Recruitment is DEAD

Recruitment is DEAD – it seems every other week another article pops up on my LinkedIn feed from some enlightened soul prophesying the apocalyptic end of the agency recruitment industry. And yet, the agency recruitment industry continues to grow year on year.

For those of us who work in the recruitment industry, this fact comes as no surprise, particularly those of us based in Tokyo where there isn’t a recruiter or recruiting firm which isn’t overwhelmed with requests from clients and where fees north of 50% are increasingly common.

But that said, the doomsday sayers cannot be completely ignored – there are genuine problems on the horizon for the recruitment industry that most firms are either ill-prepared for or trying to tackle in the wrong way.

Automation, A.I. & Technology

At the company I previously worked for (major Japanese recruiting corporation), I became frustrated at the approach being taken to deal with the threat of autonomization to recruiting.

They understood the challenges posed by technology, data analysis, and machine learning but instead of incorporating the technology to help their recruiters perform a better and more personable service, they chose instead to dehumanize their recruiters and make their job require as little thinking as possible. In short, they thought: if technology will autonomize the recruitment process, we’ll autonomize our recruiters.

At Spotted Recruit we support Tech Startups and of course, at Spotted we are definitely strong evangelists of new technology adoption and are always looking at ways new technology can support our business. But technology should be used in recruitment to automate processes, data entry, administration and remove mundane tasks that distract a recruiter from working on what matters most. Recruitment firms should be trying to free up their recruiters’ time to allow them to think creatively, come up with solutions that only a human can and build relationships with their candidates and clients – not crush the enjoyment of their role and turn them into soulless robots working on a production line.

Onsite/Internal Recruiters

Big tech companies hiring their own internal recruiters or using RPO services have now been around for a while and it used to be said that only failed recruiters worked onsite. That, however, is increasingly less true – companies are wising up to what makes a good recruiter and making themselves more attractive to top talent from recruitment firms. Whilst internal and agency recruiters have been able to work harmoniously until now, it’s only a matter of time until big tech firms choose to do 100% of their recruitment internally.

At Spotted, 90%+ of our clients have less than 80 employees – we work exclusively with tech startups and international tech firms new to the Japan market. Our clients simply don’t hire enough people at a single time to be able to justify hiring a full time permanent internal recruiter. For the overwhelming majority of the companies we support, using our services as an external vendor is both a financially and logistically better option meaning we don’t experience the competition of internal recruiters as much as our competitors supporting the likes of Microsoft, Oracle, DELL/EMC etc.


One of the biggest complaints I used to have working in a big recruiting firm and one I hear all the time – I HATE KPIs! Almost every recruitment firm on the planet has them but as much as recruiters complain, they simply won’t go away.

When I tell people that at Spotted we don’t have KPIs, it’s always met with a look of bemusement and followed by the inevitable question, “how do you run a company without KPIs???”

For inexperienced/new recruiters with little to no knowledge of their focus area and struggling to get a grip of the work, absolutely, some form of KPI is needed to give them guidance and help both them and their manager understand their performance. But once someone understands their area and can handle the work, there are only two metrics that count: Revenue and Customer Satisfaction.

If you are wondering how many candidates to send to a role, ask your client their expectation of your service. If you think it is unrealistic, use your market knowledge and expertise to tell them what you think would be more realistic. Then stick to that number/deadline, commit to it and do everything you can to reach it. If you do that with every client, both revenue and customer satisfaction will be bountiful.

Despite this basic logic, I am stunned to think that are we one of just a handful of recruitment firms in Tokyo who don’t operate a plethora of pointless KPIs. And the more recruitment leaders ignore this, the less attractive the industry will become as a profession.

At Spotted we value our recruiters’ creativity and well-being, we have strategized to limit the external threats to our company’s prosperity and have built our reputation in a new but growing area. Japan’s startup scene is set to grow exponentially and we need experienced recruiters to help us meet that demand. If you have found yourself agreeing with at least some of what’s above and are interested to hear more about Spotted, drop us a brief message via the button below and we’ll reach out to you for a casual chat.

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