Category Archives: Recruitment Consultancy

What is wrong with recruiters?

This is a live example of a job post advertised on LinkedIn:-

“Sore Managers for Luxury Retail Brands

XXXX XXXX – Senior Recruitment Consultant at XXXX  International Consulting Pvt. LtdTop Contributor

Looking for people with excellent communications skills and very good understanding of sore operations..”

Now maybe I am being pedantic here, but is this really acceptable? Several questions present themselves with this example:

  1. If you were a client would you really want this recruitment consultant representing your business, at any price?
  2. If you were a candidate would you actually respond to someone who advertised for candidates with ‘excellent communication skills’ who themselves couldn’t be bothered to actually proof read and spell check their own advertisement before posting it globally for the world to see? How can this recruiter actually quantify or test communication skills?
  3. If you managed this recruiter would you question the integrity of your business and the validity of your training and development?
  4. If you were the recruiter who actually posted this vacancy and someone professionally commented on this grossly sub-standard work would you consider editing the actual advertisement and then re-posting or would you just ignore the advice?

I see this kind of work everywhere. Any random search of any job board brings up endless examples of appalling attention to detail, an absolute lack of personal or professional integrity and generally what can only be described as shoddy work.

Consider this for a moment. The actual job advert is in the public domain and is essentially the branding and PR of a recruitment business. Advertising of any nature speaks volumes about your business, how it functions and how it behaves. If a recruiter and a recruitment business can’t get this very public basic process right, what else in their business don’t they get right? What processes behind the scenes are subject to shoddy work, a poor attention to detail and a general apathy about quality?

Is it any wonder clients expectations of many recruiters are so low, that they insist on huge PSL’s and low fees with very little in the way of actual quality process, service or delivery?

Who is to blame for this? Is it the recruitment industry itself? Or is it the fact that many of our customers consider this to be acceptable?

Will organisations such as The Institute of Recruiters and their drive for professionalism and qualification gradually eradicate poor quality of work of this nature?

 

The Recruitment sector needs a rottweiler not another toothless industry body.

Charming, lovable, full or personality and loyal. A perfect mascot for a fantastic industry.

Charming, lovable, full or personality and loyal. A perfect mascot for a fantastic industry.

Mitch Sullivan prompted me to write this in response to a discussion post he made in the IoR LinkedIn Group which you can find here – Mitch’s IoR Discussion . It was rather novel to find a real discussion point in the group for a change. For months it has just been a constant barrage of people trying to sell their services via thinly veiled blogs like training, SEO, Social Media Solutions, Applicant tracking systems, umbrella company services….. blah blah blores… So it was quite refreshing to see some people getting involved again. Anyway, I digress. Mitch asked the following question:

“What does being a member of the IoR say about you and / or your business? For me what it says the most loudly is that you find the changing recruitment landscape too bewildering and what you really want is someone/something else to solve your problems for you.

What do you think? Am I being a little harsh here? If so, why?”

As someone who was an open critic of the IoR when it was first mooted and someone who openly challenged it as an organisation I stated my reservations from the beginning. I don’t care about badges or status or being part of a club. To be honest the IoR offers nothing in this context, there is no camaraderie that I can discern other than a few cliques, the few events they do hold in the North of England are usually more about selling me services or enabling some other service provider to sell me services. There is no active promotion of ethical recruitment, solution or quality focused services. Even if you are actually at the cutting edge of radical recruitment innovation the only support or promotion you receive is offered on a pay for basis. You could for example develop the most profound, game changing exceptional recruitment innovation to date and would have to drain your bank account to get the IoR to support it. In fact it is circa 4 months since I swallowed my pride and joined and I can’t think of one singular benefit thus far of the membership from a business or personal development perspective, although many have been offered with a ££££ attached.

Saviour of the industry, or just another looking to generate revenue?

Saviour of the industry, or just another looking to generate revenue?

I’m yet to understand how funding the IoR to develop a whole raft of revenue generating training courses, vocational qualifications and apprenticeship schemes benefits me or the industry. The IoR is yet to fully advise me of the outcome of the multitude of meetings they have attended at 10 Downing Street. In fact I suspect that there should probably be a public enquiry into exactly why 10 Downing has nothing better to do with their time than keep meeting with the IoR. As yet I’m at a loss as to how some of the most significant innovators, the absolute creme de la creme of entrepreneurs and successful brands such as Micheal Page and Robert Half and many other managed to create such great businesses without any vocational training in recruitment. How these and many other companies such as Adecco, Kelly Services and all the fabulous boutiques actually trained some immensely talented recruiters without some form of recognised apprenticeship program? Yet they did. But I digress. This post isn’t about training and courses and qualifications. It is about the impotence of yet another recruitment industry body.

