Tag Archives: retained search

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.

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The Recruitment Industry – Do we need an Ombudsman?

Anyone that knows me or follows me on Linkedin is probably aware of how passionately I defend the recruitment industry. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not that blind and naïve fool who thinks everything in the garden is rosy, not by any stretch of the imagination. Let’s face it those do exist in all industry sectors and walks of life.

I do however believe that the recruitment industry is unduly maligned, vilified and chastised as the Pantomime Villain of the job market and the world of employment. Surprisingly more often than not it is by the people who work in it. I am absolutely not one of them. But I’m not wearing rose tinted glasses. There are issues, there are rogue elements and there are undoubtedly the unscrupulous and the exploitative. In all walks of life, in every profession there are those who cause problems, have a different set of ethics and morals, narcissists and commercial sociopaths who thrive on doing things the wrong way, who think that financial gain and acquisition of a fast buck is the testament to success. Unfortunately in recruitment because of who we are and what we do a little bad news can travel very fast, especially in the social media world we now live in where a single incident which had no original malicious or unscrupulous intent can be rapidly exaggerated as catch all testament to the industry as whole

Earlier this year a debate raged on the Institute of Recruiters (IOR), Linkedin Group. I spent a week or so defending criticism of my industry from a certain quarter. These people (one individual in particular) were suggesting that the recruitment industry needs licensing. It was quite a lively debate, and in all fairness I suspect the real context was lost due to the misleading opening point of the discussion where it was implied that virtually all recruitment businesses are worthless, because they don’t have a license. Suffice to say that this angle was robustly defended by many and some including myself rather took offence at the insinuation. But maybe in hindsight I should consider eating some humble pie.

I was recently asked for advice from a former client on a serious recruitment issue they were trying to deal with. Basically they use a number of recruitment firms to recruit highly skilled and pretty rare technical engineering staff. Much of this is on an ongoing contract basis which is very lucrative for the recruitment firms involved. Some however is permanent recruitment, which of course from a one off fee perspective is particularly rewarding.

My client has discovered that one of their suppliers has been responsible for some rather unethical activity within their organisation. Basically the recruiter has been placing candidates on a perm basis and then soliciting the same candidates immediately they are out of their probationary period or to clarify, once the rebate period on the fee has transpired. This hasn’t happened just once either. My client has undertaken a solid investigation and it appears that this activity has taken place on at least 5 occasions in the last 12mths across their various business areas and departments.

Worse still! Yes it can get worse. The same recruitment firm provides a lot of contractors, but what they have been doing is poaching other recruitment agencies contractors out of the company and its projects and placing them with competitors and visa versa. What makes it worse still is that they have been paying referral fees to their own contractors for names and phone numbers of competitor’s contractors, effectively undermining their own client’s projects by extracting their skilled agency contractors!

Now, if you work in recruitment and have ethics and morals you are probably squirming in your seat at the sheer audacity of this. If you don’t work in recruitment or don’t understand how this market works you may not really appreciate how bad this scenario is, let me explain.

The recruiter gets paid a fee for a perm placement of for example £8,000 for placing Bill Smith in a job with Oxygen Power Services. 3mths later when there is no rebate clause period remaining so the recruitment fee is banked and safe. The same recruiter goes back to Bill Smith and offers him some more money to move to another firm down the road. He gets another £8’000, but at the same time he gets to fill Bills job at Oxygen again with a candidate he previously placed at another firm and gets another £8’000. In reality there is no limit to how many times he can do this, well until he runs out of companies and candidates. If he moves 5 candidates through 5 companies and they all work in the same place once, then over a period of 12 – 18mths he can replicate the same fee up to 25 times! Unlikely but it is mathematically possible.

The same kind of formula can be applied to the contractor side. He is basically shuffling contractors from one recruiter to another project and has created a merry go round type scenario, which is also pushing up pay rates or reducing everyone’s margins. This is basically ‘Sharp Pracitice’ and was traditionally the holy grail of a few firms of cowboys and charlatans in the Sales Recruitment sector in the 80’s and 90’s who oddly always had a tendency to emulate Gordon Gekko. Image

My client has asked me who they can escalate this unprofessional conduct to in terms of a serious complaint. The problem is he can’t really! Okay if the recruitment firm in question were part of the REC or the IOR or similar then he could complain to those industry bodies. But they aren’t a member and to be honest, industry bodies don’t usually have much bite, although the recently formed Institute of Recruiters has promised to be robust. He can complain to the governments Employment Agency Standards office, but technically what this recruiter is doing is not illegal and they are not really responsible for commercial disputes. The EAS is really about enforcing protection, fair play and rights for workers.

