I recently read this very interesting post (via twitter) about an age old issue that continues to pop its awkward head above the parapet in the world of recruitment. The double submission - when two agencies submit the same candidate to the same job vacancy (and the subsequent squabbling over ownership that inevitably ensues).
The article provides some very handy hints and tips from a recruitment consultancy's perspective so I thought I would share a different view point.
Having worked both agency and client-side I've had first-hand experience of the multi-representation dispute from both sides of the fence on several occasions. This enables me to completely understand how frustrating and aggravating it can be for a recruitment consultant, client and candidate when it happens. Now, neither of these groups are always whiter than white. As with most things the minority create a bad rep for the majority. Allow me to share a process I adopt to resolve this sticky situation on the odd occasion it occurs.
A Couple of Questions for In-House Recruiters
If you answer yes to question 1 I'm afraid you're asking for trouble and the chances of you achieving point 2 severely diminish. A yes to question 1 only serves to encourage the recruitment consultant behaviours we so often bemoan as clients i.e. sending the CV first, calling the candidate later etc. Yes, you can have speed of service and quality of candidate but there comes a tipping point when the increased urgency to fulfil the former has a significant negative impact on the latter.
The Consultants Perspective
Believe me, I've been there as a recruitment consultant. I can't explain the utter frustration of spending significant time briefing a candidate about a role, company, culture, team and department dynamics etc only to submit their CV and be told, "So sorry, we already have this resume from another agency." You know for a fact you were the first to contact the applicant so, feeling rather aggrieved, you call the candidate back. They admit another recruitment firm had been in touch saying, "oh, we tried to contact you but couldn't get through. We had this role we knew you'd be absolutely perfect for blah blah blah... We had your best interests at heart and didn't want you to miss the boat so, hope you don't mind, but we took the liberty of sending your CV with the intention of calling you ASAP to brief you blah blah blah...." [*cringe here*]
In an ideal world the candidate would feel 100% committed and loyal to you and tell the other recruitment agency where to go (ideally a place where the sun infrequently makes an appearance). I mean why wouldn't they? After all you've spent the last few weeks / months building a solid working relationship with them based on honest dialogue and transparency haven't you.
Let’s face it, for numerous reason candidates rarely feel this allegiance to an agency / recruitment consultant. Instead, they are placed in a very awkward position and don't know what to do. After all, all they want is a new job or career. Now they're being pulled in different directions by two consultants who they perceive will say and do anything if it means securing their commission.
A Possible Solution
As a client I would argue the onus is on you to stamp out the possibility of this scenario arising. Forget the first come, first served approach when dealing with recruitment agencies. Honestly, bin it as quickly as possible. If, at the beginning of your partnership, your consultant doesn't discuss how double submissions / multi-representations will be handled make sure you do. Work together to apply a rule agreeing whoever fully briefs the candidate first can claim ownership. This will enable your recruitment partners to apply a more consultative approach with their candidates. A possible caveat to this approach is agencies may require permission to divulge the name of the client they're representing when briefing candidates about an opportunity. For more sensitive roles, where strict confidentiality is imperative you could simply apply a unique reference number for the consultants to quote when discussing your job vacancy (or whatever works for you). Otherwise it could leave the door open for the argument, ”the candidate didn't know I was briefing them about your role as I couldn't tell them which company it was for," or something similar.
Applying this "first briefed, first served" rule won't eradicate the situation from ever happening again but if it's in place when it does occur, and neither agency will back down, simply request an email from the candidate confirming who they want to be represented by (based on who briefed them first). Better still, take 5 minutes to call the candidate and ask them yourself. If there isn't a level of trust in place where the agency is prepared to give you the candidate's number (having obtained their consent to do so first) then why are you "partnering" with that agency in the first place?
In these situations you just don't know what your candidate is being told so take control of protecting your employer brand and reach out to them personally. Hell hath no fury like a recruitment consultant scorned. I've observed very underhand tactics where consultants go back to candidates with exaggerations of the truth (read blatant lies) and put them off to such an extent they end up wanting to withdraw their application.
I fully appreciate candidates aren't all entirely innocent in this process. Yes, there are the minority that play games with agencies under the misguided belief it will somehow benefit them throughout the selection process. If you are one of these people stop it. It doesn't and it won't. It's not big and it's not clever. (mother, is that you?)
Putting this small group to one side, as an internal recruiter you must have the mantra, "Candidate is King." You need to go out of your way to ensure the whole candidate experience is as positive and engaging as it can be at every stage of your selection process. If this means taking 5 minutes to make a personal call to ensure they're being treated by the agencies in a way that's compatible with your employer brand then so be it. 5 minutes is a small price to pay when compared to the umpteen calls and emails of he said / she said BS. Which let’s face it, in-house recruiters don’t want or need in their already overstretched under-resourced lives.
Hungry for more? Check me out at www.trecknowledgy.com - training and coaching through recruitment complexities. Follow on Twitter @TRecKnowledgy
Thanks for your time.