NB - This blog was originally posted on Posterous on April 18th 2011.  At the last count it's had over 11,000 hits.  Someone suggested I post it here...


I returned from holiday today to 42 voicemails.  26 of them were sales calls from agencies.  The quality varied from “Brisk and Professional”, to “Are You Kidding Me?”  Rather than call them all back, I thought I’d write them an open letter.

Dear Recruitment Agencies,

Thanks for all the calls.  Yes, I had a lovely holiday. 


Listen… we have to talk.  I’ve been thinking.  I don’t think things are working out between us.  We’ve been growing apart for a few years now.  I’ve been busy with work, and we’ve been seeing less and less of each other.  We both know it.  I’ve been wondering whether it’s time to call it a day.


I’m just not looking to be in a relationship right now.  You need more than I’m able to give.  My recruitment budget is so precious, and there is only so much to go around. When I stop to think about it, I’d rather spend it on Networking, Social Media, Referrals and Google – they’re fun to be around, and they make my life so much easier.  They give me freedom and independence.  I’ve found I can get what I need without your help.


It’s not you, it’s me.  OK, that’s a lie.  It’s a little bit you… The world has changed, and yet it feels like you are still living in the past. 


When you call me out of the blue, it feels like you just want something from me.  I don’t get the impression that you’re really interested in being my partner.  You seem to be more interested in carving another notch in your monthly targets.  You try and tell me you have exactly what I need, but you don’t understand what my situation is and what I’m really looking for. 


I think the only possible future for us would depend on you abandoning your relentless quest to sell yourself, and instead focus on giving a great service.  There are times when you can be so knowledgeable and helpful, but it’s easy to forget about that when I’m faced with relentless blagging.  I know I've been susceptible to that in the past.  It was so easy to be seduced.  But now I’m older and wiser, and I’m tired of being let down and left unsatisfied.


I hope we can stay friends.  Let’s still hang out from time to time.  I don’t doubt that there will be time in the future when I’ll need your advice and help.  And perhaps there will come a time when I can be useful for you too.


Good luck.

Love Katie xxx


Views: 684

Comment by Gary Franklin on April 27, 2011 at 6:50pm

I can’t see anything wrong with your approach Pam and probably the best or only way to get an 'in' in many SMBs and of course if you are providing a quality service then you do indeed deserve the reward for your efforts.  Unfortunately many of your contemporaries are not as professional and are not equipped to nor will offer quality.  


Your last two sentences don’t however make sense.  Where specialist Recruiting Teams exist they are there for a purpose.  Which won’t be anything other than providing the level of service the business requires. If a team of 12 recruiters and I stress proper recruiters, can hire over a 1000 people across Europe into the business each year and only chose to use trusted agencies for less than 18% of those hires, it goes without saying that they see the bigger picture and got very clever at researching, sourcing, interviewing and selecting the right people for the job and the company and were far better at it than any agency can ever expect to be.  I promise you there is nothing territorial about it at all.  It all comes down to policy decision, economies, procedures and a commitment to do it a certain way that best suits the business direction at that time. We said 'no' to agencies as a rule not because we don’t want to use them but because we got so good we don’t 'need' to use them. And we always make the right decisions for the business.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on April 27, 2011 at 7:12pm

In the U. S. recruiters are trained to try and work with the hiring manager direct.  It is often the first call that is made to a company in order to establish a long term relationship.  If the hiring manager likes what he hears or meets a recruiter he/she often refers that recruiter to HR.  Then the relationship with HR is established as Pam describes.  It is not considered disrespectful.  As Pam indicates if HR turns away a recruiter and the recruiter immediately goes around them sometimes it is considered a slight but sometimes not so perhaps a cultural difference exists.


Many times here a hiring manager will reach out to a recruiter when they are not getting what they want or need from HR and internal recruiting then having talked with a recruiter the hiring manager will introduce the recruiter to HR and ask us to work through the HR process.  Which we are more than happy to do.  Many long term relationships are established in that manner.


Purchasing or procurement as you call it has never been involved in any situation i have ever worked in in the U. S.  nor has legal.  Agreements are reviewed by HR and the agency involved so a very different process.

Comment by Tom Dimmick on April 28, 2011 at 11:55am
Hello Katie - Yes, I think that cold calls trying to market a candidate are not usually successful unless you know me and have confidence in the quality of my work.  If you have no interest in knowing me and the quality of my work, no problem. I will simply move on. If I speak to your competitor and they do have such an interest in me and my work, you will automatically become a target company.  That's just they way the recruiting business operates. We all know, understand and accept it. Nothing personal, just business.
Comment by Brian K. Johnston on April 28, 2011 at 2:12pm
Katie-  EnJOYED your post.. "I don’t get the impression that you’re really interested in being my partner."  This is raw/real feedback, and as a TPR, I 100% agree with you, and I commend you for your candor...  If we are honest with one another, our industry (TPR) needs innovator's... My clients, and candidates come to me, because I nurture the relationship over time.  I am not looking to bill out 500k-1M+ (this is doable in TPR) all "all costs", I am looking to improve on my service/relationships, etc..  Best to ALL!
Comment by Peter Gold on April 28, 2011 at 3:29pm

I am amazed at the image the US must have of UK recruiters. I'm not saying Gary and Katie are wrong but who is the customer here? Yes I appreciate there are rules, and regulations, and policies but if the line manager with a £10m project target needs two new people and has found them from an "unapproved" source then I know who I'd support in the argument.