There needs to be some form of regulation or at the very least there needs to be a loud voice that can influence and lobby government and other associations on behalf of the recruitment industry both external and internal. There needs to be an organisation that can create a partnership and a collaborative dialogue with the CIPD for example. But ultimately there needs to be some form of professional complaints body, somebody with bite who can investigate, mediate and who can punish the guilty or resolve disputes forcefully. Personally I am an advocate of their being an Industry Ombudsman who can mediate disputes and complaints and where necessary have the power to discipline or even exclude. This body would have to be impartial and have jurisdiction to some extent over both parties, in the same way as the FSA or the Banking Ombudsman would. Is the IoR the organisation to do that? I very much doubt it.

What we really need is an RIR, a Recruitment Industry Rottweiler. We need some kind of organisation that is independent. Someone who companies faced with questionable invoices, bad practice and legal disputes can refer to for not just advice, but action. We need a body that will arbitrate between recruitment firms to settle disagreements, act as a protective representative for candidates with genuine concerns such as breaches of confidentiality, duplicity and so forth.

The IoR isn’t a rottweiler by any stretch of the imagination. My disappointment thus far with the IoR is not just it’s lack of bite it is the people behind the it. Many of them are not actually recruiters and even the ones who claim to be often haven’t recruited for over a decade. Harsh as it may sound but the organisation and many connected with it, the so called Genius Team for example are wholly engaged in their own little personal status and promotional crusade. Many of the Genius Team (not all I hasten to add) are precisely the people who have worked diligently over the last decade to dumb down the recruitment industry, to simplify it, dilute it and to focus it on volume, process and KPI’s not quality. We have people that apparently we should aspire to on that team who have created recruitment businesses built around offering bargain basement multiple job board advertising, a kind of Poundland of recruitment where they provide a service which simply auto posts job vacancies for £499 + Vat across 3000 job boards. This has undermined the whole concept of great, even exquisite recruitment. We have representatives in the IoR who were personally responsible for driving the concept of Preferred Supplier Lists, who developed and drove the idea of automated recruitment processes and as a result are directly responsible for all those poor recruiters whose only contact with their clients is an automated email with a vacancy description and a demand to be the first to provide a handful of anonymous CV’s pulled off the same jobs boards with no due diligence or care at 12% margins.

So no, the IoR isn’t the answer. It is in many ways littered with dinosaurs. It is influenced by people protecting their assets, looking for ways to milk other recruitment businesses assets and generally keep things the way they want them. One thing the IoR can do is provide you with a plethora of ‘big billers’ or ‘industry leaders’ to come and train your organisation and consultants to keep doing things the same way, poorly. They talk about conversion rates, call rates and worse of all they encourage quantity above quality.  They don’t train you how to really blow your clients away, they don’t educate clients that there is no short-cut to exceptional recruitment. You don’t see the IoR in The Times extolling the virtues of service excellence, of recruitment processes that focus on accuracy and understanding and consider cultural fit and attitude as well as experience and skills. Similarly what is the IoR’s view and advice on those recruiters who send unsolicited CV’s with terms attached and then send a company an invoice when they recruit the very same candidate through alternative, direct or more structured channels. What is their stance when a retained recruiter successfully finds the right candidate and 1 month later their client receives an invoice from BOBaJob Recruitment Ltd on the basis that they sent that candidates CV to one of their hiring managers 5 months ago? What is the IoR’s stance when a client refuses to pay a placement invoice with 30 days payment terms for 120 days and threatens that businesses very existence because of cash flow issues?

Can anyone tell me of any actual action, mediation or resolution that the IoR has been explicitly responsible for? Have they investigated or punished anyone? Have they actually established any strict guidelines which automatically resolve issues around candidate ownership, mass mailing of CV’s, exploitative terms in PSL’s. Is there a HR Director somewhere who breathed a sigh of relief and now has a whole new perspective of the industry because the IoR has protected them or resolved a major issue for them? Is there a recruitment business member of the IoR who have had a disputed client invoice paid without the need for legal action and expenses because the IoR mediated and delivered a solution or compromise?

My guess to all the questions above is probably not.

Don’t fear the doubters and those who won’t conform.

