The Recruitment Industry, It may not be all their fault.

We hear a great deal about how the recruitment industry is failing candidates, I myself have been guilty of doing this and though my points may have been valid, laying all the blame at their door is, may be, a little harsh. The only way the industry is going to change its model is if their clients actually take an interest in what they do on their behalf. It is not just the recruitment company’s brand that is on display it is also our own and if not done correctly both brands can be damaged.
The only reason that there is an industry at all is because employers for whatever reason don’t feel comfortable with or have time to do the first stage of the process themselves. That is draft the advert and do the paper sift of CVs/Resumes, talk to potential candidates and short list suitable candidates based on the discussions they have had with them. The companies themselves may have even provided a Job Description and Person Specification (though this might not always be the case) to the recruiter but from that point on it is down to the recruiter to short-list all the applicants to the number of people we want to interview. The requirements the employer provides determines the scope that the recruiter has.
I have never used a recruitment company to find potential candidates for a role. Having started my H.R. career in small businesses where I had to do it myself, it became second nature to do it. Ok there were one or two failures along the way but no one is perfect even recruiters.
For me there is nobody better to do the work, I know better than anyone else what I am looking for, what skills and experience I want and the type of person I want working with or for me and my company.
There is the added benefit from doing this process myself. That is that should I see a CV that doesn’t quite tick all the right boxes, but has something else that is interesting and could be of benefit, I can choose to ignore the Job Description and Person Specification and bring them in for interview anyway. At the end of the day if it doesn’t quite work out, it is only my time that I have used.
Notice I didn’t say wasted. I don’t believe that my time has been in any of the cases that I have done that. I have learned something about me and the potential candidate. Though they may not quite be the right person for this role, they may be the right person for another role that may be coming up in the near future.
It is at this point that giving the right feedback is crucial. Be as open and honest as you can with them. Limit the disappointment they may be feeling at not securing the role. Leave them feeling that if you contact them with another role then they are going to go for it. This has worked for me a small number of times and has saved a great deal of time and effort.
An outside recruiter doesn’t have the scope to do that, the industry model is: get the assignment and fill it as quickly as possible and move on. They don’t have the time or inclination to go outside of their remit, it’s not what they’re paid for, so you can’t blame them. Though they may just miss some real talent that would make a great asset for your company by the constraints we put on them. Now it may seem that I am advocating that we don’t use them at all, that’s not the case, they have their place in a recruitment strategy. The amount of work a company gives them is entirely up to us.
There are however some things that companies have to change in their relationship with their recruiter. We have to remember that their behaviour representing us is a reflection on our company and it is ultimately our company brand that’s at risk.
At your first meeting, set out the behaviours expected from them when they are contacting candidates. In exchange, give them exclusivity for a mutually agreed time period. This will allow them to tell the candidate who they are recruiting for straight away. This may attract candidates who are not actually looking to change roles, but the opportunity to interview with you is something they can’t turn down.
Don’t be too rigid with your person and job specifications, if you have a good relationship with your recruiter let them have a little leeway to go outside the remit if they think that a person could just be what you’re looking for.
Insist that all candidates that they have spoken to on your behalf are contacted even if they haven’t been selected for interview to thank them for their time.  Of those you do interview but are unsuccessful, provide the recruiter with as much feedback as possible and ensure they deliver it. Yes, this means more work for you, but it is the least you can do not only to maintain your brand image but to thank the candidates for the time and effort they have put in preparing for and attending the interview.
Lastly, once the role has been filled, feedback with the recruiter. Talk through the positives and what in your opinion needs to be improved on for the next time.
Candidates can’t change the behaviour of recruiters, they need to keep them on side in order to change roles now or in the future. It is for the end user, us, to change their behaviour if we want to.

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About Mark GilliganHR

Passionate Human Resources and Health & Safety Professional. Commercially minded, outcome focused, with over fourteen year’s generalist experience in providing both strategic and operational advice in regards to Human Resources and Health & Safety. Key business skills include creating, maintaining & continually improving the H.R. and Health & Safety functions by providing high quality advice in respect to employment and Health & Safety law to meet the needs of The Business, Managers & Employees. Certified Professional Member of the Australian Human Resources Institute & member of Safety Institute of Australia.
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