Tom Janssen (ITZU Career): “Sustainable recruitment? Recruitment agencies make all the difference”

26 November 2021
A company is only as good as its people, so you want to recruit candidates who are willing and able to grow along with your organization. Yet the talent pool is overfished, and the circumstances in which you are working to achieve your business goals are far from ideal. But when the going gets tough … it’s experts like Tom Janssen, COO at ITZU Career, to the rescue. We got in touch with Tom and asked him all about the added value of recruitment agencies when it comes to sustainable recruitment.

Is the ‘post and pray’ strategy ancient history?

“Publishing a vacancy and then crossing your fingers that the right candidate(s) will apply – the old ‘post and pray’ strategy – is setting yourself up for failure.” Indeed, Tom Janssen does not beat around the bush: “Recruiting talent has not become easier. And that’s an understatement. You cannot expect people to spontaneously respond to your job opening, and you definitely cannot sit back and expect the right people to get in touch with you. But that’s no reason to assume that recruitment is a lottery, and that it all boils down to luck. Through solution-oriented thinking, anyone can adopt recruitment strategy that is sustainable. And because recruitment agencies focus on sustainable recruitment day in day out, it is only logical that they have the most solutions up their sleeve.”

But what about the numerous channels available these days for companies to get in touch with candidates themselves?

Tom Janssen: “The first phase of sustainable recruitment (and a very important one at that) does indeed consist of reaching people. And not just any people – you want to come across profiles that really interest you. Anyone can get try to get in touch with candidates via all kinds of digital channels and tools. But because the talent pool is so vast, fishing for the right talent is no mean feat. I know from experience that investing in an extensive network that covers various sectors is what makes all the difference. On more than one occasion, I found the ideal man or woman for the job via a simple text message to a personal contact of mine.”

“Another benefit of investing in an extensive network,” Tom adds, “is that you create your own talent pool to fish in: a unique database that is continually changing. After all, in the final phase of the recruitment process, one tends to end up with two or three candidates equally suitable for the job. Unless those people turn out not to be genuinely interested, we tend to stay in touch with them. We know what makes them tick; what positions and companies would be a good match for them … It would be a waste of time and talent not to follow up on them. So, the end of a selection procedure doesn’t necessarily mean that any collaboration is out of the question. Thanks to our shared history with those candidates, we can move much faster when a new opportunity arises.”

“Finally, another key insight to keep in mind is that your ideal candidate may not be actively looking for a new job,” Tom continues. “It is important to also reach those people who do not yet realize that they are up for a new professional challenge. Some profiles are so sought-after that a standard approach will not suffice.”

Don’t companies themselves know best who they need on their team?

Tom Janssen: “It is true that having an interesting database at your disposal is not enough; you also need to give candidates a clear idea of both the job and the organization. As a recruitment agency, you must be willing to invest time and energy in composing that picture. What does the company stand for, which projects are in the pipeline, where do they want to be in five years’ time …? Hence, we always collaborate with our clients while keeping the future in mind. We believe a long-term vision enables both parties to reap the most benefits.”

“It goes without saying that we require less input from companies who we’ve been working with for a long time,” Tom explains.  ‘Go ahead, because you already know what we need, right?’ they say. New customers, by contrast, we like to meet in person combined with a tour around the company or the site. Once we get a good feel of the company culture, we’re able to go out and find the best candidate. For instance, if an employee will end up working in an environment that is rapidly changing, we know we need to look for someone who is flexible and keeps an open mind. Specific skills remain important, of course, but we also look for a match in terms of personality, values and ambitions.”

Does it matter what recruitment partner companies end up choosing? After all, they all use similar technology?

“Technology is indeed a big facilitator of the recruitment process,” Tom stresses. “But servers and software will never make talent matchers redundant. The difference between a mediocre and a successful recruitment agency lies in the people behind it. We embrace new tools on the condition that they create added value, but we remain aware that it takes more than tools to find out if a candidate is a good match for a company. Staying in close contact with our customers is crucial. We involve them in every step of the search and keep them updated on which candidates we approach and why. Consequently, we can make the necessary adjustments as we move along. Customers have complimented us on more than one occasion, calling us the exact opposite of a ‘resume pusher’. We will never try to impress a company by presenting a list of candidates a mere day after their vacancy has been posted. We do our homework to deliver the quality we are known for.”

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