RLC celebrates our 10th anniversary this year. It’s amazing how fast the time has flown by, and how much has changed in the recruitment business since we founded RLC in 2012. We’ve grown quickly: from a startup, to Thailand’s leading technical recruiter, in only 10 years.
Then and Now: Recruitment in Thailand has Changed
It is striking how much technology has changed the recruiting landscape. When we started out 10 years ago, online networking tools like LinkedIn were not universally used; job boards were much simpler – listings were predominantly in Thai language, and the formatting was basic, using early-stage technology.
When we founded RLC, English-language fluency was not so common in professional circles. It has grown by leaps and bounds since then.
Our main challenge back then was locating candidates. In 2012, the dynamic of recruitment in Thailand was fairly straightforward. The focus was mainly on search: Our job mainly revolved around finding resumes with technical skill sets that matched our clients’ needs in emerging manufacturing, logistics and supply chain industries.
I feel fortunate to have established RLC and laid the foundation for my career during these simpler times. Back then, recruiters had to invest more in building relationships. There was no such thing as a video interview, or working by remote. Zoom meetings did not even exist. We used Skype, but I can remember jumping on the bus several times a month to travel south from Bangkok to Rayong and Pattaya, to meet candidates with whom I am still close friends with today. Face-to-face engagement was an indispensable part of the job.
The Emergence of Advanced Technology & Candidate Engagement
The biggest changes happening in the recruitment business are due to the rapid emergence of new technology platforms.
In the past three years, the explosion of technology means recruiters must expedite the search and vetting process. Video technology especially is cutting things short, and this has a knock-on effect with candidate engagement.
Individual engagement with the job application process is reduced when a candidate can apply for 50 jobs on LinkedIn in less than an hour.
Recruitment Still Needs a Human Touch
I’ve always been a big proponent of the human side of the recruitment business.
Technology should support human interaction, building relationships, help us to improve the emotional management of candidates, to understand their motivations, and establish real connections.
In short, technology should support human relationships, not replace it. If we were to digitise all of our interactions, then our relationships become strictly transactional. In fact, we cannot digitise influencing and relationship-building. Our relationships are fundamentally the result of taking the time to build trust with another human being: it is an art as much as a skill.
Unfortunately, many companies have a mistaken perception about the recruitment process. In some quarters, the idea persists that all headhunters really do is sift through and identify CVs. But the elevated churn rates we’re experiencing now should serve as proof that there is much more to recruitment than resume-searching.
What makes the difference between a good and great recruiter is the ability to build communities. Personal relationships lead to strong referrals. It’s how we determine if a candidate is a good fit for our clients’ office culture. It’s how we ascertain a candidate’s real-world capabilities. This is stuff you don’t get from reading a resume.
The best recruiters in the market have made consistent efforts to build relationships that endure. ‘Pressing the flesh’ is still important.
Getting to know candidates as they develop their careers, helping and guiding them to the next level, and sharing success is how we reach the next stage of recruiting excellence.
When industries mature and reach a certain market saturation point, we often see an artisanal movement arise. Craft beer and farm-to-table eateries are a perfect example of how dedicated restauranteurs have tried to preserve authenticity in their trade, while other proprietors seem to rush towards providing lower priced, lower quality, high-volume products for the masses.
Strategies for Survival vs Thrival
Working as a recruitment consultant can be very stressful. There is the potential for great rewards, but no guarantee of success, and a huge demand on recruiters’ personal time. If we are to compete effectively to recruit and retain talent for ourselves, I think the recruitment industry needs to recognise that we are at a crossroads. We need to think about how we can balance productivity with an attractive life-career balance for employees. As an industry, we need new client solutions to suit the new workforce situation.
How do we achieve this?
I see two emerging strategies, and the choice between them is a fork in the road.
1 – We accept that the recruitment industry will always have a high churn rate. The response is to develop a factory-style recruiting process. Sourcing consultants can be trained quickly, and agencies can remain competitive by dropping fees. Ultimately, this is a race to bottom that views recruitment as purely transactional. It is not my preference.
2 – Add genuine value in the more intangible, creative aspects of the job. This includes more intensive and improved client management, strengthening offline connections in specific industries and local communities, and a consultative business-partnering approach. This is a more human, less transactional approach to recruitment, the one that I favour.
This is why, moving forward, RLC is developing ‘Recruitment as a Service’ (RaaS) as our IP value proposition. RaaS establishes more of a long-term, mutually beneficial partnership between the recruitment company and client.
I am confident that the successful implementation of the RaaS strategy will help us to thrive and grow for another 10 years. During these increasingly disruptive times, the RaaS framework provides clients with a reliable pipeline of talent and RLC’s expert HR consulting services. I believe it is a more sustainable model – both for our firm, and our valued clients.
My approach to optimisation is to combine the personal elements of great recruiting with new technologies that streamline the administrative aspects of the process. RLC will always aim to strengthen the human element of our business – not replace it. Plenty more innovations are in the pipeline – so keep watching this space!
10 Years of Gratitude
I want to conclude this message with a massive ‘Thank You’: to everyone who has been a part of RLC’s journey.
To the companies, job-seekers, and executives who trust RLC with their hiring needs and the future of their careers: I have so much appreciation for the clients and candidates who have partnered with us over the years, and I am grateful that so many of you have become lifelong friends.
To the RLC team: recruiting consultants and staff, you are all responsible for making this company a success. I feel so much pride in the collaborative, innovative, and supportive work culture we have built together. You all make me look forward to arriving at the office every day. Together, we are working to establish a genuine game-changing model in the recruitment industry. With such a great team alongside me, we can be certain of continued success!
A special ‘Thank you’ goes out to Alex - my right hand in the revolution!
And finally, I give thanks for my wife, without whom none of this would be possible. Her support and love makes me a better man, and positively contributes to every step I make.