Every brave initiative meets resistance and have no fear, there will be an abundance of recruiters and recruitment business owners who will aggressively argue against any kind of housekeeping, who will rally against any such Recruitment Industry Rottweiler. But the question should be why they feel this way. It isn’t wrong for the valiant, for the virtuous and the sincere to crave equality and quality in equal measure. There is no shame in wanting your industry to operate and deliver the very best in world class solutions. The only people who would fear that are those who thrive and are nourished by the lack of controls and restraints.

Which corner do you stand in? Given the choice if there was an alternative do you think your client organisations would rather work with a recruiter who complies and signs up to the Recruitment Industry Rottweiler or one that doesn’t?

Personally all you need to do is show me where to sign…

MaverickRecruiter goes to the movies….

Recruitment Myth Buster Part 1 – The Wall Test…

Good morning people. I hope like me you have arrived to work fresh and eager for the day ahead. I know I may be alone in this but there is just something about working in the recruitment industry that makes me smile in a morning and the obligatory leap from the bed to meet the day ahead fills me with excitement and glee.

But putting the smoked salmon bagels and Kopi Luwak latte aside for a moment I want to explain why I was so eager to get into work this morning. Over the last few days everywhere I have looked on LinkedIn there are people who have never worked in recruitment extolling the secret to success in the industry. At first I thought to myself, it can’t be that easy. They don’t know what they are talking about. If it was that easy wouldn’t they be doing it? Why haven’t I come across this secret to financial and personal success after 20 years in the recruitment business? How come all the awesome people I have worked with didn’t know about this simple, easy and cost effective way of delivering recruitment solutions?

I’ll use a direct quote for effect here

“all recruiters do is throw loads of CV’s of candidates they have never met at the wall in the hope that some will stick..”

Brilliant. Even better was this quote along the same lines but with more detail

“how can you justify paying out £10k to a recruiter who doesn’t bother meeting any of the candidates in person, and who merely throws a few CV’s at an employer hoping that one of them will stick ?”

Now having just finished a particular recruitment assignment that from start to finish took 8 weeks to complete. Involved no less than 68 long distance telephone interviews with candidates in Chicago, Austin, Dallas, New York, Boston, San Jose, San Antonio and Detroit and Hong Kong. Often at absurd times of the night (or morning in some cases) speaking to people in depth about technology patents, strategic alliances and OEM’s in the world of analog digital semiconductors and similar the realisation that I could probably have made as much if not more money by simply throwing a load of random CV’s at the wall struck me as mind blowing.

So here I am at 7:30am in the morning with a whole bunch of CV’s. I’ve thought about this overnight and have come to a number of conclusions. Every body say’s it easy but nobody has actually gone into any detail about how it is done. So I have prepared a couple of different options. I have 3 piles of 100 CV’s on my desk. Pile 1 is held together by a bungee cord. Pile 2 is loosely stacked. Pile 3 has been carefully folded in various origami style paper darts. In front of me I have a client of mine in a helmet and safety glasses who has volunteered to take part in this experiment and a freshly cleaned wall……..

Who shot JR and the Recruitment Paradox

johnruskin“It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that’s all. When you pay
too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you
bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The
common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a
lot – it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well
to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will
have enough to pay for something better.”

John Ruskin – Common law of business balance 

Alternatively consider this sentiment,

There is hardly anything in the world that someone cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price alone are that person’s lawful prey.” also by John Ruskin.

If you work in recruitment or are the end user of recruitment services I’m certain that both of those statements will resonate accordingly. So they should. Together our collaborative selves have successfully managed to upset the Common law of business balance. Often with a little assistance from Procurement along the way, it appears as if almost the whole recruitment industry along with our clients have skipped merrily down the road of self or even mutual flagellation (that’s a sadistic form of flogging oneself with some harsh implement such as a stick wrapped in barbed wire for those who may not know so I’m told).

So what has prompted this observation and why am I writing a blog about something that should be patently obvious but which we have so adamantly ignored. Simple, because deep down there has been no winner from this collective compromise. There are many clients who think they have clawed back some hard fought no man’s land and won a loyal army in the form of their Preferred Supplier List working for meagre rations. Similarly there are many recruiters who just as during the Middle-Ages couldn’t desert their Liege Lord quickly enough when offered a scrap of land or a title, usually in the form of a 12mth service / supplier contract.

Unfortunately more probably feel like they have spent time under bombardment in the trenches, hemmed in on all sides and forever forced into a compromise between professional excellence and survival.

