everyone* is on LI. Requests by agencies to candidates to 'send us your updated resume' will be ignored as candidates get approached directly by recruiters (internal and external) all the time and don't have to bother 'applying to jobs' anymore. This makes the one-man band recruiter, potentially, just as effective as a large agency recruiter.

WP Strauss

Hi Ross, cool article and I posted a link to it on our South African Recruiters Group on LinkedIn. Hope thats OK

Ross Clennett

@wps – that's completely fine. I would welcome comments from the SA recruitment community on my observations.


Great article. Can you recommend a speaker to present how to use Linked In and effectively at our team conference?

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
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