I had two goals in mind when I made the decision a number of years ago to enter the recruiting business. First was to help good businesses be successful by helping them find and hire the best people available. Second was to help people find solid work opportunities and build strong careers.
Those goals remain the same today, but I have found a couple of major impediments to the first of the goals that occur with frightening frequency.
Human capital is without question one of the biggest challenges businesses face today and finding a good approach is a subject of never-ending discussion with many different perspectives. From my view there are three general perspectives employed by business and only one of them makes any real sense.
A recent phone call to a past client left me speechless. I was looking to place a truly exceptional chief financial officer. Before I could do much more than identify myself and the purpose of the call to the human resources manager with whom I was an acquaintance, I was politely told that they no longer were working with recruiters. I was told that there were so many candidates in the market and they already had a couple of real good ones.
I was actually flabbergasted at the response in large part because I knew the person I was speaking with and could not imagine that sort of perspective on hiring the best available person for such a critical position.
I asked my acquaintance to clarify and their position was confirmed, even though there was no charge or commitment involved for looking at the candidate.
I am still stunned at this perspective since the company involved had always been a well-run successful company. I guess the question is how much longer that will be true. The company did not get where it is with that sort of attitude. Sadder still is the fact that ownership is probably completely unaware of this perspective within their company.
Attracting, hiring and retaining the best available people is a huge piece of any business’ likely success. Failing to look at all the options available is not something any business can afford to do. Free is a great price, but trading free for a less qualified candidate is a very high price to pay. An old axiom is that “businesses do not compete, managements do” is still operative in my view. Does anyone really want to have their company run by second-rate employees when they could have top-rate employees? I seriously doubt it.
Moreover, I heard recently that the position is still not filled and it has been awhile since it opened up. I wonder what the real cost of this perspective will turn out to be.
The second perspective is what I call the “shotgun approach” and is frequently used when the hiring demand picks up, as it has now. In this approach a company gives the same job order to as many agencies as they can find willing to work it on a contingency basis in the apparent belief that it increases the chances of filling the position with a great candidate. They also feel it will save them money at fee time by squeezing the fees downward.
The actual result of this approach is that the chances of filling the position will decrease and/or the quality of the candidates will not be as good. A quick look at the other side of this conclusion is easy to understand. First, an agency working a contingent fee transaction with lots of competitors realizes that the odds are against them. The only logical response possible is to forget about a true search for a top candidate and see if there is any “low hanging fruit” on the job boards. They realize it is a race to the finish line in search of a fee they have a very small chance of earning. They certainly won’t make a sustained effort.
What will happen with this approach is lots of unscreened B and C candidate resumes to spend your precious time scouring through to find a possible candidate or two. Most A candidates will steer clear of recruiters and companies taking this approach to filling a position. What is much more likely to happen is the job will go unfilled for months and it will be viewed by potential candidates like the overpriced house on the corner that never sells. My anecdotal evidence of these assertions is long and frequent.
The third perspective that almost always produces the best result it to find no more than two recruiters experienced in the field and then make them a true business partner. The way to do that is to give them the time necessary to help them understand your company, a thorough understanding of the culture and the position requirements, a clear and decisive path to the hiring process, and timely responses to their submittals. Oh yeah, and be willing to pay a fair fee, which is one that allows them to spend the time necessary to recruit A candidates.
The author is the owner of The Hire Source in Stockton.