Recruiters With Better Things To Do...Than Visit Clients!

With all the pressures facing the recruitment industry at the moment, from the reduced levels of hiring over the last couple of years to skill shortages and the increased threat of direct sourcing posed by social recruiting, you would have thought that any recruiter worth their salt would be doing everything they could to maximise every opportunity.

Which is what makes this story so baffling...

Couple of weeks ago a client invited me in for a briefing. I wasn’t the only person invited; I was representing one of 4 PSL (Preferred Supplier) companies who were invited. I was happy to accept as there is nothing to beat a face to face briefing from the hiring gives you the chance to really understand what is needed, the calibre, character and competencies required, not to mention an understanding of the role, how it fits in to the wider team and an opportunity to meet some of the personalities involved.

It’s not a straight forward role, they actually need 2 people, the location doesn’t make it attractive to a large part of the potential candidate base, plus they have quite a tight set of criteria. It’s a role that you really need to get under the skin of if you really want a good chance of finding the right people. The client realised this, which is why he arranged the briefing, which included not only him (Hiring Manager) but also his boss...someone who is quite senior in the organisation and who would rarely meet recruitment suppliers.

I arrived at the same time as one of other agency representatives and we sat in a meeting room having a good chat with our two hosts. It’s the kind of contact with key decision makers that you dream about number of cold calls or speculative CVs could get you in a room with these 2 having a chat about the market and their current business focus.

We waited for the other 2 to turn up...and we waited...and we waited...and eventually a slightly unhappy 2 hosts decided to start briefing me and the other guy. No-one else turned up to the briefing.

That’s right...2 preferred suppliers were invited to a face to face briefing with a hiring manager and his boss, they both accepted the invitation and just didn’t show up. NOT EVEN A CALL OR E-MAIL TO SAY THEY WEREN’T GOING TO COME ALONG.

At some stage that day, consultants or managers at both these companies decided that their time could be better spent doing something other than attending this briefing...maybe they had a sudden rush of new briefs, maybe they had more urgent roles, maybe consultants were behind on their call/interview/headhunt KPIs...who knows?

What I do know is that not even having the courtesy to let the client know that you wouldn’t be turning up should not be part of acceptable recruitment business practice.

You could have assumed that they didn’t need the business...but it appears that they did. The timescale following the briefing was for any suitable CVs to be sent through by last Wednesday (7 days after the briefing) and guess what...both the missing agencies sent through CVs, none of which were relevant. If they had not turned up because they didn’t want to be briefed alongside other agencies, then why did they submit CVs?

Now maybe if they had attended the briefing they wouldn’t have wasted their time, their candidates’ time or their client’s time.

If they haven’t got the time to properly build meaningful client relationships, then I’m guessing they probably won’t be reading this blog, which is a shame as I’d really love to know what better things they had to do on the day of the briefing...

Any ideas?

Views: 101

Comment by Will Branning on May 24, 2010 at 1:00pm
It is baffling to me as well. I have a plant visit tomorrow with a client I made two placements with recently. And even though this is not a meeting regarding particular new job orders, I wouldn't want to miss it! Having face time with a hiring manager will solidify our relationship. This should result in greater comfort and trust in our relationship. And the bottom line is, I will be more likely to get future business because I am taking the time to visit this client. Of course, I can gain a better understanding of the work environment and culture too...why didn't the other recruitment reps come - can't say, but I can say it was a mistake.
Comment by Sandra McCartt on May 24, 2010 at 2:25pm
Sounds to me like the other two had an in with the hiring managers who didn't show up for the briefing so decided to dis HR. Pretty dicey. I would have been there even if the hiring manager were my brother-in-law.
Comment by Jerry Albright on May 24, 2010 at 4:37pm
Maybe it's a UK thing - but inviting a group of recruiters to one meeting? My first reaction would be to ask myself why I was in that mess to begin with.

Is this customary in Managed Vendor situations here in the US? I don't know. I've never heard of it - but then again - it's not my world. I'm glad I'm not working with any client who would think it appropriate to invite me and my competitors to the same meeting.

