Here we go again… I’ve just bumped into a couple of bunches of recruiters on LinkedIn agreeing how tough everything is…

“It’s not fair. The client hasn’t given us feedback…” or “The candidate didn’t show…”.

“Don’t blame us we’re nice really – and we’re passionate about excellent service”

Oh Yes? Really? Let’s just say I remain less than convinced.

This is an entire industry that perpetuates contingency recruitment (for the uninitiated, this is where anything up to 5 agencies are appointed to fill one role. They all stumble over the same candidates. None – or few – of them has any relationship with the client. The client’s reputation and brand is put at risk in the hands of a pack of eager puppies, and at the end, only one agency gets paid because they got lucky. Even worse, the whole process is put askew because HR are in the middle trying to second-guess the hiring managers needs, and Chinese whispers are in play).

And then they offer the client their money back if it all goes pear-shaped, even if it’s the client’s fault – which if often is – If the employer has a high staff churn, their recruitment processes are likely to be flawed too. But the recruiter didn’t check that out.

I digress. There’s a lot of connected threads here. I’ll resist the temptation to follow each one….

The vast majority of the sector gather in small groups in LinkedIn’s corridors and complain:

“The candidate didn’t turn up”

  • Why didn’t they turn up? Because you didn’t really know the client. You took the job on, on a wing and a prayer. You relied on a stack of superlatives to “sell” the job to new candidates. You sounded like a chancer and they could smell it a mile off. You probably also didn’t give them a complete interview brief, and you didn’t ask them to confirm their attendance in writing. You winged it. Good candidates – those most likely to get and accept offers spotted it and gave you a wide berth – and you’re left with the flotsam and jetsam. Good luck with that.

“The client didn’t give feedback”

  • Because you’re working on too many assignments, and because you’ve swallowed that contingency is the only way to do things round here, you don’t have time to get to know the client. You may talk to HR because you’ve believed, without thinking, that’s they’re the right people and they’re in charge, but you’ve not spoken direct to the hiring line manager. There’s no commitment. It’s just a bunch of, largely, nice people fighting over scraps. You’ve not looked into the whites of their eyes and explained exactly what you need to help them get the outcome they need. Everybody is dancing round their handbags and hoping everything just works out fine. There’s bucket-fulls of hope and misguided optimism.

“But we’re passionate about exceeding customer expectation and outstanding service”

  • Just ‘cos that’s what it says on your website (It does, doesn’t it? Almost all recruitment websites say it. It comes in an off-the-shelf package you’ve bought that you have to deliberately delete for it to disappear) doesn’t make it true. You’d love it to be true, but you’re just too busy to make it happen. You convince yourself and your manager it’ll be better next time. I can see this because your job ads are mostly slapdash offerings cut and paste over a limp sandwich during a short lunch break – I didn’t say you were lazy.

Not all recruiters are bad. You can tell the good one’s. They don’t take anything on at any price. They come and visit you and ask lots of questions. They write good job ads. They check what their clients needs, and are clear about what they need to get the job done. They will tell you that feedback is important. They will put forward dates in your diary right from the outset. They will give and seek commitment. They won’t agree to contingency assignments and promise the earth. They are capable of saying “no”. They probably work for a small local company who have been around more than 5 years.

But most aren’t that good. It’s not deliberate on their part, and they could be good, but they have their heads down and the blinkers on. They’re nice people, but life keeps happening to them rather than the other way round.

Which probably tells you everything you need to know.

We find ourselves apologising for Martin once again. He’s been ill and has turned stir crazy. What he says here doesn’t reflect the overall views of the RSE Group.