Recruitment Speed Dating

Recruitment Speed Dating: One of the worst ‘new’ ideas to hit recruitment showing that you don’t get the R, without the I, in ROI

Alex Mugan

Marketing Director, Global Career Company

With the recruitment industry really heating up again for the first time since the GFC, and market disruption abundant in the form of in-sourcers, tech and diversifying companies, we’re seeing a wide range of competition jostling for pieces of the recruitment event pie. This is generally a good thing, with more options and opportunities for candidates and clients alike. However, just sometimes, these new entrants are causing a bit of anti-progress, and producing solutions that make the whole recruitment event space less compelling for employers and prospective candidates. One such example, from a new competitor in one of our markets, was launched just recently and has prompted this blog.

The challenge for recruitment event providers and attending clients, in an age dominated by online analytics, is ROI. How does one quantify success in offline branding, especially for the kinds of niche target groups events attract? How do you track return when a hiring process might go on for months after the event itself? These are the questions event organisers need to answer to keep clients coming, and the best can do it, pointing to track record and the quality of interactions. This is something that the offending recruitment event in question cannot do. Indeed, the offering from this provider is the sort that forces clients to be more searching, asking ever-louder questions of the wider industry.

What kind of an event could be so bad? Three words: Recruitment Speed Dating.


Speed dating. When I first saw it, I had to check the product hadn’t been launched on April 1st.

Speed dating: the medium dropped by the dating industry in the mid 2000s because you couldn’t meet any interesting people. Now perfect for recruitment? Speed dating: the medium abandoned by romantics because, in the rare event that someone interesting did show up, a two minute chat wasn’t enough to explore potential. Speed dating: a medium characterised by the struggle to differentiate and position oneself in a scenario where a bunch of really similar people seek really similar outcomes. What a perfect idea for employer brand promotion!

It’s one step removed from a recruitment version of hook-a-duck, only marginally improved by the involvement of two people, rather than one person, a rod and a plastic duck. How does one position as an employer of choice, for example, in a scenario where the candidate has no choice, and moves to the next discussion when a bell rings?

Ordinarily, a competitor doing this sort of thing would be cause for celebration. The problem is that pesky ROI. As a recruitment solutions provider, offering Recruitment Summits as part of our proposition, proven ROI is a critical consideration. Emerging markets recruitment is booming, and clients need recruits, often in volume. This is no excuse or opportunity for a shoddy process though, the clients just won’t have it. They’re operating internationally, regionally or locally, and need the very best talent to drive strategic objectives.

Ding ding.

“Hi. Can you tell me in thirty seconds whether you’re a top professional who will drive our business forward?”

“Sure, but would you mind telling me what your company does first?”

It’s unfathomable that a format like this will deliver the quality of interactions required to showcase a fantastic EVP, or to identify a great talent. Thinking from the candidate’s perspective, why would a serious professional even deign to show up for such a marginal interaction? Candidates are worth more than that; it makes me a little bit angry, really. I have to wonder, why would anyone sign up for a proposition like this? Probably the phenomenon of the strategic punt, I imagine.

“It’s new, it’s cheap, forget ROI, let’s take a punt on it.”

Obviously, no one says the ‘forget ROI’ bit, but you get the idea. It can be tempting to just try something when you don’t have much skin in the game. Tempting, sure, but ultimately unjustifiable, and not up to the rigour of the decision making process you’d apply to most things in business.

So, for the sake of the candidate base, and for the clients who have recruitment needs. For the concept of the recruitment event and its continuing relevance, we need to do something about this; starting now. Therefore, for anyone who has registered for an event like this, get in touch and we can discuss discounting your costs from the participation fee at one of our Careers in Africa Recruitment Summits. Your ROI will be secured and we will have done our part for the reputation of recruitment events everywhere.

Speed dating? Seriously?