I started in the recruitment business around eight years ago, following 20 years in the financial solutions/market data business. When I was managing sales teams, part of my role was obviously recruiting new people, and I actively used recruitment agencies to source candidates for me.
As with many areas of life, I came across some good and some not-so-good ones. The difference was that the good ones took the time to understand what I was looking for and clearly understood why the candidates were a fit. They obviously knew them and provided them with the right preparation and knowledge to make my interview meaningful.
When my business partner and I started our agency, this element formed the bedrock of our approach to the market. We would meet and interview every one of our candidates to truly understand their skills and capabilities, but also crucially to understand the candidates to fit our client.
Hold on, why are you even mentioning this, I hear you say, isn’t that standard practice for every recruitment agency?
Well, of course, it should be, but in truth, the way that the majority of large clients deal with their recruitment agencies means that there is actually a disincentive to spend any time with candidates. Virtually every client we work with has terms which say that when they hand out a mandate to a list of agencies, it is the first agency that registers a CV back to them that ‘owns’ that candidate.
This means that some agencies will literally register a bunch of CVs to the client’s recruitment portal, knowing that they will be registered for a fee if they come back and ask to interview them.
We have on many occasions, sourced, met and interviewed a candidate, sold them the proposition of our client, prepared them on the culture of the firm and then sent them over to the client only to have found that another agency had already done this, sometimes after one brief phone call.
The Justification of Fee
What is a client paying an agency for? Surely it is to act as an extension of their own recruitment efforts. This means that they need to represent the client in the right way, ensuring that the ‘brand’ is enhanced and the firm’s right impression is communicated to the market. It also means that they need to explain the client’s strategy and filter the right fit from the wrong fit.
The situation in multi-agency contingent recruitment, (increasingly this type of approach is used right up to very senior hires), is that none of the above is happening. The current bun-fight which results in a mad panic to register as many CVs as possible as quickly as possible often results in the reverse of what the client is actually looking for, i.e. the need to sift through many irrelevant CVs.
In addition, when a number of agencies are flooding the market with information about the same job, they obviously end up talking to the same candidates. “You’re the 5th agency I’ve spoken to today about this job” can only result in a lessening of the attractiveness of the role and cheapening of the brand of the client. It just makes the client look like it is not thinking closely about recruitment.
We often handle a client’s mandate on an exclusive basis, and I never understand why more clients won’t do this. We manage the mandate within a strict SLA around timelines and number of CVs forward.
By doing this, the agency can allocate its resources accordingly and focus on that project knowing that they can search the market for the right candidates. In return, the client is getting 100% attention on their business, confident that the right message is going out to the market place about them and ultimately meaning that their mandate is filled more quickly.