What’s the difference between a plumber and a recruiter?

A few years ago I attended an event in London where the key note speaker drew a comparison between a plumber and recruiter….

Strange? Nope – he was bang on point. If you’ve ever called out a plumber you’ll know that you have to pay a call out fee. We never argue, we just accept this as the norm, after all, we are paying for their time, their expertise and why should they work for free?

Align this to world of contingency recruitment and I wholeheartedly believe that the contingency method is the root cause of what’s wrong with the staffing industry. Bold statement perhaps, but let me give you a few examples:

1) No candidate feedback – why? well imagine you are a recruiter and working on 10 vacancies at any one time, you know that the chances of filling all 10 are remote (before the abuse starts from within the industry, get real and do some analysis on your conversion rates). A recruiter may have generated 100, 500 or even 1,000+ candidates for these 10 roles, and then the client fills their vacancy via another channel, cancels the request or just doesn’t get back to the recruiter (usually because they’ve engaged with numerous agencies and the master/slave relationship is formed). The recruiter needs to focus on their KPI’s, placements = revenue so getting back to candidates is the last thing they think about – read our article on ‘is it too easy to apply for a job

2) Not disclosing the employers details – Contingent agencies are petrified of a competitor finding out who their client is that they simply won’t disclose the name of the employer to a candidate. How crazy is that? How can a candidate evaluate if they are interested in a position unless they know who the company is and can research the business….

3) You pay a fortune in fees time = money and that’s the reason recruitment fees are ludicrously high. You’re paying for the time your recruiter wastes on trying to fill vacancies for their other customers. Think about it, if a recruiter filled EVERY position they were given but at 1/2 the price of what they currently charge wouldn’t they jump at it?

4) Your employer branding suffers If you’ve ever bought or rented a property you’ll understand this point. Imagine seeing the same property advertised by multiple agencies – what does that tell you? Two thoughts i have are 1) ‘What’s wrong with the property’ and 2) ‘they are desperate’. This is the same when recruiting, imagine a candidate gets called 3 times in the space of an hour by 3 different agencies. What impression does that leave you about the company (assuming they’ve told you who the company is in the first place!)?

5) Forget a quality service your vacancy is just another job order, a chance to make a placement. If you’re engaging with multiple agencies you’ve just created a race to find the best CV (note, I said CV and not candidate deliberately). No agency is going to spend hours assessing, evaluating and giving you an unbiased detailed shortlist. You’ll get emailed a stack of CV’s and then it’s back to a numbers game…

What’s the solution?

1) Find one recruiter to partner with for your particular search – make sure you do your due diligence, do they have a good track record, do they operate in your market, are you able to take references?

2) Ask for a Service Level Agreement (SLA) – this shouldn’t be just about how many candidates they will provide and how quickly they will turn around shortlist but should contain what, how and when they will communicate with ALL candidates. This should be master document that everyone abides by – and you can link this directly to commercial terms (see point 4)

3) Ask to SEE their process. What do they do, how do they do it and what value added solutions can they offer. Do they offer pre-hire assessments?

4) Pay them a retainer – offer to pay the agency a percentage of the total fee as a retainer (you can form various controls about this that link directly to the SLA so there is accountability). In my experience, the retainer amount is somewhat irrelevant but does need to be an amount that keeps both parties interested. Make sure you know your recruitment costs.

5) Treat the recruiter as you do any other key supplier. Relationships, trust and transparency are the keys to successful relationships.

Happy hiring ! 

P.S. If you’ve not done so already download your free recruitment budget calculator

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