VMS Part II: Vendors - Are you a “limp noodle”?

Are you currently an IT staffing vendor working through a VMS? What kind of results do you get? Have you measured your return on time? Do you feel like you “sling resumes” up against the wall and see if they stick like your homemade spaghetti?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, you’re probably following the VMS process as it was laid out by procurement. You’ve heard it all before right? “Don’t contact the managers directly”, “Only submit resumes through the VMS system”, “Do not work on job requirements outside of the VMS”, blah blah….frickin blah!!!

In order to be a successful VMS vendor, you must learn to break or, at least, bend the rules to get a leg up on the competition. Don’t believe me? Well, out of the 20 vendors that I spoke with for this article, the most successful consistently walked the proverbial tight rope of following the VMS rules and working outside of them at the same time. In addition to walking that fine line, the most successful vendors also utilized a few tips/tricks to ensure their success and I intend to share a portion of those tips with you to level the playing field (Good VMS line by the way).

Without further gilding the lily or any ado whatsoever, here are some helpful tips to enhance your success:

DO develop a relationship with the hiring managers – Every vendor I spoke to told me that most of their success comes from contacting and developing a relationship with hiring managers and communicating with those managers before, during, and after the requirement process. While some VMS customers allow contact with managers, there are others that frown upon contact or threaten you with expulsion as a vendor if you do not follow the process. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your point of view, there are vendors that maintain contact with managers despite these warnings. Just use your common sense to guide you – If you have a great relationship with a hiring manager or even have someone on billing with that same hiring manager ask yourself “what is stopping me from a phone call dropping the name of the candidate that was submitted through the VMS system or giving the manager a heads up before they are submitted through the system? The answer…….. only the manager themselves have the ability to stop you or “tell on you” and if you have a great relationship with the manger, you know the answer to the question. Sports outings, free golf, lunches, happy hours, etc. still work in this day and age and they will get you a leg up on your competition if you can deliver the talent. This seems to work with a number of local VMS Programs and I debated on naming the companies in this blog but I changed my mind. You can hide but I know who you are!! If you are a Business Development or Account Management professional, start developing a closer relationship with hiring managers and “walk the halls” of some of these companies and tell me I’m wrong after you put in the effort.

Jump on the Job Boards ASAP – I know that this statement flies in the face of some recruiters and staffing companies but your recruiters need to contact and submit the active candidates immediately (assuming of course that they are a fit for the position). More specifically, if you get a requirement at 5:30PM of late Friday, there needs to be a recruiter ready to sacrifice their evening or part of their weekend to cover the Job Boards such as DICE, Monster, Careerbuilder, etc. I’m not saying that this is your only means of recruitment, on the contrary, this is just one tool in your toolbox but it must be used immediately.

Develop a relationship with your VMS Administrator – Don’t be afraid of the VMS Administrator and, more importantly, do not view them as an adversary. A good VMS administrator will open up communication between you and the hiring managers and provide feedback regarding your candidates or the manager’s timeline. Take time to include the VMS Administrators for client Happy Hours and schedule regular follow ups and lunches. While researching this article, I witnessed vendors providing Christmas gifts to one of the local VMS Administrators and was surprised by other vendors that visited their VMS Administrator and “walked the halls” at VMS Clients on a daily basis.

Pipeline Candidates in your ATS – Just as important as developing relationships with the client, is developing relationships with IT Job Seekers and passive IT Talent. Know your VMS Clients skill sets and pipeline candidates that may fit future job requirements. This will lessen your reliance on Job Boards and reactive recruiting. This will also reduce your time to submit and lessen the anxiety in getting a “Right to Present” document or email. If you are a recruiter, work with your Business Development Manager or Account Manager to gain an understanding of skill sets that are predominantly requested by the client. It will also help for Business Development, Account Managers and recruiters to meet with the client and develop the kind of relationship where the hiring managers feel comfortable enough to provide a heads up on upcoming job requirements to pipeline candidates.

While most experienced IT Staffing professionals may know the tips and tricks above, it is important to EXECUTE. You can’t live in fear of making a mistake or rocking the boat. I guarantee you that some of your competition is not just throwing the proverbial pasta at the wall to see if it sticks. Nope, they are taking the hiring manager out to lunch………maybe even spaghetti.

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