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I am not sure whether to laugh or cry; be angry, sad, disappointed or bewildered.

The RCSA PEARL Consultant Forum (March 20 and 21) is currently running in Melbourne and has a paid attendance of 47 people!

Yes, you read that right, 47 people.

Claudia, Christina and the fabulous team in the RCSA Events division have constructed a program worthy of an International conference.

Ngahihi o t era Bidois, one of the star speakers at last year’s RCSA International Conference in Fiji is featured along with Dr Adam Fraser   (another very popular regular RCSA presenter) and our industry’s own Greg Savage.

There are plenty of other excellent sessions run across the one and a half days yet not even fifty people bothered to register.

It simply staggers me that our industry could be so cavalier about the development of their own staff and so uninterested in attending such a high calibre event.

The registration price was very reasonable (early Bird Member price was $748 and 4 or more registrations were $709 each) and a day and a half out of the office is nothing when you consider the potential learning available.

Frankly, it’s worth paying the registration price just to sit and listen to Greg Savage for one hour!

I would confidently say that I would have the greatest ‘consumption’ of Greg’s speaking, training and coaching of any recruiter anywhere.

Even after nine years of working for Greg as an employee and then a further fourteen years of listening to him speak at many conference and events, I still attend every session of Greg’s that I can. I know that in every session I will always take away something new or at least have renewed inspiration about the recruitment industry and the job of a recruiter of leader of recruiters.

If I do that, then what’s everyone else’s excuse?

I teed off three years ago with an article about a similarly woeful level of support for an equivalent RCSA event in Sydney in June 2010 and, sadly, it’s clear nobody’s listening.

It’s very disheartening.

As further context, I have republished (see Lead Article below) the InSight lead article from the week following my June 2010 editorial rant.
The following article was originally published in InSight 135 on 16/06/2010

My editorial in last week’s

about the attendance at the RCSA Consultant Forum, generated plenty of positive email traffic for me as well as a phone call from the CEO of one of the ‘big players’ who wasn’t too thrilled about what I had written in that article.
We had a frank and civil 10 minute conversation about some of my comments.

He thought I was being ‘self serving’ and ‘not being very constructive about the issue’. I’ve got no problem with that.

In fact, I was flattered that he thought my opinion had enough weight for him to pick up the phone and spend 10 minutes of his time speaking directly with me.

His interpretation of my comments appeared to be that I was accusing the ‘big players’ of not doing their share to support the industry. I didn’t say that in my editorial and that is certainly not what I believe.

I would like to think that long time readers of my material know where I am coming from and have a context for some of my various forthright comments about all manner of things to do with the recruitment sector.

For those people who read one of my articles for the first time or as a one-off (like this particular person), I understand how easy it may be to come to the conclusion that my article(s) are self-serving and not  constructive.

So for him (and those of you who came in late), I thought it might be helpful to assume nothing and provide a quick summary of my motivation for doing what I do and saying what I say.

Firstly, on the charge of being self-serving, I do plead guilty. I own and operate a recruitment training, coaching and public speaking business. I sustain this business by providing professional development services to recruitment agencies – mostly small businesses and some big businesses.

I also provide some of my services to the RCSA, usually for a fee.

Occasionally I provide my services for free. The RCSA Consultant Forum was such a case. I willingly waived my presenter’s fee because I wanted the event to be as successful as possible (not just financially) for the RCSA and for every attendee so that they could leave the event feeling enthusiastic about what they had learned on the day and eager to attend more RCSA PD events.

Every week I spend 4 to 5 hours researching and writing InSight which is available for free to whoever wants it. I hold nothing back. Of course I invest this time as a way of promoting myself but my real goal is to dump all of my experiences and lessons from my personal and professional life, out of my head and onto paper for the benefit of others.

I give much of my ‘intelligence’ away for free

I like to think that I give back more than I receive. That’s what I have always tried to do and I intend to keep doing it until you tell me that I bore you or when I decide to do something else.

Secondly, let me be very clear about my views of the ‘big players’ in the recruitment industry.

They have, and continue to, contribute to the recruitment industry. The RCSA Professional Development Committee has members from Manpower (Nikki Grech) and CMG (Kerry Kelly).

Malcolm Jackman was, for the duration of his RCSA National Presidency, also CEO of Manpower.

Incumbent RCSA National President, Steve Shepherd, commenced his term when he was at Kelly and is now employed at Randstad.

The Staffing Council of Australia & New Zealand (SCANZ) is a round table of the CEOs of the 6 biggest recruitment companies in Australia (Hays, Manpower, Skilled, Randstad, CMG, Adecco) with a mission to ‘ensure that the sector’s profile, compliance, standards and benchmarks are the strongest they can be in the global marketplace’.

I acknowledge and applaud all of them. In fact, the RCSA informed me that Chandler Macleod Group sent 4 attendees from their Ready Workforce division to the Sydney Consultant Forum two weeks ago.