What this recruiter is doing may be unethical, it may be considered bad practice by 99.9% of an industry worth an estimated £20billion+ a year to the economy, and it may even be in contravention of the terms and conditions of business of supply. But as far as I know it is not illegal. It should be but it probably never will be.

So maybe there is an argument, a case or at least a point worthy of consideration in regards to licensing the recruitment industry. Maybe there should be a government ombudsman who can rule on customer complaints with an iron glove, there is in just about every other people business. The healthcare, utilities, financial services, legal and accountancy and others all have some kind of Ombudsman set up, who is responsible for handling complaints and hold an entirely objective and impartial stance.

Maybe this could even be a more practical solution to the candidate ownership and fee debates and incidents that invariably turn legal. Yes, there would of course be a cost to set up and run an Ombudsman but if the end result is a cleaner, more robust and business conducive environment that engenders trust and thus increases positive perception could it be a win win for everyone?

What do you think?

On a final note, in reality the true scale of issues, bad practice and or intentional malpractice in the recruitment industry is actually very small. Genuine complaints, by this I mean those that are found to have grounds and be reasonable as opposed to being merely a matter of perception are relatively rare. I have worked in this industry for nearly 20yrs and the vast majority of people I have worked with or have been acquainted with are immensely passionate and ethical about what they do. But it only takes a couple of bad apples to spoil a barrel. No industry is perfect and every industry can be improved of course, but genuinely I think the industry has never been better.

So is a real licensing strategy based upon protecting hiring companies, candidates and the industry actually a good idea, it has been debated for years and historically did exist, should we bring it back? If we did, who would police it and how would it work? Would an Ombudsman suffice?

The English Premier League and Islamic Banking May Have More in Common Than We Think!

The English Premier League and Islamic Banking May Have More in Common Than We Think Encouraging Compliance as a Virtue and an Obligation

“Should Islamic Banking & Finance Companies, source service providers who meet some form of ethical or moral code?”

On the 22nd February I attended the last in a series of absolutely excellent lectures at the London School of Economics; this one was titled Global Calls for Economic Justice: the potential of Islamic finance. The general air of anticipation was electric, the attendance exceeded expectations and the organisation and content was exceptional. Speakers were Mr Mukhtar Hussain, CEO of HSBC Malaysia and Professor Volker Nienhaus, visiting Professor at Reading University.

I was sitting next to a very charming Lady from Vietnam who was undertaking Doctoral Research at Southampton University. During the lecture she asked me a very interesting question;

“Surely if all of these organisations operate under such a strict code of practice and with such a keen focus on their moral compass, they should source and use suppliers and service providers who meet a similar criteria or at least comply in some similar way?”

I had no ready response or clever retort. All I could do was agree with her sentiment. Why wouldn’t I? It seems so simple really. If this was the case imagine the impact the whole industry and its related service providers could have on communities.

Imagine if all businesses and organisations within the Islamic Banking & Finance sector were compelled to undertake a certain code. Imagine if all the training and certification providers, all the event organisers, all the magazine publishers, business consultants, technology and systems solutions providers and everyone else who essentially operates within this industry or on the periphery of it and as such profits from it, had to agree to a simple set of virtues and operational protocols?

So I began to think about this scenario and even asked on various social media sites specialising in recruitment what elements, attributes or endeavours would a recruitment company need to develop to appeal on this basis to an Islamic Finance Institution who wanted to work with service providers sharing similar virtues and morals.

There were few answers. No surprise really as people don’t generally like being asked moral questions, the old adage ‘If it isn’t broken don’t fix it’ springs to mind. However, I sat back and I considered the business I work within and what we do.

We have a preferred charity; in fact we have 2 which we donate a % of profits to. This year we didn’t send out thank you cards and pointless gifts to clients in December. Instead we bought a whole bunch of presents, wrapped them all up and donated them to a local Orphanage. We sponsor a young athlete who has great potential and we do volunteer work in the community with the unemployed, one of my colleagues even visited a women’s prison to coach them on how to find work when they were released.