A client meeting is a one-on-one encounter. Or at least ONE recruiter. I'll take all the decision makers in one place as I can get!

I wouldn't have accepted and then been a no-show however. That was a bad call. I would have suggested another time to meet.

The last place I would want to be is in a room full of other recruiters drooling over the same bit of business.

I suspect (and hope) the other two did have better things to do.
Comment by Sandra McCartt on May 24, 2010 at 4:58pm
I have been invited to a "briefing" session with a client where all their outside providers were included. It was however more of a technology briefing and a "new policy" for referrals meeting. I went. Whatever a client wants to meet about i feel that i probably will be noticed more for not being there than showing up . The decision makers were not there but why insult the hiring co-ordinator. Sometimes the gate keeper is a key to the kingdom.
Comment by Jerry Albright on May 24, 2010 at 5:01pm
Sandra - that makes sense. I guess I was picturing the client sitting there talking about specific positions with 4 different people. I'm all about tech briefs!
Comment by Sandra McCartt on May 24, 2010 at 5:21pm
I agree Jer. If i were invited to a "group" position reqs discussion i think my hamster might need to go the vet so i would have to connect later. the only situation i could even come close to conjuring up that would justify putting four sharks in the same tank would be a situation where they were going to hire 50 new sales reps with each recruiter being assigned one geographic region. Thus would save the HM's making the exact same speech to four different sharks when each gets a dedicated piece of the meat. Recruiters and sharks have prominent dorsal fins, it sure would churn the water over one piece of meat. LOL
Comment by Jerry Albright on May 25, 2010 at 6:50am
Mervyn - Care to let us know what the discussion was? n What did these 2 guys miss?
Comment by Mervyn Dinnen on May 25, 2010 at 9:02am
Thanks for taking the time to read and comment everyone!

It is probably more usual in the UK Jerry, most major organisations will have 4, sometimes 6, suppliers for a niche sector such as finance, IT, marketing, HR etc and will often brief out roles that are either crucial or difficult to fill to all their suppliers at once. This is most common where there is an RPO or the company operates strict Preferred Suppliers Lists, and the SLAs will be 2 way, so the company undertakes not to favour one supplier, or one group of suppliers, over another. Hence we are all briefed at the same time.

Sure it's not the kind of work we go out of our way to look for, but we do have a number of major client accounts within our business where this goes on. Some companies walk away from these arrangements, but inevitably come back at some stage as this is the way a lot of mainstream roles are now briefed.

Some briefings are 'tech' briefings but on this occasion it was to talk through 2 roles. The client wanted input from us too as both were roles that they had struggled to fill. To be honest, without the detail that they were able to pass on at the meetings it would be impossible to properly source for the the 2 missing agencies found out.

I don't mind these meetings at all, they give me an opportunity to see just who I'm competing with, which leads to an even greater sense of satisfaction when you're the one who fills it!

Don't get me wrong, I'd go mad if this type of business was ALL that I got, but luckily I get my fair share of exclusives too.

My point here was that the 2 missing agencies had not only been discourteous to the client, but had ultimately wasted their companies time (they no doubt have managers/owners who would expect them to be able to get a better match...much more productive) and their candidates time. It's hard enough for jobseekers at the moment without having their agent get them interested in a role that they clearly aren't right for.

Ultimately, in the UK, it's the recruitment industry as a whole that tends to get tarred with this brush.
Comment by Mervyn Dinnen on May 25, 2010 at 9:04am
Agreed Will, time with hiring manager, either one on one or when there are other recruiters present, is invaluable...
Comment by Mervyn Dinnen on May 25, 2010 at 9:08am
Thanks Maren...both the missing recruiters worked for quite large recruiting agencies, so maybe there was a belief that not only did they have everything they needed to fill the roles, but that the client would just shrug it off if they didn't bother to show as they were unlikely to lose any long term business with the company. Either way it's not a great advert for the industry.


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