‘Hello.. might you be able to help us fill a job? We’ve been looking for a while, but we’ve had no luck. We’ve got a couple of other agencies working it, but I’m sure that you have a few people in your network who might fit? On a contingency basis, of course.’
We hear this often in recruitment. If a client is appointing more than one recruiter to work on a job, and only pays the one who finds the successful candidate, they are essentially asking the others to work for free. Would you do this with an accountant or a plumber? Would the client do it themselves? No. They would laugh at you and walk away.
When recruitment is done well, it is a time-consuming and delicate affair. Recruiters become a discerning ambassador for their clients, delivering on their task professionally and efficiently. Communication is slick, decision-making is informed, and the best possible candidates are inevitably in the mix.
When recruitment is done half-heartedly, it can ruin lives and smear reputations. If multiple recruiters are asked to work at a discount or if clients are not engaging in the process, nothing good will come of it, recruiters have to prioritise their workload to ensure that they will get paid for the work that they do. Candidates will be misled, clients will be frustrated, and the value of working with any recruiter will be called into question. Employer brands are easily tarnished with such hit-and-miss recruitment efforts. Under such circumstances, you might as well train a monkey to search for key words in LinkedIn profiles (oh, sorry, recruitment ‘tech’ and some recruitment agencies do that already).
Recruiters undertake every role with the best of intentions. They want to find the ‘perfect’ person for their client, but if there is little investment from the side of the client in terms of how they collaborate, then it is an uphill struggle that all too often ends with little reward. With the inevitable downward pressures on costs, I fear that this is the direction that our industry has taken.
I understand that few clients will be happy to give exclusivity to recruiters on every role, but there are certainly many ways in which they can ensure that their external partners have a fair chance of doing the best possible job. (and hopefully getting paid most of the time!)
Sharing the maximum amount of information about each role should be standard practice. Facilitating weekly feedback over the phone is a great way of cementing relationships. If clients take the time to invest in relationships with their recruiters over multiple roles, they will reap the benefits of an engaged partner who understands their needs. On certain difficult roles, partial exclusivity, even for a finite period of time, might prove a better solution to ensure a laser focus on the market, but on many roles, it should be simply the case that if clients gave recruiters the right tools and information to work with, they are giving them the best chance of doing their job.
There might be no guarantee of a placement fee on every role, but if clients engage and partner with their recruiters, we will go above and beyond!