It sounds like I am blowing our trumpet, and I am. When I sat and considered these things, it became apparent that inadvertently we do stand firmly on a moral context and have a positive social impact. Many companies do of course. You look at major football clubs in the Premier League in the UK for example and you don’t see the community schemes they are involved in, such as Arsenal’s support for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Okay so not all footballers and not all football organisations are virtuous or shining examples of how to live your life and be the best person you can. But many of them are, research Didier Drogba, David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane and Lionel Messi and read about what they do. I also appreciate that connecting the principles of Shariah Compliance and the Teachings of Islam to football maybe flippant, please forgive me. But I am trying to reach a broad audience.

None of this is actually that radical, in many ways lots of sectors and organisations operate policies of this sort. In the UK for example Public Sector organisations will and can only work with service providers who comply with ISO 9000 / 9002 to ensure standards and a minimum level of compliance. Supermarkets such as Walmart, Tesco, Carrefour and others will only work with suppliers who meet strict food safety or agricultural policies.

So why is this necessarily so different?

We may not even come close to the kind of compliance and scrutiny undertaken by those truly Shariah Compliant Institutions, but we can at least try.

How much good would be achieved? How much wealth would be shared more appropriately? What could we change positively? How many people’s lives could we impact forever?

I would be interested in any comments that can add to this discussion, elucidate ways in which this kind of idea could be achieved or of course valid points which indicate that this could never work.

“You Want to do What? Skype Interview Me?” A Quick Guide To Video / Telephone Interviews – Part 1

After registering with 80 job boards who all have a different password format to ensure that you will never be able to log-in again, you have applied for 3,000 jobs and finally a response. Youare moved almost to tears at the sheer ecstasy of securing an interview, until you are told that it will be a video interview using skype. Panic sets in. Sweat runs down your brow, you are not very photogenic, you are the kind of person who gets nervous watching other people have photos taken, your nose looks big on video, what if they don’t like your wallpaper….

Relax and follow this guide to help smooth the whole thing out:

Avoid the fatal error, avoid complacency!

The first mistake many people make is the assumption that well at least I’m in a comfortable and familiar environment, so I can relax. No you cannot. I know people who have undertaken video interviews with a shirt and tie on their top half and pyjamas on the bottom. It doesn’t work, it is a psychological thing, it is a mind thing. You have to treat this exactly the same way you would a face to face formal interview. There is no room for complacency.

The Preparation

When you accept and confirm your telephone interview time, ensure if possible that they are calling you on a landline and ideally whilst you are at home, or at the very least where you have absolute privacy and peace and quiet with no distractions. Cell phones can be unreliable and you can guarantee that just when the interview is going really well, the network will crash.

Treat the telephone or video interview just as you would a face to face in their office, sorry I know I’m repeating myself, but it is critical. Research the company, their culture, their successes, their history. Visit social media sites such as  Linkedin and Facebook to see who works there, what they are saying, what their professional backgrounds are. It is a great feeling when you notice that their staff retention is well above average, that all the feedback, all the chatter is really positive and especially when you realise that many of them seem to be like you. Visit websites such as Glassdoor and see if anyone has posted a review about the organisation and the culture.

Read the job spec, understand it. If you haven’t got one then find one from a similar type of firm. If the one you have is limited in terms of detail then get on facebook or Linkedin and check out what people in that company are doing in that type of job, what have they got on their profiles.

Check Twitter to see what other noise or chatter is coming out of that organisation.

Really important is to check news and press releases. If the organisation has just announced a huge acquisition or an expansion plan, maybe an IPO you need to know and you need to show in the interview that you know.

Set the Stage

Okay so you have all the information, you have done the preparation and you are raring to go. If it is a video interview check your PC and make sure that your webcam works, get someone to skype test you and tell you how the setting looks. Move your desk or PC if you have to, you only have one chance to get this absolutely right.

If it is a telephone interview, choose somewhere to sit or stand where you are going to be comfortable. My preference is to stand, it prevents you from slouching, makes you more alert and in my case I always walk around when I am on the phone (it may be nervous energy or maybe it is just energy). It is very common for telephone interviews to run well over their allocated time, especially if they are going well, providing of course that you aren’t the one doing all the talking. So make sure you have some water available.

You equipment works, you have set up the location, you have notes to hand,there is a jug of water to one side. What next?

You and your personal appearance. Yes, regardless of whether it is a telephone or a video interview you need to prepare yourself. Have an early night the evening before, look good and feel sharp. Have a shower, dress appropriately, if you work in a suit and tie or a less formal environment then dress accordingly. It has a psychological impact, it works. If you are a guy, have a shave, comb your hair.

