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European Staffing: Ask The Experts – Alan Whitford, Abtech Partnership UK

Posted on December 19, 2007
Filed Under Global Staffing Perspectives | 5 Comments

By Dave Mendoza, Master Cybersleuth, Affiliate Partner, JobMachine Inc.
(720) 733-2022

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Abtech Partnership
Linkedin Profile
England Tel: +44 1451 850811
Mob: +44 797 186 4620

Alan Whitford has over 20 years experience in the start-up and expansion of high technology businesses in Europe. Abtech provides strategic and practical insights to the automation and web-enablement of Human Resource and Recruitment Process activities throughout Europe. Alan is a frequent chairman and participant in European conference programs. He has been published in a number of on-line and off-line media covering technical and strategic HR and Recruitment issues. Alan was one of the early Bloggers in the European recruitment and HR space.

In addition to his long term career with Abtech, Alan is a founding Partner in two start-up companies in the European recruitment industry.

Dutch technologist Classified Solutions Holdings has been building a new generation of recruiting platforms, using matching, extraction and a unique job and skills taxonomy. is the first of its initiatives to provide Web 2.0 technologies to candidate and recruiter alike with an easy to use interface that encourages true candidate relationship communications. The product set for the staffing and corporate recruiting community will include a ‘white label’ out of the box solution which can power job boards and corporate career sites.

Whitford served a 2 year term as an Advisory Board member of, was a founding board member of the European Chapter of the HR-XML Consortium and is a founding member of the UK ORMC (On-line Recruitment Marketing Council).

A frequent participant and chair of European conference programs, Alan was the originator and chairman of the Internet Recruitment series, which educated more than 8,500 participants in 3 years. More recently he initiated a series of Quality Recruitment seminars in the UK with EuroRSCG Riley, Taleo and SHL.

Q & A

Q) What types of regulatory issues effect staffing, both from an agency and corporate staffing perspective. I understand it is harder to direct source from competitors in France and Germany as opposed to other EU countries.

ALAN: Most of the employment legislation that causes ‘issues’ relates to temporary workers being given the same benefits as full time employees – although this was initially introduced to ensure that temp workers were not being taken advantage of, it has had some corollary effects:

A Taxation – if a temp worker (or contractor) is being treated as a FTE, then he/she must be taxed the same way, which means that either the employers or the agencies are responsible for the employer tax/national health costs – plus the significant burden of administration
B Proof of identity ( employment agency act in UK), means that agencies are supposed to ‘prove’ the identity of the candidate
C Working time Directives – huge impact on the official number of hours per week that employees can/should work – but is this applicable to ‘white collar’ workers and/or contractors?

Direct sourcing is a very gray area in some countries – even in some industries. Direct solicitation of a competitor staff may be ‘bad practice’, so sourcers must be better able to present opportunities in such a way that the potential candidate approaches them. In some areas, you cannot directly telephone a candidate at work, for example.

(A) Why can private info be put on CV like relationship, age, pictures, when Europe is so concerned about privacy issues? In the US we cannot place a photo, sexual preference, age, children, or marriage status for example.

ALAN: Europe has very strong legislation on Data Protection, i.e. The collection and use of personal data should always be fit for purpose. However, the UK only just passed its Age Discrimination Act as relates to employment, many countries collect religious or other data for statistical purposes (which is supposed to be separated from the individual application), pictures are the norm in some countries as a cultural issue (and potentially even video CVs will be acceptable. Secondly, individuals just love to put all of this useless personal info on their CVs.

(Q) How big a role does telephone sourcing play in Europe, or at least by region?

ALAN:Standard practice for search companies. Same rider as above about direct phoning into a company may apply

(Q) Why would you argue that Central Europe is getting more RPO’s software development on behalf of big job boards like Monster than in Western Europe

1 Skills and education are higher (UK just fell out of the world top 10 in both reading and mathematics ranking in schools)
2 Cost is lower
3 English is the second language of choice

(Q) Why are there so few recruitment organizations in Europe like ERE, SHRM, EMA in the USA? How do recruiters share best practices without the type of wide scale conference. organization infrastructure we have in the States?

A Recruitment is not seen as a profession.(Exception is Holland, where Frank Roders has built up a community)
B HR organisations such as the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel Development) in the UK do not give much emphasis to recruitment
C Individual countries (after all, there are 25 EEC countries) makes having a pan-European organisation almost impossible. I spent 2 years trying to build up HR-XML and we never got more than about 25 members from 6 countries
D Essentially, recruiters do not share best practice other than in small localised groups. A couple have been attempted here, in Holland and France.
E the ERE event has taken on that mantle.

(Q) Why do European countries depend so heavily on Agencies rather than building their own corporate staffing structures? Is it more so and less so in certain countries in Europe?

A. Huge in UK (22,000 agencies).
B. Strong if France, Benelux and most of the CEE states.
C. Was not prevalent in Germany until recently. In fact, in many countries, agencies were illegal, you could only operate as an ‘advisor’.
D Note that temporary staffing agencies (Vedior, Randstad, Manpower etc) is a different kettle of fish. Huge across most of Europe.

1 It is easy to call an agency
2 companies run HR departments on head count, so can’t hire recruiters and turn to agencies quickly

(Q) Where are Monster and CareerBuilder strongest in terms of brand and customer base in Europe?

1 Depends who you ask. Monster strongest in UK (although relative, as it is in top 10 in UK, but not the top. Strong in Germany, because it bought JobPilot.
2 Don’t see CareerBuilder as particularly strong anywhere yet, but it is spending huge amounts in UK to buy traffic from MSN etc, so they will get large traffic.
3 They are strongest with global players who think it is a good idea to buy a global job posting package. (useless in my opinion.)
4 Strongest by far across Europe and globally is The Network, the association headed up by TotalJobs and Stepstone. 3 times the size of Monster.


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5 Responses to “European Staffing: Ask The Experts – Alan Whitford, Abtech Partnership UK”

  1. Education information » European Staffing Regulations: Ask The Experts - Alan Whitford on December 19th, 2007 1:27 am

    […] Original post by Dave Mendoza […]

  2. European Staffing Regulations: Ask The Experts - Alan Whitford | ok on December 19th, 2007 2:04 am

    […] Original post by Dave Mendoza […]

  3. European Staffing Regulations: Ask The Experts - Alan Whitford | ok on December 19th, 2007 2:04 am

    […] Original post by Dave Mendoza […]

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  5. Job Search: Build a Career, Job Listings, Employment » European Staffing: Ask The Experts - Alan Whitford, Abtech … on December 20th, 2007 9:00 pm

    […] unknown had some great ideas on this topic.You can read a snippet of the post here.2 Don’t see CareerBuilder as particularly strong anywhere yet, but it is spending huge amounts in UK to buy traffic from MSN etc, so they will get large traffic. 3 They are strongest with global players who think it is a good idea to … […]