I personally don't consider a cold call to be disrespectful if the caller is professional and checks I am free to speak (I guess I am if I answer the phone!). Of course, I get unprofessional people but deal with them accordingly but I just consider it marketing. Surely if cold calling is so bad then a company advertising their jobs on social networks is as bad as cold calling isn't it? OK not maybe quite as bad but still an intrusion. Then again, isn't all marketing?


I think if HR has a defensive attitude then they are actually encouraging managers and unapproved agencies to go via the back door route. I realise HR cannot deal with every single agency but it goes with the territory so either roll with it and accept your fate! I am joking of course as I also do not like the blackmail approach some agencies take but I do think an open mind is needed by both parties. Unfortunately, there are so many agencies it does not make life easy. 


I totally agree with Pam on this one. The company comes first and NOT the HR/Recruitment policy. I'd also suggest that not every company is as stringent as Gary and Katie but they do both work for global organisations that can maybe have such rules. But I'm just a rebel anyway so rules to me are there to be broken :0) 

Comment by Gary Franklin on April 28, 2011 at 4:07pm

Goldie you and i are going to have to have a chat.  Your points are well made, actually better made than most and I know you know the challenges we have.  And of course as well you know there are far less intrusive and non-sales ways of meeting, engaging and understanding what the recruiters need from suppliers.  It’s just different from what they are used to, more difficult than they want it to be and usually beyond their social skills

Comment by Craig Silverman on April 29, 2011 at 11:29am
We leave lots of voice messages, It's ok. Don't take it personal, it's just how we communicate. We also send lots of email, post on social networks and more. We are in sales to get new business and to recruit to talent. Budgets are precious so is the top live revenue goal of the company or the ability to release the next version of the product. We change lives for a living and love what we do!
Comment by Paul Alfred on April 29, 2011 at 12:23pm
Great Blog Post Katie .... I have used Pam's and from time to time Sandra's  approach and have been quite successful and train my team to do the same - There is a book called Think and Sell like a CEO .. It works when properly executed.
Comment by Ben on May 3, 2011 at 4:47pm
So when do we draw the line then people?

Having worked both sides of the fence (8 years agency, 4+ years in-house) I know through experience there are things you just won’t be able to appreciate about working in-house if you’ve never been there.

As an in-house recruiter your aim is always to do what is best for the company. Ideally you will do this through direct means in order to return healthy cost and time-per-hire metrics (not forgetting the most important metric – Quality of hire).

I am completely of the opinion agencies still play a vital part in the process but come on guys. How many of you are on PSLs with some of your other clients? Where you’ve worked your butts off to be accepted on to that list? Where you’ve built up a REAL partnership with them. You know their culture, the hiring managers, the teams, culture, dynamics etc. And then how do you feel about that company when you hear they’ve gone outside the PSL because an opportunistic firm happened to have one suitable candidate on their books and the client said, “oh what the hell, we don’t value our relationships with our other 3rd parties, let’s just use this guy / gal because they happened to be in the right place at the right time.” Frustrating isn’t it? And I bet you lose all respect for that client don’t you? Anyone would if that lack of integrity, honesty and trust was demonstrated.

Okay fair enough. If you know the client has been looking for several weeks / months and still hasn’t successfully hired anyone then that’s your chance to shine. But to fall on the old counter argument of, “but surely you’re ultimate goal is to find the best candidate” is only part correct. Of course we want to find the best candidate but we want to do it ethically, giving our partners (and I emphasise the word “partners”) every opportunity to service the contract they worked so tirelessly to agree in the first place.

Hiring managers are naturally an impatient bunch. I’m rarely briefed on a role that wasn’t needed “yesterday!” In their rush to get a bum on a seat they sometimes loose the foresight of quality and longevity. Agencies know this and often use this sense of urgency to good effect. Hell, I was trained on how to use it at every agency I worked for so I guess it’s still being taught to today’s consultants.

You know what? To a point someone made earlier. We in-house recruiters are a protective bunch and I’m not going to apologise for this. We want to protect our hiring managers from being bombarded and hassled. We want to protect the agencies we have agreements with and have invested time fostering trusting relationships with. We want to protect our company and its reputation of honesty, integrity and trust with EVERY supplier we partner with. And We want to protect every candidate submitted to us – To ensure the agency representing them knows us as if they were an extension to our HR department, and that the they’re coming to us with their eyes wide open regarding what they’re getting themselves into. I implore you not to confuse this with cutting our noses off to spite our faces.


You need to be a member of RecruitingBlogs to add comments!

Join RecruitingBlogs


All the recruiting news you see here, delivered straight to your inbox.

Just enter your e-mail address below


RecruitingBlogs on Twitter

© 2023   All Rights Reserved   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service