Finally do some facial and oral stretching execises. Sing a song, hum a tune, pull faces, stretch those muscles, laugh out loud and relaaaaaaaaax… People always look at me strangely when I recommend they pull faces at themselves in the mirror. It is however virtually impossible to do so without laughing, laughter releases hormones and peptides which relax you, make you feel better, look better and respond more better.

Here we go, you are all set….

More information on this subject can be found here: BBC – Skype Interviews

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Please feel free to share any ideas or suggestions that may improve this post and help people get the best results out of their interviews.

Preferred Client Lists – A Recruiters Perspective

Preferred Supplier Lists are the bane of many a recruiter’s life. Those 3 little words can be so powerful, indeed be so counterproductive even. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the commercial and strategic reasons for organisations to operate a PSL; usually they are about consistency, streamlining, efficiency and to ensure operational uniformity throughout a business or organisation. But, very often they can undermine competition, be detrimental to success in the recruitment process. They can restrict an organisations or an individual hiring manager’s ability to act in the best interests of everyone.

What few organisations realise however is that there are many recruiters who similarly operate a ‘Preferred Client List’. When you hear about exceptional service levels, significant added value services which are inclusive, consultative recruiting, solution recruiting and client partnering in recruitment circles, it is these Preferred Clients who are usually talking about them. Their experience of recruitment is verging on sublime, regardless of whether they have an in-house capability or a PSL; they view and work with their recruiters in the same way as they would work with business consultants, accountants and so on. As an extension of their business, their recruiters are integral to their strategy, vision and corporate success.

So, how do you become a Preferred Client and get on that PCL? How do you ensure that you and your organisation are getting more value, more services, more attention and essentially a more successful recruitment solution?

Follow these simple steps:

  1. Be honest about the nature or stature of the requirement.

    Success only (contingent) recruiters focus on the requirements that have a high and genuine chance of producing a result, a fee. Ensure that you explain to your recruiter that the vacancy has been fully signed off, the budget approved and agreed and that the timelines are genuine.

    If you are perusing the market for different reasons, maybe in consideration of growth, or contingency planning then tell your recruiter this up front. They should still be keen to provide you with a service, but at least they can prioritise accordingly and have realistic expectations. As a Manager I ask my Consultants what the % is of success on their vacancies. The number of times I’ve heard answers quoting 90% and then 8mths later the same vacancy has still been live. If you are window shopping, tell us, there are good valid reasons for this activity and we will help if we can.
     

  2. Reveal any potential internal or existing candidates.

    Very often you may have a number of internal candidates, or your line manager may know someone they want to approach directly. This is always the preferred option of course. But if you really want to ensure that you are being objective and getting the absolutely best candidate for the job, then get your recruiter to include these candidates in their process. You will have to agree a fee for this in the event that your existing candidates secure the role. I usually agree 25% of the original fee as an example.

     Everyone thus feels inclusive; the process has consistency and transparency. If the internal candidate is successful, at least everyone knows including the candidate that they have secured the job on merit. Okay, you may have to pay for this inclusive service, but it usually is worth it.

  3. Exclusivity creates win / win situations and naturally leans towards a premium level of service.

    By engaging a recruiter on an exclusivity basis you are upping the ante, so to speak. The recruiter knows that they have a guaranteed fee but they also know that you are relying on them to get the result you and your organisation needs. The pressure to deliver should create a positive urgency and a high degree of focus. Ensure that you agree an assignment brief which outlines everything in detail (2 pages will suffice) and includes things such as timescales, interview schedule, the process (this should include any elements such as video interviewing, testing and so forth) to ensure that there is measureable activity and visibility throughout.
  4. Do not be afraid of retainers.

    Retainers can be a brilliant and unique tool if utilised correctly. If you have strategically critical positions vacant within your organisation and effectively everyday those desks are vacant is costing you money, then retain a recruiter to fill those seats and to fill them quickly.

    By paying a retainer you can basically jump the queue and dictate a recruiters work schedule. If you want them to dedicate 50% of their working day to your needs everyday for the next 3 weeks to get you fast, focused and successful results then retain.

    Okay, many of us have had some form of negative experience, so agree some assurances up front. Personally I prefer a 2 stage retained approach on a 25% Assignment Fee and Final Completion Fee. The initial or up-front payment demonstrates your commitment to the agreed process, it pays for my time, my expenses and mitigates any risk in terms of my work allocation.