Good on you CMG and apologies for my mistake in last week’s editorial when I stated that none of the big players had sent a single attendee to the Forum.

I have nothing against the big players. I used to be employed by one (Hays) many years ago and I am grateful for that experience.

The big players were, to some extent, collateral damage in my editorial last week. Not that I regret what I wrote … not at all. I wrote it with a great sense of frustration for the snail’s pace of professional development in our sector. Judging by the other email responses I received, I think most of you could see that.

The reality is that the RCSA is only as strong as its membership allows it to be. More members mean more funds. More funds mean a greater budget to run more professional development events in more locations. It’s all cause-and-effect and it starts with owners and managers registering themselves and their recruiters regularly
into these events.

One-off registrations are better than nothing but the real benefit of improved staff morale and desk-level skill comes from an ingrained company culture of learning and development.

I wrote about this topic in detail for  Recruitment Extra in March 2009 so I won’t repeat myself here, other
than to say that no matter what direct ‘cost’ there appears to be in paying for attendance at a PD event and having an absent consultant and empty desk for a few hours, there is a far greater indirect cost in lost
productivity and high staff turnover due to staff having low skills and low motivation due to a lack or absence of professional learning and development.

Yes, some of my articles are very forthright and sometimes people get their noses out of joint by what I say and/or how I say it and believe my approach is not constructive.

I don’t apologise for that.

Writing polite, well-balanced articles might be nice for some but articles like that generate little or no discussion or debate and therefore nothing changes.

It doesn’t matter to me whether people agree or disagree with me – I just want to get recruiters, owners and managers thinking about what they do and how they do it. I dish it out and I am certainly prepared to take back as much as I give out. At least that means people are thinking and responding which is a great start.

Here’s what I believe:

  • The recruitment industry is a very important sector for the efficient functioning of the economy.
  • The recruitment sector offers a stimulating,
    fulfilling and financially rewarding career for those who choose to pursue a career as a recruiter.
  • Recruiters need to continually improve their skills and performance to maintain and enhance their relevance to clients and candidates.
  • That unless somebody is out there pushing, prodding, cajouling and generally making recruiters think about their skills, motivation and business model then, as a sector, we all risk waking up one day to find ourselves irrelevant.

For better or worse, I am (in Australia and New Zealand, anyway) one person who gives a damn enough to speak out in an attempt to make a difference. In the end we’re all batting for the same
team … aren’t we?

That’s what I’m on about.

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Steve Heather


Can I start by saying I (usually) love your blog but I think this post should also acknowledge that the RCSA has put energy into a Mentor/Mentee Program, an Awards Program, this PEARL program and related conference and kicked all of these initiatives off pretty much in the one year.

I think it is ok to point out that it is great value (you are spot on) and that it is a surprise that there were not more people there (fair point – come on owners and leaders of recruitment firms) but big new initiatives sometimes take time.

This is a big one that will in time rival the developing success of the RCSA Annual Conference. The organisers (rightly) have taken time to get this one right so that it IS hopefully a great success and can be built on.

If as you say, the owners and leaders of recruitment firms look into this (PEARL program and Conference) they will see that it is awesome value and they need to be sending all of their aspiring leaders to it next year. If they don't then they deserve your double barrelled criticism.

So to those owners and leaders of recruitment businesses across Aus and NZ, check this event out. It is the first genuine attempt at providing a forum in which aspiring leaders gather to learn, share stories, and generally get inspired by seeing first hand that they ARE part of a bigger career game. If that is not enough then perhaps consider some selfish motivation – every person you send will likely stay with you longer!

Our firm certainly will certainly be supporting it, despite the cost of flying some people from WA to Sydney next year.

Thanks Ross,

Steve Heather
Managing Director
Mining People International
(and declared RCSA national board member)

Jane Carey, Director, Edge Recruitment

Hi Ross

Just a quick email to say that I couldn’t agree more with your blog from last week questioning why there weren’t more people at the RCSA Forum.

We are a small (10 people) consultancy in Adelaide. Logistically it was challenging to be at the event (early morning flights, arranging a nanny to care for our children, leaving the business for 2 days etc etc) but it was absolutely worth the effort. The speakers were all fantastic and we came away with so many ideas on how we can continue to improve ourselves as leaders and our business as a result. I was shocked at the low numbers and hope that it doesn’t deter from the RCSA running similar events in the future. In these tough economic times it is all the more reason to invest in our businesses.

We aren’t RCSA members, partly because there have not been many events run in Adelaide in the past to benefit from (I understand that being an RCSA member has much broader advantages than just events though). But attending the event reinforced for me that we all need to take more responsibility to raise the professionalism of our industry and our organisations.

Please continue to cajole and agitate our industry for continuous improvement – we need leaders to push the industry to do so.


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