Recently we've been having discussions about what we're all doing for our clients, and yada yada yada... But there is still one thing that everyone seems to forget, and is a topic which is greatly overlooked by far too many in the recruitment industry...
WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR YOUR CANDIDATES?!
Don't you think they are all having a hard enough time right now -with so many avenues for them to look at when trying to find a new job; who can they truly turn to for help? Who can they trust to be on their side when it matters?
We can all go on about how well we treat our clients, and what we can offer them - but I will say on the record that good candidates are your biggest asset if treated correctly. The war for talent has always been going on - and as many on here are saying... clients do not care where they get candidates from, as long as they can find the right ones. Agency loyalty is fading fast, amidst the pressure that bottom line costs are placing on the ability for hiring managers to make carefully planned decisions. We have job boards, RPO's, in-house teams, Managed Service Providers, recruitment market places and not forgetting our new best friend in disguise - Social Media... all competing with us to try and entice companies to use their services as opposed to engaging directly with us, the recruiters.
So... the client is getting confused about whether or not they really still need to engage directly with a recruiter, or use one of the other services mentioned above. What about candidates though?! Who's looking after them - being their guide, coach, mentor through the recruitment process?? They aren't just a CV, a profile, a name, a number - they all would love to have someone that they could trust to look after their careers for them.
And who can do that better than anyone else? US OF COURSE! If you as a recruiter can develop strong, loyal relationships with your best candidates, don't you think you'll be able to represent them exclusively - sort of like a sports agent model? We don't need to charge candidates to do this... and if we are the ones holding the exclusive relationships with the best talent (because we offer them a whole lot more than the services mentioned above ever can!)... then we hold all the Aces. Sure, you can't develop these relationships immediately with anyone who's desperately looking to move right now, but you can certainly do it with all of your passive candidates… which the majority of us prefer to work with anyway.
"Mr client, I appreciate that you have an in-house recruitment team, an offsite RPO team, a social talent acquisition management expert (yeah, I made that one up!), your own social media company engagement job portal, and all the other stuff you are doing…. but... we exclusively represent the top 10 best FD's in your sector and region, as their career agents. They trust us to handle their careers for them just like a sports agent would look after a football player, leaving them to focus on continuing to deliver the best results to their current employers. You won't get to see them without going through us – no matter what you do. Here's their resumes (can disclose full info as we can contract with the candidate not to go outside us), here's my details, here's our rates, feel free to give me a call when your own activities fail to deliver anyone who can match the caliber of our candidates. Best of luck!"
Now my advice is lets get out there and show the candidates exactly why they should partner with us as their career agents. Sure, we can partner as well with the smaller clients, the ones who still value our services greatly... but forget trying to partner with the big companies right now - they just aren't interested. And that fact is even more certain if they have a .... wait for it.... HR Team involved! Before the HR players shoot me down again... you know you don't partner with agencies, you just use us as a necessary evil. If the overall climate changes - and boy will it if we all start representing the best candidates exclusively - then I'll gladly look at partnering with HR if they are willing to work WITH us, and not dictate to us how we should work FOR them.
Anyway... Candidates are literally crying out for some added support to help them find their way in the dark. There are a lot of companies setting up right now in order to coach or mentor candidates - especially senior level ones; on how to find a new job or get back into work after being made redundant. They will charge a hefty fee for this too - but isn't that the type of service we should be offering to our candidates anyway, and for free?! Heck, if I'm going to place them at some point, and can get them to work with me exclusively - I'll pay them!
Think about what you are doing for candidates right now :- are you truly adding value to them? Do you treat them as individuals, and not just a CV? Do you coach them and guide them, even if you know you don't have the perfect job for them right now? Do you care about the impact a new job will have on their family, and what it could do to their family if they end up taking the wrong job? Do you truly care about getting them the best salary possible, or will you pressure them to take a job at a lower salary simply so you can close the deal and get paid? Would you still offer advice to them even if they were placed this time by another agency? Why would a candidate want to work exclusively with you - can they trust you to look after them?
Answers can be sent via pen and paper to my office postal address...
Too much effort ???
Ok, how about we just all meet up for a few beers and chat about the joys of our work...
Not enough time because you're too busy actually working or playing on social media, and somehow need to fit in time to spend with your family as well ???
OK, how about we just have a conference call...
You're telling me you still don't have enough time for that either ???
Ok, if that's all just too inconvenient for you all.... I guess you can always post a message on here then....
Damn social media, you're my friend, but also my enemy as well at times... just like my other cunning friends in disguise - McDonalds, Dominos, Pepsi, and not forgetting... Mr Jack Daniels! :-)
Submitted by Sean O'Donoghue
"Lead Talent Social Aquisitional Head Hunting Specialist"
aka: A Recruiter
I'm with Jerry on this one. I do a formal non-solicitation with a client up front, agreeing not to work with their employees for a year after the start-date of my latest placement, but the reality is that they're off limits to me forever if they've hired someone with my assistance.
It's not just morals and reputation - it's good business. I have a live example from last week on it. I'm working as a retained, on-site agency for my main client right now. Last week, we found out that a contract agency that had last done business with my client in '09 (it had been a decent bit of business over several years) had just pulled out one of his consultants. Here's my client's direct quote: "Martin, we need to pull in about 6 contractors over the next quarter, and I was going to recommend you partner with him exclusively since he knows our model, and produced some good people during our last push. After this, he's dead to me. I hope he enjoys the lousy $40k he'll making in billings off of this, because he just lost a _ton_ of money."
As far as "where does your loyalty lie now", Sean - I hear you. It's good to do the right thing, and help that person out. What I've done in that exact situation in the past is give the candidate the name of a recruiter I trust, asked them to keep me out of any conversations they have, and moved on.
Btw, interesting and relevant situation came up today with the client I referenced in my first comment. A contract agency presented the resume of an employee of a client that my client did business with in 2010. This particular client of my client wasn't great, and there is a company-wide vow on my client's side to never work with them again (ridiculous expectations, taking forever to make simple decisions, sudden changes in direction, etc). The employee is a known, exceptionally strong engineer with a unique skill set my client is dying for. Frankly we're looking for someone like her right now, high & low. Three just like her, actually.
We know she's unhappy, because she's reached out directly to us in the past - in fact, she's miserable, her job has changed scope, multiple bosses have come and gone, etc etc. She has absolutely valid reasons to make a change.
All that said: even though the person came through a third-party, and would be on their payroll not ours technically, my client said no. Said he made it a point to never hire an employee away from someone he's done business with. My already high respect for him as a person? Skyrocketed.
Exclusivity is earned. Not through talking about what you're capable of doing - but by simply doing.
If what I think Sean is saying is to gain the full attention of your candidates - I'm in. You do this by presenting jobs though, don't you? How long is someone going to be "all yours" with no real traction in the market?
I can dig the long-term relationship stuff. Believe me - in 25 years of recruiting I've seen the value. But I can't help everybody.
P.S. Slouch - loved it! That happens every day in every city in the world!
I've had the other side happen to.
"Rick - it's Jerry. I've got some great news. We have the perfect guy for you!'
"Jerry - pal - I've got some bad news. We interviewed a lady Friday and are putting together an offer."
"But I thought I had this one all to myself?"
"We love you. You've always been our go-to recruiter. Some guy just called out of the blue and had a perfect fit."
Like I've always said - this is a crazy business with TONS of disappointment. But every once in a while - somebody owes you a great big check..........