    If you go down the 3 stage retainer route which is more traditional, don’t pay any 2nd stage until such a time as you have actually interviewed your short-list and acknowledged that they are of the standard requested. If you pay it, then interview and discover that none of them are suitable for consideration you may be in trouble. Effectively you have paid circa 66% of the total fee and have nothing but a fistful of useless CVs.

  5. Work with your recruiter to enable them to create and develop a candidate briefing pack and also get involved with any advertising copy.

    Many organisations overlook how critical it is to ensure that prospective candidates are fully and accurately briefed especially at application stage, and informed about an opportunity and an organisation. Many recruiters will do what I do before finalising a short-list. They will request prospective candidates to research and then demonstrate why they want to work for your organisation, what challenges and opportunities the role will offer, what makes them a good match for the position. It is difficult for them to do this if the have an out of date job spec and the ‘About Us’ page on the website. I recently received a job specification from a client that was ‘revision 3 – 21st February 2001’. Imagine the changes to that organisation in terms of size, technology and market place over that 10yrs period. Your recruiter to can research and re-write the job specification, let them talk to the hiring manager for 10-20mins to articulate what you really need.

    Encourage your recruiter to develop a Company Briefing document so the candidates get a flavour that may not be so easily visible on the internet. Things like non confidential vision and strategy are important, a brief outline if recent growth and the reasons why for example. Finally, ask your recruiter if you can have some input into the advertising copy. Advertising is a huge PR and Branding opportunity, assuming the vacancy isn’t confidential. Use this opportunity to reach another audience, shout about your success, let your competitors and their employees know how great you are.

  6. Regular reporting and communication.

    Agree a schedule for progress reports, this is critical. You do not want to be sitting there after 6 weeks waiting for a short-list only to find that your recruiter hasn’t got one. Agree to an email or telephone report once a week. Ask for a benchmark candidate early in the process so you can both agree that everyone is on the same page. If not, at least any confusion or misinterpretation can be rectified early. If the schedule is slipping you can address it then, as opposed to when it is too late.

    Commit in advance to a date for short-list discussion and approval, 1st interviews, and 2nd interviews. You will be amazed at how efficient the whole process becomes when everyone knows precisely what timelines they are working towards, including the candidates.

  7. Trust your recruiters and listen to their advice.

    Professional recruiters will advise you objectively, they should give you any additional information that they think pertinent, they should highlight any particular areas of concern that they think you should focus on in terms of particular candidates. Good recruiters will counsel objectively on which candidates they think stand-out. Listen to this advice. I recently had a client who was determined to not 2nd interview a candidate, the candidate who I thought was the stand-out star. I finally persuaded them that for the sake of an hour, what did they have to lose. They did 3, 2nd interviews instead of 2, and offered the candidate they were going to eliminate 24hrs later.

    Your recruiter may not always be right, but at least listen to what they have to say, this is a significant part of the expertise you are paying for. Remember it is as much in the recruiters interest to ensure that you get the absolutely best candidate, they don’t want to repeat the whole exercise for free.

  8. Agree fees in advance.

    Personally regardless of whether an assignment is retained or contingent I prefer fees that are flat as opposed to % of salary. Flat fees enable everyone to budget and cost in advance. If you are paying a recruiter 27% of salary on a position that could pay anything from US$80,000 to US$120’000 the potential difference in the fee is over US$10,000.  Discuss mutually agreeable fees up front, ensure they are in writing and signed.

  9. Guarantees, Contingency Planning.

    Even the best recruiters just like the best HR Directors don’t get it right every time. Make sure that contingency plans are agreed and transparent. What happens if the candidate doesn’t start, leaves within their probationary period or just does not fit in. My advice is to initially have it agreed that your recruiter will find a replacement within a specific timescale for free (maybe sometimes expenses are valid). In the unlikely event they fail to achieve this, then a scale of rebate should be in place.

As a recruiter with over 20yrs experience and having recruited on 6 continents I absolutely relish the whole process. I love exceeding client expectations, get genuine pleasure from placing candidates and usually enhancing their career and opportunities.

But it is the combined wins that make the job really rewarding. Any good recruiter should thrive on enabling your business to be better equipped to achieve its strategic goals. Work with them and encourage them to want to work with you.

Remember great hires reflect on you as the hiring manager or HR Representative. A really good recruiter should effectively make you look great as well.

For additional information or to discuss in more detail contact Darren Ledger on

+44 (0) 1924 371333 or email darren@solutions.uk.net