Recruitment can mean different things to different people. There is a plethora of different business models within the staffing industry, so I thought it might be a good idea to define what I believe good recruitment is. This will perhaps put into context why I don’t believe that LinkedIn — or for that matter any other web-based product — can ever replace the service we provide.
Talent Is Not an Online Commodity
Getting the best possible talent to join your company is not the same as purchasing a product online. Talent has opinions, options, and time constraints. Talent can be unpredictable, irrational, high maintenance, and uncommunicative. A product you buy online will always show up if you have paid the appropriate price and followed the correct purchasing process. A product won’t have any thoughts or feelings that it wants to discuss with a third party. It won’t have any opinions on how well you selected it. It won’t wait for a better company to buy it if it doesn’t like your communication style or your company values. A product won’t consult with family members, professional acquaintances, and even someone it met on the train to provide fresh objections about why they aren’t going to show up at your company.
Recruitment Is a Professional Service
The reasons above are precisely why a professional recruitment service is uniquely positioned in the digital age. The number of intangibles in any hiring process is the very thing that prevents it from being a replicable and reproducible process. The freedom of thought from all of the parties involved in the ultimate decision making prevents the viability of a “black box” recruitment solution.
What the Client Gets
A good recruiter can help you qualify what it is you require. Sometimes a client hasn’t quite worked through exactly the balance between what they want and what they actually need. Talking this through with a recruiter to define a viable role can save a lot of time and heartache further down the road.
They can also give you advice on whether that role exists at your competitors; how they structure their departments; historically what has worked for them , and, crucially, what hasn’t. This can prevent you from heading down a blind alley when planning your department structure or defining a role that is not consistent with others within your industry. That’s not to say that you may still wish to pursue this path, but being aware of whether it is going to be easy or difficult sets expectations accordingly. Attracting the right talent isn’t always about paying top dollar. Money can’t buy something that doesn’t exist.
What A Recruiter Gives
A good recruiter will also advise you on what type of candidate you can expect to get from varying levels of compensation offered; an indication of how straightforward or challenging it should be to find the skills you require; intelligence about who else may be looking for the same skills; and ideas on how to position your opportunity and company to appeal to candidates in the market.
A good recruiter will not merely source and present multiple candidates but they will also make you aware of what their hot buttons might be so that you can sell the role effectively. They will inform you of which candidates are most interested — and therefore most likely to take an offer. Crucially they will also keep a backup warm for you should your first choice not accept so you don’t have to go back to square one.
A good recruiter will manage and organize the whole interview process for you. Then they will manage the offer process. Contrary to popular belief, a quality recruiter won’t be looking to maximize their fee by demanding the highest possible offer. They will be aiming for you to secure your preferred candidate at the best compromise for you and the candidate so that both parties are happy. That way they will get repeat business and referrals. “Shoot and move” recruiters don’t tend to be able to maintain longevity in their markets; good recruiters, on the other hand, understand that easy business is repeat business, and a happy candidate will lead them to more good candidates. It’s not all altruism. It’s just that good service = good business.
For the Candidate
A candidate will want to interact with a recruiter for all the same reasons that people deal with Realtors rather than buying houses from pictures on the Internet. Prospective house buyers want to deal with someone who can show them around, give them advice, tell them things they wouldn’t otherwise know about the neighborhood, etc. The system might not be perfect, but dealing with an agent or consultant when you are buying a house is something that’s the norm the world over.
A good recruiter provides a whole range of services completely free of charge to a candidate. These will include a cross section of opportunities with different types of companies. Often a candidate has a clear idea of exactly what they think they want, but when presented with an exact match, it frequently doesn’t feel right. A good recruiter can present a variety of options — and candidates regularly end up going for the option that least matches what at first they thought they wanted.
A good recruiter will negotiate the best salary without pricing you out of the market. This is a lot harder to do by yourself.
A good recruiter will prepare candidates for interviews with information on the person they are meeting, their background, interview style, and typical questions. They will give the candidate ideas how they can sell themselves and provide coaching on difficult questions. They will fill the candidate in on the company values, goals, successes, and in generally provide an insight that they would not otherwise get.
A good recruiter will expedite the recruitment process so that if multiple offers are likely, they will come through at the same time — and they will also coach a candidate through their resignation to make the process as painless as possible.
All of the above applies equally to permanent and contract hires. However, with contract hires the recruiter will also normally take care of all the employment and payroll issues both for the hiring organization and the candidate making the experience of hiring a contingent labor force truly hassle free. With the growth of contingent labor, particularly in the U.S., this is a huge value add for companies and candidates.
It’s Just Good Business Sense
A good contingent recruiter will fill approximately one in six of the roles they work on, but they will still provide the same service to all. They won’t place every candidate with whom they interact, but they will still provide the same service. They will do this because every person they deal with will become a candidate again, or they may become a client. Similarly a client may become a candidate.
Every time they deliver a below-par service they will lose money not just on that placement but also multiple other missed opportunities for repeat business or referrals. Contingent recruiters only charge when they are successful, so the smart and successful ones deliver quality service every time to maximize the chance of success. You get so much service for free, it doesn’t make sense not to engage.