The truth is rather less awe inspiring. John Ruskin was right in every way. There has to be a balance of reward in business for both sides. Let us be very honest and consider the standard recruitment process which probably applies to the vast majority of client requirements and agency placements today:

  1. Client fires out requirement through automated recruitment system to PSL. In this instance let us say the vacancy is for a Sales Rep and let us assume that they send it to 7 recruiters.
  2. Recruiters all open the requirement brief. Usually a link to a concise description of the job and basic details such as salary. The only thing which separates these 7 recruiters at this stage is their level of motivation and tenacity. The race has begun.
  3. 7 recruiters then post it to all of their respective job boards. 7 recruiters post the same job to 5 job boards each = 35 job postings for one job – pity the poor job seekers) and usually they are all using the same job boards.
  4. Recruiters search their databases and CV libraries for matches of candidates that meet the parameters of the job description. Many of the candidates will be on multiple databases and CV Libraries. The duplication begins.
  5. Recruiters then begin the race to call their database matches and check availability and suitability of the job, the package and the location. Note that they rarely interview the candidate against the job, they simply don’t have time in this mad metrics driven world. Besides they need to secure as many potential candidates as possible as quickly as possible before their competitors on the same PSL call them first. Quality approach don’t you think?
  6. Recruiters, all 7 of them begin firing across to the client all the CV matches. No surprises here that some duplication occurs. No surprises here that many of the candidates don’t even know who the actual client company as recruiters try and protect their business.
  7. Candidates begin applying for the advertised position, many will apply to the same job multiple times often oblivious to the fact that they have already been submitted following a couple of brief calls to ascertain if they are still available. More duplication.

Need I go through the entire process? Thus far there has been virtually no communication, collaboration or consultation between anyone. It generally doesn’t improve as the process proceeds. There isn’t time for quality of delivery and consultative recruitment in this kind of process, and besides everyone knows precisely what is expected of them. Not very much in reality.

So where exactly is the professionalism in this process? There isn’t any. At fees of circa 15%  hard working recruiters have an expectation of filling 1 in 3 or 3 out 10 vacancies and they are targeted on volume placements. This is all about churn and burn. This isn’t about consultative recruitment, focused delivery and exceptional service. Expectations are low as is quality and delivery.

I don’t know who said “You get what you pay for.” In actual fact it is heatedly debated as to whether John Ruskin wrote about the common law of business balance by scholars from Oxford to Harvard. Hence my opening title about who shot JR, for all those wondering when and where I would introduce Dallas and JR Ewing into this post. But seriously someone shot someone in the foot when we all joined hands and followed the Pied Piper down the road to mediocre service and the demise of professional and consultative recruitment.

The Alternatives

If you are a client why not try engaging with a recruiter and giving them some real motivation. Giving them a requirement exclusively is a good start. Agree some hard and fast timelines with them, ask for an update on progress every 2-3 days and tell them what you want and how you want it. Tell them what would really blow your mind and exceed your expectations. I have no doubt that you will be pleasantly surprised, you may win over a major ally who as a result gives you a whole raft of added value services such as market and competitor intelligence.

Corned Beef or Horsemeat?

Corned Beef or Horsemeat?

I don’t know about you, but I would rather pay a little more and be treated like the most important customer in the world. To know that there was a recruiter out there fighting my corner, promoting my company, working weekends and burning the candle at both ends to get me the result I need when I need it. PSLs are great for constant volume recruitment such as warehousing and call-centre recruitment. But when it comes to key positions that are vital to your business and the capability of teams and departments shouldn’t you treat these requirements as opportunities to add definition, value, capability and prowess to the business. If you went shopping to find a brilliant Business Analyst for your Finance Director would you expect to find one in the ‘value range’ at Asda? No, you would probably look at the ‘Taste the Difference Range’. I know I would. I want exactly what it says on the tin and I want the very best Business Analyst my budget will buy.

If you are a recruiter, try asking for specific vacancies on an exclusive basis. Be even bolder, begin with a request for a retainer and negotiate from there if you have to. Put your money where your mouth is and offer some real consultative, client focused and exclusive expectation exceeding service. Try (and I know that many of you do. I certainly do) and offer a true taste experience. Give them gourmet cuisine and a Michelin * service and trust me, they will come back drooling for more.

Disclaimer

This post comes from the heart. I’ve spent almost 20yrs in the recruitment industry and sadly watched much of it deteriorate as a result of lower fees = lower expectations. I know many hard working, committed recruiters who wear their hearts on their sleeve and really do give everything they have to their clients regardless. I live in hope that one day the recruiter / client relationship built on trust, understanding and mutual gain and commitment will return.